4 Ways to Celebrate Advent with a Toddler

Christmas Traditions with a Toddler

ad·vent /ˈadˌvent/ noun

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

    • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

With the holidays looming around the corner, I’ve really been thinking of traditions for us to start with Evelyn. Between Drew and I, our families are stock piled with traditions. All of which we love, but we aren’t sure if they are all ones that we want to continue with Evelyn. So which ones stay, which ones go, and what traditions do we start on our own? We aren’t big “Elf of the Shelf” people so we had to sit down and talk about this.

The advent season is very important to our family. On my side, we always had paper chains that we made to start the countdown to Christmas. In Drew’s family, they would always get their chocolate advent calendars. Actually, my mother-in-law still gets us chocolate advent calendars every year from Trader Joe’s.

When pondering about how we were going to celebrate the season of advent with our toddler, we wanted to keep it fun, festive, creative, and spiritual. I am absolutely dedicated to her understanding the “reason for the season”, but I realize it’s also a time for family and fun. It’s okay to get excited about Santa, presents, and food as long as we remember why we get to do all of those things.

Christmas Pajamas

One tradition we are tweaking is my parent’s tradition to give us new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I love getting our new pajamas on Christmas Eve, it was the one present we got to open the night before and it was just fun! However, as a mom now, I wonder why we would want to wait to give Evelyn Christmas Themed pajamas to wear on the last night of the season. So we are going to start our Christmas pajama wearing season on Thanksgiving night! We decorate our house the day after Thanksgiving (no thanks Black Friday, I’m not brave enough!), so it just makes sense for our family to kick of the season of advent by wearing our Christmas Pajamas. Maybe as she gets older and is no longer wearing Christmas themed PJs (teenagers probably won’t be interested in wearing Santa pajamas), we can switch back to Christmas Eve.

Paper Chains Craft

I also loved making paper chains as a kid. We did them for trips, holidays, back to school, everything! With a toddler like Evelyn, constantly needing to be kept busy these days, I think this is a perfect tradition (until she’s over it) to keep her occupied while Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared. Then every morning, she can look forward to tearing a chain off. Plus it’s fairly mess free and easily transportable. She can do this with her other cousins and create memories of being creative and spending time with her family where ever we end up on Turkey Day.

Advent Calendar - Toddler Approved

We really want her to get into the love we have for chocolate advent calendars. Drew and I get stupid giddy about opening up our piece of chocolate in the morning. Unfortunately, so far anyways, Evelyn has shown NO INTEREST in sweets. We can get her to have a bite of yogurt or ice cream occasionally but we can’t get her to try anything else. So she’s not quite ready for a chocolate advent calendar. Luckily, a quick search on google showed me THE BEST advent calendar for a toddler ever!!!!! Behold, the Little People Advent Calendar! Evelyn is going to go nuts for this. I am a little nervous at trying to get her to understand that she can only open 1 door a day, but I’m sure we will manage. This is so stinkin’ perfect and fun! It’s going to be her first introduction to the Little People world. I’m sure by next year, Evelyn will be ready to enjoy a regular chocolate advent calendar like Drew and I but until then, this will fill in perfectly! P.S. If you want one, they are on Amazon right now and I’d order it ASAP. I saw them on eBay for $80 bucks or more!

Spiritual Advent - The Giving Manger

Lastly, the most important part of advent, is to remember that we are celebrating this day because of Jesus. I got The Giving Manger before I was even pregnant. This book, baby Jesus, wooden manger, and straw helps families focus on the servitude of Christmas. To teach your children compassion, gratitude, empathy, and discipleship. It can start off easy, putting a piece of straw in the manger cause you listened to mommy the first time. As your family grows older, putting a piece of straw in for bringing in the trashcans, helping a neighbor, or volunteer work together. I’m so excited to see Evelyn participate in this part of advent every year. This girl already has such a big heart, I know she’s going to love it. If you want to order one for your family, do it soon! They are already sold out of half their inventory this season so don’t wait!

Watching life through Evelyn’s eyes has turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Things that I forgot were truly exciting (yes, even bubbles) look totally different now that I see them through Evelyn’s amazement. While I am excited to see her reaction to all of these new traditions and experiences, I hope she grasps the true meaning of this time of year. The meaning of faithfulness, family togetherness, and gratitude.

What traditions are you starting with your toddler for the advent season?

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Nicole Abejon