Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Advent Calendar Hybrid Project

I’m so excited about the Advent Calendar the kids and I have been working on. I grew up with an Advent Calendar as a part of our Christmas celebration. We eagerly opened each door to find the candy behind it. We’d read the Advent devotionals, light the advent wreath/candles each Sunday, excitedly anticipating Christmas Day and Jesus Birth.

This year I wanted to find a way to combine all of those traditions and point to the Savior each day. I didn’t care so much about the chocolate – I wanted something else to be “hidden” behind each door. I wanted the kids to seek Jesus. He is, after all, the reason for the season.

So this is the result of my quest to create the “perfect” Advent calendar. I hope you enjoy it! And I’d LOVE to hear about your Advent traditions.

To create the “scene” for my Advent calendar, I purchased a miniature Christmas tree (or will purchase one).

Under the Christmas tree, I placed 25 folded paper boxes (directions for how to make these are listed below). I numbered each box 1 through 25. So box 1 would be open on December 1st, and so on. Now I do realize that Advent traditionally begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but for simplicity sake, and so that we can reuse this from year to year, we’re doing it 25 days of December.

Within each box is a phrase, a Bible verse, and a symbol. I put the phrase and Bible verse for each day on the inside of the box top (i.e. Day 1 says, “We anticipate Jesus birth, just as they did many years ago.” The Bible verse, “Isaiah 11:1 Psalm 27:14” will immediately follow it.) I’m only putting the Bible verse reference on the box top – my purpose, especially as the kids grow up, is to have them look up and read each verse.

Within the inside of the box on the bottom is what the symbol for the day is (i.e. Day 1 says, “Branch.”) This reference corresponds to the symbol that will be inside. The symbol will be in the form of an ornament, which will be hung on the tree. For right now, I used clip art to make all the symbols. I cut them out in circles, laminated them, punched holes, and they will be ornaments. Moving forward, the kids and I will be on an ornament quest to find all of the proper symbols for each day in miniature to be made into an ornament.

Beginning on Day 18, we’ll build a Nativity Scene in front of the tree. So rather than ornaments, I’ll find a miniature nativity and put one piece in each box. The culmination, of course, will be Baby Jesus lying in a manger on Christmas Day.

I’m very eager to begin this tradition with my kids! We’re building and stuffing the boxes over Thanksgiving weekend. I welcome you to join me in this quest to point your children towards Jesus. Below I’ve listed each day, the phrase, the Bible verse, and the symbol. I’ve also included pictorial step-by-step directions for how to make the paper boxes. Please let me know if you decide to join me!

DAY 1: We anticipate Jesus’ birth, just as they did many years ago.
Isaiah 11:1 - A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Symbol: Branch

DAY 2: The Bible teaches us about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
John 1:1-2 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Symbol: Bible

DAY 3: Jesus came because we are sinners.
Genesis 3:6-7 - When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
1Timothy 1:15 - Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Symbol: Apple

DAY 4: Jesus paid the price for our sins.
Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Hebrews 12:2 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Symbol: Cross

DAY 5: Jesus came because God loves us.
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Symbol: Heart

DAY 6: Because of Jesus, we can have eternal life.
John 3:36 - He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
Symbol: Ring (eternal)

DAY 7: Jesus came so that we could join God’s family.
John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
Symbol: Family Photo

DAY 8: Our joy comes from the Lord.
Psalm 126:3 - The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 16:11 - You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Symbol: JOY Ornament

DAY 9: Jesus wanted to show us the way to the Father.
John 14:6-7 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
Symbol: Compass

DAY 10: He is the Alpha and the Omega.
Revelation 1:8 - I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God," who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Revelation 21:6 - And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
Revelation 22:13 - I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Symbol: Alpha and Omega Ornament

DAY 11: He is the Lamb of God.
John 1:36 - When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
Symbol: Lamb

DAY 12: He is the Door.
John 10:9 - I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
Symbol: Door

DAY 13: He is the Good Shepherd.
John 10:14-15 - I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Symbol: Candy Cane

DAY 14: He is the Light of the World.
John 8:12 - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Symbol: Candle

DAY 15: He is the Bread of Life.
John 6:35 - Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:51 - I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Symbol: Bread

DAY 16: He is the King of Kings.
Revelation 19:16 - On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Symbol: Crown

DAY 17: Jesus Christ is the greatest gift.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above.
2 Corinthians 9:15 - Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Symbol: Present

DAY 18: Jesus was born in a humble stable. (Begin to set Nativity Scene.)
Luke 2:12 - This will be a sign to you: “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Symbol: Manger

DAY 19: Angels told the good news that the Savior was born.
Luke 2:8-14 - And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Symbol: Angel

DAY 20: Shepherds came to worship Jesus.
Luke 2:15-20 - When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Symbol: Shepherds

DAY 21: A star lit the way to Jesus.
Matthew 2:9-10 - The star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
Symbol: Star

DAY 22: Wise men came to worship Jesus.
Matthew 2:11 - And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Symbol: Wise Men

DAY 23: Jesus’ mother was Mary.
Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Luke 1:30-33 - The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Symbol: Mary

DAY 24: Mary was to be married to Joseph.
Matthew 1:20-23 - An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us.
Symbol: Joseph

DAY 25: Jesus, the Savior, is born!
Isaiah 9:6 - For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Revelation 22:16 - I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.
Symbol: Baby Jesus


anitab said...

I am SO excited! This is perfect timing - I'm doing a presentation to young mothers this week about ways to keep Christ in Christmas - this is perfect - thank you for doing my preparation work! :)

This is the best idea for this I've seen - kids LOVE to open gifts - this is a winner!!

My kids are grown and have their own homes, but my husband cut 'advent logs' for them this year; it's a tradition I did with my kids year after year, a way to daily think about the meaning of Christmas. I can email you with details if you are interested.

You deserve a special blessing for sharing this with all of us!!

Robert said...

THIS IS INSPIRED!!! Thank you for sharing this with us! I am going to use this!!! I wanted a more spiritual advent calendar... this is something that I can make with the kids! God Bless you for sharing this with us!!

Jody said...

THIs is the most amazing Advent Calendar I have seen on the internet in years. You have given me such inspiration.

One question. Would you be able to share the ornaments you have made? I am not the most creative person on the planet and need all the help I can get. At 3 score and 11 years I am happy to get all the help I am offered.

I love the papers you used for the boxes. Did they come from one kit?

I really excited to get started on this project.


Léia Harmon said...

it's a good idea, thanks for sharing.

Natalie McHenry said...

I really like this idea! I collect Christmas stories, but some of my kids are still very little and can't/won't sit still for a long story, so something little like this that they can open is perfect! Thank you!

Rose said...

I LOVE this idea. And I have great Christmas Paper I need to use!! :)

I cannot wait to get started (and finish) on this next weekend.

Thank you, Sarah. And thanks for the calendar templates!

Mare said...
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Anonymous said...

Have you had any luck in finding miniature ornaments? If so, where did you find them? I would love to see your symbols as well. I love this idea and am really looking forward to using it with my children. Thank you for doing this and for sharing!!!

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Amy said...

Thank you SO much for this Sarah. I have been looking for scriptures to use during Advent that are simple for the kids. God bless!

Anonymous said...

I love your advent calendar! I would have love to have done this with my 2 boys when they were younger, they are now 24 & 21! But they will have families some day so I'm going to start now to put a couple together & one for myself to share with my future grandchildren. I think it could become an awesome tradition to get started! We have always read the Christmas story before we opened our gifts, so we can share the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks for sharing your time & creative! I have loved following your blog! God Bless. Karen in Oklahoma

Hummie said...

So awesome! It's on my Facebook Fan page!

Lauren said...

Love, love this idea!

I'm interested to hear about where you got the miniature nativity set. Are you thinking that these would be individual pieces (star, manger, etc) that you would hunt down or did you have a specific "set" in mind? I haven't found a nativity with an angel and a star.

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Stac said...

So I'm new to your blog and I love all of it. You are so creative. Anyway I am working on this advent calander and was wondering when you say you put the Phrase and Scripture reference inside the box do you actually write it on the paper box or do you slip in a pice of paper or am I missing something totally different. It doesn't matter I'm sure but I was wondering what would be simplist!!! Thank you for taking the time to share this.

Jackie said...

What a neat thing to do! It sounds like a lot of fun .

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the work you did to put this together. It is so neat. Karen

Tanya said...

This is a very cool idea. I'll have to save it for next year, I'm so slow at getting my craft things done!!!

Thank you so much for sharing all the details!

CynR said...

I love this!!!!

Again - wish I'd seen this earlier. Will have to do it for this year. Maybe with all 12 months I'll actually get it done - LOL!

Thank you very much!!

Kara'sKreations said...

Hey Sarah, My mom taught me how to do this when I was little! She used to fill them with a cookie hamburger made with vanilla waifers and a small pepperment patty, shredded coconut died green with food coloring for lettuce, and put those little potato sticks that look like mini french fries in there with it and a tiny napkin square. Box lunch, but I guess really a box desert. :) You brought me back a bit, with the little boxes!