/ / Homeschooling Family Christmas Traditions: Create an Advent Tree & Calendar

Homeschooling Family Christmas Traditions: Create an Advent Tree & Calendar

Simple, Meaningful Christmas Traditions for Homeschooling Families during Advent

Are you looking for something different this Christmas season? Maybe some new Christmas traditions that are simpler, but that also have more depth?

Learn what my family has done the past 6 years that got us off of the Christmas Crazy Train that we’d been on that required me to stay up past midnight every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas in order to “get it all done”.

I quit doing Elf on the Shelf and other things that while silly and fun, weren’t really adding anything with real meaning to my family’s Christmas season.

Plus I was SO SO tired and grumpy from trying to do it all!

Do you know the feeling?

So we decided to hop off of the crazy-busy train and picked out only the things that really mattered to our family.

The result was our new tradition of having an Advent Tree, which is a combination of a custom Advent Calendar with Christmastime activities, Bible readings, and Jesse Tree all in one.

Our Advent Tree didn’t replace our Christmas tree or other traditions that we wanted to keep. It just was an easy way to consolidate all of our family’s important Christmas traditions into one spot.

Christmas Advent printables

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My family would like to share our Christmas traditions with your family so that you can also have a simple, yet meaningful Advent season this year.

We changed our Christmas traditions

Those cute Lego and Playmobil Advent calendar boxes with mystery pieces are very enticing, but they are kind of pricey. And while fun, they don’t really add anything meaningful to our lives, right?

Plus, with 6 kids, one tiny little toy per day just led to bickering and all-around unhappiness.

So one year we tried something completely different. And we loved it. This is our original Advent Tree in 2014.

advent tree

Our New Christmas Traditions

We created our own type of Advent calendar that incorporated all of our devotionals, Bible reading, and Christmastime activities into one place.

And since I planned out which days we’d do the different activities, our schedule and Christmas season instantly became much less stressful!

I could finally stop worrying about “fitting” in all of the fun Christmastime activities that I wanted our family to do because they were already planned for days where it would work for our family and schedule.

I bought 25 tiny paper bags and filled each bag with these items:

  • a Bible verse from the Christmas story or Jesse Tree story
  • a Jesse Tree ornament
  • an Advent Activity card
  • occasionally a piece of candy or small trinket for each child
advent tree bags

Then my husband made a wooden Advent tree to hang the bags on out of an old (FREE) pallet that he’d found. We hung the bags on the “tree” with clothespins. Then each day during Advent, the kids would open that day’s bag which had everything we needed for the day.

Keep reading to learn how to make your own Advent tree that is inexpensive in materials, but rich in love and holiday spirit.

advent tree

Christmas Traditions: Making an Advent Tree

My husband wrote down the instructions so you can make a pallet tree just like ours if you want. Get the materials and cutting lists, plus the step-by-step directions in the Advent Tree Instructions in the Free Resource Library.

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    Alternatively, you could hang a piece of yarn or string up and clip the bags to the yarn to make an Advent garland. Or get an inexpensive 3-foot artificial tree from a discount store and clip your bags onto it. Or make up your own “tree” and create something that reflects you and your family!

    christmas traditions advent calendar

    Advent Tree Calendar Bags

    Advent actually varies in length each year between 22 and 28 days, depending on where Christmas falls on the calendar. To make it simpler, we put 25 clothespins on our wooden advent tree and just start each year on December 1.

    Advent Tree Christmas Traditions

    Making the Bags

    First, I bought my mini paper bags at Hobby Lobby in the birthday party aisle, where they also had other colors, like white with gold dots. I just use the brown kraft paper colored ones because it matches my Christmas decorations. They are just like these from Amazon.

    Next, I labeled the Advent bags with these Advent Number Tags that I printed onto red paper. You can get your own copy of the Advent Number Tags in the Christmas Traditions Advent Tree Printables, which also includes the Advent Activity Cards and Calendar plus the DIY Advent Tree instructions in one easy download. Get your Christmas Traditions Advent Tree Printables in the Whole Child Resource Store.

    In the past, I’ve used gold, green, or ivory paper for the tags, just depending on what matches our other Christmas decor best that year. (Confession: I’ve inherited a ton of Christmas decor and there’s too much to use it all each year, so I just rotate through it every year. LOL)

    Now you need to fill your Advent Tree Bags.

    Filling Your Advent Tree Bags (aka Your Custom Advent Calendar)

    jesse tree advent christmas traditions

    Advent Bible Verses and Memory Cards

    You can use any set of Advent-themed Bible verses as a daily Bible verse for your Advent Tree bags.

    I made a set of Advent Daily Bible Memory Verse Cards to double as a daily Bible verse and as memory verses. I matched these cards to coordinate with the Jesse Tree Readings below.

    The Bible verses all use the Easy-to-Read version of the Bible to make it easier for early readers to read and memorize. You can find the cards as a part of the Jesse Tree Bible Printables Packet in the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store.

    Printable Advent Activity Cards

    The Advent Activity Cards have simple, yet very meaningful, activities designed to become your family’s Christmas traditions. These activities focus on spending quality time with your family without costing a ton of money. Some activities include baking cookies and then taking them to a neighbor or elderly friend; playing cheesy holiday movie bingo; or listening to The Christmas Carol by Dickens.

    The Advent Activity Cards come in both colored and a printer-friendly black and white set of smaller cards. And there are extra blank cards for you to write in your own family Christmas tradition if one of the pre-made cards doesn’t work for your family this year.

    Plus, there’s also a printable activity calendar if you’d rather use that instead of the individual cards. You can get your Advent Activity Cards as part of the Christmas Traditions Advent Tree Printables in the Whole Child Resource Store.

    Christmas Traditions: Advent Jesse Tree

    Jesse Tree Devotions

    I include our Jesse Tree ornaments in our Advent Bags, which we hang on the tree after we read that day’s story from our Jesse Tree book.

    If you don’t already have a favorite Jesse Tree book, you can use one of these options. You can use the Jesse Tree Bible Readings Printable in the Whole Child Homeschool Resource Store. It’s a part of the Jesse Tree Bible Printables Packet. The Jesse Tree Bible Readings printable tells you what story to read each day and what Bible verses to use.

    Or you can get one of these Jesse Tree books to use.

    The Advent Storybook: 25 Bible Stories Showing Why Jesus Came by Laura Richie (a homeschool mom) and illustrated by Ian Dale Rich illustrations to go with the re-telling of the Bible stories plus a “deep thoughts” questions each day.

    God With Us: A Family Advent Celebration by Catherine Pawlak Beautiful photographs of felt ornaments along with Bible stories, prayers and extensive activities.

    The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean This is the book that my family has been using for the past ten years. It has a separate story that weaves through the Bible stories for each day and has lovely illustrations.

    Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp This is the Jesse Tree devotional that we’ll be using this year. It has questions for discussion that encourage deeper thinking. My youngest is five now and old enough to participate in our discussions.

    Jesse Tree Ornaments

    Jesse Tree diy ornaments

    My mom made the felt Jesse Tree ornaments in the above picture for us, but you can make your own (see below) or even buy a set.

    Here are some links to {FREE} DIY Jesse Tree ornament instructions and patterns, and even a printable set.

    DIY Sculpey clay ornaments

    No-sew DIY felt ornaments

    DIY hand-sewing felt ornaments

    Printable ornaments

    More Advent Christmas Traditions for Your Family

    Every year I spend so much time searching for fun, meaningful Christmas activities for my kids. I bet you do too!

    So this year, to save you valuable time, I’ve teamed up with a few other homeschool moms for a Linky Christmas Party to bring you all the best Christmas ideas and printables!

    Holiday-Themed Science Projects from Homeschool On the Range These middle school science projects will also wow the younger kids in your family too. Includes how to make your own plastic!

    Christmas Cakes One More One Less Printable Worksheet from The Art Kit Get this printable worksheet for your kids working on addition and subtraction.

    Christmas-Twisted Classic Board Games from The WOLFe Pack Learn how to easily modify the board games in your closet to be Christmas-themed. Your family is sure to love these switched-up games!

    Gingerbread Nativities from Hess Un-Academy Let your kids construct a no-bake nativity scene using graham crackers and animals crackers that they can eat when they’re done.

    DIY Firestarter Gifts from Making Room 4 One More Every year we make firestarters for all of the guys in our family. Not only are they practical and make building a fire so much easier, but the guys love them so much more than another pair of socks. And these natural ones are the cutest ones I’ve ever seen!

    Woodland Birds Ornament from Heart and Soul Homeschooling These sweet bird & grapevine wreaths are simple enough that your kids can make them as gifts for family and friends.

    Cultural Family Night: Christmas edition from Stand Up, Reach Out Experience new food dishes and international Christmas traditions to get your kids in the Christmas spirit.

    Easy, Cheap, Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids from Julie Naturally Get these instructions for making cool stocking stuffers for your kids, or they could make them for friends or cousins. These DIY games will double as school activities after Christmas too!

    Scrabble Tile Christmas Ornament from I Choose Joy! Make your own custom saying to hang on your Christmas tree with these Scrabble Tile ornaments.

    Handprint Candy Cane Ornament from Homegrown Motherhood Make a keepsake handprint ornament so you can always remember how tiny their hands once were!

    Outdoor Christmas Activities for the Whole Family from An Off Grid Life If you are looking for more ways to incorporate outdoor time into your homeschool, look no further. Here is a month’s worth of outdoor activities for December.

    Nativity Set for Kids to Make and Play With from Orison Orchards Grab some wooden blocks and print out these nativity pictures so your kids can make their own personalized nativity set to play with.

    Simple Christmas Activities for Busy Working Homeschool Moms from Thrive at Home Here’s a list of 21 15-minute Christmas activities that are fun and don’t add stress to your day.

    How to make a fork painted manger set from Our Crazy Adventures In Autismland Use a fork as a paintbrush to create the hay in Baby Jesus’ manger. This is a cute craft that even little kids can do.

    Heart Nativity Paper Craft from Our Joy-Filled Life This easy papercraft has a printable template and is super sweet. The grandparents will love this keepsake from the grandkids!

    Additional Advent Activities

    polar express unit homeschool

    Polar Express & Hot Chocolate Unit Study with lessons for 4th to 6th grade! Have fun with these easy, real-life projects that fit into the craziness of December without adding in extra work! Complete Language Arts, STEAM, & history; just add in daily math.

    polar express unit homeschool

    Polar Express & Hot Chocolate Unit Study with lessons for Middle to High School! Have fun with these easy, real-life projects that fit into the craziness of December without adding in extra work! Complete Language Arts, STEAM, & history; just add in daily math.

    polar express unit homeschool

    Polar Express & Hot Chocolate Unit Study with lessons for PreK to 3rd grade! Have fun with these easy, real-life projects that fit into the craziness of December without adding in extra work! Complete Language Arts, STEAM, & history; just add in daily math.

    christmas lights and holiday movie quotes packet

    This Christmas Printable Packet has Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunts for pre-readers and readers, Christmas Lights Bingo game for 4 players, and Holiday Movie Quotes copywork for early elementary, upper elementary, and middle to high school students.

    Pin this to your favorite board so you can find it again! And be sure to follow Whole Child Homeschool on Pinterest for 1000s of Free Homeschooling Resources and Ideas!

    advent calendar diy
    advent tree

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