Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Noel Advent Calendar
Hands Down, our favorite is our "Noel Calendar." My sister-in-law gave this to us Sarala's first Christmas, and it has been our favorite since then. It is great for little kids because the way you tell a part of the Christmas story each day and add to it, they really do learn the Christmas story and the Gospel in doing it. Since our family has been doing it year after year for a while now, we have it all memorized, and have even been able to share it on the spot with our neighbors, at our church in India, and we have the birth of Jesus story quite tucked away. I cannot recommend this enough.
The calendar is not available at Desiring God anymore, but you can make your own. Here is a blogpost with a pattern of how a lady made one. Another: Here is a picture I found last year of another one a lady made--it is SO cute (her tutorial is no longer available). You could also look at Noel Piper's book . Even if you don't make it, I can share with you the story, and you could use it. It also has a picture on it if you want to make your own. Just send me an email.
Another tradition that we do every year is the Jesse Tree. I love this because it takes you through scripture from Creation to Christ. There are so many different versions out there. I recommend you research and find one that is best for you. You can even just print off a list of scheduled readings, and you do not have to purchase anything. Here is a great resource with a scripture list and even little pictures so you can make your own ornaments if you want to get started for this year. Here is another one that has the scripture passages listed out for reading daily. We did free lists for many years. We have done different versions, books, and we did finally purchase ornaments a few years ago. There are so many beautiful options--just search Jesse Tree ornaments. We got ours from Etsy. I actually love keeping this changed up every year. Also, our friend Nick Roark created an Advent Devotional for his family, and I highly recommend starting with his! It is so good and also includes hymns.
We love reading aloud together as a family. During advent the past few years, we have read Arnold Ytreeide's Advent Stories: Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, Tabitha's Travels, and this year we will read Ishtar's Odyssey. We have also read Amon's Adventure during Lent/Easter.