How about making an advent calendar where instead of eating a piece of chocolate, kids open a box to find a Bible passage and a piece of the Story of Christmas?
(Sound familiar? Check out my homemade Resurrection Eggs for Easter.)
This tutorial is going to walk you through what to put in your advent calendar, and almost every piece of the Story is going to be things you already have around your house.
This would also be a great craft to do with a group (MOPs, craft night, family gathering, etc.)!
The best part is that this is a hands-on learning experience to help kids remember the different parts of the Story... You'll teach your kids the true Story of Christmas without spending much, if any, money.
They won't want to wait to see what's in the next box!
Here's what you need:
(scour your junk drawers, toy chests and craft supplies before you spend any money)
Advent Calendar with numbers 1-25 and small storage for each date
Bible passage for each day (the whole passage or just the reference - printable version with full passages available here)
angel wings (from craft store)
two gold rings (from craft store)
shrunken sheet music or music notes
piece of white satin or organza or guardian angel
bridge or string
Star of David, house or chain
donkey or horse
lion or piece of purple cloth
baby (from craft store)
piece of soft cloth
piece of wool or shepherd's staff
pieces of straw, hay or dead grass
many gold "halos" (brass rings from craft store)
dirt or rocks
heart (sticker, embellishment, etc.)
the name Jesus (typed or written out)
two doves or feathers
googly eyes or Mr. Potato Head eyes
small book or scroll (rolled up paper tied with string)
crown, rhinestones, jewels, throne or piece of purple cloth
star (sticker, embellishment, etc.)
three gift boxes (from craft store)
Be creative when finding the items to represent each part of the Story... these are just my ideas but yours may be better. Here's a closeup (click on photo for even bigger closeup):
Each day you'll open a box and read the Bible verses related to the Story. Bible verses or references can be in the box with the item or kept separate. Explain how the item in the box relates to that Bible passage to give kids a hands-on understanding of what the Story is all about. If you also go over the previous days' verses each day, on December 25th, you'll read the entire story all the way through.
I chose to go through the Christmas Story mostly in order from Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2, with a few relevant Old Testament prophecies interspersed. Feel free to rearrange the pieces of the Story to your liking (another way to do this is to find the baby Jesus on the 25th instead of the gift boxes). All verses here are from the New International Version. I added [brackets] to give better context with names.
Now on to the Greatest Story Ever Told!
(Click here to download a printable version of the advent calendar items, what they represent and the Bible passages.)
1. Angel wings (Angel Gabriel)
Luke 1:26-28, 31
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you… You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.’”
2. Two gold rings (Engagement)
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”
3. Sheet music or music notes (Mary’s Song)
“And Mary said:
‘My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.’”
4. White satin or organza or Guardian Angel pin (Angel)
“…an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] 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.’”
5. Cross (Salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice)
“‘[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”
6. Bridge or string (Jesus bridged the gap between Heaven/God and earth/humanity)
“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.’”
“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.”
7. Star of David, house or chain (House and line/chain of David, Jesus’ genealogy)
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to house and line of David.”
8. Donkey or horse (Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem)
“[Joseph] went [to Bethlehem] to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”
9. Lion or purple cloth (Lion represents house of Judah, Purple indicates royalty)
“‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.’”
10. Baby (Baby Jesus)
“While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son…”
11. Piece of soft cloth (Swaddling blanket)
“…[Mary] wrapped [Jesus] in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
12. Peace sign (Jesus is Prince of Peace)
“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.”
13. Wool or shepherd’s staff (Sheep and shepherds)
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of 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.’”
14. Pieces of straw, hay or dead grass (Manger)
“‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”
15. Many gold “halos” (Multitude of angels)
“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.’”
16. Bells (Spreading the word and carrying the message to others)
“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.”
17. Dirt or rocks (Kneeling on the ground – our right response to Jesus as God)
“Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.”
18. Heart (The emotions of Mary as Jesus' earthly mother)
Luke 2:19-20, 33-35
“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.”
… “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about [Jesus]. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’”
19. The name Jesus (The name Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves”)
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.”
20. Two doves or feathers (Sacrifice of doves by Joseph and Mary, Holy Spirit like a dove at his baptism later in life)
“When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’”
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
21. Googly eyes or Mr. Potato Head eyes (Revelation of Jesus as Christ the Savior to Simeon and to all people)
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’”
22. Small book or scroll (The wisdom and knowledge of the Magi)
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.”
“… Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’”
24. Star (Star that the Magi followed)
“After [the Magi] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”
25. Three gift boxes (Gifts from the Magi to Jesus)
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
And that is the True Story of Christmas, the one that we need to teach our children.
Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did putting it together. May God be glorified this Christmas and every day!