Parents plan for it. Churches celebrate it. Stores open their doors early for it. Children long all year for it for it.

December 25, the most anticipated day of the year.

The Historical Expectation and Anticipation of Christmas

Historically, believers in God are marked with expectation and anticipation.

  • Abraham and Sarah waited for God to fulfill His promise to give them a son.

  • David longed for a temple for Jehovah in Jerusalem.

  • The magi followed a star, expecting the celestial sign to take them to the King of the Jews.

Since the ascension of Jesus Christ, believers have awaited His return. The Greek word parousia means "coming" or "arrival." The New Testament uses the word 17 times to describe the second coming of Christ.

Advent: The Coming of Christ

For Christians, Advent specifically signifies the four weeks leading up to Christmas day.

W. T. Ellis said, "It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."

The Advent season can be a great time for families to celebrate "the reason for the season"—Jesus Christ. Look here for ways to create opportunities for your family to focus on Jesus amid all the holiday rush. Here are six ways to help your family celebrate Advent.

1. Read Advent Devotions as a Family

Get a free downloadable Advent guide for your family. The PDF download includes:

  • Weekly Devotionals

  • Family Activities

  • Connection Questions

  • Daily Readings for the Family

2. Create an Advent Jesse Tree

This ancient tradition, based on Isaiah 11:1, helps children learn the Christmas story and related Scripture.

Start with either a small live or artificial tree. If you prefer, cut a tree out of construction paper and tape it to a wall. Select 24 Bible stories and create small ornaments that correspond with each story. Use construction paper, scissors, markers and other art supplies.

Beginning December 1, read and discuss the related Scripture, discuss the Bible account, and then place the ornament on the tree.

3. Make a Prayer Garland

Cut out 24 green and red construction paper strips. On each strip, write the name of a family member, friend or ministry. Staple the strips as links into one long garland. Hang the garland in your apartment or house as a decoration.

Every day in December, have a family member remove one of the paper strips. As a family, pray for the person or ministry whose name is on that strip of paper.

4. Build (or Buy) an Advent Box

Several years ago, I purchased a wooden box, painted with beautiful nutcrackers all over the front. The box has 24 small doors, each opening to a hiding place. During the first week of Advent, I place small toys, candies and inexpensive gifts behind each door.

I divide the first 24 days of December by my three children and assign each child eight days of the month. Each morning, one child opens the door with the current date and finds the surprise. My children enjoy the fun and anticipate the surprise.

Create a similar type of box, or use small paper bags decorated on the outside with a surprise gift placed inside. No two Advent boxes are the same, so use your imagination when creating yours.

5. Use Christmas Cards as Prayer Reminders

As Christmas cards arrive during December, place them in a basket in a noticeable area. Once a day, pull out one card and pray for that person or family together. Keep the Christmas card basket out all year and pray regularly for other families.

You may want to write the person a note signed by your family that says, "We prayed for you today."

Advent, advent candles, advent wreath

6. Create (or Buy) Your Own Advent Wreath with Candles

An Advent wreath is helpful and beautifully symbolic of the season. A basic Advent wreath consists of a circle with four candle holders with one candle in the middle. It may be garnished with holly or pine boughs.

The Advent wreath can serve as a perfect teaching moment too. Point out the colors to your children, and talk about what they mean. To learn more about the wreath, check out numbers 1-3 on this article.

Article courtesy of HomeLife magazine.

Rhett Wilson pastors The Spring Church in Laurens, South Carolina. With his wife, Tracey, and their three children, Hendrix, Anna-Frances, and Dawson, they explore waterfalls in the Carolinas, tube mountain streams, and look forward to March Madness every year. Keep up with Rhett at