3 Ways for Busy Moms to Celebrate Advent

I recently realized that we only have nine more Christmases with our oldest child before he launches into the world as a young adult. That awareness sparked a desire to cherish each one—to create memories and celebrate the true meaning behind the Son of God coming in the flesh to be with us. Frequently, the holiday season is a whirlwind of activities and distractions. I love Christmas and all it entails—the frosty air, sparkling lights, festive music, sugary treats, and alluring presents tucked under the tree. I love watching the excitement of the season light up my children’s faces. But I know there’s something deeper, something substantial yet invisible underneath it all. It’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of events, losing track of the ultimate significance behind them. It takes effort and planning to slow down enough to savor the rich hope of Christmas. My family discovered the season of Advent several years ago, and it’s one of the best ways we’ve found to take a deep breath, be still, and center ourselves around the weighty implications of Emmanuel, God with us.

Advent is the time before Christmas, usually starting either December 1 or on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, when Christians celebrate the coming of Jesus. It began in the AD 300s and is celebrated all over the world, though traditions and exact dates vary by country. It lengthens and deepens the celebration of Christmas, allowing room for anticipation, patience, and hope. Observing Advent is an excellent opportunity to establish a meaningful tradition when children are young, building a foundation for the rest of life. Traditions repeated each year become habits, which form us as people, changing who we are and who we will become. Creating a rhythm of remembering why Jesus came each Advent will anchor your family when the busyness of the season tries to whisk you away.

When so many options exist for celebrating Advent, how do we choose? From calendars containing chocolates to Advent nativity toys, the selection widens each year. The celebration can be as minimalist or elaborate as you want. You know your family and goals the best.

My family celebrates with three traditions:

  1. Daily reading from The Advent Storybook: 25 Bible Stories Showing Why Jesus Came
  2. Lighting a new candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas
  3. Opening a group gift (a game or family activity/craft) on the Sundays in December preceding Christmas

I lean toward minimalism. I need traditions that only take about five minutes per day, but I also want them to be full of significance. We have occasionally expanded our traditions, like saying a responsive prayer or singing a song together as we light the candle. But I know we can light a candle and still read our Advent story, so that’s what I commit to doing each year.

The core of our Advent celebration is the daily reading from The Advent Storybook, which starts with creation then journeys through the Old Testament, tracing God’s recurring promise to rescue us. Ultimately, the book answers the question, “Why did Jesus come?” The Advent Storybook is very special to my family, because we distinctly remember when it existed only as a Word document read by us. Through the partnership of over 100 people, a brave publishing company, and God’s miraculous orchestration of events, it is now available in multiple languages and is read throughout the world.

If your family is short on time or money or both, please know that you can create a meaningful Advent tradition for under $15 that only takes about five minutes per day. It’s easy to feel like we’re too busy for God or traditions, but these three ideas are quick yet impactful.

One thing I love about celebrating Advent with my family is how it connects us not only to Christians around the world, but also to the believers who came before us. Like those in the Old Testament who waited for centuries for the arrival of Jesus, we too wait in hope for the Light to break through the darkness. We long for Jesus to meet us now in our brokenness and pain, and also to come and finally make all things good and new. One day, He will wipe away our tears and fears, ending evil and death forever. Our faith in Jesus the Rescuer has been passed down from those who tenaciously clung to God’s promises. And now we can continue the unbroken thread of hope as we teach our children who Jesus is and why He came.

I would love for your family to join mine—and families all across the world—in celebrating Advent. Let’s remember together the unshakeable hope and joy we have because God sent His Son Jesus, born as a baby that first Christmas to give life to all who believe.


Laura Richie is a wife, homeschooling mom, and registered nurse. A missionary kid for several years, Laura confesses she didn’t truly understand her need to be rescued until later in life. Now she delights in sharing the beauty and grace of her Rescuer through her books, The Advent Storybook, The Easter Storybook, and The Go-and-Tell Storybook. Laura resides in Oklahoma with her husband and four children.