Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I sipped my coffee and tried to look alert. Though it was early, I could already hear the patter of small feet headed downstairs to find me seated in my orange chair. Sure enough, a child was soon tucked into my side, cold feet nudging their way under mine for warmth.
Until little eyes noticed the Advent Tree hanging on the wall across from me.
“Ooh, what are we doing today?” she asked, her voice a whisper-shout I quietly hushed. Springing from my side, she climbed the matching chair opposite mine to reach for the slip of white paper peeking from the day’s envelope. She grabbed it and immediately started to read.
Several years ago, my friends and I were chatting over coffee on a brisk November day, bemoaning our kids’ obsession with their Christmas lists. We longed to recenter our families on Christ rather than commercialism. But how to do that? One of us had the idea: We’d make the time to do one kind act—big or small—each day during the month of December.
It’s been almost a decade since that conversation, and over the years, we’ve made cookies for neighbors, “candy bombed” the windshields of cars parked at the hospital, and left gifts for our mail person. We’ve brought coffee drinks to our kids’ teachers, paid for the gas of a serviceman on his way out of town, dropped off personal care items at our local women’s shelter, and bought books for those who are incarcerated. We’ve picked out toys for kids in the community, served meals at the homeless shelter, and rung bells for the Salvation Army.
At first, the idea felt daunting. But I believe that kindness can and should begin with you—in the places you’re already going, aimed toward the people you’re already seeing. Kindness doesn’t just have to be another item on the to-do list.
Want a little help getting organized? Here’s a quick overview:
- Get organized. First, find an Advent tree or calendar. I bought a fabric tree that I reuse each year, but you could also print off a free calendar and simply jot down your plans. Another idea I’ve heard is wrapping up 25 children’s books separately to read during the weeks of Advent. If you go that route, it would be easy to slip a piece of paper into the front of each book.
- Find some inspiration. I found a sturdy board book called Countdown To Christmas with short, page-long devotionals in it to reflect on the Christmas story and how Jesus’s birth still influences us today. I like to read it with my girls before we find out what our activity that day will be. Here’s an updated version of that book, but there are plenty of other Advent-themed books available to purchase or borrow from your local library.
- Brainstorm activities. Spend some time planning out the month after noting anything that’s on your calendar. Consider ways to be kind locally, nationally, and internationally. Get input from family members, as well. Have your kids been begging you to go sledding? Invite a friend to go along. Is their preschool classroom collecting items for a local charity? Put it on your list. Your family will take more ownership in following through if they have a stake in the outcome.
- Gather your supplies. Look over your list, and then consider the following:
- First, use what you have. Cellophane bags are cheap and great for candy or other small gift items, and I always seem to have leftovers from previous Christmases. Baked goods and small crafts can often be made from what I have on hand.
- Second, consider other resources you have available. For instance, a shovel to help your neighbor clear the snow from their sidewalk, two hands to hold the door open for others while running errands, or kind words you can speak to those you encounter.
- Last, purchase any remaining items. Need containers to put cookies or treats in? Dollar stores and the dollar aisle at Target are great starting points. Know you want to write out thank yous? Pick up bulk cards from stores like Michaels. We also like inexpensive craft projects (ornaments, magnets) from places like Oriental Trading.
- Have FUN! Don’t feel like your Advent season has to look like anyone else’s. You can do as much or as little as you want. Don’t feel shamed or burdened if you’re in a season of life where you simply don’t have time to incorporate more than one or two acts during the week or month.
Over the years, instead of simply piling up stuff, we’ve accumulated memories. And as time has passed, I’ve watched my children’s hearts soften toward those around them, noticing those who need an extra dose of love or courage or care. Our Advent Acts of Kindness are now a favorite tradition in our household.
Your turn! How do you celebrate Advent? Are there certain traditions your family enjoys?
Kayse is a wife, mom, and founder of the Anchored Women community. She writes to help women fight busy, find rest, and build a life that’s anchored in Christ. Kayse is also the creator of the S.O.S. Planner, the Anchored Life Kit, and other practical resources that equip women to manage their homes and families in confidence. You can find her writing and her resources at anchored-women.com!