Want an easy, hands-on way for your family to focus on Jesus this Christmas?
This Christmas Countdown Nativity Activity is everything I wanted in an Advent devotional for my family.
I needed an Advent tradition that wouldn’t be one more thing for our busy December, but instead would be a simple and meaningful way to have a Christ-centered Christmas.
So, I created one. This is what I’ve used with my own children and it’s one we do year after year as we prepare for Christmas Day.
This Christmas Countdown Nativity Activity is 15 days, which gives you margin during the busy month of December. You can start on December 1, using the days convenient for your family, or begin 15 days before Christmas for a daily countdown.
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The Advent devotional is open and go, easy enough for a weekday evening and deep enough to get my kids thinking about each event surrounding the birth of Jesus.
How the Christmas Countdown Nativity Activity Works in Our Home
At the beginning of December, we pull out our Nativity set from the Christmas decorations but we don’t put it up. Not yet.
For the next 15 days, we build the Nativity one piece each day. Each piece is matched with a key Bible verse or scripture passage that tells the story of Jesus’ birth one event at a time.
As the manger scene is built piece by piece, the Countdown to Christmas book has a devotional about that particular part of the Christmas story, along with a prayer and suggested Christmas carol that ties it all together. (You can find a Countdown to Christmas playlist here of contemporary Christian artists.)
As a mom of seven children who were toddlers to teens when we started this tradition, I wrote this book to challenge my teens with perspective and information about the events of Christmas while still being fun and understandable for my youngest children.
The scriptures in this Advent Nativity activity take you step by step through the Christmas story, starting with prophecy foretelling the birth of Jesus all the way through the visit of the Magi. They focus on Christ and the gospel as the incredible love story of God’s plan to be with us and redeem us is unwrapped over 15 days.
The Bible verses are included in the Advent devotional, (and below on the free scripture printable) but you can also read them from your own family Bible.
What Kind of Nativity Set to Use
First, you don’t have to have a manger scene to use the Countdown to Christmas Advent devotional. The Advent devotional, scriptures and prayers can stand alone as a wonderful Advent celebration.
Using a Nativity creates excitement as you build the Nativity and countdown toward Christmas Day. The hands-on fun of creating the manger scene piece by piece creates lasting memories and engages the whole family in the events of the Christmas story.
If you’re using this with small children, choose a Nativity that’s sturdy and non-breakable so you can display it at your child’s eye-level and their little hands can play with it.
While you don’t have to have all of these pieces (we’ve been known to improvise with Lego® palm trees and a homemade star), the Nativity pieces used in the Countdown to Christmas Advent book and the Nativity activity scripture printable are:
- the Creche (stable)
- a palm tree
- baby Jesus
- 3 wise men
Suggested Nativity Sets
Olive Wood Nativity set: I’ve fallen in love with the olive wood Nativity sets. Many come from olive wood grown in Israel and, left unpolished, will naturally darken over time from the oil of your child’s hands.
Heartland resin Nativity set: The resin looks a bit dressier but are sturdy enough for children to handle.
Willow Tree Nativity set: These timeless pieces can be collected and added to each season.
Fisher Price Little People Manger Scene: Classic pieces for the littlest hands. This is one my children have set up and played with over and over at Christmastime.
Start a Family Tradition
That’s it! A hands-on, open-and-go, Christ-centered Advent tradition you can do with your family year after year. It’s our favorite way to countdown to Christmas and focus on the best gift of Christmas — our Savior.
Get your copy of Countdown to Christmas: Unwrap the Christmas Story with Your Family in 15 Days here.
I pray this becomes a beautiful tradition of treasured memories as you unwrap the real Christmas story. Merry Christmas!
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