Using the Advent to Develop Character Plus Christmas Book Giveaway!

How has the Advent season been progressing for you? I have to say, that it has been creating such excitement at our house, but it has also had the hidden blessing of assisting the children to develop valuable character traits. During this month while waiting for Christmas Day, not only have they been learning about the true meaning of Christmas, they have also been developing patience, self control, kindness, co-operation, forgiveness and joyfulness (in all circumstances, not just when things are going they way they desire).

Elvey, our little Elf on the Shelf, has been a loved addition of the house again and the bigger kids are really being patient with the younger children helping them to find the elf. To be truthful, I feel like last year Elvey was put in a few more creative places. I just seem to be scrambling this year, jumping out of bed when I hear the children are up and rushing him off to a new shelf. Yesterday I heard the children were coming so I jumped out of bed and tried to untie Elvey from the tinsel he was bungee jumping from. The triplets walked out and I kind of chucked the Elf behind my shoulder and was standing there playing with the tinsel, as you do. In the true spirit of the toddler, they stood there staring, asked me 20 times what I was doing, then ran off. I managed to untie the elf and as they ran back stuff him under my nightie (poor elf) and run him to the Christmas tree and shove him up the top. Now the people who think the elf is creepy (he’s not that bad, is he?) probably are also accusing him of looking up the angel’s skirts.

The kids also have been enjoying the store bought Advent Calendars. I know, people are getting excited about non-chocolate advent traditions, and as you know, we are doing this also. However, I think one little chocolate is really not that harmful. The calendars are cheap, and it’s just a little bit of fun. Turns out it’s teaching self control and patience also. Mind you, two of my children have failed miserably with the self control, so now they are learning a lesson of consequences for your actions as they watch the other children eat a chocolate each day while they miss out because of their bulk consumption.

My favourite tradition has been the Advent books. Admitedly, it took me a little while to get going with this. I hurriedly had wrapped the first book, chucked it under the tree and explained to the children that I would be getting one child each day to unwrap a book in the lead up to Christmas. Because there was only one book, and three 3 year olds had limited understanding about what I had explained, it wasn’t a happy moment around the Christmas tree. My 5 year old who is also learning that it is more blessed to give then to receive and my 8 year old managed better self control then the others, but I think he was a little disappointed he didn’t open the present on the same day as well. The Accountant watched the proceedings, (it looked like we were exploring the book of Lamentations from the Bible rather than the Gospels), shook his head saying he didn’t know why I had these hair brained ideas and walked off.

It then took a few more days before I got all the presents wrapped, and I chose not to do any more books until there was a pile and I could show the children that there was a label telling which day it was to be opened and which child would open it. Nevertheless, we had to repeat the process of protests and wailing and then we watched the next child open the book and we read it together. We then repeated the wailing and lamenting when the children discovered they had to wait for another day until they opened the next present. All the same, there were two children who unwrapped some books half an hour later when I was no longer policing the tree. (There was a common denominator with the Advent thief).

However, thanks to persistence and lots of explaining, they now mostly sit happily together and watch each other unwrap. I have been very clear that the books belong to the family, not the individual. The child is wrapping it for one another. I’m also strict that everyone sits together and watches it get unwrapped and listens to the story. It is a valuable lesson in being happy for one another and I think (and hope!) that it is actually setting really good groundwork for not being selfish on Christmas morning also.

The stories have also been wonderful in building the Christmas spirit. I’m very excited to let you know that five of those stories could be yours! Scholastic Australia is generously giving away five Christmas book packs. Each selection will include

One Night
Where’s Santa Around the World
Deck the Shed with Bits of Wattle
There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Present
Santa’s Busy Reindeer

To find out more about these books, they are included in my review of 24 children’s books for Christmas.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20 Comments

  1. We have a wooden advent calendar that my mother in law fills each year with coins, sweets and little toys. The kids all love it, even miss 13! They also help me to make gifts, not just buying. We recycle jars for jams, relishes and sauces and they have learned that effort and though, not expense, is what is important.

  2. Haha, I had great fun imagining the lamentations around the tree. I would definitely believe it. I like your idea of labels – I have always just let the kids pick a book, any book, but it does make for some interesting combinations of “lots of longer books in the row” or younger versions etc.

    Anyway. This year, Aela and I sat down and made a list of people she wanted to purchase or make presents for. She is using her own pocket money and ingenuity (plus help from me) and I hope she’s discovering the joy of giving a perfect present.

  3. My four year old asked me the other day ‘What does Christmas even mean?’ I told her about the birth of Jesus etc and pulled out our nativity scene to explain it better. I think it’s important they learn it’s not all about receiving gifts, gifts and more gifts. We also donate toys we no longer use to people in need.

  4. I think the book idea is great too, if you can get your kids to cooperate I suppose. And I have treats in with my activities, a chocolate or little candy cane every so often isn’t going to kill them.

  5. I am lucky in that my children go to a school with a strong religious program, so they have been covering a lot of Christmas topics, crafts, and chapel services in the last few weeks! We also have Christmas story books which we read every year in the lead up to Christmas (my kids seem to love the familiarity of the books!). But it would be wonderful to add to our collection of books to read 🙂 We have also been donating heaps of wrapped gifts to charity this year and my kids all know they are for other children who are not so fortunate as them. Thank you for a lovely giveaway! Monique N

  6. My children have been helping me with baking Christmas shaped biscuits to give as gifts to learn about the joy of giving. Attending Christmas functions and parties to share food and have a great time with family and friends. Borrowing Christmas stories and books from the library to read about all the different facets of Christmas: religious, cultural, traditional and fun

  7. We donate to the KMart Wishing Tree Appeal, and purchase gifts from the Smiles catalogue that World Vision has. This helps to teach the kids that Christmas just isn’t about receiving, but about giving too.
    We sometimes sit around the Christmas tree and say some prayers and words of thanks for all that we have.

  8. I think Christmas is a time to be thankful and we try to show this in many ways. Firstly my 3 year old and I bake lots of Christmas goodies to thank his daycare teachers, my work colleagues, our neighbours and our friends and family. I write our appreciation in our Christmas cards and my son ‘writes’ or draws on the other side of the card. As well we wrap a gift for someone less fortunate and appreciate just how lucky we are.

    We also get into the Christmas spirit by singing Christmas Carols LOUDLY in the car (such enthusiasm), having the book, ‘Santa Koala’ on repeat and decorating our house with lots of kid’s craft, including homemade ‘toilet paper’ baubles! Hmm.

  9. Every year we take our kids to Kmart to chose a toy for another little boy or girl that might not get one otherwise. 13 year old Madeleine is an old hand at it, and has fun exploring the store for something she really wants for herself to give to another teen, and this year we hope 3 year old Lolly will understand better. We know from past experiance that 2 year old Seb will probably not understand yet, but we will help him choose and he will get there eventually! We wrap and label them together and my kids like to talk about how the recipients will feel about the gift.

  10. I have asked my children to pick one present of their each from under the tree that we will take and donate to our local St Vincent De Paul Society. I want them to understand that giving feels better than receiving.

  11. We help feed the homeless on Hutt Street Christmas day…helps the kids to appreciate that not all of us have love and caring people around us on this special day

  12. We let our little boy pick a present for the kmart wishing tree, we also do a donation of our old toys and clothes to the Salvation army and get him involved in that

  13. We too have an advent calendar with the Christmas story told out in Scripture each day along with an activity. I’ve especially loved tracking down Christmas books with meaning for the “open a book each night’ thing. It can be a bit hit and miss but I’ve found some lovely ones at the library. I also found this great advent book at the Christian bookstore which has been great.

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