This December, spend a few moments of each day leading up to Christmas helping your family focus on the true joys and meaning of Advent with 25 Days of the Christmas Story: An Advent Family Experience. This is a devotional perfect for families of all shapes, sizes, and schedules. Each of the 25 days highlights a different person, place, or object from the Christmas story—from the prophet Isaiah to Baby Jesus, from the Christmas star to the gift of frankincense. All devotions include an easy-to-read story, character trait, activity, and more—each designed to reinforce the main theme of the day.
Your family can choose simply to read each day’s story or to go deeper and engage with each day’s features. Either way, parents and children are sure to learn and celebrate the season of Advent together while having fun in the process!
A true heirloom in the making, the book includes pages in the back where parents and kids can record memories of each day’s activities and write journal entries to look back on year after year, Christmas after Christmas.
What inspired you to write 25 Days of the Christmas Story?
This book began a few years ago as individual blog posts during Advent, as we ourselves wanted to learn about each of the individual characters of the Christmas story.
When we wrote 25 Days of the Christmas Story, we wanted to teach our kids the real story of Christmas, not just the cultural narrative. We also wanted to do it in a fun way that took the events of Jesus’s birth beyond the pages of the book and into their everyday lives. So we began on Day 1 with Isaiah, who first prophesied about the coming Messiah, and wrote chronologically for 25 days through the Christmas story introducing a new character each day until Christmas day.
How did you come up with all the fun family activities for each day?
Kids think so concretely. It’s one thing to read about a Bible story, but it’s quite another to experientially act it out or play a game with your family to learn the lesson. We already held a birthday party for Jesus in our own family, and we wanted to add to that. So we decided to take the life lessons for each day and bring them alive in our home in a way that wasn’t too time-consuming or cost-prohibitive.
Who are your personal favorite characters of the Christmas story?
The beautiful part about the Christmas story is how God uses such obscure, unpopular and overlooked people and places to reveal himself. The teenage virgin Mary births Jesus. He is born where animals were kept (the manger). He is from a town people made fun of (Nazareth). The angels even appear to the shepherds, often the youngest members of their families.This is our favorite part of the story. If there’s anyone we want to be like, it’s Simeon and Anna at the end of the birth story. They had such a deep, relational connection to God that they both recognized Jesus as Messiah as soon as they saw him, even as a baby. Not even the disciples did that after he appeared to them following his death on the cross—and they had been with him in the years prior to his death.
How can busy families best utilize this book?
One day at a time. If you miss a day, there is no condemnation. Enjoy the process. We added various elements so you could find what works best for your family, whether that’s the family activity, the bedtime questions, the stories at dinnertime or the life lessons. Take what works for you and implement it. You don’t have to do the activity everyday. Our hope is that there is at least one element each day that helps you feel like you had a “parenting win” that day!
Have you already worked through the 25 days with your own kids? What recommendations would you give for families with multiple children of different ages?
Yes, we’ve been going through these characters for a few years now. Again, make it work for your family. If you have older kids, have them look up the passage in their own Bible and do a little more study on it. Follow their lead and allow them to ask questions. This is really true of all ages. Let your kids ask questions of you about the story. Then, follow up with them on what they’re asking. Our prayer is that this would be a book kids love learning from! You can also use the blank pages in the back to write down what your kids ask, answer and pray each year. In that regard, it really is a keepsake for years to come.
Why do you think a book like this is important for focusing on what really matters during the Christmas season?
Christmas in a lot of ways has been hijacked. Kids are more excited to receive than to give. We wanted to flip the script on what Christmas is about from the consumerism of the Western world and do so in a way that brought the family closer together.
Why do you think the character trait was important to include for each day?
Every good character in a story possesses an underlying trait. In other words, when you see a movie and you see an actor you admire, there’s something about that person’s character that makes you say to yourself, “I want to become like that one day.” We believe God’s character is expressed through his Word, and we wanted to pull out those character traits to help kids see what it means to be “well-formed in Christ Jesus.”
What do you hope families will take away from reading this book?
Lots of beautiful memories, new traditions for their family and a deeper love for and pursuit of Jesus.