November 23, 2014 by FHElessons
When my first child was born, I got the crazy idea to have the tradition of advent stockings. This was before the days of Pinterest and even before the internet, so I’m not sure where this idea came from. But I made her a big stocking with 24 small pockets on the front, each one for holding a small toy or treat. With each child, my advent stocking designs became a little more elaborate, so that the pockets on the front of the other kids stockings are arranged into a Christmas-y picture, and some pockets are actually hooks for hanging a gift. You can see them on my banister here. (For a close up photo of all the stockings, see the links to my other advent posts below.)
The advent stockings were easy to fill when the children were small – just buy a pack of tiny rubber animals or a doll tea set, and half the pockets are done. As they grew to be teenagers, it became more difficult to find inexpensive things that they would like, small enough to fit in the pockets. But they still enjoyed the advent tradition, so I kept filling the stockings. And as they began to move away from home, I would give them their stocking with advent pockets filled to take home with them at Thanksgiving and bring back when they came to visit for Christmas.
However, when my son left to serve a mission, it was time to step up my game. I wanted to make the advent tradition one that was still fun but also focused the holiday more on Christ. So, I decided to choose 24 scriptures, adding one to each pocket to be read when the treat was chosen. You can find free printables of my first 2 seasons here:
This year I decided to take it up even one more notch. I have created an advent event called 24 Days Closer to Christ.
This calendar incorporates both the scripture a day idea, plus it adds a task to do each day that coordinates with the scripture. The tasks are not designed to make anyone’s Christmas season more difficult or to add more work or more stress. In fact, you will find that many of the tasks are things you already do every Christmas season.
It is my hope that the scriptures you read each day will show you how your normal Christmas tasks actually follow Christ’s example. And I also hope that in reading the scriptures and doing the tasks each day, you will feel yourself drawing closer to Christ and following in His footsteps this Christmas season.
My last two scripture advents each had a theme. The first one focused on Names of Christ and the second on gifts He gives to us. If I had to pick a theme for this group of scriptures, I would say they focus on following Christ’s example.
However, I did not choose them with a theme already in mind. In fact, I chose these scriptures more than 20 years ago, and used them as the advent calendar you see in the picture above. It is super simple – just tack a string across the wall and hang the cards over the string. Choose one each day to read as a family.
For this first advent calendar, I just cut the cards out of construction paper, wrote the scriptures in by hand, and drew some numbers and little pictures on the front of each card.
You can see that after all these years, the paper is very faded. Lucky for you, you won’t have to hand draw yours. I have made the scriptures into FREE PRINTABLE cards for you!
If you want to keep things simple, you could use the scriptures exactly the way I did years ago – just hang them on a string and read one per day.
There are also tasks to go with each scripture, and for this, simple plan, you could just leave the pages with the tasks printed out near your hanging advent calendar and read the task together as a family after you read the scripture for the day.
To incorporate the 24 Days Closer to Christ advent calendar into your regular advent tradition, you can use it the way that I did this year. For my missionary son, I, of course, didn’t want to send his advent stocking that he’s had since childhood to him for fear it would never make it back home.
So, this year and last year, for my children who are living away from home, I used tiny gift boxes for their advent calendars. I bought these cute, little green boxes at Dollar Tree. They are in the party aisle, and they have had them in stock for the past 2 years. You could use any small boxes, but the kind that are sold in packs to give treats away at a party are inexpensive and the perfect size (about 2x2x2 inches).
To prepare your calendar, print out the cards with the scriptures here:
- Inside (scriptures) Page 1
- Inside (scriptures) Page 2
- Inside (scriptures) Page 3
- Inside (scriptures) Page 4
- Colored Outside Page 1
- Colored Outside Page 2
- Colored Outside Page 3
- Colored Outside Page 4
- White Outside Page 1
- White Outside Page 2
- White Outside Page 3
- White Outside Page 4
You can print from the above links or from the jpg’s embedded at the end of this post. I printed mine on cardstock.
You can choose either colored (red and green) outsides if you want it to look more Christmas-y or white outsides if you want to save on printer ink. The trickiest part is doing the 2-sided printing. You’ll have to figure out how to feed the paper through to get both sides oriented correctly. If you do it right, the titles for both the back and the front will be behind each other on the paper. When you cut the individual cards out, fold them in half on the dotted line. The scripture should be right side up when you open the card.
You will also need to print out the tasks here:
After you have printed the tasks, cut them up into slips of paper with a single task on each slip.
Now it’s time to stuff your boxes (or pockets or whatever). Add a treat or gift to each box along with the correct task for the day. In other words, task #1 goes in the box with the scripture for day 1 on the outside.
Close your boxes up and tape the scripture card on the outside.
For my college aged kids, I then packed their boxes up in a gift bag to send home with them at Thanksgiving. For my missionary, I packed his boxes up to mail to him. They have to get there by December First!
I hope doing this advent calendar brings your family closer to Christ this season. You could even do the calendar just for yourself with the intent of drawing closer to Christ.
I am grateful to Heavenly Father for His Christmas gift to us of His Only Begotten Son. I hope to better emulate both God and His Son in my life.
Here are the jpg’s. Click on each one to enlarge and then right click to save or print. Merry Christmas!
Just in case you want to read them, here are the scriptures I used:
Day 1: Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me. (D&C 19:23)
Day 2: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
Day 3: Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. 3 Nephi 9:15
Day 4: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Day 5: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Day 6: Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2
Day 7: Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:21 – 24)
Day 8: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
Day 9: Cleave unto me with all your heart. (D&C 11:19) I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. (D&C 6:20)
Day 10: For I have given unto you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you. (John 13:15)
Day 11: Look unto me in every thought. (D&C 6:36)
Day 12: Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. (3 Nephi 27:27)
Day 13: Behold, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 1 John 4:7
Day 14: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if god so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)
Day 15: Freely have ye received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
Day 16: In me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Day 17: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
Day 18: And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. (Isaiah 32:17)
Day 19: Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (2 Nephi 2:6-7)
Day 20: And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)
Day 21: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalms 23:1)
Day 22: And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another. (Mosiah 4:21)
Day 23: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to the that ask him? (3 Nephi 14:11)
Day 24: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (Moroni 7:48)
And also the tasks:
24 Days Closer to Christ
1. Make a Christmas list of gifts you would like to give to everyone this year. If you already have your list made, look through the Topical Guide in the scriptures under the different headings for Jesus Christ and make a list of attributes of Christ that you would like to develop.
2. Look for the good in people today. As you find it, give sincere compliments.
3. Do something to beautify the world around you – decorate for Christmas, clean up a
mess, spruce up your yard or someone else’s yard, etc.
4. Make a sacrifice today. It could be a sacrifice of time or money or thought. You could give something of yours to someone who would like it, spend time with someone who needs it, etc. Try to make your sacrifice benefit someone else.
5. Set up a nativity scene if you have one. If you don’t have one, keep your eye out to see one today. If your nativities are already set up, give thanks to God for the gift of His Only Begotten Son.
6. Exercise faith in Christ today in some way. You could make a point to trust in an answer to prayer. You could turn your burdens over to the Lord. You could tell the Lord why you believe in Christ and give thanks for Him.
7. Make a point of turning the other cheek and going the extra mile today. If someone says or does something mean to you, say or do something kind back to them. If someone cuts you off in traffic, let another person go ahead of you as well.
8. Try to give the gift of peace to someone today. Do some of their work for them and allow them to rest. Give them some quiet time. Read someone a book or sing them a song. Etc.
9. Wrap some Christmas gifts today. As you tie the ribbon on, think about Christ encircling you in the arms of His love.
10. Do something today that Christ would have done – help someone to heal, listen to someone without judgment, serve someone just as Christ washed His disciples’ feet.
11. Keep Christ in the forefront of your thoughts today by listening to Christmas music that speaks of Him.
12. Share something with someone today.
13. Forgive someone today. You could forgive someone for an offense done today or for one done in the past. Ask God to help you forgive if needed.
14. Choose someone you love and make sure he or she knows you love him or her. Think about the 5 love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, service, gifts, physical touch) and try to show love to that person in all 5 love languages today.
15. Give someone an early Christmas gift today. You could take some cookies to a neighbor, mail a package to a missionary, or give a gift to someone you won’t see later this month.
16. Think of a trial you have been having or something that has been difficult to overcome. Realize that God has all power and can help you overcome that which you could not do on your own. Choose a burden to lay at His feet.
17. Write a note to someone today letting him/her know how much you love him/her. You could write a letter and save it to tuck into his/her stocking, stick a post-it note on his/her car, leave a note on his/her pillow, mail a thank you card, send a text, or e-mail a letter.
18. Spend some time today sipping cocoa or cider in front of the Christmas tree. While enjoying your peace, think back on how righteous actions have blessed your life. Offer a prayer of thanks for these blessings.
19. Sacrifice something for God today. You could choose to give up a sin or promise to serve Him in the future. You could help Him by spreading His Gospel to others.
20. Do a small act of service today in secret (a Secret Santa). Make someone’s bed, do their dishes, clean their room, wash their car, etc.
21. Give something to a homeless person or someone else in need today.
22. This is another day for giving a gift. Give an early Christmas gift, go caroling, deliver neighbor gifts, give to someone in need, etc. Alternatively, you could share the gift of Christ’s gospel with someone.
23. List some of the gifts that God has given to you. Thank Him for them. Reciprocate by making, giving, or delivering a gift to someone.
24. Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-11. Ponder on Christ’s life and plead with God for the gift of charity. Resolve to follow Christ’s example in the upcoming year.