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How are you preparing your heart for Christmas? Although Christmas is a one-day event, believers can use the entire month of December as a time to prepare for a season of celebration and worship. A common way to do this is by using Advent traditions, such as calendars and wreaths.
But not all believers celebrate Advent, whether from choice, lack of exposure, or something else. Thankfully, Advent is not the only way to prepare your heart for Christmas. Below are three suggestions for getting your heart for the holiday. And, yes, the last one is using Advent calendars! Which one – or maybe all three – will work for you and your family?
Prepare Your Heart Through Reading
One perfect (to me) way to work on preparing your heart for Christmas is by reading great books. The classic A Christmas Carol is always a good choice. Or maybe a modern classic, such as The Christmas Box. Personally, I spend some of my reading time with devotionals and Bible-based books. I also love finding devotionals by favorite authors such as this one by Paul David Tripp.
Two books I’ve read in years past include The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs and The Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. This year I’m planning to read The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I’d love to hear what books you recommend.
On the devotional side, I usually just read short passages from Scripture that speak of Jesus. I also often read through one or more gospels during December. Refreshing my mind with the stories of Jesus makes me more thankful for what He sacrificed in coming to this world. I love reading the Gospel of John during December because it speaks so clearly of His divinity. However, Luke is also a favorite.
I encourage you to prepare your heart for the season by changing up your devotional routine. Maybe add a book, like one I suggested. Or lay aside the devotional guide to have more time in the Word. Maybe do a study on the names and titles of Jesus. Or perhaps you could read one chapter per day in Luke. Luke is 24 chapters long, so starting on December 1st will have you finished on Christmas Eve. Perfect!
There are lots of possibilities! Just pick one and get started.
Prepare Your Heart Through Music
A second way to prepare your heart is through listening to Christ-honoring music. Christmas music is popular for a reason – it helps ‘get us in the mood.’ So it is with Christmas music that focuses on Christ – it will ‘get us in the mood’ for worship and praise.
I remember as a child my father playing Christmas records on Thanksgiving Day. That was the unofficial start of the Christmas season for us. Music made the difference. And it still makes a difference today.
When the kids were little, I stuck to that tradition of starting Christmas music at Thanksgiving. But now that it’s just me and hubby – I listen to Christmas music a lot earlier in the year – usually early November. And I have friends who listen to Christmas music almost all year. So open that app or those CDs or LPs or whatever you use for music – and get some listening going!
I encourage you to listen to some old favorites but be open to new songs of worship. Two of my classic favorites are O, Holy Night and Mary, Did You Know? But I’m always open to new ways to worship through music.
FYI – I also love the Santa, reindeer, and general holiday music, too. I know Christmas is about Jesus – but if the non-Jesus music makes me smile, I think that’s a good thing.
What is your plan for adding music to your preparations?
Prepare Your Heart with Advent Calendars
Advent calendars come in a multitude of varieties. You can get the simple ‘open the door and eat the chocolate’ variety. Or a service-oriented Advent calendar focused on random acts of kindness. You can do the ‘read a picture book every day in December’ approach and pair that with a calendar. Or you can go more traditional and read a verse or passage of Scripture every day.
There are lots of choices! Here are 7 free calendars and ideas that I’ve found that I think are worth checking out:
- This cute, printable, and simple kid-friendly calendar with verses to read daily
- A list of Scriptures accompanied by DIY directions for a simple homemade calendar
- I love this paper-chain Advent calendar that focuses on the names of Jesus
- A list of 28 names of Jesus (a bit longer than the traditional 24)
- This ‘At Home Christmas Bucket List’ contains several activities that could be incorporated into your Advent calendar or you could create a calendar focused totally on things you do
- I’m sure this great list of 50 ideas for acts of kindness will give you plenty to choose from
- Also, this kid-friendly acts of kindness calendar with 24 simple things to do provides a done-for-you Advent calendar that focuses on serving instead of getting
And lastly, some options if you’re short on time and just want to purchase an Advent calendar:
- I’m personally a fan of reusable Advent calendars, like this one with 24 cute drawers
- Or this one made of felt. It is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers
- And finally, I love everything by Melissa & Doug – so I had to include this wonderful wooden tree calendar with magnetic ornaments
Now the ball is in your court. What will you do to prepare your heart for Christmas? How will you make Christmas a season of worship instead of a season of stress, consumption, and performance?