Train Up A Child Challenge: An Advent Calendar to Spread Joy

I’m super excited to be participating in a blog hop this month called Season of Giving: 31 Days of Spreading Joy.

Father hands globe ornament to son's hand.

Our Train Up A Child project this month is an Advent calendar, of sorts. In years past, I’ve done the typical piece-of-chocolate-a-day Advent calendars, but I’ve never loved the idea of them. Plus, it’s kind of annoying to be always bargaining with your preschooler about whether or not 7:30 am is too early for chocolate or remind her constantly that she can only have ONE piece of chocolate a day and deal with the tears that come when you reach Day 18 and you’re out of chocolate. Baby Boy’s dairy allergy gave me a nice excuse to nix the chocolate-themed calendar when Yaya asked me about it this year. Instead, we opted for a Christmas-book-a-day calendar.

We had almost enough books in our collection, but purchased a few more from a recent book order. I’ve seen lots of great book lists on Pinterest comprised of titles  focused solely on Christ’s birth, and I think that’s a worthy goal! While we have our share of nativity books, we also have some favorites that we love, like Polar Express or How the Grinch Stole Christmas that I enjoy reading every year, too.

We decided to combine the books with an act of service/random act of kindness each day. I laid out the books, and on each book taped a small envelope with the activity written inside of it (our list of activities is at the end of this post).

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I wrapped each book in brown packaging paper and wrote a number on the top corner, then placed them in a basket by the fireplace.


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The thing I have loved about this is not just how excited my 4-year-old gets about surprising the neighbors with a Christmas gift or helping me make breakfast for Dad — but also how it’s about more than my kids learning kindness. The day begins with me offering an act of kindness to my children — cuddling with them, free from distraction, as we read a Christmas book together. Typically, our morning are always a bit frazzled as we get ready to take on the day. But now, we take those moments together in the morning to read and discuss our service opportunity.

It’s way better than chocolate.

Be sure to CLICK ON THIS LINK and see what others are doing this month to spread joy. There’s so many great bloggers participating, and you’ll, no doubt, be encouraged.


And in case we might give you any inspiration with our completely un-original list of ideas, here’s the simple acts of service we will be doing this month.

1. Pick a toy at the dollar store to donate

2. Make Dad breakfast

3. Surprise the neighbors with a Christmas gift

4. Purchase a gift from the angel tree at the mall

5. Go through the pantry and pick a few cans of food to donate

6. Go through toys and pick some to pass down

7. Send a card to a soldier

8. Read a book to [Baby Boy]

9. Write Christmas cards to shut-ins at church

10. Make cupcakes for friends in Bible study group

11. Leave a thank you note for the garbage man

12. Take Christmas goodies to ballet teachers.

13. Take Christmas goodies to choir director.

14. Color a picture to send to Uncle Nicco.

15. Take a Christmas present to Sunday School teacher

16. Leave a thank you note for the mail-person.

17. Buy three books at the bookstore to donate to our neighborhood’s school.

18. Donate a bag of animal food to the animal shelter.

19. Mail a Christmas card to a prisoner

20. Sing Christmas songs at a senior living center

21. Play piano at a senior living center

22. Donate a book to the library.

23. Mail a Christmas picture to Papa and Mama.

24. Tell others the Good News about Jesus! (Christmas program at church!)




  1. Pinned! And you won the prize at Family Fun Friday. eBook is in the email to you! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Your site looks tremendous! Love the idea to pair an act of kindness with a book!


  1. […] Yaya bought a guinea pig, Baby Boy graduated physical therapy and I participated in a Blog Hop with family activities for spreading joy during the month of December. […]

  2. […] Joy 2 Dec: Holiday Service Projects for Kids 3 Dec : 10 Ways to Give on #GivingTuesday  4 Dec: Advent Calendar for Spreading Joy 5 Dec: Cleaning Out for A Cause (coming […]

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