Easy Advent Activity Ideas

A few people have asked for our list of Advent calendar activities – something I originally planned on sharing but knew I wouldn’t finalize until the day we began, December 1st.

True ’nuff, I didn’t finalize them until the day we began, December 1st, and now it’s December 5th.

{shoutout to all my fellow procrastinators}

But, hey, maybe you are just looking for a few family fun ideas throughout December and maybe this will still be a good resource, so here you are:

Click above, or download the pdf here.

A few tips:

1. Go to the Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, or the Target dollar spot BEFORE you plan activities. They always have cheap, cute craft kits and puzzles and Christmas-paraphenalia to plan activities around. (Instead of coming up with an activity and then scrambling to find the supplies.)

Pictured above: an alien hand + foam decorations to make and take to our elderly friends

2. Going back to the whole “low expectations” thing, don’t make the activity cards a big deal.

I printed them on boring white paper, cut them into uneven squares, and stuck them in a super snazzy felt envelope that I bought at – dare I mention it again – the Target dollar spot.

Along those lines, displaying them beautifully is squarely in the Not A Big Deal category.

This year, I bought a package of felt Christmas trees and made garland out it.

When we have completed an Advent activity, we tape it to a tree so we know what day we’re on and how many trees we have to go until Christmas.

I’m telling you, keeping wonder high and expectations low saves lives.

I hope this has been helpful. If not, can’t say I didn’t warn you.


Through all these sometimes-fun, sometimes-kind, sometimes-silly activities, may we all look for and wait for and hope for Jesus well this season.

She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Luke 2:38 (NLT)

Christmas, Reclaimed

A few weeks ago I spoke to some fellow moms on the topic of “Simplifying Christmas”.

About reclaiming the joy and wonder of it.

And finding ways to not hate yourself and everyone around you by the time the holidays are over.

It was easily one of my favorite topics this fall because, like most things humans get ahold of, we’ve lost our way a bit in this department. And of all the overwhelming, stressful things in life and the world around us, Christmas just doesn’t have to be one.

It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate to celebrate the birth of a savior who couldn’t have come with any less.

Our family is over this.

So here are 4 ways we’re reclaiming this season:
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How About We Not Be Jerks This Week

On Halloween, I was standing on the sidewalk texting while Fishlegs Ingerman (far left) was tripping and spilling his candy everywhere for the 14th time.

I honestly can’t remember who I was texting or why, but it felt important enough to finish before I bent down to help him.
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When Marriage Gets Crowded

We exchanged wedding vows under a chuppah, a word whose pronunciation I had to Google.

chuppah: [khoo p-ah, hoo puh] 1. a canopy under which the Jewish marriage ceremony is performed, symbolic of both the home they are creating and their God who will remain over it all

To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about chuppahs. I was neither Jewish nor did I speak Hebrew. I saw mention of it in a Rob Bell book once and we went for it.

Though I didn’t understand the depth and importance of the tradition at the time, I loved the imagery.

I adore it even more today, and here’s why:
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Praises of a Thousand Generations

I was born with an overabundance of words. They bubble up inside of me and ooze out of every pore. I can’t help it.

I even coach myself on self-control in social settings, yet inevitably walk away thinking, “Why did I just talk so much?”

It’s a blessing or a curse, depending who you ask and when. (If you asked my mom circa 1993 after one of her “Sarah, sweetie, mommy’s ears are tired.” schticks, she probably would’ve voted the latter.)

But it’s also a blessing.

In the past several years, I’ve gotten to use my words across amazing, humbling platforms.
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Excavate at Your Own Risk

Knowing my 6 year old’s Prehistoric Marine Reptile Dinosaur birthday was around the corner (his theme choice…as if that needs to be clarified), I needed some small party favors to take to his kindergarten class that were non-edible. (Non-edible, because when the youths today eat sugar, food dye, gluten, or non-grass-fed meat they spontaneously combust. It’s easier not to feed them at all.)

I ordered a few things from Amazon – some dinosaur stamps and stickers – but I needed just *one* more little something small to stick in the bag. This was, after all, his first ever birthday to be celebrated at school.

It was A Huge Deal.
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Learning How to Send a Kid To School

Sitting in a circle of parents during the kindergarten tour, we listened as the principal introduced us to the elementary school. He covered everything from the school’s mission to flexible seating in the classrooms to the longitudinal effects of reading to your children. He asked for questions and several hands shot up; each one a great, high level question.

“Tell us about the school’s curriculum goals for the next 5 years.”

“How will you challenge my student at her level?”

“How do you promote physical health and exercise to the students?”

“Walk us through the campus safety plan.”

Good questions, good answers.

“Anything else I didn’t answer?” he asks.

Well, yes, I thought. Only about a billion. For instance, sir,
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20 Things I Learned in my 20’s

I was kind of an expert of everything in my twenties. Especially my early twenties. (I think everybody is. It’s a rite of passage.)

I’m entering my thirties this week, a fact I can confirm not just by the date on the calendar but by how different my mindset is today than it was two, five, ten years ago.

Now, I hear a young twenty-something person provide invaluable, irreplaceable expertise on life to an older adult and I smile. I was you, like 1 second ago.

I knew it all, until life proved I didn’t.

I was an incredible wife before I got married.

I was an excellent businesswoman before I started my first job.

I was an amazing parent before I had children.

It’s adorable, really. How much I thought I knew, how much I really didn’t, and how much I’ve grown in the past decade. Continue Reading

The Screams Heard ‘Round the Parking Garage

Aside from my amazingly uneventful trip to NYC in June with my bestie, weird things happen to us when we travel.

Actually, who am I kidding? Weird things happen to us all the time, it is just infinitely funnier in another city.

Like the Airport Bathroom Incident on my way to Utah a few weeks ago when – instead of waiting for me, my carry-on, and my purse to exit first – a lady brought her carry-on, her purse, and her entire self into the bathroom stall WITH me. We stood eye to eye for several beats, our bodies flush against each other, as she huffed impatiently at my complete incompetence. “Uh…excuse me? I guess?” I mumbled as I squeezed past her along the wall, the metal toilet paper box cutting into the backs of my thighs. Suffice it to say, it was a very special moment for us both. Continue Reading

Take a Bite of THAT, Big Apple

“I am not – I repeat – I am NOT taking selfies all weekend.”

Taylor Brooks, New York City, 2017

After the worst vacation ever last year, we’ve been hesitant to try again. (Our doctors’ bills seem to go up exponentially when we travel.)

But MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES, we actually had a successful solo vacation to New York City last weekend.

(I know. It’s surprising to me, too, and I was there.)

We’re one week post-vacation, no signs of E. coli or Giardia in sight. We. made. it.

We didn’t just *make it*, we killed it.

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