What could an "at-home version" of the Advent Trail look like? Setting up the full "trail" described above is probably not feasible for an individual family to do. So my first thought was to make an "at-home version" look and work a lot like a "scavenger hunt" -- a game in which family members follow clues to "find the hidden nativity story objects" and then tell the story with them when they reassemble the manger scene. As a children and youth pastor, I've done plenty of scavenger hunts. The trick is to make some clues/items harder than others and to be ready to give hints! The teaching trick is to make it meaningful.
An At-Home Advent ~ Nativity Hunt
Hide your family's nativity figures and other objects that correspond to the 10 different parts/scriptures of the Advent story as listed below. Then create a "treasure map" with clever & fun clues as to where each is located around your home, property, or neighborhood. Substitute other objects for those parts of the Nativity story for which you do not have figures.
- Tie a Christmas ribbon on the hidden objects so the hunters know when they've found the right item.
- Each object has a Bible Book/Chapter/Verse attached to the ribbon which is to be read after all the items have been collected and turned into your Nativity Scene.
- The leader of the hunt can give "hints" for those objects that are harder to find.
- The Q's are possible questions for each "finder" to read after they're done reading the verse.
Here is an abbreviated list of the "parts" of the Nativity story with some suggested "possible objects" to hide and clues to give as to their whereabouts (with an explanation to the leader of the location that the clue is pointing to). Of course, your objects and locations might differ, so use the following to inspire your own At-Home Advent Hunt.
- In the Beginning, light (John 1:1-5)
Hidden Object: a candle to light.
Clue: We light these with a match. Look for this one where you find God's Word (our Bible).
Q: What is Jesus' secret identity? (secret to those who don't know him)
- Prophecy of the Coming Savior (Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7)
Hidden Object: a great light, a peace symbol.
Clue: Look where we keep track of future events (a calendar).
Q: Where is peace needed in your life the most right now?
- Gabriel Visits Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
Hidden Object: a feather from an angel's wing.
Clue: You might tickle a person's nose or feet with this. Look near our "bird" (could be a painting or figure).
Q: What tickles you -- makes you happy the most about Christmas?
- Mary Visits Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45)
Hidden Object: two Baby dolls.
Clue: you'll find these two soft little cryers where we keep our family albums.
Q: Try this: Make your stomach "jump for joy" like Elizabeth's did.
- Mary's Song (Luke 1:46-56)
Hidden Object: a songsheet.
Clue: What you'd need to sing a song.
Q: Make and sing a single line of "joy" about Jesus.
- Angel Appears to Joseph in a Dream (Matthew 1:18-25)
Hidden Object: a carpenter's tool.
Clue: A tool like Joseph might have used.
Q: What "tools" do we use to follow Jesus?
- Journey to Bethlehem and Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7)
idden Object: a donkey or toy car.
Clue: Where we keep our modes of transportation.
Q: How do you think Mary and Joseph were feeling during the journey?
- Angels Appear to the Shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)
Hidden Object: Wool or Shepherd's crook.
Clue: Where you'd stop before going outside in the cold. (closet)
Q: Demonstrate how would you react if an angel appeared to you!
- Visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12)
Possible Object: Magi/Camel/Gift
Clue: This gift looks different (a gift under your tree)
Q: What gifts do you think Jesus wants us to give this Christmas?
- YOU at the Manger (What Jesus means to you)
Hidden Object: Photo of yourself/family
Clue: You've been framed!
Q: How are you part of Jesus' family?
When all ten items are found, arrange them in a "manger scene" and let the person who found each item read the scripture verse attached to it and ask the question for others to answers. Take a photo of your "Advent Hunt" manger scene and share it on your church's Facebook page.
I hope you enjoy this Advent Hunt idea. Feel free to make suggestions.