Craft Your Own Advent Candles The Easy Way

It’s that time of year! The time of year when what you desperately need are pink and purple candles, but the stores are selling pretty much only red, green, gold, and harvest colors. Great joy. If only you had thought to buy pink and purple candles last Spring… but then again, you think that every year, don’t you? Or is it just me?

diy advent candle craft

Well this year we skipped our annual candle-hunt by crafting our own candles using this Advent candle kit. Everything we needed was included!

advent candle kit from illuminated ink

This kit also explained the symbolism of beeswax, how to make an Advent wreath, and it came with an Advent wreath blessing and daily devotionals. I was really surprised how all-inclusive the box was!

craft your own advent candles

Making the candles was super easy. It didn’t involve melting, it didn’t involve dipping, and it didn’t even involve painting. Once you get the ball wick rolling, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

how to roll your own advent candles

As we were making these candles, I felt like we were on a roll! We just rolled up our sleeves and got to work! It was so easy, it was like rolling a snowball downhill. (Man, I am on a roll with these puns! They just keep rolling off my tongue!) Ok, the word roll has officially lost all meaning.

rolled up beeswax candles for advent

All puns aside, these candles took us less than 10 minutes to make, and the kids were really excited to be a part of it. This has got to be one of the easiest-to-complete crafts ever!

It says on the box that it’s for ages 6 and up. At first, I thought this was an over-estimation, but now that we’ve done it, I’d say that it’s spot on. It’s a little bit tricky to get the wax started around the wick, and you have to pay attention to roll it straight and tight. Julian (age 6) did a great job, but I was glad Violet (age 4) was napping while we did this.

ages 6 and up for advent candle craft

I love that these are real bee’s wax! My dad used to raise bees when I was a kid, so the wax is extremely nostalgic to me. I love the smell and the texture. Bee’s wax does stick to pretty much everything, so plan accordingly.

I had to pinch the bottom of the candles a little bit to get them to fit into my Advent wreath (a standard sized taper candle holder) but it was easy to do and it’s a very snug fit! No worrying about them tipping over at all. I’m very happy with how they fit in.

make your own advent candles- catholic craft

If you put in your order for this Advent Candle Kit today and choose priority shipping, they’ll be there in time for Sunday. In fact, I checked with Holy Heroes and they said that if you place your order by noon on Nov 26, 2014 (again, priority shipping) you should have them in time. Isn’t that awesome?!

advent wreat with homemade candles

I also have a Holy Heroes coupon code for you guys! Any purchase now through the end of November will receive a free Childhood of Jesus Coloring book with coupon code: Adv3nts4l3  (This code will take the cost of the coloring book off of the order.)

If you are into pillar candles for Advent rather than tapers, you can see how to paint pillar candles with pink and purple crayons here.

The Advent Christmas Planner- available from Catholic Icing

I received this candle kit for free from Holy Heroes. The links in this post are affiliate links, which help support the costs of running this site. All opinions in this post are my own. 

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Operation Christmas Child- Giving From The Heart

It’s pretty common to reach out to the needy during the Advent/Christmas season. Whether you like to pack shoeboxes, choose a child from an angel tree, or donate to toys for tots, remember that you are teaching your own children generosity through your example of giving.

packing shoe boxes for operation christmas child

 

I recently ran across an article at We Are That Family called Dear World: Let’s Stop Giving Our Crap To The Poor and it struck a nerve with me. She talks about how often we give our old discarded things to the poor without batting an eye, even when the things are total junk. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but really, why doesn’t it occur to us to give them nice stuff?  Is it because we think they should just be happy with anything? You know… since they’re so needy?

I saw that Kristen had a good number of ugly commenters on her post. Now I’ll tell you, I’ve met Kristen in real life, and she is a sweet, caring, giving lady. She has spent a lot of time in Kenya on mission trips, and when it comes to helping the poor, she knows what she’s talking about.

I would encourage you to read her whole article, but what she basically boiled it down to at the end of the article is, if all we’re willing to give to the poor is our old junky stuff, that means we have a lot of old stuff to spare. Perhaps rather than replacing our own stuff, we should dip into our pocketbooks to give as generously to the poor as we do to ourselves. Wow. Now isn’t that a thought?

shoebox ideas for operation christmas child

“Live simply so others can simply live.” -Mother Teresa

One of our family’s favorite ways to give during Christmas is through Operation Christmas Child. The basic idea behind Operation Christmas Child is that boxes are packed for needy children in other countries, and delivered all over the world for Christmas. (This is national drop off week right now, November 17-24, 2014, so you still have some time to participate!)

operation christmas child shoebox ideas

I’ve posted about participating in the shoebox thing before. Take a look at these boxes I packed a few years ago for Operation Christmas Child. They are full of stuff from the Dollar Tree. Did I shop at the Dollar Tree for my kid’s Christmas presents that year? Maybe for some candy or stocking stuffers, but overall, no, I can’t say that I did.

Now, gander back about 6 years. I had a 2 year old, I was very pregnant, and my husband was still in college. Our family of 3 1/2 was living off of a salary in the teens with very little assistance of any kind. I really didn’t buy my kids anything for Christmas at all in those skimpy years. If I found some good things at thrift stores, I might pick it up and hoard it for Christmas, but I mostly relied on friends and family to send things. We actually didn’t buy any Christmas gifts for our own children for years. We simply didn’t have the money. 

But times have changed. Mark graduated from college, he works full time, and we are much better off now. Most of the Christmas presents given in our home now are very intentional. They’re usually book sets I want for my kids, educational toys, and toys that I consider “timeless” such as wooden train tracks, blocks, etc.

christmas presents

Given our income swing, I’ve put a lot of time over the years considering what makes someone “cheap” and here’s the conclusion I came to: when you spend more generously on yourself than you’re willing to spend on others, that makes you cheap. 

Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

So when I am standing outside the pearly gates, what am I supposed to tell Jesus I did for him? That I donated my expired food to him and went back to the grocery store for new food for me? That I spent about 30 times more money on my own kids for Christmas than I did on him? That we bought clothes for us new at the store, but all we ever gave for him to wear was clothing fit for the rag bag? No, I don’t want to have to tell that to Jesus. Now, telling Jesus that I only gave used clothes to him, but I always also wore used clothes myself? Sure. I can live with that. See the difference?

As I looked up ideas for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes, I saw so many posts about how to do it for really really cheap. I get it- we are trying to reach the most kids possible. And if you’re good at couponing, shoping clearance throughout the year, sewing pillowcase dresses, and crocheting hand made dolls with leftover yarn for these kids over the year, more power to you!!!

We just need to remember to be as generous to them as we are to ourselves. We don’t deserve more than them. It’s not owed to us. It’s not even guaranteed to us for the future.

Jesus says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:19

So, I took my kids shopping. All 4 of them, without any back up. ;-)

shopping for operation christmas child

Each of my kids packed a shoebox for a child of their own age and gender. You’re supposed to include a mixture of toys, personal care items, and school supplies.

It felt so awesome to be shopping generously! I didn’t find myself saying things like “Mmmm… that’s kind of expensive. How about this?” I found myself saying things like “Would you like to get that for Christmas?” or “Do you think that’s something your child will really enjoy?” or “Do you think that’s a good fit for someone who might not speak English?” I realized, I wasn’t teaching my children to be stingy, I was teaching them to put themselves in these kid’s shoes. When my kids found things they thought were a good fit, they were so excited. They learned a valuable lesson through this shopping experience: These kids are just as valuable as I am. 

operation shoebox ideas

Some changes I made with our Operation Christmas Child boxes this year:

  • They ask you to start with one central toy or item to be the “big present” and fill in with small things around it. We were very intentional about that this year. I had a little trouble finding appropriate toys (why are so many toys these days so inappropriate for children?) but it worked out in the end.
  • I included cotton clothes that could roll up small in each box. I was able to find small Summer dresses on clearance for $1 each. This was perfect because for all I know, these boxes are going to a very hot country!
  • I am very opinionated when it comes to school and craft supplies, yet I was sending generic-brand-junk in the boxes before. This year, we sent on-brand crayons and colored pencils in the boxes.
  • We sent fun kid toothbrushes. They’re adorable, and they really weren’t that much more expensive given that they needed to be individually packaged, so it’s not like I could buy them in bulk anyway.
  • I bought quality plastic shoeboxes, meaning I paid $2 each rather than $1 each. The plastic is better, and the lids snap on with handles. I read that most of these showboxes are re-purposed and continue to be used, so why would I send junk?
  • Biggest change? My thought process really changed from “How can we pack these boxes as cheaply as possible?” to “What will really put a smile on these kid’s faces?” And that was a big change.

You still need to donate $7/box to help with shipping costs. I had posted last time that it cost me about $20/box including the $7. This year, it cost about $30/box including the $7 donation. Remember that you’re supposed to be tithing anyway, so it may as well be to a really cool cause. Also, I could have really cut back on the cost by buying quality items on clearance throughout the year and saving them. Maybe next year.

These boxes were packed with love and thought. If I were walking up to Jesus and handing him one of these boxes, I wouldn’t be ashamed. He would know I had given him my best.

“He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Luke 3:11

The Bible doesn’t say to hang onto all of your extra cloaks for a rainy day- it says to share them. I believe that true generosity is what happens when we give away something that is worth keeping.

operation christmas child packed shoeboxes

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Advent Is Right Around The Corner!

Advent planning never goes smoothly for me unless I start before Thanksgiving, and people, it’s right around the corner! For anyone who downloaded my Advent Christmas Planner last year, it’s time to pull that baby off the shelf!

The Advent Christmas Planner from Catholic Icing

Just yesterday, I received such a sweet email from a reader that purchased the Advent Christmas Planner last year. I wanted to share her thoughts on the ebook with all of you:

Dear Lacy,

I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and have always enjoyed the various crafts and ideas you’ve presented for teaching the Faith to children.

Last year, I decided to purchase your Advent Planner because I was raised only nominally Catholic and the season was always somewhat of a mystery to me.

Over the years since my return to the Church, I have found lots of information online and in books, but it was almost information overload. Sometimes I’d catch myself spending too much time online hunting for ideas and not enough time actually implementing them!

I knew I liked your projects from reading your blog over the years, so I figured I’d give your planner a shot. I was hoping it would help me plan Advent so that it would not be so overwhelming for me.

All I can say is, wow! Your planner really delivered, and then some. Our Advent last year went so much more smoothly than previous years, and most importantly, I felt we were really able to get across the true meaning of the season.

Not to say that things didn’t get nutty at times (in addition to Advent and Christmas, we have *5* birthdays in our family during the month of December, including my husband’s!), but I felt so much more able to handle stuff than in previous years, where it seemed I was almost literally running around like a chicken with her head cut off. :)

I really love the gentle and kind tone you take with us mothers. As I sat down with my planner that first day after I purchased it (I printed it out, hole-punched it, and put it in a binder), I almost felt like I was sitting down with a friend for coffee. Just reading your introduction put me at ease, and lifted some of the stress from my shoulders. And your prayer at the very beginning was one I read and re-read to myself many times during the Advent season.

I also love how honest you are with your own experiences. Sometimes I read blogs and I end up feeling badly about myself and my life because the bloggers make their lives look almost perfect. I loved how throughout the planner you would often say stuff like, “look, some years I make baked goods from scratch, and other years I buy pre-made cookie dough”. It may seem like a small thing but this was huge to me. It really made me breathe easier to know that someone I admired did the same thing when she needed to.

In that same vein, I thought your approach to feast days during Advent was great. You really made celebrating these days accessible by always giving easy ways to make the day special. (Like making a simple Mexican dinner on St. Juan Diego’s feast day). In the past I would get caught up thinking I had to do something super fancy and then I’d end up doing nothing. Your planner helped me see that even doing something small is great, and that kids will remember it.

Lastly, while your planner helped keep the Advent season “Advent” and not “Christmas”, I also liked how you offered different ideas for how to do things as opposed to being all, “this is the way it must be done”. (Like when to put up your Christmas tree… thank you for not being judge-y about that!)

Anyway. I had wanted to write you last year after Christmas but time just got away from me. However, I pulled out the planner last week in anticipation of Advent and was reminded of how wonderful it is, and how I had wanted to thank you for what you had written. So, thank you! I know we are strangers but through your planner you have really touched my life. :)

In His Peace,

Monica B. (wife, and mom to 4 kiddos, ages 8 through 2)

The Advent Christmas Planner- available from Catholic Icing

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Speaking At World Meeting Of Families

I have a VERY exciting announcement today- I am going to be presenting at the World Meeting of Families 2015 in Philadelphia!!!

world meeting of families 2015 pope francis

For anyone who doesn’t know, the “World Meeting of Families” is very similar to “World Youth Day” but for families rather than youth… and yes, Pope Francis is planning on coming! (I’m not saying Pope Francis is planning on coming to my talk, just that he’ll be at the conference to do his important Papal Mass thing.) ;-)

pope francis, world meeting of families

My talk is titled “Family Ties: How Meals, Rituals, Traditions, Worship and Prayer Create Strong, Healthy and Joy-Filled Catholic Homes” – quite a mouthful, I know! You can find me on page 13 under Breakout Session F2 here.

The list of speakers also includes Father Robert Barron, Danielle Bean, and Scott Hahn just to name just a few! Registration is now open, so check out the agenda and full list of speakers. It’s going to be awesome! :-)

I went to World Youth Day Toronto, and it was one of the most impacting trips of my life.

For any of you who have attended a World Youth Day or a World Meeting Of Families, it would be great if you could leave a testimonial in the comments to help others understand what an amazing experience big conferences like this are! It’s quite an opportunity for the USA to be hosting this one, so don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance! I can’t wait to get to the World Meeting Of Families, and I look forward to seeing you there!

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