With all the crazy hussle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important not to let this religious time get lost in the secular shuffle. Preparing for Advent early is a great way to make sure you start this season off on the right foot- one that walks towards Him. For kids, Santa can be a pretty tough guy for Jesus to compete with- but I assure you that there is much strength and fun to be found in our amazing Catholic culture! Now here are 6 ways to kick off your family’s advent with a religious bang!
Get an Advent Wreath
This is a very popular tradition, and I’m willing to bet most of you already have an advent wreath of some kind. The basic idea is that it’s a green wreath with 3 purple candles and one ‘rose’ colored candle. The candles are lit every night before dinner during prayers, and you light one additional candle each week until Christmas. I did a post last year on DIY Advent Wreaths that you should check out if you don’t have one yet! Be sure to read up on the background of the Advent Wreath and also Blessings and Prayers for your Advent Wreath. At our house we also have this Fabric Children’s Advent Wreath which is really cute! The candles Velcro on so you can add them as you go.
Use an Advent Calendar
There are soooo many different advent calendars out there! From paper chains to pinatas, there are infinite ways to count down the days to our savior’s birth. If you craft one yourself, you can start on the first day of advent rather than the first day of December. An advent calendar can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be, but I would encourage you to find something religious to help your kids understand the meaning of Christmas. Resist society’s ridiculous Sponge Bob Square Pants advent calendars. In stead, find or make something meaningful, like this Religious Advent Calendar from Story Time Felts. Each day Mary rides the donkey closer and closer to Bethlehem. How cute is that?! My friend, Katie Offsay, is the one who sent me this awesome link, so be sure to enter her as your ‘consultant’ if you order one
Prepare a Manger for Baby Jesus
A great activity for kids to do during Advent is have a manger forBaby Jesus. Every time they do a good deed or make a sacrifice, theyget to add a piece of straw to the manger. Hopefully by ChristmasBaby Jesus has a nice soft bed to lay on! Find a round up of Manger Crafts Here.
Setting Up the Nativity
This year we’re planning on setting up our nativity in an interactive way with the kids. This process will begin on Advent, and end on the Epiphany. Ruth from Just Another Day in Paradise has a great post about being Interactive with your Nativity Set. If you have little ones (like me) you might want to look into getting something like this Little People Nativity Set for Kids. I’m thinking about getting my kids one for St. Nicholas day!
Have a Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree is a great tradition to do, and it starts on December 1. You hang one symbol on your Jesse Tree each day of December until Christmas and read a coordinating passage from the bible. You can make your own Jesse Tree and craft your own symbols– you can even find places to print them for free! Check out more background on the Jesse Tree at Catholic Culture. If you don’t have time this holiday season to make your own Jesse Tree, check out this Jesse Tree Activity Kit.
These you can procrastinate on a little bit because they don’t start until December 17. Each O Antiphon is a different title for the Messiah and once again, you go through them one per day. Man, by Christmas I’m going to have you guys doing like, 6 things every day! Get directions for celebrating the O Antiphons at Catholic Culture and check out my post on O Antiphon Crafts from last year for ideas. Here’s an O Antiphon CD with songs for each one!
Is it weird that I’m so anxious that I’m waiting to start a time of… well, waiting? Ok, now it’s your turn! What does your family do for Advent?