Hello everyone! I thought I'd compile a list of activities that can make Advent a really special time for you and your family. It's easy to get sucked into the commercialism of it all...so here is a compilation of things to keep it simple and to keep Christ in Christmas...God Bless & Have Fun :)
1. Buy/Make an Advent wreath for your home.
On the first day of Advent, light the first purple candle on your wreath. Our family sings various traditional Christmas hymns around the wreath such as Veni, Emmanuel and Adeste Fideles. Continue lighting the candles each week for the coming of the Christ Child. The last week, light the purple candle in celebration of the arrival of Jesus.The website Catholic Icing has a super cute advent wreath craft to make with your children :)
2. Read a Verse from Luke 2 Every Night.
Break it up so that you read a little each night until Christmas. Explain to your Little Ducklings what each verse means and give examples for their understanding. This is very important to help little ones familiarize themselves with the story of Christ's birth.
3. Print/Hang a Scripture Chain.
This has more meaning instead of the plain red/green paper ones that signify nothing. The website The Things I Love Most has a wonderful ready-to-print chain. Now, the countdown to Christmas will have meaning :)
4. Emphasize Charitable Acts.
This should be done year round, but there are so many opportunities this time of year to really GIVE GIVE GIVE. One fun way is to anonymously surprise a neighbor by leaving cookies, a gift, or a card on their doorstep. I know someone that collects change all year long and leaves the jar on a stranger's doorstep.....SO NEAT :) Donating toys or money to charities also teaches young ducklings the beauty of giving.
5. Attend Midnight Mass On Christmas Eve.
If your church offers this, in my opinion, it's got to be one of the most beautiful visions I have ever laid eyes upon; the dark interior church lit by masses of bright candles, the light's reflection of the nativity and life-size crucifix....all surrounded by beautiful pre-lit Christmas trees. Not to mention, the glorious Latin mass sung with Traditional hymns.
6. Celebrate the Feast of St.Nicholas & St. Lucia
These feasts are quite fun for the little ones during advent....and very important. St.Nicholas's feast lands on December 6th. St. Nicholas, who we now call Santa Clause lived in the third century. It is said that he tossed money into the window of the home of 3 poor sisters who were destitute of dowries. The money landed in their shoes....or stockings they say. To celebrate his feast day each year, we put our own shoes out on December 5th night to awaken the next morning to them full of treats :)
St. Lucia's feast day is December 13th. She was a martyr born in Sicily. It was said that she brought food to Christians who practiced their faith in dark tunnels to avoid persecution. In order to see in the dark tunnels, she wore a wreath of candles on her head. On her feast day, we celebrate by dressing in white (with a red sash around the waist), wearing a wreath on our head, and making a feast of bread. My site has a tutorial on how to make a Saint Lucia wreath.
7. Set Up a Nativity Set & Attend a Live Nativity
What a beautiful way to get ready for the birth of Christ! I encourage you to only set up the animals and the manger right now because Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and the Three Wise Men haven't arrived yet. Set Mary and Joseph far away from the manger as they are making their long journey to the stable right now. Each day, move them a little closer. On Christmas Day, what a surprise it will be when your young ones wake up and find baby Jesus in the manger. It's up to you, but we also have the Three Wise Men come later and slowly make their journey to the Baby Jesus after Christmas is over. Another way to emphasize the beauty of Christ's birth is to go to a live nativity....this can be one of the most memorable gifts of the season.
8. Pray the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena Every Night as a Family.
Beautiful novena that keeps Christ's intention for the season close to your heart. Get the beautiful printable novena card from here http://joyfilledfamily.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-novena.html
9. Make your presents.
Making your presents can have more meaning.....they aren't bought from a cold Target shelf that has little thought into. I'm not saying buying your presents is all bad, but maybe make a few with your children to teach them about putting their hearts and time into something for somebody.
10. Have a Birthday Party For Jesus
This is a great way to emphasize to your young ones that this is the day that Christ was born. What better way than a birthday party. Bake a cake and blow up the balloons. Adorn the cake with "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS." Have the kids make a present for him and wrap it under the tree. Last year, we did all of this and boy was it special.
One of our many Christmas Decorations :)