Today as with the commercialization of many religious holidays, Advent means big bucks for business. Chocolates, beer, wine, and all kinds of Advent calendars and kits abound. They have turned Advent into another gift-giving spree. If you want to simply celebrate Advent, make a wreath or calendar and add activities that enhance the season.
- In November, everyone in the family goes through their possessions for working, good condition items that someone else would enjoy. Have an unused working tablet in the house? An old laptop in good condition? This is a time for the kids to go through their toys they no longer play with, get up the collection and donate them.
- One of my favorite traditions is the Giving Tree. Your local church and other organizations probably have one each year with a tag saying age, size, etc. of person and their request for a present. I usually take the ones that most people ignore. Everyone grabs tags with toy requests. That’s fine, but one year I took a senior man’s request for underwear. It’s a sad Christmas gift request. The man needs underwear. Have your children choose a tag for another child’s request. Go shopping together to buy the gifts for others and have a wrapping party. if you are a business owner, consider making a Giving Tree for your company or store. See How to Make a Giving Tree for more information.
- How about family baking days? Make cookies and fill jars of cookies for gifts for neighbors, teachers, or friends. Or make honeyed nuts for Christmas gifts. Visit a local Senior center or fire station with trays of cookies, nuts, etc. When I was an administrator of a senior apartment building, each year the residents made or bought cookies and fruit as a thank you to the 911 responders. A delegation of seniors brought the treats to the fire station. I believe Christmas is a time to be thinking of others.
- Many churches and non-profits collect food to distribute for the holiday. Collect food, donate, or even volunteer. Someone has to sort the mostly canned goods. I’ve helped deliver food in the past. It’s a moving experience making sure families can celebrate with a good meal. One young mother excitedly told us of her new job. Times were looking better for her family. The food we brought would make it a happy Christmas for everyone. At every home, we held hands and said a small little prayer.
“There are people in the world so hungry that
God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Whether you’re religious or not, make the season a time of giving. May Kindness be shared with all.
I got my first Advent Wreath decades ago. It was a simple metal wreath with faux greenery and four calendar holders marking the four Sundays before Christmas. Some Advent wreaths have a 5th white candle in the center for Christmas Day. Advent wreaths are an ancient tradition going back as far as Roman times. Today there are various customs according to several liturgical denominations involving the color of the candles and their significance. On the first Sunday, a candle is lit and a prayer or scripture read. Snuff out the candle. Please don’t blow it out or the hot melted wax might spray. The next Sunday light the first and the second. Have a service and extinguish the candle. Each week light in order, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, until the last Sunday there are four candles burning. The candles do not have to burn down but can burn for your remembrance and be extinguished. If you want a Christmas Day candle, the four candles and a fifth white candle all are burning on Christmas.
Many churches have recommended prayers or Bible readings for Advent. Crosswalk.com has a post on a complete family service for the four Sundays of Advent with songs, prayers, and readings. If you do not have an Advent tradition in your home, you can easily create one for your family. It can be as simple as lighting candles and saying a small prayer. Give a meaning to each candle such as Faith, Hope, Joy, Peace, and of course on Christmas Day, God’s son. I suggest lighting the candles at the dinner table before the meal or after dinner before dessert. You can use prayers you like or suggestions from your church. Simple readings from the Bible can be used such as:
- Week 1 – Isaiah 60:2-3
- Week 2 – Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
- Week 3 – Philippians 4:4-7
- Week 4 – Matthew 1:18-23
- Christmas Day – Luke 2:4-14
For a PDF of the above readings, click Download Here
Make your own wreath
You do not have to buy a fancy wreath to celebrate Advent. You can make one. It doesn’t even have to be a circular wreath. All that is required is four candles for the Sundays of Advent and an optional white candle for Christmas Day. Here are a few ideas:
- Use 4 bottles or jars, add candles and sand, add ribbons, and tie on a numbered tag. Place on trays, platters or plates. Try to use items that are not flammable as much as possible. Remember to not leave the candle burning unattended.
- My favorite easy wreath is using four glass bowls with a candle in each. Put salt around the candle and decorate with ornaments and colored glass. You can arrange them as a centerpiece on the dining table or on a side table in a row.
- Use any kind of candle and holder and all 4 do not have to match. Have a couple of sets of 2? That works great. How about 4 jar candles? Decorate with ribbon and line them up. Use greenery and ornaments.
LED lights work well and won’t cause a fire.
Advent calendars begin on December 1 and mark the 24 days before Christmas. Today, most Advent calendars include paper doors that open to reveal an image, Bible verse, or piece of chocolate. The tradition dates to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants lit candles or made chalk marks on doors marking the days to Christmas.
- The simplest calendar is a printable; it’s both inexpensive and fast.
- A simple and fun kid-friendly craft project is an Advent calendar of paper bags. Buy white lunch bags, get out markers, crayons, construction paper, stencils, and have a fun craft session decorating 24 bags for Advent.
- Just Measuring Up has a great how-to on making a felt Advent calendar. It’s decorative and can be used each year.
- Make a stocking calendar. You can buy or make stocking ornaments and number them. Hang ornaments from a cord with decorations to create an Advent banner. To make your own, use Fashion Era’s stocking stencil (see #2) or print First Palette’s Christmas Stocking Pattern.
Sending you all positive thoughts and good wishes.
Get exclusive free printables & all the news straight to your mailbox!