Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our Advent Traditions

I thought I would take some time to write about our family Advent Traditions. They have developed over the course of our marriage and the raising of our children, but some of the traditions go back to our childhoods. And we enjoy sharing those with our children.

One of Alexa's favorite Advent traditions was started a couple of years ago. It is an Advent chain. I saw a similar idea over at By Sun and Candlelight. (Can't seem to link to it right now..argh). Anyway, I write out some fun activities onto strips of colored construction paper (purple for all weeks except the 3rd week, which is done in pink). I tape/staple those together as links, only one week at a time. The kids take turns, usually after lunch, tearing off and reading the words describing that day's activity on the inside of the link. They, especially Alexa, get so excited about it. I only write these out one week at a time, because plans sometimes (MANY times, actually) have to be changed at the last minute for some unforseen reason. We've had a lot of fun with this. The activities can be very simple and still be fun. Actually Alexa prefers the ones where we do something cozy at home.

I begin this process by checking local festivities in our city, along with the library, co-op events, and fun activities our church is putting on. I also put Skylar's BD party on the calendar right away, before anything else. So once these big events are written in, I fill in the other days with smaller, simpler ideas.

Here are some of the bigger, "away from home" activities for us this year:
  • Saint Nicholas Day, celebration of saints (put on by a local Catholic school)
  • Gingerbread House Decorating Party (put on by co-op friends)
  • Old Town Christmas Carol Sing-Along and Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Christmas Parade
  • Advent Carols performed by our church choir and handbell choir
  • Train Show in Old Town (this is followed by a stroll through the streets of Old Town to see the decorations, and hot chocolate when we get home!)
  • A trip to the movies to see The Princess and the Frog (shhhh!)

There have been other things in past years, such as puppet shows at the library, or having a mini Christmas party with friends, or riding the Santa Train. And some of the outdoor activities are dependant upon the weather, too.

Some of our simpler and (mostly) Stay at Home Advent Activities include:

  • Candy Cane Day ( read The Legend of the Candycane and make Peppermint Bark together as gifts for friends, and sip minty chocolate cocoa)
  • Decorate the tree.
  • Mom gets out most of the Christmas books and we read as much as we want together and drink hot chocolate.
  • Read Night Tree by Eve Bunting, then bundle up and go into the yard and decorate our own trees with birdseed, suet and homemade bird feeders.
  • One day, early in Advent, I bring in all the Nativities (our good set for the mantle, the Playmobil one for the older kids and Evan gets the Little People Nativity).
  • Decorate for Advent....get the wreath out, change the colors on our family altar, etc.
  • Make Christmas cookies for neighbors and to take to the Grandmas.
  • Make candy and fudge...Yummy!
  • Read The Legend of the Poinsettia, then make poinsettia clothespin fairies. We could turn this into a teatime (just might do that)
  • Take a winter walk, after the Winter Solstice, and collect some things we find for our nature shelf.
  • Stop and get donuts after Mass on Sunday.
  • Watch certain favorite Christmas movies, either on TV or from our collection. I try not to let them watch too many Christmas specials, because it can get old....really fast.
  • Watch the Juan Diego DVD that we own (link is in my sidebar) on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Make an ornament, or bookmark to remind us of this feast day.
  • Read Country Angel Christmas by Tomie DePaola and make little paper angels and enjoy some delicious angel food cake along with a cup of hot tea!
  • Decorate the outside of the house.
  • Create Christmas gifts from crafts, as we listen to Christmas Carols.
  • Take a tag off of the tree at church and purchase a gift or two for someone in need.
  • Go to the grocery store to purchase rice, beans, pasta, etc. to donate.
  • Watch Polar Express, stopping half way through to enjoy hot cocoa (just like in the movie).
  • Have a Classic Claymation Christmas Night (very nostalgic for mommy and daddy). Watch a double or triple feature as we enjoy loads of popcorn.
  • Present wrapping day!
  • Teatime for St. Lucy. Roll homemade beeswax candles! Even young children can do this. And they make neat gifts, too.

I could probably go on and on and on....but I need to get to bed. If you have any ideas of your own, please feel free to leave a comment. My kids are always open to new fun things being added to our Advent chain. :)

May you have a very blessed Advent season.



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