Posted on November 2, 2015
Preparing for Advent
Image (C) Guenter Zoufal | Dreamstime Stock Photos
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I like preparing for Advent, as we have always enjoyed Advent as a family, as a time for focusing on the birth of Jesus, and why he came. We usually do Advent activities in the afternoons in December, rather than any other schoolwork that we might otherwise be doing in the afternoon.
Last autumn I went through Amy Roberts’ Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas series of posts on Raising Arrows, which uses Sheri Graham’s 12 Week Holiday Planner. Although I am not someone who finds Christmas stressful, I still found this very helpful in planning for Christmas, particularly as we were moving house at the start of December last year. I have been using the same process again this year, which has been good. If you want to use this to plan from November onwards, you can still start now!
Last year I decided to make our own felt Advent Calendar. I downloaded the pattern from Lullaby Loft Etsy shop for £11.17 (about 17 US dollars), bought some felt, buttons and gold elastic, and slowly made a bit each night, when the children were in bed! Although this cost for the material and the pattern download, it was a lot cheaper than buying a premade felt Advent calendar (which you also can do from the Lullaby Loft, if your budget allows it and you don’t have the time to make the pattern yourself). I have talked before about my limited sewing abilities, but the pattern and instructions for the Advent calendar were easy for me to follow and carry out.
Sadly, to see the finished Advent calendar you will have to click on the link to the Lullaby Loft shop or look on my Pinterest Advent board, as although I took these photos last year, I seem to not have any of the finished item, and it is another thing that is packed away in my parents’ garage! Hopefully they will be able to bring it with them when we meet up in November, before Advent, of course!
Two years ago, we made a Jesse Tree using these instructions, after recommendation from a kind friend in our homeschooling group. The children coloured-in printed ‘ornaments’ for this (you can download some for free at Ann Voskamp’s site A Holy Experience, where you can also buy her Advent book The Greatest Gift), but I know you can buy more elaborate pre-made ornaments, or make them from felt. However, we hung our printed paper ornaments (glued onto card), on some twigs in a flower pot! Simple, but the daily readings, and corresponding ornaments did help us to focus more on the prophecies throughout the Bible leading up to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. You can learn more about what a Jesse Tree is at Blessed Beyond a Doubt.
Probably one of my favourite activities during Advent is to read aloud Christmas and winter themed books to our children- preferably with crackling fire and a blanket! We usually have a Christmas-related read aloud chapter book, such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Winter with the Moodys (this is available in the UK from Rainbow Books), and The Birds’ Christmas Carol. This year I hope to read Christmas Comes to Sunflower, and possibly another longer book. We also normally have a basket of picture books for advent, which we have collected gradually since our son was born, but as these are still currently in my parents’ garage, we will have a smaller collection than usual. Here are some of the books we usually have to choose from:
Our Bible time during December will usually use a special devotional for Advent. Two years ago, we used the Jesse Tree readings for our Bible time, but in other years we have used Beginning with God at Christmas from www.thegoodbook.co.uk and Postal Bible School studies.
We have a selection of Christmas and Advent craft books (also in the aforementioned garage!), that we use throughout December. This year I will be using ideas from Pinterest and other websites to find meaningful Advent activities for our family, and you can see my Pinterest Advent Activities board here: Follow Gwen An Island Family By Grace’s board Advent Activities on Pinterest.
Last year, as we moved into my parents’ house early in December, the children worked on Christmas lapbooks at times when I needed to do house move tasks that they could not help with.
We like to make mincemeat pies (this link is to the BBC Good Food recipe that we use), and ginger Christmas biscuits (cookies), throughout Advent, and we make some for our neighbours and friends the week before Christmas.
This year I have been preparing homemade gifts in advance, so over the next few weeks I will be finishing these off.
We have a selection of family DVDs which we only take out during Advent, such as The Nativity Story, The Snowman, and Muppet Christmas Carol. There is also a post with several Christ-centred Christmas videos you can watch on Sheri Graham’s blog.
Writing this post has actually helped my own thoughts on preparing for Advent! Are there any other ways your family celebrates Advent? Please share them below.
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