Advent {Week 1}

Happy Advent, all! I really appreciate this season in the church because I feel it causes us all to slow down and reflect on Christ and our need for a Savior. We can easily reflect on Christ any time of the year and we should, but there really is something special about these next 4 weeks. With my kids getting older, it was really important to me to find an Advent tradition that was kid friendly and also adult friendly. (The parents need to enjoy the tradition as well, right?!) In past years, I have over complicated Advent, tried a little too hard and all my Advent ideas would go right out the window within the first week! I have found in my family, less is more and simple always works out. Plus, I am entering into my third trimester with baby #3 and I can only muster up enough energy for simple.

I began researching different ideas and talking with a few friends to see what they do during Advent. You guys, there are SO many ideas and resources out there for Advent it's crazy! Crazy in a good way though. Below I have listed some of my favorite ideas you could do with your family for Advent. Even though we're in the middle of week 1, it's not too late to start your Advent tradition in my book.

1.  Christmas Advent Activity Banner: The idea behind this banner is to have an activity you do together as a family each day. You will need some twine/string, clothespins and small envelopes or small paper bags. I have attached a link to a site that offers free printable bags for Advent! I like this idea because you can get as creative as you want with it. In each bag/envelope you write down an activity. The activity can be as simple as baking cookies, looking at Christmas lights, donating a toy to a shelter, going to Mass...whatever you want! Below is an example of what your Activity Advent Banner could look like, again, click on link below for a your free printable bags! 24f87f1aa588f7f2b240e929f7b43be3http://www.yellowblissroad.com/free-printable-advent-calendar-treat-bag-kit/

2. Advent Wreath Prayers: Something that my family and I have started doing this Advent is praying around the Advent wreath. It takes about 5 seconds and we usually pray at dinner time, since we are all sitting in the same place. The first Sunday of Advent we said the Advent Wreath blessing and we let the kids help us light the candle on the wreath which they really like. Easily amused is an understatement and I'm thankful for it! I found the Advent Wreath Blessing and prayers each week from: http://www.holyheroes.com/Holy-Heroes-Advent-Adventure-s/48.htm. Holy Heroes Advent Adventure's site has a ton of amazing resources on there for kids. I can't believe I just  found out about this website! Don't walk, run to this site if you are in need of ideas. They have videos, coloring pages you can print off for kids and even Mass quizzes for the older kids during Advent. I like how the website caters to all ages for Advent. So, after lighting the candle, saying the meal prayer we say the Advent prayer for that week, then DONE. That's it! I told you, simple! Below is a link to the blessing and the prayers for each week. I like this tradition because it a.) reminded us to actually light our wreath and b.) it's an easy way to acknowledge the Advent season in a prayerful way. http://www.holyheroes.net/aa/pdf/Advent_Wreath_Prayers.pdf

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3. Another tradition we started this Advent was the Jesse Tree. The Jesse tree comes from Isaiah 11:1, "A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Jesse was the father of King David. We put ornaments on our Jesse tree that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old testament, connecting us to the Advent season. You can find a TON of ideas on Pinterest or Google. You can make Jesse ornaments by hand or if you are like me, finding an ornament template and printing them off works great too! I found my ornament template on the Holy Heroes website. (see link above) Here's what I did to make this Advent idea a reality. First, I bought this teeny, tiny Christmas tree on Amazon for about $10.

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I then went onto the Holy Heroes website to print off my ornaments. (I used card stock to make the ornaments sturdy.)  I used watercolors to paint each ornament. You do NOT have to spend time and paint or color in each ornament, I just really enjoy painting, drawing,etc...so this was easy and fun for me! Each ornament has the bible verse that you read for the day printed on it. Poke a little hole at the top and put a Christmas ornament hook on there and then you are well on your way to your Jesse tree. We typically read the verse for the day during dinner and after the kids are done eating they can hang the ornament on the tree. Again, this is really easy and it doesn't take much time. With having a 4 year old and 2 year old at times they listen to the whole bible verse and sometimes we end up paraphrasing the verse! You just have to cater to your kids at that moment and do what's easiest for your family.

 

 

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 presetWe keep our Jesse tree on top of our pantry along with our nativity.

I'm hoping that these Advent traditions we've started this year stick around for good! Some other traditions we like are Christmas cookie making, celebrating St. Nick's Day and of course looking at Christmas lights. There is so much to do during this season, one of the many reasons it's my favorite time of the year. I hope you all are having a great first week of Advent and found this post to be helpful if you are searching for new traditions! See you all next week for my: Advent {week 2} post!