Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rough Plans for Advent

~Ongoing Activities throughout Advent (Nov.29-Dec.23)~

Advent Wreath
Lighting a candle each night at dinner, reading a different weekly prayer, referencing our Advent wreath poster and adding a new flame each week, adding a white candle to the center of the wreath Christmas Eve

Advent Songs
O Come, O Come Emmanuel and others found here

Circle Time
Songs, daily saints, Mary echo pantomime (actual plans and songs TBA!)

Look Around the Stable
A new-to-us idea this year, I will be using a list that I found somewhere a year ago... it has a different item in the stable each day, for instance, straw is on one day, a cow on another day, grain on another, etc. It has a brief prayer relating to each one. My plan is to make a drawing of an outline of a stable and then make cut-outs of each item (or in some cases use the real item, like the straw) and have the girls glue one into the stable outline each day. In future years, I would love to have each child draw her own stable and then illustrate the daily item inside it, and by Christmas we will have beautifully illustrated, full stables! I am thinking of adding this to the end of circle time each day.

The girls have a cheapy wooden set to play with. We will also slowly add figures to our nativity throughout Advent. Last year, Caroline liked making Mary and Joseph travel to the stable after the angel announced Jesus's impending arrival to them. I have been eyeing play nativity stables like this one and hope to one day - probably not this year - make our own little figures for it from wood and felt...


So, so many... I just cleaned out our local public library! They have NO Tomie de Paola Christmas/Advent/Epiphany books left at all, unless they find the one that was missing when I was there this weekend! We have some old favorites here, like The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and we have gathered several more from the library that have come highly recommended by other Catholic homeschooling families. I am excited to start reading them all!

Straw in the Manger
A couple years ago, I made a little manger from craft sticks. For every good deed done the girls (mostly Caroline this year, I am thinking) do, they get to place a straw in the manger, making a soft place for the baby Jesus on Christmas morning. I also came across the idea of the Jesus Stocking, in which everyone can write down good deeds done and place in the stocking as a gift for Jesus, and then you read them as a family on Christmas. I am filing this idea away for future years, when I have some children old enough to write!

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena
This prayer is beautiful. It is said 15 times a day beginning on the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, until Christmas Eve. I love the idea of making prayer beads to keep track of the number of times the prayer is said each day. We will begin this year with just saying the prayer daily and one year, we will make the beads and use them!

~St. Nicholas Day - Dec. 6~

This actually falls on a Sunday, so I suppose it would be appropriate to move the feast to the Saturday before or the Monday after... our fun surrounding this saint day will include:

* Reading our St. Nicholas books
* Putting out shoes on the evening before... in the morning, the children will find them filled with chocolate coins, holy cards, and a new St. Nicholas book (obviously this will be next to the shoes and not in them!)
* Baking St. Nicholas cookies using our new cookie cutter!! It is in a package that came last week, which has a St. Nicholas sticker on the outside... Caroline thinks St. Nicholas sent us the box! We will give them to others in "secret" like St. Nicholas did.
* Special dinner meal: pork, either this or this, both of which we have had in the past

~Feast of St. Ambrose - December 7th~
Some ideas:
* make bumblebee cookies (he is the patron of bees and beekeepers)
* eat honey (in hot tea or in a recipe)
* make or decorate a Christ candle (he is also the patron of candlemakers - beeswax) to use in the center of our Advent wreath on Christmas

~Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary - December 8~

We will:
* have blueberry muffins for breakfast (blue being the color often associated with Mary)
* attend Mass (it is a holy day of obligation!)
* have a white dinner (chicken? cauliflower? pasta with alfredo sauce? lots of possibilities!) to symbolize Mary's purity, placing our Mary statue on the table as a centerpiece
* cover our white Christ candle with white tulle, symbolizing Mary's purity as the place where Jesus, the Light of the World (represented by the white candle) dwelled within her before his birth into the world on Christmas. Idea here.

~Our Lady of Guadalupe/Juan Diego - ~

Juan Diego's feast day falls on December 9, and Our Lady's on the 12th. Since they really go hand-in-hand, I like to combine them somewhere around these dates. We plan to, as time allows:
* make Mexican wedding cookies
* make Mexican hot chocolate
* have something Mexican for dinner (catching the drift here?), probably enchiladas
* make this Juan Diego paper doll
* read The Lady of Guadalupe

~St. Lucy - December 13~

The name Lucia means "light," so we have begun the tradition to first turn on our Christmas lights on this day. We usually put our tree up around this day as well.
Also on this day, we will do some of the following:
* make St. Lucy crowns
* make St. Lucy's bread... traditionally the oldest daughter wears the crown of candles and carries the warm breakfast rolls into everyone's bedrooms that morning, which might be fun for future years. We will have our bread either for breakfast (if I make it the night before), or for lunch with cheese and fruit like we did last year. Both crown and bread can be seen here from last year.
* possibly make this paper doll of St. Lucy
* take a drive to look at Christmas lights, in keeping with the "light" theme

~'O' Antiphons~

hope to start slowly with this... some people have made ornaments and activities to go along with these, but we will just pray them this year each evening, beginning on December 17 and going through December 23.

~Gift Making and Giving~

We have chosen two children from our church's Angel Tree... these are one and four year old girls for whom we will purchase some gifts since their families may not be able to afford much for Christmas. Caroline and I already picked out toy baby dolls for each of these girls, since that is something listed as a wanted item. We will shop for some clothes, pajamas, diapers, and a jacket for them once Advent has begun, and all gifts are due back at our church on December 11.

Gifts for family and friends... we have been making homemade gifts for the past several years, and that always involves baked goods. Since some of our home-baked treat recipients might read this, I won't share what we are making this year... but we have a few new treats to try out!

Well, this has gotten long... but it really helps me to gather all my plans in one place. I will do another post soon on Christmas plans, beginning with Christmas Eve!


ST. Nick said...

Check out this neat tradition at

Tiny Actions said...

Thanks for the great links and the prayers. It looks like it will be a blessed advent around your house. I love the idea of the build a stable. Do you happen to have a link for the prayers to be said each day for each item?
Thanks for sharing,

Erin said...

Sue, I will send it to you in an email. It is a pdf doc, I think, and if I remember correctly, Denise from our Catholic moms Yahoo group shared it a year or two back.

Jeremie, Josee, Monkey (22 months) and Squirrel (coming soon) said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas :)