Advent is coming up! Here is my basic list of Advent resources. These are all things you can do quickly and easily, if you stay calm. Remember, nobody does everything! It’s okay to say, “That looks nice, but I know I’ll make everyone miserable if I attempt it, so we’ll skip it this year.”
Advent chains to print out, designed by my sister, Abby Tardiff. Cut them out, make a paper chain, and cut one each day of Advent and read what’s inside. See the chains of sin and death getting shorter and shorter until Jesus comes! Kablammo! You can tape them to purple or pink strips of paper if you like. (This version starts on Dec. 1, so you’ll have to fudge a tiny bit. We never manage to do this every day anyway, so I figure it will even out.)
Jesse tree ornaments and scripture readings. This could be a very quick project if you have low ambitions and energy. Just cut out a bunch of cardboard discs and draw a simple picture on each one, then hang them with a paper clip. (Again, these start on Dec. 1. Not a deal breaker.)
Some years, I am feeling more ambitious, and we use paint markers and capiz shells (those are both affiliate links) to make Jesse tree ornaments, and they turned out pretty good. Yeah, I splurged on something with pre-drilled holes, and that has made all the difference.
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We make Jesse Tree ornaments the day after Thanksgiving (which is just a few days before Advent starts this year). This is officially the first day I allow kids to play Christmas music in the house. My favorite album is A Medieval Christmas by The Boston Camerata; the kids generally favor Christmas songs sung by goats.
When we can manage it, we take turns reading the appropriate reading and hanging an ornament each night before Christmas. I think we have a pre-lit fake miniature tree in the attic, but if not, we can probably find an evergreen sapling and stick it in a bucket of rocks. Some years, I lopped off a bare tree branch and hung that on a wall. You could also make a paper tree poster.
More nightly advent stuff:
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, words for all eight verses I don’t want to hear any grousing! It’s a good song. We start out singing two verses, then add two verses each week.
Sunday prayers for the Advent wreath
Advent candles. (Affiliate link)
You can sometimes find pink and purple candles just in the regular candle section of Walmart or whatever, not specifically packaged for Advent, of course.
If you don’t have colored candles, you can use regular candles and tie purple and pink ribbons on, or even make a colored cuff halfway up with construction paper. Do not attempt to dye white candles with melted crayons. I beg of you.
How to make a good-enough Advent wreath because it’s gonna be dark anyway:
Buy a cheapo twisted twig wreath at the dollar store, then use about forty yards of thread to strap evergreen branches down thoroughly. It’s hard to attach candles to they stand up, so you can find glass candle holders and the dollar store and set inside the wreath. Put the whole thing on a pizza pan, so you can easily move it off the table and store it in a safe, unpunchable place when it’s not in direct use. Little berries and pinecones and bells and doves are nice, but so it just plain greenery: Green for hope, round for eternity.
You can also just sort of heap evergreens in a bundle or in a basket, but then you’ll miss the imagery of the circle. But green is good.
Another very easy Advent tradition that we manage to keep as a family most years: “fast” from dessert except on Sundays. I take what money I would have spent, and buy extra food for the church’s food pantry.
Most years, we also make a stab at going screen-free from 7:00-9:00. We don’t manage it every day, and it’s not always fruitful when we do, but sometimes it really, really is. Try it!
And finally: Get to confession. Here are a few different examinations of conscience. Do that during Advent, and you did Advent right. Ta dah!
Who’s got other resources to share? Feel free to leave links to anything relevant in the comments.