Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent Preparations

This is a special posting with many advent preparation ideas.

One place you NEED to bookmark and put to desktop is Mary Ellen Barrett's O Night Divine. It is a blog where she kindly showcases many, many ladies advent ideas, it has been going now for a few years so the wonderful collection of ideas continues to grow.

Also alot of families are signing up for the free Advent Adventure activities over at Holy Heros.


The christmas novena starts on the feast of St Andrew (30th of November) and goes through till the 24th of December. It consists of reciting a particular prayer 15 times a day. This is a particularly beautiful way to prepare for Christmas as you are constantly meditating on the moment Christ entered the world as a little baby. Here is the prayer

"Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment when the Son of God was bornof the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in a stable, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."

Pop on over to my blog to read my thoughts on this devotion and to show you an easy craft that the children can do in making beads for this devotion using the St Therese sacrifice beads craft. It is very simple, a St Andrew medal, a Holy Family medal, 15 beads and some strong thread (I mention wire in the posting but I don't recommend it, strong thread is best.)


The first sunday of advent marks the beginning of the Church's new year. I highly recommend the Liturgical Wheel Calender from LTP. If you an Australian lady, you can buy them here, I've just bought mine, so definately in stock at present.

Here are my postings on the Liturgical Wheel:

Liturgical Wheel Calender for little children!

Sharing my saints sheets for the Liturgical Wheel.

Below you can see a closeup of the calender with the little free saints images I made, if you are wanting a copy of these images, please email me.



Stir Up Sunday is the first sunday of advent, the traditional day for cooking cakes and puddings for christmas. Here is Jenn GM's article over at Cathlic Culture explaining why.

Here is what one of our previous Stir Up Sunday's looked like.



What is a Jesse Tree?

"Advent is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of Jesus. There are many ways to get ready for Christmas. One way is through a Jesse Tree.

A Jesse Tree is a tree branch decorated with symbols representing the stories of people in Jesus' family tree. In Isaiah 11:1 we read, "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Jesse was the father of David, Israel's greatest king. And it was from David's lineage that Jesus came. That's where the idea of using a Jesse Tree to celebrate Advent came from. Before a symbol is hung on the branch, a Bible passage or a story from a story Bible is read. " HT

Mary over at Hilltop Farm has kindly shared the scriptural quotes and readings for each of the Jesse Tree images.

There are two Jesse Tree Tea ideas on offer, this is a fantastic way to celebrate the Jesse Tree with the family or invite friends over to join with you! There is a food for each Jesse Tree symbol.

Here is Alice's Jesse Tree Tea from Cottage Garden.

Here is Jessica's Jesse Tree Tea from Catholic Cuisine. (The image above is from Jessica's Tea)

There are many beautiful ways to make a Jesse Tree, below are links to many different ideas:

Paper Dali, has a beautiful set of Jesse Tree images for children to colour in, just lovely!

This site, has two sets of Jesse Tree ornament images to download for free, one set a small size, the other, a large set.

King of Peace website also has a free downloadable set of Jesse tree ornaments.

Here are a particularly colourful and bright set of Jesse Tree ornaments for downloading.

Here is Catherine Fournier's Jesse Tree with downloadable ornaments, over at Domestic Church.

Below are some ladies creations, there is just so many different, creative ways to do this:

Star Cottage made Jesse Tree ornaments out of wood cuttings!

Jessica from Shower of Roses, shows how to make a felt set of Jesse Tree ornaments.

Over at O Night Divine, there is a wonderful wooden cube Jessse Tree.

Lori from The Mac & Cheese Chronicals showcases her fantastic '3D' ornaments.

Nicole from Tired Need Sleep shows her advent tree and ornaments. Here is the downloadable template for the ornaments.

Restoration Place has a beautiful set of Jesse Tree ornaments, that have come from an e-book. Really beautiful images for children to colour in and create.



Fr William Saunders has written beautifully on the History of the Advent Wreath.

Here is Fisheaters article on the Advent Wreath and Candles, in this article are copies of the Advent Wreath Prayers for each week.

Church Year also has an informative article on the wreath and candles, with Scripture readings and shorter Advent Wreath prayers for each week.

Here is Jenn GM's posting on the Salvation History figures and the Advent Wreath. (Isaiah ~ 1st week : St John the Baptist ~ 2nd week : St Joseph ~ 3rd week : Mary ~ 4th week.)

There are many beautiful Advent Wreaths, all different, all lovely, here are a few for inspiration:

Starting with our Advent Wreath, the making of it and our final showcase of it completed.

Here is our Advent Wreath this year with some minor changes. (2009) ~ We have taken on Jenn's idea with adding the Salvation History figures.

Charlotte's Suspended Advent Wreath is beautiful over at Waltzing Matilda.

Dawn from Sun and Candlelight made a beautiful Advent Wreath here.

Included with the Advent Wreath and candles is the Christ Candle or otherwise known as the Mary Candle. It is the larger, white candle that sits in the middle of the advent wreath.

Catholic Culture has a detailed article on the Christ Candle.

Here is our Christ Candle from last year and how we made it.

Jenn's Mary Candle from Family in Feast and Feria, it is spectacular!

Here is Elizabeth's Immaculate Conception Novena Candle over at In the Heart of My Home.



Advent altar displays is another lovely way to create an advent focal point in the home for children.

The two beautiful images you see above with the words "PATIENCE" is Charlotte's creation over at Waltzing Matilda. Here is her two postings on the altar. 1. Advent Plans and Decorations. and 2. Silouette How To (Charlotte shows how she made her Mary, Joseph and Donkey silouette)

Here is Jessica's beautiful advent altar over at Shower of Roses.



This lovely advent craft is simple and effective, the children love it and there is beautiful symbolizm attached to it. There is a chain for each day, so at first the children are looking at this long chain (the chains of sin I tell the children that we want to be freed from) and each day a child opens up one of the chains and reads the scripture reading until finally there is no left at Christmas! (we are now freed from the chains of sin) Below is the templates for the scripture readings paper chains. I usually have the readings in guadete week in pink, while the rest are purple, I also choose 'joyful' scripture readings for the guadete week.

Here is another free printable Paper Chain idea from Catholicmom.



Last year I visited a my dear friend Nicole's house during advent and I was completely captivated by her beautiful crib scene. They had a lovely white, porcelain nativity set but it was set within a beautiful homemade wooden crib, that was filled with straw and covered in starry lights ~ I could hardly stop gazing at it. If that was the effect it had on me, what would it have on children? So this year we decided to make our own crib and fill it with straw and lights, the children were delighted!

I wanted to start a new family tradition in introducing a new crib figurine each sunday with a special meal and tying it into the salvation figures in the advent wreath, pop on over to my blog to see what we did for the first week of advent.

Here is our Bethlehem Star that hangs over the crib, it can take a tea candle or electric tea light.



There is a beautiful advent tradition of children placing a straw into the manger all throughout advent for every good deed done, so that the bed for the Christ Child is soft and inviting with alot of straw. Jenn's article below explains this more fully.

Last year we set up with a beautiful Christ Child statue and homemade manger.

Here is our Christmas Eve last year with the Christ Child, a really special night.

Jenn over at Family and Feast and Feria has a lovely posting on Preparing the Manger.



I wanted to somehow allow my children to recognise each saints feastday throughout the advent period with something tangible that could be hung on the christmas tree, so I came up with our Advent Saints Christmas Tree Ornaments. It is a detailed tutorial for making them. Then there is a second posting where I show the final decoration added to each ornament.

Zeliemum over at St Gerard's Garden shows what she has done in remembering the saints feast days using little organza bags, pegs and string!



What are the O Antiphons? Fr William Saunders has given an excellent explanation.

But a brief description is that the O Antiphons are the final countdown to Christmas with each O Antiphon (there are 7 of them) highlight a title of the Messiah. Each verse in the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, poetically describes each title.

Here are Jenn GM's ideas for food/meals for the 7 O Antiphons over at Catholic Cuisine.

Above you can see the O Antiphons I've made for hanging on our Christmas Tree, to make these, pop on over to my blog.

Last year my dear friend Kara, came up with this fantastic idea for showcasing the O Antiphons, an O Antiphon Pointsettia Wreath! It is SO easy to make and a beautiful visual display of the O Antiphons for children, they open up one pointsettia flower head each day to reveal the O Antiphon.

Here are Val's O Antiphon ornaments to be hung on a tree, over at St Francis Academy.

Helen has showcased a few different O Antiphon designs over at Castle of the Immaculate.

Charlotte has done a wonderful job with her O Antiphon's in tins over at Waltzing Matilda.

Liz made a fantastic book display for her O Antiphons over at Maverick Mamma.

And so here begin's the 'Parade of O Antiphon Houses':

Suzanne's O Antiphon House over at Gladdest Hours.

Ruth's O Antiphon House over at Just Another Day in Paradise.

Letizia's O Antiphon House over at Cause of Our Joy.

Mary's O Antiphon House over at St Athanasius Academy.

Mary's O Antiphon House over at Our Domestic Church.

Christine's O Antiphon House over at Memories of a Catholic Wife and Mother.

Marisa's O Antiphon House over at And Now for Seven.

Elizabeth's O Antiphon House over at In the Heart of My Home.

Dawn's O Antiphon House over at By Sun and Candlelight.

Marjorie's O Antiphon House over at Lettres de mon Moulin.

KC's O Antiphon House over at The Cabbage Patch.



Advent music is always an important part of preparing for the coming of Christ.

I HIGHLY recommend that you start with reading Jenn's article (over at Family in Feast and Feria) on Advent Music Plans, you will not be disappointed!

The Marian Antiphon Chant for the Advent season is the Alma Redemtoris Mater, here it is being sung on youtube showing the chant notation.

(You can click on the image to the left, to enlarge.)

I have two recommendations over at my blog, Advent/Christmas music to soothe the soul. They have been our annual favourites!


This beautiful basket of Advent reading books has come from Charlotte over at Waltzing Matilda.


Advent read alouds is probably one of the most enjoyable way to prepare for Christmas with children, it is a special time to bond together through wonderful stories and pictures that give the children some beautiful message of the coming of Christ.

Some ladies have come up with a fantastic idea of wrapping up each book for each day of advent. As you can see three quarters of the books are wrapped in purple to match the three weeks of advent that are purple and then the books to be read in guadete week are wrapped in pink. These books have come from Joann's Ten Kids and a Dog. It is so simple but SO effective for the hearts and minds of children!!

In our family this year we wanted to make our advent reading especially enjoyable so we have put aside part of our evening for this. I make sure we have some little treat in the home for us all to enjoy as we snuggle together on our lounge. Usually tiny mince pies have been the order of the day, or a hot cup of hot chocolate.

We have started our main read aloud with the reading of the timeless classic, A Christmas Carol. We are reading the unabridged version as we feel our children are up to that, but there are many abridged versions out there, in picture book form for younger families. The message in Charles Dicken's christmas story is one to be read over and over again, and so we will continue our advent tradition of reading this every advent.

This year we made it a little more fun with children taking on different roles, my 15year old ds reads Scrooge's dialogue and my 12year old dd has taken on some of the other characters, I am the narrator. What has been delightful is to see the children mimicing the voices of their characters, the little children listening have been delighted!

We were able to do this effortlessly with the help of an iPhone an iPod both of which have the unabridged version on them and then I read from the book you see here, I recommend this lovely hardback, it is unabridged and has beautiful illustrations all the way through as well as another of Dicken's christmas stories, The Christmas Tree.

Here is the one I recommend for younger families, it is a hugh hardback book! Wonderful illustrations and abridged.

Here are some of our advent/christmas reading for this year:

St Francis and the Christmas Donkey.

Fantastic illustrations, beautiful, big hardback book.

The Christmas Candle.

A lovely christmas story that really speaks to the heart.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.

You can get this with a CD as well ~ a christmas classic!

The First Christmas Stocking.

This is a particuarly moving story, illustrations are beautiful, I really recommend this book.

Mortimer's Christmas Manger.

Delightful!! Little children will love this beautiful little tale!

An Orange for Frankie.

Beautifully illustrated, a true story that will melt everyone's heart at the end.

The Clown of God.

One of my all time favourites. This is a special Catholic legend that Tomie de Paola has brought to life, the end is a tear jerker!

The Legend of the Pointsettia.

Another Tomie de Paola book I particularly recommend, very moving.

The Little Boy's Christmas Gift.

John Spier's illustrations are stunning, the story, delightful.

O Holy Night.

"This book gathers poetry from 28 centuries, 10 languages, 64 authors and is a uniquely diverse and yet wondrously harmonious collection of voices united in praise for the newborn Savior."

A Christmas Story.

Brian Wildsmith's books are always beautiful and this one is no exception.

Saint Francis Celebrates Christmas.

Lovely book.


Fiona French's book is very bright and visual, a simple story for little children. The pictures do most of the talking!

The Crippled Lamb.

This is a beautiful christmas tale.

The Night of Las Posadas.

Another of Tomie de Paola's books, recounting a beautiful Spanish tradition.

The Very First Christmas.

Beautiful illustrations.

1 comment:

  1. Christmas is coming and all the kids are getting excited. And you just know they will be bugging you for Christmas coloring pages. So I'm going to help you. On this blog I'm planning to upload free printable Christmas coloring pages. Stay tuned. Really high quality pictures are coming your way in no time! Very nice post.