Welcome to the RoL Pinterest Party. Join me every 2nd Tuesday (yeah, I’m a little late 😉 ) as we link up and share how we made, cooked, baked, crafted, did, or created one of the pins on our Pinterest boards OR share something original that others can pin onto their boards.
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Happy feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Happy middle of the second week of Advent!
As usual, I am late in posting my yearly Advent round-up but thankfully, no matter how much you have been slacking in the Advent department, there is still plenty of time to make the most of the next couple of weeks. If you are feeling overwhelmed, just pick one simple thing to do that will help you and your family.
For the rest of you that are on the ball, please link up your Advent and Christmas posts for this month’s Pinterest Party! (For the time being I am going to make the party once a month. If my schedule clears in the future I’ll go back to twice a month.) I love to read your ideas and see your crafts and learn about your recipes. It can be for Advent OR the Christmas season and does not have to be “religious”. So please share!
Okay, for my contribution, this is my pin – “Keeping Christ in Christmas” Advent Ideas. 🙂
The Advent Wreath
Last year we finally needed to make a new Advent wreath since ours was falling apart. After Christmas, I went to Target and picked up a door wreath on clearance. I also replaced our pathetic candle holder that never kept our candles straight no matter what tricks I tried. I finally managed to find three thick purple candles and one pink. Toppling candle problem solved. (It also lessened the boys’ desire to pick them up and use them like swords.)
For daily prayers, we use Sarah Reinhard’s book Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families. It only cost $1.99 at Amazon (and $0.99 on Kindle) but it has wonderful daily reflections that are simple enough for the kids to understand.
In a perfect world, each night we gather around the Advent wreath, light the candle(s), read the day’s reflection out of the book, and say our night prayers. However, it was hit and miss since evenings are hectic with homework, bathing, getting the boys to bed early, prep for the next morning, etc. Family evening prayer was just not happening. So Brian suggested we switch our prayer to before we say our dinner grace. It is the one time in the day when we are always all together at the same time. It has worked out a lot better! Some days we use the reflection book. Other days Brian says a short spontaneous prayer. The main thing is that we are praying something together.
The Advent Calendar
Last year I found this country house Advent calendar at Target and I loved it! I printed out the Children’s Advent Calendar from Loyola Press (they also have one for adults) then I simply cut up the calendar and put the little paper square into the corresponding day. So each day we had one sacrifice or act of kindness that everyone in the family would do.
Each night after our evening/dinner prayers we open the following day’s box and read what we’ll do that day. After we read the activity we then place the slip of paper in Jesus’ stocking. (See below.) At the end of Advent, Jesus has 25 little gifts that we offered for him.
During dinner, when everyone has to share one thing about their day, they can also share how their activity went. (For example, yesterday we had to be a peacemaker so instead of losing my temper and yelling at the kids, I first went into my room and screamed into my pillow, then came out of my bedroom and corrected the boys calmly. They got a kick out of that one.)
If you are looking for a nativity box, Amazon has a pretty Wooden Nativity Advent Calendar with 24 Magnetic Figures. Or if you prefer a wall calendar there is the cute Little People Nativity Advent Calendar. But you certainly don’t need to spend money on these activities! You can make a simple Advent chain out of construction paper, such as the Advent Chain from CatholicMom.com.
The Jesus’ Stocking/ Gift Box
Years back we bought a pretty gold stocking that would be for Jesus. During Advent we all have been making small sacrifices for the Child Jesus and placing those little sacrifices in his stocking. The day before Christmas the kids make and decorate birthday cards for Jesus and the adults use card stock in which they write down an act of love or sacrifice for Jesus. It can be anything from making an extra Holy hour to sharing a toy with a sibling. Some years we make a special wrapped gift with a slot cut out on top so we can slip our cards inside. Other years we simply placed our card in Jesus’ gold stocking. Anything will do as long as offering acts of love for Christ is the focus. (After Christmas I date and save the kids’ cards. The ones the adults made on card stock can be used as a book markers in our prayer books so we’ll remember what we promised Jesus. 😉
A Birthday Party for Jesus
It is a family tradition that on each child’s birthday the dining room table is decorated with a birthday sign and stuffed animals to “greet” them when they wake up. Being Jesus’ birthday, it is only natural that it is celebrated in a similar fashion. Since Christ is the guest of honor, not Santa, our St. Nick plush holds Jesus’ birthday sign. I also place on the table the birthday cake we made for Jesus’ party.
On Christmas morning we all gather around the table that holds the empty manger. We place a large white candle in the center of the advent wreathe and light it. Then Mom or Dad (or an honored sibling) places the child Jesus in his manger and we sing Happy Birthday. Then the festivities begin.
A Nativity Set for the Littles
Anyone with children knows that they are very hands on. They also know how their blood pressure rises every time their little one grabs the ceramic Mary of St. Joseph from the nativity set and starts running down the hallway with it. One of the best investments I ever made was purchasing the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set. They can be a bit pricey but it was worth it! A nativity scene that the kids can touch and move around makes life sooo much easier. Amazon has the Fisher Price deluxe models and the simple “To Go” Set.
The Spirit of Giving
Nothing invokes greediness quite as quickly as a materialistic holiday season. To help conquer this, it is helpful to keep kids (and adults) focused on the spirit of giving, especially those less fortunate. If you have older kids this can be done through working at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or visiting the elderly. Most parishes have programs where you pick a name or number and by a gift for a specific child. Kids, including little ones, can do extra jobs and chores around the house to earn some extra money (or use their tithing money if they get an allowance) in order to buy small gifts for these needy children. Or they can help you buy canned good for the local food bank.
I also try to personalize the children to my kids. Instead of getting a gift for “Girl #96” or “Boy, age 5” I’ll give them a name. So when we go to shop we find the perfect gift for little Juan who just turned 5. Or we pick the kind of soup “Maria” and her Mama would like to have on a cold afternoon. It helps to put a face to the person in need. Remembering someone who is less fortunate through a simple gift or act of kindness, helps to instill generosity and thankfulness for our own blessing. Christmas is a good time to start this process but it can be carried on throughout the year, making giving of oneself not just a holiday thing, but a way of life.
Plan Ahead for Charitable Gifts
This year we had four pet projects.
- Adopting military troops and sending care packages to them through AnySoldier.com (although we send packages year round).
- Joining the kids’ school with making care packages for Operation Christmas Child.
- Joining our parish’s Angel Tree to give gifts to local migrant workers.
- Joining Brian’s work and Salvation Army with adopting a local family in need.
I’ll admit that the extra gift giving can add up to a lot of extra money! Luckily, I have been looking for bargains throughout the year. Once a month during one of my many Target visits, I’ll check out the dollar section for various care package items. You can pick up small toiletries, snacks and hand warmers to give to military troops or the homeless or you can find coloring books, games, craft projects, socks etc to fit into a child’s care package. During off-season sales or Pre-Thanksgiving sales or Black Friday sales I find generic gifts like baby dolls or skateboards for the Angel Tree children. To help the kids understand sacrificing for others, we’ll give away some of their older toys to St. Vincent de Paul and as a family we’ll give up one of our “Pizza Nights” and eat sandwiches or leftovers instead. The money we saved goes towards buying gifts and food for others.
With a little creativity, planning and sacrifice, you can make your charitable gift giving more affordable for your family. (NOTE – If you are anything like me, you may also want to download the free printable from the post Keeping Track of Your Hidden Gifts from Orgjunkie.com. I wish I had that last year because I have two Christmas presents that I know I bought but I can’t figure out where I stinkin hid them! LOL)
There are numerous other ways to keep Christ in Christmas but these are just a few suggestions that we practice. With a little imagination (and the prompting of the Holy Spirit) you can start your own family traditions of truly living Christmas!
The Advent Christmas Planner
If you need more ideas and feast day projects, I recommend you check out Catholic Icing’s e-book The Advent Christmas Planner.
(You can also read these suggestions from Catholic families that I posted last year.)
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Now it’s your turn.
1. Choose your creation, share about it and snap a photo if you can.
2. In your post, link back the original blogger/idea, rather than your Pinterest pin. That way credit goes to the proper person. 🙂 (But feel free to add your Pinterest profile link so we can follow you!)
3. Add a link back here so others can play along. Here is the html code:
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4. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address.
The link up will be active until January 5, 2014. Have fun!
Lastly, you can follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/rol_bobbi/. 🙂