A burlap Christmas tree door hanger I made.
Our Tree...it isn't a gorgeous, expensive, color coordinated beauty. We decided that we want the Christmas tree to have meaning (we want EVERYTHING we do to have meaning) so we are only hanging ornaments that symbolize the story of Jesus. A lot of the ornaments are created by the girls...scribbles and all this year. Things we included on our tree- lights,angels, trumpets, drums, trumpets, bells, nativity scenes, wise men, shepherds, sheep, candy canes (look up the story of candy canes if you wonder why). And we would have a star on the top...but I cannot find it. Or...uhhh..I don't want to find it in the midst of craziness upstairs in the attic. I think this year I may order a bunch of ornaments from orientaltrading.com- the have a bunch of "inspirational" (as they call them) ornaments on their website.
I bought a bunch of crafty ornaments to color, make, hang on our tree. I give the girls one activity each day of advent for them to color. Sometimes I help them a little to make them look a bit more presentable. I think daddy helped color the donkey in one above:)
On the first day of advent or December 1st we made a "Countdown Prayer Chain". We made 24 chains and we pull one off each day. We choose one person to pray for and to remember that day. It has been so neat to see Caroline pray for family members, baby dolls, and cartoon characters. I usually try to make sure she names ONE real person in our life..but Sid the Science Kid and her baby doll Allie received special prayers one day.
Gradual nativity scene- I wanted to introduce her Little People Nativity set gradually- starting with angels, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, etc. and tell the story of Jesus' birth. But since Caroline had played with this set last year so much- she was ADAMANT about having baby Jesus to play with...there was no way I could hold out until Christmas day. Maybe next year. But we are gradually building a nativity scene on the wall with a little store bought kit from a teacher/Christian bookstore. We add pieces each day based on what our devotional reading or focus is on that day. I also have a book basket with books they can read about the Christmas story.
Advent- We have an advent wreath and a devotional book that we read each day. We light one candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas. This year candle one was the angel, candle two is the shepherds, candle three will be the star, and candle four will be the wise men. And on Christmas day, a center candle will be added to symbolize baby Jesus. There are traditional "labels" for the candles- but we are editing it to fit the needs and learning curve of my audience. So, we are learning the basics of the Christmas story this year...and probably a few years down the road. We light the candles, read our devotion, sing a Christmas song, do a craft, and end by saying "Come, Jesus! Come!" before we blow out the candles (their favorite part of all!) Some days we do it all in one sitting, some days it is a progression through out the day. We always light the candles at dinner and remember what we discussed earlier in the day.
This is the BEST little advent devotion book that I found at a Christian bookstore. It is toddler friendly, super short, and to the point. See below...
I went to the library and pulled a bunch of Christmas books about Jesus' birth. A lot of these are way over their heads, but they are seeing repetition in the pictures, plot, etc. I keep these up out of reach so they don't disappear or get messed up. We try to read or look through one a day.
Treats! We count down to Christmas with this little pocket advent calendar. I put chocolates in the pockets...and they share it or I go grab another so each can have their own. :) We also have a little house with 25 doors that open (see the picture above of our advent wreath) and I have put tiny little ornaments of the nativity scene characters in each door. We hang them on the tree each day.
Normal stockings...love the new girly girl ones I got for the sweeties this year. I think my plan for these is to let the girls pick a name of a family member and they will shop for little treats to fill each others stockings- candy, dollar store gifts, etc. Then they can give each other their stockings on Christmas morning.
Yummy Christmas cookies of course! The more food coloring and sprinkles the better! :)
A few nights a week I am letting the girls enjoy hot chocolate with marshmallows or hot apple cider before we go to bed. Footie Pajamas and a warm drink..my kind of perfect!!