Preparing for Advent, part one

So Advent doesn’t start for a few weeks, but it’s a good time to start getting ready and making some decisions. No point waiting til the last minute and getting all flustered.:) We started celebrating Advent when Happy Girl was probably two years old. The book we use nightly is called The Advent Book. It’s beautiful. The illustrations are captivating, both of the doors and the pictures of the Christmas story. I remember how amazed my brother-in-law was, listening to Emily quote almost the entire story by memory, because she’d heard it repeated every night, in small bites.

There are many different ways to celebrate Advent, many books you can use, different Advent wreaths to make–use four candles with different colors, or a wreath with a new candle for each night. We’ve used several over the years. The one we have now is a cradle to cross wreath we also use for Lent and Pentecost. Pick what you want to try–there’s nothing that says you can’t tweak it or totally change it for next year. One thing we have added is a Jesse Tree. While we read The Advent Book at night, we do Bible readings and add an ornament to the Jesse Tree in the morning. While The Advent Book starts with the Angel’s visit to Mary, our Jesse Tree starts with creation and traces the story of Jesus from creation, through Abraham, David, etc. We have used Ann Voskamp’s free printable devotional that comes with beautiful pictures to print and use.

Last year I participated in a Jesse Tree ornament swap that my friend Stacy organized. Five of us chose 5 ornaments each to make from the list used by her Jesse Tree book and made 5 copies of each of our ornaments. Then the day of the exchange, we’ got one of each of the 25 ornaments to use on our Jesse Tree with our family. Here is the list of ornaments we made (in no order): globe, apple with snake, a camel with tent, lamb, ladder, colorful coat, tablet with ten numbers, cluster of grapes, sheaf of wheat, slingshot, scroll, stump with fresh shoot, a lion with lamb, a dove with crown, a lamb with a staff, cross, heart with writing on it, Bethlehem silhouette with star, fiery furnace, brick wall, a start, a candle or lamp, angel, and baby in straw. I found The Domestic Notebook blog that had nice ideas for Jesse Tree ornaments if you’d like to check it out.

I  enjoyed coming up with ornaments for each of my days. I chose “an apple with snake” for my first ornament. I found some small, flat, wooden cutouts in the shape of apples. I  painted them to look like apples, then added a snake with 3 dimensional paint. I sealed them, glued them on a flat plaque and drilled a small hole for ribbons to hang them on the tree. Happily the cutouts were on clearance (19 cents a piece!) at Michael’s, and I already had the paint, so it was not expensive, but it was fun!

The cross cutouts and ovals were also on clearance and I painted them the same way.

I also bought a bunch of wheat using a 40% off coupon at Michael’s . I tied five heads with ribbon, but the heads are so heavy, every time I  attached another ribbon to use to tie the wheat to the tree, it turned upside down. We just laid it among the branches instead of hanging it.

I’ll keep posting Jesse Tree ornament ideas over the next week or two so you can make some ornaments too! If you haven’t tried Advent with your family I highly suggest it. Find an Advent book or Jesse tree book and make a plan now. It doesn’t have to be complicated–light a candle, read the story and wonder at the love of God–wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger–that turned the world upside down.

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