EVERYTHING FAMILY &
"Mother of Family Ideas"
an Advent Wreath and Light the Candles
If your family
traditions include the celebration of Advent as preparation for
Christmas, an Advent wreath is a good symbol to use. The wreath can be
made in a variety of ways, often with evergreens (real or silk versions)
with the circle of the wreath signifying something that continues
without end. There are four candles, one for each week of Advent.
Traditionally, there were 3 purple and 1 pink, with the pink signifying
"Rejoice" Sunday. It is a reminder that the
time of waiting for the Savior to come is almost over.
. Today, some use blue candles instead of purple. (The reason for the
color change is that Advent is more a time of preparation than of
mourning or sorrow and purple indicates more penitence and sorrow than
preparation and anticipation.) Wreaths can be decorated with ribbons,
flowers or other items. Each family's use of the wreath can vary.
ceremony with the wreath can be before dinner, in the evening or any
time when the family can gather together. Choose someone to light the
candle. It can be the youngest, oldest, father, mother, grandparent or
the kid in the middle. On the first Sunday you light one purple (or
blue) candle. On the second, you light the first candle plus another
purple (or blue) going in a clockwise direction. On the third Sunday,
light the first two plus the pink one; and on the fourth Sunday, all
four candles are lit. When the candles are lit, you can sing a song
together such as "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", read from Scripture or do a
reading from a number of books available. It might be a good time to
discuss ways to work together to prepare for the holiday and share with
others. It's also a time for sharing things like favorite Christmas
experiences and memories. You can also choose this time for a family
activity and a snack.
of our favorite family traditions is that of selecting a
"Secret Family" and surprising them with fun stuff
throughout the month of December. Sometimes we exchange with
other families. Other times we just choose a family with
children that will enjoy our escapades as much as we do. (If
we just choose, we do let parents know, so they know that what
we leave is safe for their children.)
don't leave expensive gifts. Instead we might make a paper
chain in red and green and drape it over the bushes in their
front yard. We leave things like candy canes, hot chocolate,
popcorn or handmade decorations for their tree. After
leaving our surprises, we ring the doorbell and run away. (One
night we got stopped by the police who wanted to know what we
were doing as we ran to our "get-away car"!! We were
leaving "goodies" for a family with five children.)
are some children who never did find out who we were--and
those are the best memories of all.
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Celebrate the Night Before Christmas
with Traditions of Your Own
Every family has
their own set of special things that they do and times that they do
them. With children often having to divide their holiday time between
parents and grandparents in different locations, traditions can be
harder to maintain, but are also probably more important than ever. Here
are some of ours that might either work for your family or give you
ideas for creating some traditions of your own.
Depending on the
ages of our children at the time, we went to church services either at
midnight, early evening or to special children's services late in the
afternoon on December 24th. Whatever the time, attendance at a
celebration of Christmas has always been key to our family
Some of the
other things we do include changing the ribbons and candles on the
advent wreath to bright red and lighting all four candles. We sing a
Christmas carol together and use it as time for a prayer before our
Christmas Eve dinner.
place the baby Jesus in the creché. Until Christmas Eve, the manger
scene has the other people but no baby. (You might also choose to add
the Magi after Christmas if you leave decorations up until Epiphany.)
Reading the Christmas Story from the Bible fits right into the
In addition to
the religious traditions, we also celebrate the Santa stuff by reading
"The Night Before Christmas" and hanging our stockings (even
though we don't have a chimney). We leave cookies and milk for Santa,
using a special plate and Santa mug and there is always a carrot or
apple for the reindeer too. Jingle bells have been known to ring after
the children are "nestled, all snug in their beds".
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Kids' Craft of the Month
Experience the Reason for the Season
Kids know all
about Santa, toys and gifts from the receiving perspective. Spend time
helping them to experience giving from the other side. Take toys to a
location where they can be distributed to children who need them. Fill
stockings for elderly neighbors and spend some time visiting them and
listening to what they have to say when you deliver the stockings. Bake
extra cookies or other goodies to share and have the children accompany
you when they are delivered. Make a list of relatives that haven't seen
your child or children in a while. Call them and let the kids talk.
Spend at least one hour together doing some sort of service. Shop for
someone who can't easily get to the store. Babysit for a mom who needs a
break. Teach by example and have fun in the process. Make some "giving"
memories with your family. Set up a creché (nativity scene) and hide the
baby until Christmas Eve. Let the children place the baby Jesus in the
Birthday Party for Jesus
bake and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus. On Christmas Day, light the
candles and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
Christmas by being "Santa" to others.
Get your family
involved in a Secret Santa event that helps another family. Participate
in a Christmas Angel program if they have one in the shopping malls near
for people who might not get anything for Christmas. We have filled them
for children, teens in detention centers and individuals who are HIV
positive. You can often get names from your church or some churches
distribute stockings and just give out a list of the types of gift items
that are appropriate for recipients.
Adopt a family.
Choose one or more gift item for each family member and prepare a Holiday
dinner for the family. Go together as a family to deliver it. Families in
need can be located through many churches and through programs such as the
Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul.
Fill bags with candy
and non-perishable goodies for a local food bank. Use plain plastic zip bags
or purchase some treat bags from a party store and fill them with holiday
treats. Deliver them to a food bank and they will hand them out to families.
FAMILY CHRISTMAS IDEAS
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS & ORNAMENTS