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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
Advent Week 1

Preparing for Advent – One Week at a Time

4 minutes

Summary

A collection of timely crafts, books, and activities for Advent, in weekly snippets, can help families welcome the Christ Child into their hearts and homes.

Helping families enrich their Advent experience is very close to my heart.

When the Seton Magazine gave me the opportunity to create Advent Activities for Catholic Homeschoolers I was thrilled! I’ve wanted to do something like this forever.

The booklet has 200 ideas, crafts, books, and a few favorite recipes too! All have been part of our family’s Advent observance over the years. You can read the booklet here or you can download a printable version. Seton Home Study School also has copies available through their book store.

We also have divided the entire article into week-sized snippets as well. We’ll release each week’s ideas, crafts, and recipes for Advent, a week before their respective time on the calendar. It’s a busy time of the year; hopefully, the bit of advance notice will provide you time to prepare.

I hope these ideas help enrich your family’s Advent. We would love to see photos of how you have used these ideas! Email photos to socialmedia@setonhome.org

Mary Ellen Barrett

Preparing for Advent – Week One

St. Andrew’s feast day is November 30 and the first day of his novena.

The St. Andrew’s Novena is said fifteen times a day until Christmas Day. Pray five times at breakfast, five at lunch, and five at dinner.

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St. Andrew’s Novena:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born

of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold.

At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires.

 (Mention your intentions here)

Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.

The Advent Activities Calendar

Counting down the days of Advent can be difficult for small children.

There is so much excitement involved: feast days, presents, food, and family.

It’s all very exciting but can create a lot of anxiety. I’ve used a few methods over the years to combat this anxious anticipation. Paper chains, purchased Advent calendars, and the Jesse tree have all made appearances in my home with varying degrees of success, but nothing has worked so well as my Advent activity calendar.

A large piece of poster board, a package of library pockets, a glue stick, stickers, and a marker are all that is needed.

I ordered the library pockets online and used the glue stick to attach twenty-five of them to the poster board. I date each pocket and decorate it with stickers. Most years I use purple with pink accents, but this year, I couldn’t find any, so this has more of a Christmas feel than an Advent one.

It is essential to recognize that each year is different and has its own particular flavor. My advice is to not get too caught up in details like purple and pink.

Each week, I evaluate what our week is going to look like and, depending on the activity level, I write out an activity on an index card and stick it in the dated pockets. Some days, it’s as simple as baking cookies and delivering them to neighbors.

Other days, it’s praying a rosary or going to confession, and stopping for hot cocoa on the way home.

As you read on, you will find about 200 more crafts and ideas for your Advent celebration. I hope in some way,  it is a blessing for your family.

Your Advent Activities Calendar
First Sunday of Advent

advent

  • Set up the Advent wreaths.
  • Set up the crib with a basket of hay beside it for sacrifices and good deeds.
  • Set up the Jesse Tree (jewelry tree, small artificial tree).
  • Pull out the Advent reading basket.
  • Prepare a special family dinner and enjoy it by candlelight.

December 3rd – St. Francis Xavier

December 4th – St. Barbara

  • Begin a novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Make graham cracker houses (patroness of architects).
  • Barbara’s Branch –  bring a flowering branch inside to put in a vase (cut an x in the bottom); it should flower by Christmas. Use the blooms to decorate the manger.

December 5th

Read the Miracle of St. Nicholas.

  • Write letters to the child Jesus in heaven and leave for St. Nick to deliver.
  • Put out shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas.
  • Bake speculaas cookies (recipe below).
  • Deliver the speculaas cookies to neighbors the next day – the Feast of St. Nicholas.

December 6th – St. Nicholas

Crafts

  • Advent Prayer Chain – Cut white construction paper into three strips lengthwise. Cut one strip of pink, one of yellow or gold, and 20 of purple. Write a prayer intention on each strip. Loop the strips together in a paper chain, purple for weekdays, pink for Gaudete Sunday, and gold for Christmas day. Each day tear off a loop and pray for the intention.
  • Make tissue paper roses or poinsettias.
  • Glue scraps of purple tissue paper to three votive holders and pink to another. Put battery powered tea lights in each and set on some greenery. It’s the young child’s Advent wreath.

Non-liturgical activities

  • Set out a Christmas themed puzzle for the whole family to put together.
  • See a local production of The Nutcracker.
  • Babysit for young families so the parents can get out to shop and prepare.
  • Attend a parish Christmas concert or Nativity play.
  • Build Christmas scenes with Legos or blocks.
  • Visit a local shrine or historic site.
  • Make paper chains to hang around the house. Make a few for friends and relatives.
  • Watch Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas (Tasha Tudor).
  • Paint peg doll angels. Make wings from paper doilies.
  • Watch one Christmas movie per week, have popcorn and hot cocoa.
  • Watch some Bass and Rankin Christmas specials (Rudolf, Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey, etc.).

Speculaas Cookies

Mix in order:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs whole
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. allspice
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 tsp. cloves

Turn out onto a floured board. Knead in about one cup additional flour or as much as you need until dough is no longer sticky and is easy to handle.

Put into a plastic bag and refrigerate until chilled and stiff. Then you are ready to roll out and cut the cookies. Cut off a manageable piece and keep the rest of the dough cool until you are ready for more.

For the larger, hand-decorated St. Nicholas cookies, roll the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut out your cookies around paper patterns. Place on a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350º F. until golden brown. These keep forever in tins in the freezer or for two-three weeks on the shelf.

Books for the Family

The Legend of Saint Nicholas, Demi

Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins, Forest

The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale, Shepard

Nicholas of Myra: Giver of Many Gifts, Yoffie

The Miracle of St. Nicholas, Whelan

Jotham’s Journey, Ytreeide

I’ll have more crafts, activities, and books for you in the coming weeks.

Download Mary Ellen Barrett’s Advent Activities for Catholic Homeschoolers using the button below.

Download Advent Activities for Catholic Homeschoolers
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About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mary Ellen Barrett
Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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