Faith at Home

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Tips & ideas
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+   Advent, Christmas, Epiphany   +

Advent ideas & resources


Before and after Christmas: Activities and Ideas for Advent and Epiphany, by Debbie Trafton O'Neal

Celebrating the Church Year with Young Children, by Joan Halmo
A wonderful guide, giving background and ideas for each season and holy day throughout the liturgical year.
To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration, by Gertrud Mueller Nelson
Another Wow! resource for parents. Lots of ideas for special days & seasons from Christmas to birthdays, Lent to St. Nicholas' Day.
More recommended...
Children's books for Christmastime
Books of ideas & activities


Advent calendars & activities


Nativity sets for the family

More at:

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Advent is a time of preparation, waiting, quiet! Baking, preparing gifts and cards, making plans. Simple meals. Family walks. Less rather than more TV and hectic activity. Advent music and stories.

Advent wreaths

The Advent wreath was always a home-based tradition, originally in Germany. Use greenery from your yard or the store, and purple or red or natural-colored candles. One candle is lit each of the four Sundays before Christmas, with a brief prayer or statement or song; there are lots of resources for this. Add a central white Christ candle, and even add gold and white decorations to the wreath, for the Christmas season.

More about the Advent wreath:

  • How to make & use an Advent wreath
  • Advent wreath prayers & customs
  • Prayer & activity sources:

  • Candle Press
  • Creative Communications for Parishes
  • Advent calendars

    Count down the days to Christmas with some sort of calendar with a Christian theme. The first day of Advent is the fourth Sunday before Christmas, so its date varies year to year... It's easiest to buy or make a new Advent calendar each year.

    Great sources:

  • Creative Communications for Parishes
  • Candle Press
  • Printery House
  • Bridge Building Images
  • Or, make your own - a house with four windows that open for the four Sundays, and a split door for (upper) Christmas Eve and (lower) Christmas Day. Have the kids make pictures to paste behind each opening. On each window flap write a Bible verse or phrase.

    Make a plain grid calendar that includes the days of Advent, the Christmas season, and Epiphany (Jan. 6), with small and big things your family will do on various days.

    Make a paper chain calendar with the Advent days in blue or purple, Christmas days in white or gold or yellow, Epiphany in green. Write on each link something to do or a part of the Advent-Christmas story, or a saying or Bible verse. Cut the end link off each day and read it; the chain grows shorter as Advent comes to an end.

    St. Nicholas's Day, Dec. 6

    Fill the children's shoes with sweets and straw before they get up that morning. Or learn about St. Nicholas; enjoy an early taste of Christmas cookies etc.; give little gifts. A "little Christmas."

    All about St. Nicholas:

  • Las Posadas

    This Mexican tradition focuses on Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay. A family, a party gathering, a neighborhood, or a parish can do this on a single night or over several nights before Christmas Eve.
    The Night of Las Posadas, by Tomie de Paola
    Mary and Joseph and an angel knock on each door of a house as though it's a different inn, and an innkeeper answers and sends them away. At the last door they are invited in; everyone has hot cocoa and treats and sings songs. Fun to do in the week before Christmas.

    More about this & other Mexican Christmas traditions:

  • "Making Merry in Mexico"

  • Barbara Laufersweiler is an at-home mom, an Episcopalian, and the creator of Faith at Home,, a Web site offering help to parents as they explore and enjoy faith with their children. Copyright © 2002 Barbara K. Laufersweiler. All rights reserved.

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    Copyright © 2003 Barbara Laufersweiler
    Last updated September 13, 2003


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