Advent is fast approaching! (whaat?!?!)
I’m not the queen of liturgical living, but over the course of the past few years we’ve built in some family traditions that help us really focus on on the Advent season in some simple yet meaningful ways. In what has been a challenging year, I’m really looking forward to keeping these sweet little traditions going in the Savaryn household.
Today, I’ll be sharing some of those ideas with you! If you’re looking to add something manageable and meaningful to your own Advent season, this might just be the place to start.
The Giving Manger
We have a slightly different set, but this has become a favorite for all the kids. We start with an empty wooden cradle. Then, the goal during Advent is to make Jesus’s bed as soft as we possibly can. We do this by adding pieces of straw for acts of love throughout the season. If the kids sacrifice something for the good of the other, show kindness or selflessness, generously give, etc., then they participate in making a soft bed for Jesus’s arrival on Christmas morning.
I love this, especially in light of the teachings of Saint Teresa of Calcutta that I read recently. It reminds me of her devotion to the thirst of Jesus on the cross, and how acts of love help to quench that thirst. We’re serving baby Jesus with this family preperation, but the spirit is the same.
Purchase Here: The Giving Manger
While we eat most meals family-style in the kitchn, we love to set up an Advent Wreath in our dining room and eat a family dinner there each Sunday during this liturgical season.
We’ve tried a few brands of candles and have had the best luck with the ones at the link below. I’v also linked to the same wreath we have, which I think has a timeless quality and goes with many decorative styles.
Brother Francis: The Days of Advent
The Savaryn household loves Brother Francis! We generally are able to access this adorable and informative video series on Formed.org, but for those who don’t have a parish subscription, you can also buy episodes and specials on DVD. There are episodes on Easter, Mass, Prayer, Stations of the Cross, and many more!
The Days of Advent includes 25 short, thoughtful reflections to take the entire family through the season. We like to watch these after dinner and before bedtime routine starts. Even if you miss a night here or there, it’s still a worthwhile tool to keep everyone’s hearts and minds focused on the reason for the season.
Purchase Here: The Days of Advent
When I was a kid, it was hit or miss if my parents remembered St. Nicholas day in early December. As a Catholic Convert, we’re making an active effort to make the Saints a part of our regular family life. For me, this means making sure my kids know the full story of St. Nick, and why we put our shoes out and celebrate his feast day on December 6th.
This year, a friend of mine introduced Once Upon A Time Saint books to me, and I immediately fell in love! We had been hoping to celebrate more feast days during the year, with special attention to Saints that we’re named after, or ones that we have special devotions too, and this book has helped a lot! I love it because it highlights a few Saints each month and tells their story in the form of a lovely, engaging story, appropriate for the whole family to share around the fire (especially at this time of year!) Why not read up on the story of Saint Nicholas with your own kids before they set out their shoes?
Purchase Here: Around the Year Once Upon A Time Saints
The Changing Nativity
This has been a really fun tradition to grow into! I love the Willow Tree nativity set, but you can use any nativity set that you already have and love.
We display the set on the mantle in our living room, but during Advent, Jesus, Mary and Joseph haven’t arrived yet. Their pieces are set up somewhere else in the house, far away, and they journey through the house and closer to the nativity scene as Christmas approaches. We also set up the wise men in a far-off location (they start moving after we reach Christmas, and arrive on Epiphany.) We love unboxing the precious pieces and setting them up together, and the kids love finding where the Holy Family and the wise men are each morning once they start to move! The only thing weird about the Willow Tree nativity is that you can’t separate the Mary from Baby Jesus, so we’ve just made do or substituted in a pregnant mother Willow Tree carving for the lead up to Christmas morn.
What About You?
And that’s it! Do you have an Advent family tradition that you hold close to your heart? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Links to purchase the items on this post are affiliate links from Amazon, through which I earn a small commision.