Here's a little glimpse at what the first few days of Advent have looked like at our house . . .
Journey to Bethlehem
(the board game)
It's pretty much the best advent-themed board game ever. But it's a very limited edition, since Jack made it when he was in the first grade.
It's basically Candyland, but the goal is to follow Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The board is decorated with clipart and handwritten phrases like: "Those wisemen know the way" and "WATCH OUT! It's King Herod"
We've got our Willow Tree Nativity Set on the mantle (thanks to Christmas presents to me from Gramma!). The Holy Family is on one side, the Wise Men are on the other.
I've heard a lot about some people's Wise Men having adventures during Advent, but our Wise Men wait to start their journey until Christmas, then they travel through the house and arrive back on the other side of the mantle in time for Epiphany.
The kids' Little People Nativity is all set up in front of the fire place. I was looking around, and most of the sets we have don't seem to be in production anymore, which is really too bad.
We've got the Nativity Set, The Inn at Bethlehem, the Three Wise Men with Tents, the Lil' Shepherds with Hill and Well, the Lil' Drummer Boy with Barn, and the Castle (which isn't part of the nativity collection, but we needed it for King Herod). Most of the sets seem to be available on ebay, for much cheaper than they are on Amazon.
We've also got a stuffed nativity set, excellent for taking on stroller rides. I've looked around a bit, but it doesn't look like it's available anywhere either. But here's a different plush nativity, that I like even more.
Our family Advent Calendar is called The Puffy Tree. It's the Advent Calendar the husband had growing up. Not the exact one, but the exact same kind, because when my mother-in-law bought the kit at a church bazaar in the late 70's she bought one for herself and one for each of the kids to have when they were grown. That's planning ahead folks!
The kids also each have a Lego Calendar this year. Gus and Bobby both have late fall birthdays and for the past few years have requested Lego Advent Calendars as their birthday presents. Then, at Christmas, Jack has carefully repacked each little window with a baggie of legos so it could be used again, and now we have enough for each kid to have his own. They take up our entire front hallway.
On our dining room table, we have a wreath with (last year's) Beeswax Advent Candles, that the kids got to roll themselves. It's such a fun craft, and really easy enough for even toddlers to do with supervision. We do have another set for this year, but I figured we'd better use these up first.
On the kitchen table, we have a wreath made with juniper branches from our backyard, and glass jar votive candles, widely available at grocery stores around here. They come with a sticker of a saint or Our Lady on them, but the stickers come off and they make nice non-drippy Advent Candles.
Christmas and Advent Books
I've written already about our favorite chapter books and our favorite picture books for Advent and Christmas. And I'm looking forward to some new ones that we'll be adding to the collection soon! But this is what the seasonal book chair looks like right now.
Currently, we are halfway through The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas and have read Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer about seventeen times. Blerg.
Straw for Baby Jesus
There's still plenty of room for straw to make Baby Jesus' bed nice and soft for him come Christmas Eve, but the kids are in the super-motivated for a new thing stage. So, it's adding up fast!
Does a person NEED another complete set of dishes for wintertime? No, she does not. But, boy do I ever really, really like them. I received them as Christmas gifts from my mom and mother-in-law over the two Christmases that we lived in Chicago. Just look at the little Nativity scene on that little platter. So cute!
The Christmas Novena
In the comments of this post, Julie asked if I would make available the booklet we use for our Christmas Novena, so I created a pdf that you can download. And . . . here it is! If you are able to print double sided, it should print out as a booklet that you can fold in half and staple along the edge. If you don't have that capability, just print it out, cut all the pages in half, put them in the right order, and staple them together.
Update: Sorry you guys, this booklet is kinda kicking my butt. Anyway, I put the whole thing into a word document, and made THAT a pdf, and when I print it out on my printer I can select the "booklet" option, and it works. Here's the new one. Please let me know if it's still not working for you and I'll try again.
So cute. So sweet. So happy to sit in my lap while I blog. She's practically perfect in every way. So far.