Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How to Advent, in three steps

Advent is less than two weeks away . . . are you ready, TO WAIT?

Advent is a beautiful time of year. But for those of us attempting to live the liturgical year in our homes (at least a bit) it can be a tricky season to get right. Sometimes it feels like whatever we are doing is somehow not enough and too much all at the same time.

A couple years back, I detailed EXACTLY what we do for Advent in our home:

Advent: How We Try to Celebrate Things in Their Proper Season Without Feeling Like Total Jerks

But exactly how we do it might not work for you. So this year, I want to share the ideas behind our traditions, so hopefully you can find a way to make Advent work in your family, and also let you know about some really great resources, that just might help make it happen.



1. Don't Christmas Yet

This is the key, I think. However you handle Advent in your home, it should feel different than Christmas. For us, we have different decorations for Advent, and we have different music, and we avoid specifically Christmas TV and movies and treats.

We have family traditions that are unique to Advent and different than Christmas, that way, we're not sick of Christmas before it's even arrived.

It's all very counter-cultural, but my kids are on board. We make sure they understand that even though almost everyone else is doing Christmas now, TIERNEYS wait until Christmas actually arrives to do Christmas. This is because TIERNEYS respect the natural order of things and are awesome.

2. Pray and Prepare

Advent isn't Lent, but it really is like Lent in a lot of ways. It should feel like a time of preparation. Many of us will be preparing our homes to receive guests at Christmas, which is a great way to focus, but even if no one is coming over, Advent is a great time for sprucing up the house.

More importantly, it's a great time for focusing on adding a bit more prayer to your family's daily routine.

The Christmas Anticipation Prayer, or St. Andrew's Prayer, is traditionally recited fifteen times per day from the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30th, until Christmas.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,  [here mention your request]
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

Our family does a Christmas Novena. Many families do a Jesse Tree.

Maybe you're just starting out with family prayer. Advent would be a great time to just try adding an Our Father to your bedtime routine. AND maybe one Christmas Anticipation Prayer? That "in the piercing cold" part always makes me shiver.

3. Have a Plan, and Be Flexible

Real life very often gets in the way of liturgical living. And real life is particularly invasive around the holidays. Party invitations, extra work and school commitments, out of town visitors, or out of town visiting, can all throw a wrench in our best intentions for a calm and recollected Advent.

If you're traveling and staying with family, and scheduling and traditions aren't yours to set, it really might not be possible to avoid a full on Christmas blitz before the big day arrives.

And that's okay.

We have lots of family traditions and set plans for how we'll observe Advent. I know we won't always get to all of them every day or even every year, but they are still worth having and trying. Even a little Advent is better than none at all.

And when we are in someone else's home, we just focus on being gracious guests. I'm pretty sure that's how Mary would handle it.

Now, here are a few resources to help you live a prayerful Advent in your home. And because it's the season of giving, I get to give one of each away to you guys. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me something you plan to do in your home for Advent, and which of these resources might be useful to you.

1.  Light for the World: A Catholic Kid's Guide to Advent and Christmas


Written and illustrated for your entire family, this softcover book explains Catholic traditions and feast days that we celebrate throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. For the rest of the year, there's Gifts From Our Father, a guide for families through the liturgical year, great for couples figuring out how to teach their children about the faith, the Saints and how to pray.

2. Waiting in the Word: a Mother's Advent Journey



Nell, Whole Parenting Family, Laura, Mothering Spirit, and Nancy, Do Small Things with Love, have come together to make this great bundle: a Scripture study, a companion journal, and a lectio devina bookmark you can keep in your Bible.

Here's the gist of the study:
Each week of Advent tackles a different comment challenge we face this time of year: Materialism, Loneliness, Fear and Despair. It is our hope that through this study and the Holy Scripture, God will show you a better way and move your heart to Generosity, Communion, Love and Joy.

They even have a Facebook group you can join to walk through the season with other moms.

You can purchase this great Advent collection of goodness by clicking through to here.

3. Maple Leaf Liturgical Living Planner


Thirteen months will get you from this Advent straight through to the next!

 - monthly view includes Catholic liturgical year feasts and seasonal dates as determined by the USCCB
- weekly view includes scripture readings for Sundays and holy days of obligation under the Roman Rite Catholic Church
- weekly view includes psalm quotes for each week from that Sunday's psalm reading

4. Blessed is She Advent 2015 Journal **Digital Download**


In our Advent 2015 Reflection + Journal, we give you the daily readings listed out, reflections by Audrey Assad, and space for you to journal to truly make it your own.
Prepare the way this season.

5. The Nativity Characters in Cross Stitch




I've shared Nancy's cross stitch patterns before, and I love them all. This one comes as a single PDF. All 10 characters are on the same pattern, but you could easily split this up and create several different round ornaments for your Christmas tree–one with the Holy Family, one of the Shepherds, one of the kings and one for each angel.  There are lots of possibilities here.
You can probably see it in the image above, but there is an inscription at the bottom of this pattern.  It is Luke 2:11 and read, “Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

You can get it HERE for $3.

6. Jesse Tree 3-D Printable Ornaments e-book


This digital book contains everything you need to add the Jesse Tree to your own family’s Advent- just add the tree! Included are a brief description and history of the Jesse Tree, supplies list, Bible readings for each day, and 24 3-D printable Jesse Tree ornaments- one for each day of December leading up to Christmas (in B&W and digitally colored versions)!

For each day there is a two page spread containing the title of the person/event, their symbol, a difficulty rating for the craft activity, an approximate amount of time to assemble, the Bible reading for that day and step by step instructions for assembling your 3-D ornament.
Use the coupon code catholicallyear to get 30% off anything in the shop through December 31st! 

7. Nativity Advent Calendar to Print and Color


I’m so excited about this project because is something my (and your) family can enjoy without hours of laborious crafting. That’s right, print it, color it and either set it all up as a full Nativity set right away or add one piece each day of Advent.
You can get the entire 24 page PDF ready to be printed and colored HERE for $5.

8.  Our Family's Jesse Tree: 25 Jesse Tree Ornaments with Templates, Devotions, and Printable Activities

 This printable eBook contains over 80 pages of detailed ornament templates, daily scripture readings (with links to full text), devotions, coloring pages, and family-friendly activities inspired by the scripture to help your family count down the days of Advent in a spiritual way. At the end of the book you'll find instructions with photos on how to create the felt tree.

9. Couples Advent Devotional 





Advent is a time for preparation, this advent take time as a couple to reflect on the daily gospel readings. This devotional offers you daily reflections, contemplations, and prayers for every day of advent. Begin a journey of praying as a couple, and enrich your faith life this advent.

10. Printable Prayers Advent

I've gotten requests to make some Advent printables, so here ya go . . .


It's good advice for kids, and grownups too. On white. Or red.


The Christmas Anticipation Prayer. If you're going to say it fifteen times a day, it might as well be nice to look at, right? In red. Or purple.


O come, o come Emmanuel. It's what Advent is all about. On chalkboard. Or white.

Whew! That's all of it. Please leave a comment sharing something you plan to do to keep Advent this year, and which (any or all) of these Advent resources would help you do it. Winners will be announced ON THE BLOG  on Friday.

You might also enjoy . . .

Our Favorite Family Read-Alouds for Advent

Keeping Advent: Our Family's Traditions


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88 comments:

  1. We do wait 'til Christmas to "do Christmas", but I have a question. Maybe because pride is something that I struggle with, myself, I also struggle with how to present "WE do this the RIGHT way, unlike everybody ELSE" in a way that doesn't end up teaching my children to be rather smug, self-righteous, and generally obnoxious. (Obviously I am having a hard time partly because I do sometimes see it in terms of "Why can't everyone else just do it right!? You know how they say, with children, more is caught than taught? I'm pretty certain this is where my problem begins.) How do you avoid teaching this attitude? Maybe I should just ask everyone to pray for me! :-)

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    1. I know, right?! :) We handle it as just another Our Family Culture thing. My kids know that we do things the way we do them because we think that's the best way. But that doesn't mean other people don't have reasons for why they do things their way.

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    2. Whoops! I totally missed that you were doing a giveaway! I thought you were just listing resources. I would love the "O come, o come Emmanuel" print, because what I do to help us observe Advent is put up Advent decorations until Christmas gets here. Then I switch out key items with Christmas stuff!

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  2. We're still figuring this out with a 2yr old and a baby. I'd love to win one of the advent refection journals. But I think the kids coloring pages or Jesse tree projects would be good too! And I always love your printable prayers!

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  3. Since we have a young family (our girls are 3 years and 1 year) we are beginning a new tradition this year with the Jesse Tree. We will celebrate several feast days throughout Advent and have a couple of nativity scenes out as well. Personally, I am planning on doing the Waiting in the Word to help prepare my heart for Christmas. I have almost all of my Christmas shopping complete minus a couple homemade items and one thing that cannot be purchased until Small Business Saturday.

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  4. We are planning to do an Advent wreath and novena... Trying to think about our family liturgical living now as we're expecting our first child. So I'll be even more in tune with the waiting principle this Advent! :) any of the giveaways would be lovely to help us this year and years to come with baby!

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  5. I really struggle with Advent - really, really struggle. I love this season, but I have a hard time finding the balance for our family. I'm so glad I saw your suggestion last year about Christmas shopping before Advent starts. That is the #1 change from last year that made our Advent better. Nothing spoils my Advent mood like having to go to the mall in December.

    I'm still not sure at all how we'll "hold off" on Christmas during Advent. Last year I tried so hard to keep our home peaceful and in the spirit of Advent. And on Christmas, it felt almost anti-climatic because I had tried so hard to not do Christmas too early that when Christmas actually arrived I didn't feel ready. Maybe that doesn't make any sense... I think I might just be a person that needs a few Christmas movies and Christmas lights during Advent to help get my spirit in the right place.

    I wish I knew how to keep Advent as it's own time without feeling like I'm purposefully pushing away Christmas. At your home is it no Christmas related things at all during Advent (or is it just saving the arrival of Jesus for celebration on Christmas)? I remember that your kids really get into the Santa Claus stuff. Do you save all of that for Christmas day, too?

    But, all these giveaways you have listed look great. I am for sure interested in Nell's Advent journey book and that cute nativity cross stitch! And the liturgical living journal looks pretty awesome, too!

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  6. Hey Kendra,

    Love this post, thank you as always for inspiring thoughts on living the Liturgical Year in the home. :-)

    Our family loves Advent, our kids look forward to it as much as Christmas it seems. We are blessed to have a family prayer routine each night, and at Advent we add into it: Lighting the Advent candles in the wreath, praying the St. Andrew Novena, Advent wreath prayers, and reading some Jesse Tree devotions with the Bible story that goes along with each. Oh, and an Advent Calendar if we have one.

    We have only just begun in the last few years to understand keeping Advent more separate from Christmas, and extending Christmas throughout the actual Church Season of Christmas. The world treats it so different! We always did Advent devotions, but I didn't know about it being more of a season of preparation, and trying to save Christmas for Christmas, and after. :-)

    The giveaways I'd be most interested in are: Jesse Tree 3-D Printable Ornaments e-book, Nativity Advent Calendar to Print and Color, or Our Family's Jesse Tree: 25 Jesse Tree Ornaments with Templates, Devotions, and Printable Activities.

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  7. My husband and I are going to fast from certain things and read Bishop Bossuet's 'Meditations for Advent' each day. Our first baby is only 7 months old, so right now I'm trying to do a lot of learning/planning for when we have children old enough to start living the liturgical year. The planner would be particularly helpful during this phase of my life!

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    1. Anna, do do the Advent Wreath! Even a baby that age can enjoy and appreciate the candlelight, and it sets a special tone for the season.

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  8. We will do Jesse tree, advent wreath and St Andrew novena. The liturgical year planner would be a huge blessing. Thank you.

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  9. You inspire me, Kendra!
    I really really try to keep the focus on Advent. Our focus really is done around dinner time and bedtime.
    A few years ago, when my children were babies, I made a Jesse Tree, ordered some amazing felt ornaments, and I use this book: http://tinyurl.com/pj9f7zs
    It's not Catholic but we use it as a guide. Since our children are under five, we have to do child interpretations of the stories to make it come together... and the book is a great guide.

    Of course we light advent candles. We use the Fisher Price nativity set (it's great) as a coffee table toy. We take away Jesus until Christmas and talk about it. We also hide the donkey (no significant meaning... just escaping the Elf on the Shelf tradition.)
    Bedtime is extra quiet and only books/no games... and we pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena.

    We also incorporate as many feast days as we can...

    We do get a tree :( We are gone for two weeks over Christmas so we either get one early or not one at all... I would love to not get one until Christmas Eve but that's a battle I can't win.

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    1. In our family, my side is the one who has always put up our tree super early. My husband's family put theirs up on Christmas Eve. One of my favorite memories of the weeks during Advent (which my family did observe, although I was not raised Catholic), was the beautiful Christmas tree lights. As I've searched for ways to hold off on Christmas, while still incorporating that thing that I love, we have used the tree for our Jesse Tree during Advent, then removed all the Jesse Tree ornaments on Christmas Eve and decorated for Christmas as a family. This way I get my pretty lights, and my husband gets to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve as he has always done. (So, at the beginning of Advent, we put up the tree and add the lights. Then we add the Jesse Tree ornaments one day at a time.)

      The only warning I will offer, should you choose to go this way, is that the tree does get awfully dry by the time the whole Christmas Season comes to an end. But maybe you will be better about watering yours! This year we are going to try a bare tree for our Jesse Tree and get the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve, but using an evergreen for both has worked really well for us up to this point. (And we may go back to that, we'll see.)

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  10. We plan on celebrating St. Nicholas' feast day this year and trying to make some extra time for prayer together. Kate's still too young to do any sort of Advent "crafts" or anything, but I've been eyeing the BIS Advent journal to help keep *me* accountable and inspired this Advent. Oh! and Advent candles at dinner. I didn't do any last year because of new mom brain fog but this year's the year.

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  11. I never tire reading about all the amazing ways you manage to keep the church alive in your very busy home! I frequently refer to your blog for advice for myself and my daughter raising her daughter because I wish your blog were around for me to have referenced when they were small. In any case Advent is still coming and will be celebrated with all ages in our home this year. I would be grateful for any items above...but if I had to choose I would pick the Mother bundle or the BIS bundle or the printables of the St Andrew prayer....��

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  12. I love your books for advent suggestion. Do you have a catholic mass book for kids suggestion. My daughter is 3 and she loves holding the misselette so I thought it would be cool for her to have one she could see what was going on and see it in her book...

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  13. I love those light of the world books and plan to do some mom devotional - something to keep me accountable and grounded! Thanks for the great ideas!

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  14. I would love the BIS journal. Our Advent is constantly evolving. I was really pleased with it last year - we got the tree later than we had previously, and then left it up for several days with no decorations, then put the lights on, then waited several days and did ornaments slowly - and we weren't done until the weekend before Christmas. It was slow and lovely and really felt like "preparation." So we will do that again, and the Jesse tree that we've done for a couple of years now, and the Advent wreath, and a toy cleanout!! Lots of good stuff for the family and the kids - but I'm thinking I need that journal for ME.

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  15. Growing up my family always set up our Christmas Tree the day after Thanksgiving. I have such wonderful childhood memories of this that it's hard to let it go completely, so this year we've decided to set up our tree with the lights and the star at the beginning of advent, and do the rest of the decorating on Christmas Eve. We've also tried to do an Advent wreath in the past, but have never been terribly consistent, so we're going to try to focus on that this year as well.

    All of the giveaways are so great, but if I had to choose my favorite it would be the "Light for the World Book" . . . or the cross stitch patterns . . . or the journal . . . ack! It's hard to choose, when they're all so great!

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  16. Waiting in the Word bundle! The soft books! The chalkboard version of O come, O come Emmanuel. And I love waiting to do Christmas until Christmas! Was hard for me when we converted, but now I think it's pretty much perfect.

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  17. We're still figuring out Advent/Christmas... but either way, these seasons are going to be a bit go-with-the-flow as I'm due sometime in the next couple of weeks! In the past, we've done gradual decorating through the season. (Week 1: Advent calendar, wreath; Week 2: Greenery, Week 3/St. Lucy: Lights...) I would LOVE the Maple Leaf planner- how awesome!- but I'd leave it up to you :) We have a 2 1/12-year-old.

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  18. We have never done a Jesse Tree but I love those materials and we would love to try it. I plan on using the nativity and advent calendar printable. Our past ways to celebrate Advent is definetly to have an advent wreath. This year my 3 year old decorated the candles (we have battery operated for her personal one) to represent purple and pink.

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  19. "How to Advent ... Don't Christmas yet." Ha! Love it. We are doing a Jesse tree this year... Well at least we have the ornaments for the tree... Still at a loss for an actual tree! But if I were to win I'd either like the Light for the World books or the Maple Leaf planner.

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  20. I have several of the items already & am looking forward to using the new mother's bundle. I would love to have the Liturgical Living Planner.

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  21. We are abstaining from treats until Christmas this year. (Except for feast days!) I would get so much use out of that planner!

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  22. We do a Jesse Tree, Advent wreath, some special Christmas prayers but would love to add things like light of our world books or the planner and the our family's Jesse Tree. Curious as to what music you use during Advent.

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    1. There's a whole genre of Advent music, like O Come O Come Emmanuel, and O Come Divine Messiah. I think this is the CD we have, of specifically Advent carols: Advent at Ephesus. I have them in a playlist with other halfway cheating songs, like I'll Be Home for Christmas, and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

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    2. We have observed Advent for years (my children are grown now) with Advent wreath, St. Andrew's prayer, and Advent calendars (we save and re-use year to year). The hardest thing for me is that by Christmas I haven't listened to any "Christmas music" and it just seems SO out of step to be gearing up for Christmas carols starting on Christmas - like it's too late so I usually don't bother and then I am sad that I missed the music. We set our tree up around the 17th and also try for the O Antiphons. The Vatican sets up the tree at that time and I figure I could do worse than what the Pope does! - nancyo (please don't enter this comment for the giveaway, although you have a great lineup of gifts)

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    3. ... and p.s. the Vatican is setting up its tree early this year, so that it will be ready in time for the beginning of the Year of Mercy on December 8/Feast of the Immaculate Conception. - nancyo

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  23. This year is going to be tricky because we're getting ready to move, we're expecting our 2nd baby soon, job and school transitions... we're swamped. I'm not sure whether or when we'll unpack all the Advent + Christmas things given we're moving the week or 2 after Christmas. But, assuming I (with large baby belly firmly attached) can get our decorations out from behind the stacks of packed boxes, and it can make sense with our moving plan, we'll do the Jesse Tree, family Advent devotionals at bed time, an Advent wreath we'll light at dinner time, and we'll put out the crèche (minus baby Jesus). If I can't get all the things out-- we can at least do devotionals & maybe this is the year we can add Christmas prayers to our normal prayers... If I were to choose, any of the 1st 4 would be great, but the planner seems especially intriguing as we try to grow old traditions and establish new ones with my 4 year old and this new one on the way--during what will be a busy year for our family.

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  24. We plan to do a Jesse tree and Christmas novena. Now I'm thinking of adding the Saint Andrew prayer! I'd love to win any of these. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  25. We do our Advent calendar and nightly processions and a meditation set for children. I would love the ebook about making your own Jesse tree. It has been on my to do list for past several years and I haven't done it yet! (#8 on your list Jesse Tree with templates & activities).

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  26. We'll do our Jesse Tree, advent wreath, and advent calendar countdown this year. We'll pick an advent song to learn and sing it each night for bedtime prayers. i think the husband and I will do the o Antiphons instead of our usual night prayer for those 7 days leading up to Christmas Eve.

    I'd love the Blessed is She Bundle!

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  27. I love your Advent posts! In our house we get out the nativity sets, Advent wreath, and calendar, but we wait to eat the cookies, watch the movies, listen to the music, and decorate the tree. We try to celebrate feast days (St. Nick, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy, etc) and we try to keep the Christmas celebration going until at least the Epiphany. Our family prayer could use a boost. I think #1 and #9 would help with that. :)

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  28. You know I'm going to be honest here, I love the idea of keeping them separate, advent and Christmas, but we just love the Christmas season over here at our home , so we do more of a hybrid. I always get the advent wreath and the nativity out first, then Add the rest by early- mid December. I try to keep an advent heart by getting a lot of shopping done now, before thanksgiving or at least have a plan, that way I can keep it simple through December. But, after reading over at like mother like daughter, I think we will bake the Christmas cookies early, freeze them, then pull them out on Christmas Day. I think that is a good anticipation practice for my family that we can easily "enforce".

    Al that being said- I love the o come o come Emmanuel printable of yours! My favorite seasonal song!!

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  29. Our biggest advent activity this year is having a baby! So otherwise we will be doing basic things like advent calendars and maybe something in liturgy of the hours. I'd love to win any of them!

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  30. Last year was the first year we tried to differentiate the seasons and we will keep some things and let a few others slide. My kids LOVE the Advent wreath and Jesse Tree. Trying to fillthe manger up with sacrifice straws was a great success, too, so that will return! Christmas was always my Dad's favorite time of the year and I felt like I was working so hard on being Advent-y and not Christmas-y last year that Christmas was actually kind of lack luster and lost some of the sparkle and joy he always put into it. He always had the Christmas spirit but that time of year he would glow with joy and generosity! The first book set on liturgical living would be a great help as we have been attempting to live the liturgical year. Thanks for your great posts!

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  31. Oh I love that planner. Well, everything, really. We're going through RCIA right now and pretty much starting from scratch on a lot of this stuff. We do pray as a family though, and will do an advent wreath.

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    1. Leslie, congrats on starting RCIA! My husband is going through RCIA right now too and I'm sponsoring someone else in it. I was raised in a non-practicing household so this stuff is relatively new to me too, which is why I made the Liturgical Living planner actually, haha!

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  32. I want to do a Jesse tree this year and really try to make the two different liturgical seasons appear different in our house. I'd love to have the books to help us make these traditions we continue for years with our kids.

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  33. We will do a Jesse tree and I think our elf on the shelf, Charlie, will bring the kiddos a new Advent/Christmas book/coloring page/activity sheet/prayer each day. I need to peruse your read aloud link for ideas! Love everything being offered but I think I'm partial to the Jesse tree resources. And I love the cross stitch pattern...just need to learn to cross stitch!

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  34. I would love the Waiting in the Word set! I'm struggling to set aside time for myself because I have this horrid habit of giving my all for my family and not receiving grace. Anyway. I think the lovely new advent meditation series would help.

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  35. I'm really going to try and separate out Advent vs. Christmas decorations this year, and wait on the latter! I would LOVE any of these resources, especially Waiting on the Word or the liturgical living planner (what a great idea!)

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  36. Um - all these gifts are making me feel all Christmasy. Isn't that counterproductive? :) But seriously - thank you for all these fabulous giveaways. Wow. I would love the Light of the World books for my oldest daughter, or the liturgical planner for me.

    We typically do a Jesse Tree and Advent wreath - but this year are trying to figure out how to prevent two mischievous littles from pulling either down. Seriously - this "climbing with no common sense" stage will be the death of me.

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  37. We always do an Advent wreath and the Jesse Tree through Holy Heroes. And we put off things like putting up the tree and making cookies. Such great give aways... the books (#1) look really neat and the coloring for the kids would be nice (our kids are 1.5 and just barely 4). I, of course, wouldn't mind the Advent journal/prayer kinds of things... and I'm eyeing the felt Jesse Tree things for when my kids don't want to color anymore. (I suppose that happens, but I don't know when!)

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  38. I love advent! I love the anticipation. We will do family prayers, we will save treats for Christmas, we will have a BIT of decorating (little people nativity set, stockings but saving the tree for as close to Christmas as I can manage) and I will try to keep the Christmas music at a minimum. My taste in advent music hasn't quite developed past O come O Com Emanual and a couple other comon ones ;)
    But, there will be Christmas piano and violin music. We are musicians, and we have to prepare! (Especially this mama pianist who hardly ever plays anymore)

    I don't really feel fair trying to win a prize as we just won the super cool cross stitch patterns for an all saint costume, but I would love to win the advent for kids book. I think I'll have to pick that one up. For when they need to hear it in a different voice than my own :)

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  39. Typically we deck the house out in purple, put purple ornaments on our "Advent Bush" (what we call the Christmas tree before Christmas...) and listen to the Benedictines of Mary Queen of the Apostle's CD Advent at Ephesis on repeat. But this year is going to be focused a lot more on prayer and riding ourselves of unnecessary material belongings -- we're moving on December 20th so no decorations until the new house!

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    1. Forgot to add - that being said, I'd love one of the prayer journals or a printable to hang after we move! :)

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    2. Advent Bush, bahaha! I am totally calling it that from now on ;)

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  40. I have a 1.5 year old and a one month old so this year is about establishing what I would like to Advent to be for our family. I do an advent activity calendar that's really focused on giving and charity and an advent wreath and st. Nick might be bringing the little people nativity 😉. I would love the printables, having prayers on the wall is a good reminder for me to say my prayers. Or the liturgical planner. Like I said, we are establishing traditions at this point and that planner looks like it would be really helpful!

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  41. We light our Advent candles each night during dinner and also do the Jesse tree, We are doing Holy Heroes Advent adventure this year also. I would love to win the printable prayers because I want to do an advent calendar similar to the Lenten countdown that you posted for Lent, with the prayer in the center and clip art figures around it.

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  42. Kendra, thank you for sharing our Jesse Tree! My husband and I are looking forward to completing the couples devotional...such a great idea.

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  43. I plan to not only start but complete our jesse tree readings and ornaments this year. I will, I will, I will!!!!

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    1. Ah yes, I wonder what percentage of Jesse Trees are actually completed?

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    2. There's the rub haha. I started my Jesse tree ornaments at the beginning of November (look, I have a whole month!). 12 ornaments in, our whole family got the stomach flu and then went out of town for thanksgiving. so...next year we are going to have an awesome Jesse tree! Haha

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  44. I've been married for three years, and I have a 2 year old and a 38 week old baby in the womb. We finally got a tree last year, but we never got around to decorating it. We bought an Advent wreath this year. So I'm planning (in the midst of the endless nursing that will soon be my life) to put up and decorate the tree, do the Advent wreath most nights, and try the St. Andrew's novena. Any of these resources would help, but I'd love your St. Andrew's printable in purple. I also love the Jesse tree patterns for the felt ornaments. You know, for maybe another 3 years down the road.

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  45. We love Advent - and I love all of your great resources, thanks for sharing! We plan to do a Jesse Tree and our Advent wreath/candles with a special prayer - we always sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, though this year we may add some new songs. With our Jesse tree we also read from a great book that tells stories about the Old Testament characters (Read Aloud Book of Bible Stories). We also wrap books and we have just enough Saint Peg Dolls that we also wrap. This worked great when we had only two kids, so each got to open a gift, now that we have four it may get a little more complicated - but I think we have a couple Advent calendars so they all get to do at least one thing. As I said above - all of your resources look great!

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  46. We do a Jesse tree, we have a new advent wreath this year (yay!!), and we are going to try to decorate our free in purple and pink this year and then switch it on Christmas eve. I think I would love the cross stitch nativity. I love nativity sets and have an idea on how we would use another and/or make them for my god children!

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  47. Advent chain! So easy even for me. Little people nativity, Jesus Storybook Bible readings daily.

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  48. HI Kenda! I have been following you for a couple of year and this is my first time posting. Your blog got me interested in other Catholic family blogs. We don't have any children, but I love reading about how families are celebrating their catholic faith. I have learned so much from you and your family!

    For advent, we are celebration our first Jesse tree. I have ordered the Blessed is She journal. My husband and I are doing a consecration to Mary, and we also do an advent devotional with a wreath. I have finished most of my christma's shopping, so that we can really focus on advent. I am pumped about it.

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  49. HI Kenda! I have been following you for a couple of year and this is my first time posting. Your blog got me interested in other Catholic family blogs. We don't have any children, but I love reading about how families are celebrating their catholic faith. I have learned so much from you and your family!

    For advent, we are celebration our first Jesse tree. I have ordered the Blessed is She journal. My husband and I are doing a consecration to Mary, and we also do an advent devotional with a wreath. I have finished most of my christma's shopping, so that we can really focus on advent. I am pumped about it.

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  50. Love all these different resources you've pulled together Kendra!

    We try to keep Advent separate too and I find it's more fun to spread out the cheer by having preparatory activities in Advent and then truly celebrating for the entire Christmas season. Last year I actually Christmas shopped before Advent and found it was actually kind of a bummer, that planning and buying others' gifts is a great preparation for Christmas, so this year I'm holding off and making the buying/making gifts a part of our Advent season for myself and the kids. I like the idea of them spending Advent secretly planning and making gifts for others to surprise them with during the Christmas celebration. Someday I'd love to tailor our decorations a bit more so extra stuff gets pulled out just on Christmas Eve, I think that'd add some extra festivity.

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  51. I too love all these....Light of the World stands out too me but the others are great! For Advent, we have our Advent Wreath. It is a basic wreath with vigil lights (like the big ones at church) with glass coverings in the different color.. pink and purple. I love lighting them and leaving them lit during the evening. A reminder through the night that the light is growing in the darkness of winter.

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  52. I'm a Catholic revert and this will be my first adult advent season. I'm super excited about it. I plan on doing the advent wreath for sure. All of the five away items look amazing.

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  53. I already signed up for Waiting in the Word. I'm so excited! We're keeping it simple with an advent wreath and daily advent prayer in addition to reading some advent books with the kids (5, 3, 1). I'd love to check out the first set of books you mentioned!

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  54. I would love any of these! I have plans for a Jesse Tree this year. We also light the advent wreath each night at dinner time. If I had to pick one, it would be the Blessed is She bundle. Those cards look beautiful!

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  55. We always do the advent wreath, and filling the manger with straw for good deeds, and an advent calendar. All the things look awesome, I have always wanted to do some Jesse tree but never actually put it together yet. The Blessed is she bundle looks awesome too.

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  56. I would like to do the Jesse tree with my kids this advent, I like doing a paper tree on the wall because I have so many toddlers in the house that I'm scared to put up a real tree, plus I'm not very crafty (a newborn, a 1.5 year old, a 3 year old, and a 4 year old make momma very nervous around crafting supplies. I can deal with crayons :) I would love the Blessed is She Advent 2015 Bundle. I think I could read the cards to the kids each day and keep them for years to come. It's always awkward keeping them focused while I try to look up bible references. God bless, praying that all of us can have an advent full of holy expectation!

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  57. We do a Jesse tree and light advent candles each night. I love the O Come, O Come Emmanuel chalk board print! We sing that song as we light the advent wreath each night.

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  58. Advent wreath, Jesse tree, straw in crèche for good deeds from kiddos to prepare Jesus a bed and we decorate the tree a little bit each Sunday of advent k to build up to Christmas!

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  59. I want to focus on prayer this season. While I honestly don't see us waiting until Christmas to celebrate Christmas, I would LOVE to focus 90% on Advent and only 10% on Christmas until the big day. I plan on doing the BIS Advent study but the couple's one sounds like it would wonderful, too. I'm also impressed by the liturgical living planner. How genius!

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  60. Well, except for giving gifts with my in-laws at Thanksgiving, we're hoping to mostly save Christmas until Christmas. We'll see how that goes. Our daughter is only 9 months old, though, so if we don't like how we do it this year, we've got plenty of chances to try again (God willing!). I would put anything—except the cross stitch patterns—to good use, either now or in the future! Some of the things for adults sound wonderful!

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  61. We make a paper chain that includes a Jesse Tree symbol, a scrlpture reading for the day, and something to do, perhaps a prayer to say or to make a card for the nursing home, etc. This allows me to combine three in one!

    I think the couples' devotion looks great....my husband and I still aren't good about praying together unless it's as a family.

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  62. This Advent is especially exciting (and stressful) for us, because I am expecting a baby boy on Christmas Eve! People keep asking us what our plans are for Christmas, but I honestly can't say because I don't know if I'll be hugely pregnant, staying in the hospital, or home with a newborn! One tradition we started doing a few years ago was a Jesse Tree. We don't put any Christmas tree ornaments up until Christmas Eve. So our tree looks pretty bare during Advent, but it's a good reminder for us that we're still waiting!
    I would love the liturgical year planner. Especially since we're adding a new family member, I have started trying to plan meals in advance, one week at a time. The planner would help me so, so much to incorporate the liturgical year into my meal planning!

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  63. For Advent this year, since I play the piano, I plan on learning and singing 5 to 7 Advent hymns. O come, O come Emmanuel is a given and I might even stretch myself to learn the first verse in Latin. My family is still small and young, but growing in number, size, maturity, and spirituality. What would be useful for us is 1. Light for the World, 2. Waiting in the Word, 4. Blessed is She, 6. Jesse Tree 3-D printable Ornaments, 8. Our Family’s Jesse Tree: 25 Jesse Tree Ornaments, or 9. Couples Advent Devotional. Thanks for all that you sacrifice for this blog Kendra!

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  64. We have such a tendency to over-think Advent. I think slowly adding on traditions is HUGE. When I converted several years ago, I wanted our life to be filled with the richness of the Catholic liturgical year, but the thought alone was so overwhelming. Instead, we have slowly added on to our traditions.

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  65. We plan to use the Jesse tree, advent wreath, and unwrap and read a book each evening. I like the idea of having all the shipping done before advent! All the prizes are wonderful, but is especially like #3 or #8

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  66. Our goal is an advent wreath with singing every night, a scripture reading every night, and a new batch of cookies every weekend to send (most of) to deployed troops. We will see how much it gets disrupted! I. Would love #1,#2, or a print of that St Andrew prayer. 15 times a day! Wow!

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  67. We also love St. Nicholas celebrations. We do one with several families. We host a big dinner and then put on skits showing the heroic life of St. Nicholas. The kids love pretending in the skits, especially the skit where St. Nicholas saves the daughters from being sold. And of course, while the kids are busy in the skits, St. Nicholas comes and leaves presents in their shoes! I think the couple's devotional looks really interesting and I'd enjoy doing it with my husband.

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  68. Wow! What variety! Any of these would help us prepare for Christmas. I have kids ages 2-16...so we are at all the stages now. Almost. Advent is one of my favorite seasons. This is the first year I'll be doing a short retreat with my kids for Advent. We have a few traditions, but I think starting off with a reflective retreat will help us. God bless you!

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  69. I love this post! I am trying to focus more on Advent this year and one thing we're doing that will be new to us is a Jesse Tree. I recently purchased the "Waiting in His Word" bundle and I'm excited to be a part of that journey and I love that my kids have some Jesse Tree ornaments to color. In regards to your giveaway, I think I would most appreciate the #1: the Light for our World and Gifts from Our Father books. Thank you for the Advent tips, Kendra!

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  70. Thank you for this post! Our little one is almost 18 months so we are still developing our plans for liturgical living. My plan this year includes focusing on the Jesse Tree and personally doing the "Mother's Bundle". The couples devotional would round things out nicely to do something with my husband too! Thanks again! You always have the best ideas!

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  71. Thank you for the generosity of the your time in putting this all together. So many good things. God Bless.

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  72. I don't know if I can enter... (since the Jesse Tree e-book is mine- can participants in the contest also win a contest prize?)... but I would love the printable prayers- especially the Christmas Anticipation prayer. We always start off our school day with prayer. I want to switch from the Morning Offering prayer to the Christmas Anticipation prayer once Advent starts. Of course, we'll also be doing the printable Jesse Tree ornaments during Advent this year!

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  73. Id love to win ANYTHING and promise to put it to good use in our home. We're kicking off advent by participating in Advent by Candlelight, a fundraiser for our Parish Mothers and Children Bible study group and Family Advent Day after mass next Sunday.

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  74. I am determined to get Christmas shopping done before advent starts this year so we can actually focus on advent. Though I may be driving my mother, who has yet to start her shopping, crazy!! Any of advent journals/devotionals would be awesome :)

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