(1) Heirloom Tree SkirtI found this idea many years back in a Family Fun magazine. When I was pregnant with Haley during Advent of 2001, I made a simple tree skirt out of velvet. It was kind of spendy, but I figured we'd have it for a long time and used a coupon to soften the blow. I got started with a hand print of Madeline (17 months) and Haley (a couple days old) for the first year's "entry". I've continued all the way around in the subsequent years and this year had to begin tier two. We all enjoy this heirloom tree skirt. It is so much fun to see how our family has grown through the years.
|The skirt around the tree.|
|I trace each child's hand, cut it out, and trace around it with gold metallic fabric paint. The cookie cutter is traced onto white felt and then I write the year on it and stuck it on with tacky glue.|
|Esther and Eleanor seeing how their current hand size compares to last year.|
(2) Children's Ornament CollectionEach year we make a special trip to the store for the children to choose an ornament that tells something about them that happened in the past year. The younger kids almost always choose a character that they enjoy reading about or watching on television. However, the older children really put some thought into it.
|Joseph chose a golf cart because this was the first year he drove (and crashed...oops!) a golf cart. Lillian has developed a knack for photography and even talked Grandma into letting her have one of her old cameras to snap photos.|
(3) Advent Family ReadingLast year, we thoroughly enjoyed reading Jotham's Journey. This year, we picked up Tabitha's Travels and it was fabulous. The daily reading time is short and very do-able. We even brought the book along on our family vacation as the children can hardly wait to read the daily installment of the story.
(4) Home Made GiftsTeacher gifts can be a tricky order to fill. You want to make it something nice that will be used and appreciated, but nothing that is too spendy or over the top. Luckily, our family enjoys making gifts. This year, we made St. Nicholas Hot Chocolate mix (from Catholic Cuisine) and have gotten nothing but rave reviews from all who received a canister from one of the children. We even mixed up an extra batch for our family. It is yummy!
|I found canisters at the Dollar Store and attached simple tags with mixing directions.|
(5) Christmas Eve Pizza and MaltsOur first few Christmases I felt obligated to make something traditional...turkey, ham...something that took a long time to bake, children typically don't enjoy, and created an exorbitant amount of leftovers. Then, one year, it dawned on me. Why not have something easy that makes everyone happy? Our tradition has been for the past few years to have pizza and malts on Christmas Eve. We don't have any family who joins us for Christmas, so it's only the 8 of us who need to be happy. It is super easy (makes me happy!) and who doesn't like pizza and malts (makes the kids happy!)? And when mom and the kids are happy, it's only logical that papa bear is happy too!
(6) Christmas Day Chinese Take-outThis year we extended this to Christmas Day as well. The local Chinese buffet advertised that they would be open on Christmas Day and it got me thinking. I asked the family what they would think about take-out for Christmas Day and they all jumped on the bandwagon. I made the rice in our rice cooker at home to save money. This went over well and I think we'll be doing it again next year!
(7) Christmas Eve MassMadeline was assigned as an altar server at the 10:30 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. I have to admit that I was a little frightened about how it would go with the littles so far past their bedtime. Getting out of present mode and into church mode was a bit challenging, but it all worked out. The Mass was absolutely beautiful and incredibly prayerful. I think this may be another new tradition for us!
When we got home, each of the children had a new pair of pj's on their beds. They slipped into them and then were allowed to keep them on all Christmas Day, which if you know me at all, this is so NOT what I am all about. But, I must admit, the children really enjoyed it and it will probably catch on as something we do on Christmas Day.
There you have it...our Advent and Christmas celebrations in a nutshell. I have enjoyed reading about all of your celebrations and now feel that I have added just a bit to the discussion!