I cannot believe we are already in Advent. It is such a perfect time of year, and in some ways I prefer it to Christmas itself. There is something just so magical about Advent, and the build up to the Christmas season!
Now that my children are old enough to really appreciate the magic, I am determined to make it as special as I can. But with so much to do and try to fit in there is a risk of doing too much, so I have scaled it back as much as I can and have set myself a sort-of Advent Challenge. I am aiming to fit in at least one Advent/Christmas activity every day, but not do too much. I have a vague bucket list in mind, though have not planned anything too rigidly as I am not very good at sticking to things like that. I will probably have given up with it all by next week, but for now, this is how we got on in week 1!
Day 1 – We hung up our wreath
Last week I made a wreath and it was so big that there was nowhere to store it indoors, so we just *had* to hang it up! I admit, this was a fairly lazy cop-out activity for the first day of Advent, but seeing as I had a busy morning at work and an even busier afternoon/evening, preparing for and then singing in the Advent Carol Service (where I even sang a solo, no less*), I was a bit stressed and decided that this was enough fun for one day!
Day 2 – We visited the local Christmas Tree Festival
For the last few years we have attended the Christmas Tree Festival at Chislehurst Methodist Church. Always set during the last week in November, it is a wonderful way to start off the Advent season and this year was no different! The festival consists of a large collection of Christmas trees, displayed throughout the church, that you browse at your leisure. These trees come in all shapes and sizes, colours and designs, from the very traditional and the very modern, to the fun and quirky not-really-a-tree-at-all. Some are decorated by adults, some by children. Contributions come from all over Chislehurst, from local businesses (with a bit of cheeky advertisement thrown in), to church groups, from local schools, to other groups who make use of the church building in some way. It really is quite a spectacle and we have so much fun looking at the results that each group, school and business come up with each year!
My favourite offering this year was “The 12 Knits of Christmas” (from a pattern created by Fiona Goble and knit by the Knutty Knitters of Chislehurst Methodist Church). This consisted of the entire contents of the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” in knitted-form (including pears, rings and eggs as well as all of the people and birds) and apparently took nine months to complete. It was incredibly impressive and my picture below really does not do it justice (it was so big I just couldn’t get it all in, but you get the idea)!
Day 3 – We prepared a parcel for the local Foodbank
It is so important that we think of others at Christmas time. In an ever-increasingly inward looking, materialistic world, it can be so easy to allow selfishness and consumerism to take over our Christmas preparations. But seeing how the true meaning of Christmas has at its heart selflessness and generosity, I think that it is far more important that we think about other people; and not just those people we know, but even more so those who are most in need.
For today’s activity we thought about people who don’t have enough food to eat. We thought about Foodbank and how great a cause it is. Foodbank is something that we regularly donate to (by putting non-perishable items into a bag in church), and I love the fact that it is going to local people, some of whom I know personally; it is often the case that we are more aware of the needs of those people living in extreme circumstances than the needs of those on our doorsteps. At the moment our local Foodbank (the Bromley Borough Foodbank) is specifically asking for items to put into Christmas hampers for families, including Christmas biscuits, chocolate boxes and puddings. So we went to the supermarket and I let A and E chose their own items to give. This is what they came up with:
Day 4 – We made some Rudolph chocolates
We made these chocolate Rudolph bites, and they were very yummy!
Day 5 – We decorated some foam Christmas tree shapes
I bought some foam Christmas tree blanks from Baker Ross and we decorated them using some sequins and a sprinkle of glitter. This was a lovely simple activity that both A and E enjoyed and I think the results look lovely!
Day 6 – We made some Christmas treats for the birds
Again, I think it is really important for A and E to think of others at Christmas time and this includes caring for creation and all that that entails. Today we thought about birds, particularly those that visit our garden, and we decided to make them some special Christmas treats, which we then hung in the garden!
Day 7 – We made snowflakes
For me, making snowflakes is an absolute must-include Christmas craft activity, though at first I did wonder whether to introduce it to A and E as I was worried they might be a bit young for it. But they both proved me wrong; they remained engaged in it for longer than I have ever known! I think they were just overjoyed to be let loose with the scissors for once. And although much of what they created didn’t look much like a snowflake in the traditional sense, I was very impressed, and some were really good! As they were so quiet for so long I even got to experiment a bit myself and created a shape completely unlike any I have ever made before (the bottom left one in the photo below in case you are interested)!
So there you have it, our Advent Challenge for the first week of Advent 2016 is complete!
*(only a line, but still, for me that was a feat)!