Advent Calendars -- Start of Advent

December first is the start of Advent this year. It seems fitting since most Advent calendars start on the first. But this year, the first is also the first Sunday in Advent when you light the first candle of the Advent wreath. I personally love Advent. It is a time to prepare. The church uses the color purple for Advent. We are preparing for the coming of Christ. Now my parents gave us a beautiful wooden Advent calendar a couple of years ago. The only problem is we have to fill it each year. This year I decided to go with a crafty theme. I always try to focus it on the nativity to make sure the true meaning is getting through to Hazel and that it is not about gifts and commercialism.

This year I am organizing a huge event at my church for next Saturday. It is called a Night in Bethlehem. We will have a live nativity (with real sheep) as well as a marketplace full of crafts for kids to make to see what it was like in Biblical time. My focus this week will mostly be on this, but I will be trying to get some posts up. Anyway, I needed to find some peg dolls for one of the crafts and discovered Casey's Wood Products. They have very reasonable prices for wood products and you can buy the wood projects by the individual. I bought some nativity figures for Hazel. I am using these this year in her Advent calendar with a few other added crafts.
I am going to let her decorate them if she wants to. However for the first I found this great miniature Advent wreath craft. I wanted to use purple candles so they would be like the ones we have in our big wreath, so I "painted" some white birthday candles with melted crayons. I saw how to do it on Catholic Icing: Make Pink and Purple Advent Candles.

The best part is that we had all the supplies at home. I invaded Steve's tool room for the nuts and of course the recycling bin for a lid.  I am going to let Hazel make it tomorrow. I just put it together for a quick picture.

Since the first candle is for hope, we will make a hope craft on the second day. For her  calendar I printed out the themes my church uses and put one in on each Sunday (or Monday for the first one) so we will have ornaments for each theme. Love and Peace are easy ones to find. We actually have a peace dove ornament that we made from salt clay a couple of years ago and I made a quick beaded heart ornament when Hazel was making beaded candy canes.

The hope and joy ornaments will be a bit harder. I picked up a joy rubber stamp at Joann the other day for $1. I may do some clay ornaments similar to what we did for our Christmas in Kenya craft with the stamp. For hope I am thinking about doing something like this snowball ornament on Just Crafty Enough but use the word hope instead of joy. I have some letter stickers and may try them instead of vinyl. I also love the idea of twig ornaments that you can see on First Home Love Life. If you want other ideas for ornaments and Christmas decorations you can see what I have pinned in my Christmas board.

Now for Hazel's Advent calendar I try to make the gifts tell the story of Christmas. I always start with an angel, so I bought some angel peg dolls. This is what will be in her door for the 3rd. We will make an angel from it and share it with you. The fourth will be the Mary figure (alternative craft at First School) and the fifth will be Joseph. Then on the sixth we will do another angel craft. I think we will be doing the Easy Paperclip Angel Ornament from Crafty Journal. Steve promised to bring home the paperclips for me since he has some at work and not at his desk at home. If you want other ideas for angel crafts, I have an Angels board. (I started this board when we were participating in an angel swap for inspiration.) I should also mention Activity Village has some alternative crafts for the entire Nativity including a nativity mobile.

For the next day we will do a donkey craft. Even though a donkey is not mentioned in the Bible it is in so many of the stories, that I like to include it. I bought these clothespins at Casey's Wood Products, but Oriental Trading also has a similar donkey craft. After the donkey we will do the star and then the sheep and shepherds. Then we will do the camels and wisemen. We will also make a popsicle stick manger. Finally on the 23rd we will make one of the simple nativity ornaments I have pinned and the 24th she will get the "manger" which Casey's Wood Products called the bathtub since they did not have any mangers left, I bought something that would work.

That is our plan for this year's Advent calendar. Another idea I had was inspired by the Christ the Savior is Born Advent Calendar on Sunlit Pages. I went through our old Christmas cards and used a fancy punch to punch out nice pictures and/or words. I took a picture of four that could be used to represent the Advent themes. The idea was to put numbers on the back and add strings and hang them in similar fashion to her Advent calendar. You would get a nice picture for each day.  Perhaps that will get done next year.

For today, this is all we are going to share. If you want more ideas for Advent calendars please check out my pins in my Advent board. There are many various ideas there! I would love to hear what you do for Advent. Happy Advent!!