Quieting the Frenzy

For years and years, I was a put the Christmas-tree-up-Thanksgiving-weekend kind of girl. If we traveled for Thanksgiving, and Sunday was going to be the first Sunday of Advent, I’d go so far as to put the tree up before Thanksgiving. Once the kids were old enough to understand what was going on, of course the rest of the decorations, including stockings had to go up too. We’ve hit the ground running the very first day of Advent the past couple of years, While we’ve been filled with Christmas cheer, and while we’ve had nothing but really amazing Decembers, this year, I wanted to try a different approach.


I wanted to focus on Advent instead of counting down to Christmas.

I wanted to focus on what the Jesse Tree actually is, and why it’s important.

I wanted some time to do all of this without the distraction of singing snowmen and Santas that go Ho Ho Ho when you walk past them .

So we didn’t rush to decorate this year. We celebrated the first week of Advent by focusing on the first week of Advent. Imagine that.

So we did we do?

We set the Advent wreath up at our table. We pulled out our Advent book: Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family, which comes in handy.

We started reading the Jesse Tree readings every night (I’ve always thought the readings were too long, this year, they were ready to listen). We started reading the  story of the birth of Jesus one lift-the door at a time.

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St. Nick and a candy cane We topped off this first week with a special Mass for St. Nicholas and then dinner with Santa. After getting hopped up on candy canes and Oreos, I was floored when we walked in the door and Andrew asked if we were going to light the Advent wreath and eat the candy from the calendars. We skipped the candle, but they knew exactly what symbol we were reading about (the Ram, for Isaac).

Tomorrow we will decorate the house, and start the frenzy. But my fingers are crossed that they’ll still ask for their Advent calendar- candy and all.

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The Countdown is On: Advent Calendar Using Christmas Cards

Sometimes, lack of planning can be a good thing. A few weeks ago, I saw the chocolate Advent calendars in the stores, but didn’t buy them because I felt it was too soon.

Note to self: Anytime after Halloween is acceptable for securing the chocolate Advent calendars. Also, it is unreasonable to think that they will be available at all on November 30.

Friday and Saturday I made attempts to track down two chocolate Advent calenders with no luck. Candy loving Mam was very distraught- how ever will we count down to Christmas, how will she get candy for the month of December, whatever would we DO?!?!

I promised her we would make one. I have to say, despite my own reservations, it came out just fine.

Christmas cards cut out and tied to banister spindles for Advent
Turns out, we have exactly 25 banister spindles on our staircase. How lucky is that?

To make this nifty Advent Calendar all you will need is the following:

  • Old Christmas cards
  • 2 brown grocery bags
  • small candies or trinkets
  • string or ribbon
  • pipe cleaners (optional)
  • glue stick
  • tape

1. Cut the cards to desired size- I went with about 3×5, and then punch two holes in the top of each (if tying- the other thing you could do is use clothespins on a line of ribbon). Number each card- I used a marker, of course you could print stickers if you wanted to get fancy.

2. Cut the grocery bag into strips that measure just narrower than your cards, and a bit longer- mine were abour 2.5 x6 (clearly, I did not use a ruler). Any kind of paper would do, we just happened to have these bags handy.

3. For each card, glue the strip of brown grocery bag onto the back of the card. Write a message and/or tape the candy or trinket to the botom of the paper.

Christmas card with brown paper attached, candy taped to bottom
Somedays, there’s just a treat. Other days, I jot a note about what we’re doing.

4. Carefully roll the paper up, and secure with either a ribbon or pipe cleaner.

5. Repeat until all 24 cards are made.

6. Once done, you can hang them from a fireplace, from a staircase like I did, or even clip to a ribbon with clothespins.

Christmas card advent countdown, individual cards tied to spindlees


Each day, the kids run to the countdown card, and unroll the message. They are working their way down the stairs. I know it will seem like FOREVER to them, but they’ll be down the stairs and enjoying Christmas morning before I know it.

How do you countdown to Christmas?


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

So far, our Advent plan has been working beautifully. The planned out rings have helped me pace things out a bit, and the kids are excited to pull down a new ring each day. And since all of the activities are in my google calendar, when things need to change, I can deftly switch out the ring and replace it with an updated one.

Nearly two weeks ago (this post has sat in drafts for awhile) trekked out to a Christmas tree farm to get our tree. It should have been idyllic and picturesque. It was snowing, and well, we were at a Christmas tree farm for heaven’s sake. It wasn’t, however, cold enough for the ground to be frozen. So while the snow was covering the ground, the ground was actually very soft and mucky. It also turned out that Jr is not a fan of walking in the snow. And we couldn’t find the wagon that was transporting groups to their desired tree patch. Nor did we know to grab a map to figure out which tree patch we wanted to explore to begin with.

In the end though, we came home with a tree.

And it’s perfect.

Is your tree real or artifical??