Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Advent One....

I must say, this post has got me very excited! Not only am I keen to share this year's Advent ideas with you but as I have had to try and photograph things so secretively so that Etta hasn't noticed, it has been an actually fun, festive challenge. 
As I have mentioned recently, being a blogger means that you have to be on the ball, ready to share ideas quite a bit in advance of time so that you the reader also have time to prepare, so I feel this post is way advanced, but all the same, it is really nice thinking about advent and the journey to Christmas day.

For me, Advent and Lent are my favourite times of year. Most likely because I am a practising Catholic and both times of year are part of a journey to a pinnacle event that we fully believed happened. The Joy of Advent though is that there is also so much magic surrounding it and for children it is a truly wonderful time of year.

Over the past few years I have collected little bits and pieces to make advent an event. We have always had more than just an advent calender and this year it has massively jumped up a notch!
I think for me, I love to experiment and find new or better ways of doing something and as the children get older I suppose there are different experiences I want them to have, so changing a few advent pieces is a nice way to try something new. 
I will link to last years advent posts at the bottom of the page but this year I am going to be mainly focusing on two advent gifts for our home.

I love finding new shops on Instagram and when I came across South Wood Stores I fell in love with their quirky Scandinavian designs and pretty home products. Then when they got their Christmas stock in I knew I had to buy something!

That something was their wonderful Christmas Advent Calender. For £18 you get this huge canvas sheet, all numbered with little gold hoops ready for you to tie whatever you want to. This is a perfect piece which has so much versitility that you could have any kind of christmas advent theme running with it. This year I wanted it to be treats. Lots of little gifts for the kids to build up the excitement to Christmas day. The wrapped gifts are anything from a pair of pants to a new MOG's Christmas book and even some chattery teeth. I wanted this to be very much a gift idea as I have one other advent thing to do with the kids which is very different, but I will talk about that further down.

So this calender is all about the kids. At first I was going to try and combine little gifts with activities that had to be done, but actually I didn't have the time to think about them but it would be great to have a range of tasks to be completed. Each pretty parcel alternates child and as I said, is full of stocking fillers. Both children had a small reindeer from Jellycat (in the striped stockings from South Wood Stores) which was the most expensive gift in the set, then a Christmas book each, but then everything else was from Primark or Wilkos and were up to £3 in price. Gel pens, stickers, gloves, chocolates, glow sticks, just nick nacks that will make each day a little more exciting. 
The overall result is really amazing though and with the help of packaging from our local TKmaxx and Homesense, the parcels all together look amazing! 

Our new second advent practise involves some very special stockings from Little Maldod. This beautiful personalised stockings were just what I wanted to use to be part of my kindness project with the kids. This advent ritual will involve collecting gold chocolate coins for every good deed performed. 

I think it is really imporant at a time when our children are so lucky to receive so much that we teach them to give a lot more. Giving in time and help is a good place to start with children as giving doesn't always mean giving gifts. As they have their treat in the other advent calender this daily course of thinking about helping others is also something I want to instil. I have a bucket full of gold coins and I hope to run out as we process through the 24 days of December. Each good deed will be rewarded and I hope to have lots of conversations with the children about what these would be, like helping us at home or getting Raph to offer more at school. Maybe I will arrange to collect the paper for our neighbour just so we can actively do some good deeds and help others. I also got a stocking for Rob and I as I think it will be a good reflection for us to think away from our usual doings. I think as parents you could easily say that you do loads for others but I think sometimes it is tinged with negativity as it is a 'have to' rather than 'want to'. Hopefully it will throw up great conversations and as the stockings fill up over the weeks before christmas it will be a nice visual thing for the children to see their stockings of gold fill up because they have been so kind.

These are two of my ideas that will be being performed through December. I have a few others that I will get out from years past but I think I really want to focus on these as this year's special activites for advent. 
Something I want to really point out though is that it isn't just about each days treat or gift it is about the journey up to christmas day, That journey where we can think about others, our family and friends, and try to act as good people preparing ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. As that is what this is all about, Advent is the journey to better ourselves before the culmination of the great event that gives us Christmas. 

In previous years I have written about advent,
which offers more ideas for you to enjoy this season.

Also, don't forget to plan for Sinterklass which is another amazing Christmas celebration, I will remind you nearer the time but for preparation read my post on Sinterklass Celebration from last year.


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