Creating Advent & Christmas Faith Practices in a Box for Your Congregation

This year we’re going to need to be giving our families creative ways to celebrate Advent and Christmas at home. Now, more than ever, families are going to be celebrating Advent and Christmas at home.

I created this tutorial to show you one way of using Faithful Families For Advent and Christmas to create “Advent and Christmas in a Box.” There are a lot of additional ideas in the book, but sometimes having the materials and suggestions right at hand make things super easy and exciting for families. Families in your congregation will love these delightful packages, and the love and support you send along with them. Follow through to the end for important information about how to get the book at a discount when you buy ten or more copies, as well as a special training I’m conducting for those who are planning to use this book with their congregations.

Here’s a picture of the example box:

For this box, I selected 5 activities:

  1. Create an Advent Paper Chain
  2. Make an Advent Wreath
  3. Tell the Story of the Candy Cane
  4. Have a Hot Chocolate Gratitude Party
  5. Say a Prayer on Christmas Morning

I chose those five because they seemed to give a taste of all the different activities families could choose from, and because they seemed like activities that would apply to a fairly broad range of families and congregations. At the end of the post I’ll give suggestions for others you might choose to include if you want to have a supersized box, as well as other variations.

For each box you’ll need:

  • A copy of Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas
  • Index cards with written instructions for each activity (If you’re making more than 10 of these, you’ll want to probably want to type them up on card stock)
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Candy canes
  • Paper strips in red and green (or for liturgical purists, blue and white or purple and white)
  • Muffin mix (or pancake mix, waffle mix, or other breakfast mix)
  • Ribbon
  • Ziplock bags
  • 4 tea light candles and one votive candle

Get your congregation involved in collecting the supplies ahead of time.

Here’s what each of the activities looks like:

Activity 1 – Paper Chain

I cut 24 strips of red and green paper and attached instructions to see page 8. The book has a variety of different ways to use the paper chain and variations on it. If you’re a liturgical purist (you know who you are!) you’ll want to use purple and white or blue and white. Maybe add a note about why you chose those colors! This activity is easy and satisfying.

Activity 2 — Make an Advent Wreath

For the wreath I put four battery operated tea light candles in a bag with a votive candle. The directions say “Make an Advent Wreath (see page 10) Also use the big candle for Christmas Eve (see page 78). The Advent Wreath gives simple directions for using the wreath for each of the four weeks of Advent, as well as on Christmas Eve. The prayer on page 78 is a special candle prayer for Christmas Eve. Depending on the ages of children, you may choose to use all battery operated candles. I chose to go with a combination.

Activity 3 — Tell the Story of the Candy Cane

For this, I put five candy canes in a bag with instructions to “Tell the story of the candy cane, see page 19.” (Note: This is not the version that talks about stripes and sin, it’s the version that talks about a shepherd’s crook.) My goal in adding one of the stories is that families would see some of the other stories as they flip through and use more than one! Bonus with this one = a candy cane to enjoy!

Activity 4 — Have a Hot Chocolate Gratitude Party

I tied five packets of hot chocolate together with ribbon and added directions saying “Have a hot chocolate gratitude party, see page 31.” For those Faithful Families fans, you’ll know that the gratitude party is a fan favorite! If you want to be really fancy, you could add marshmallows, mugs, sprinkles or other hot chocolate swag.

Activity 5 — Say a Prayer on Christmas Morning

I tied a ribbon around some muffin mix and added the direction “Say a prayer for the gift of being together on Christmas morning! See page 84.” There are lots of potential variations for this one including pancake or waffle mix, small bottles of syrup, or even a special recipe for Christmas morning. There are a lot of prayers in this book, and this activity is designed to get people thinking about all of the different prayers that can be said for different occasions.

Other Activities You May Wish to Include and Materials

  • Birthday Party for Jesus – Birthday Cake, candles and balloons (see page 80)
  • Find yourself in the nativity – Small nativity set (see page 20)
  • Star word and chalking the door – paper stars and chalk (see page

And many, many more. Be inspired by the book and use the activities you think will work well for the families in your congregations!

Variations

  • Give parents the book at the end of November and then give the materials for one activity per week each Sunday in December, rather than giving them out all at once.
  • Make putting the boxes together an event or mission project. Have teens make them for families with younger children or have seniors make them for families. Have families make versions for Seniors in senior housing.
  • Personalize the boxes. If you know a family who is having a difficult time, direct them to the Prayer for Difficult Times
  • Seal the boxes and mail through UPS to families who are practicing social distancing, or families far away.
  • Create 10 or more boxes like this for families who have special need this Advent or Christmas. (Families with foster children, food pantry recipients, or others.)
  • Use your imagination! Share your ideas and experiences in the comments or email traci at traci-original.dev.cc to share your ideas with others.

Discounts for Bulk Orders, and Special Training for Bulk Order Purchases.

Discounts for 10 or more books can be found HERE. (You can double check the price + shipping against Amazon’s price to see which is least expensive depending on your quantity — Amazon seems to change the price frequently.) On the Chalice Press page, the bulk discount is on the right hand side of the listing where it says “Buy in Bulk and Save.” Note: if you have a very large church or need a ton of books (as in 500 or more) please email darca [at] chalicepress.org

If you buy (or have already bought) 10 or more copies, I’d love for you to come to a special zoom training on October 27th at 8pm central time. I’ll answer questions about Advent and Christmas and give you Advent and Christmas ideas (some using the book and others that go beyond the book.) I’ll talk about encouraging your families during this Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany season. Please REGISTER here and submit your receipt to gain access. You can also submit a question that I will review in advance of the training. If you can’t come that day, please still sign up so we can send you a recording.

I hope you have a wonderful time creating these boxes for your families. This is the year to give them extra support and direction to create a meaningful Advent, Christmas and Epiphany at home. Enjoy!

TS


Note: Every Tuesday I send out links and ideas for family ministry (along with other miscellaneous goodness I enjoy) in my Treasure Box Tuesday email. If you’re not signed up yet, sign up HERE (click the free version for the basic Tuesday email.)

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