This really home with me on a trip to a local department store. Here it was, barely October, and yet Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were keeping company on the shelves! My resolve to make Advent relevant in the eyes of my family was solidified that day. So here we are, the first of December, and I'm hoping to share this simple little project to spread the word - it's not Christmas!
Let's resolve to sweeten this beautiful yet low key and penitent season. After all, good things come to those who wait!
This is one of those projects that has something for everyone. The adults have control of the overall look achieved - so those who tend to be OCD (ahem, me) can micro manage as much as we like. Even the youngest child can finger paint and older ones can help at their own level, so no one is excluded. So let's get started.
MATERIALSWooden clothes pins
Small paper plates
Sharpies: black and silver
Journey to Bethlehem picture
Mod Podge - I used glossy
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Pipe cleaners in matching or accent colors
READY to CRAFTCount out the required number of clothes pins and clip them to one of the paper plates, adjusting spacing as evenly as possible.
Using the silver Sharpie, color the gaps between the clothes pins - filling them in completely after marking the spaces. Next, use the black Sharpie to number the spaces.
Let the kids paint the clothes pins in your predetermined colors. We chose red, green, and yellow because they appeal to the younger set to which I am catering. With older kids I would have gone with white and yellow with silver and gold accents or perhaps the liturgical color of purple.
While allowing the clothes pins to dry you can begin to work on the art.
The artwork can be something that you have available or you can do what I did and Google 'Nativity' and 'Journey to Bethlehem' for suitable pictures. I went with a black and white print for the journey to drive home that Advent is a low key season.
Print out your art and trace a circle the size of the *inside* of your paper plate. Carefully cut out and glue to the bottom of the paper plates.
After the glue has dried, paint a top coat of Mod Podge over the entire picture(s) - all the way out to the edge of the paper plate.
I waited for the first coat to dry (just a few minutes) and then applied a second, heavier coat for added sheen.
While the second coat was still wet, I sprinkled glitter over the entire paper plate - picture, edge and all. Set aside and allow to dry.
Now comes the individualized part. Come up with a list of people or intentions for prayer. This is something that should be done as a family so that everyone can offer ideas. You will need as many petitions as you have clothes pins. Write them on one side of the clothes pins using the black Sharpie.
On the other side of the clothes pin, write an activity. It can be drinking cocoa, coloring a picture and mailing it to someone lonely, reserving pennies to give at Mass or any other meaningful or fun activity your family members can come up with.
When you have finished writing on both sides of the clothes pins you can add a top coat of Mod Podge and allow the kids to sprinkle glitter for an added sparkle. Now it's time for assembly.
NOW IT'S COMING TOGETHERGather all of your components and begin assembly.
Take a pipe cleaner and fold in half, then twist the ends to form a loop. This will become your hanger. Using hot glue attach to the top of one of the paper plates on the *inside*. Now place the paper plates together - pictures out - and run a bead of hot glue all around their circumference, joining them together. While the hot glue is still sticky, place a pipe cleaner into the glue to fill in the gap making sure that your hanging loop remains in the proper position.
ALL SET AND READY TO BEGIN THE COUNT DOWNEach day you will pin a clothes pin onto the appropriate number. The person or petition written on it will become your prayer focus for that day. The activity on the other side is what you will do for that day's Advent observance. In this way you will not only count down until the long awaited feast of Christmas comes, but you will be actively participating in a meaningful observance of Advent.
Happy Advent - hope it's holy!