Home for the Holidays: What to Include in an Advent at-Home Kit
We’ve seen many ministers preparing for Advent by assembling “Advent in a Box” take-home kits with everything families need to celebrate Advent and Christmas from home this season. We love this idea and encourage you to imagine what might go in your intergenerational Advent packages. Here are some ideas based on our Advent and Christmas resources, especially those included in our Those Who Dream Advent bundle (released in 2020 for the RCL, Year B).
1) Advent Wreath Materials
There are many supplies you can include to encourage families to create their own Advent wreaths such as candles, candle holders, greenery, or ribbons. You can find some creative ideas on our DIY Advent Wreath Pinterest board. If you’re using our “Those Who Dream” Longest Night service this year, you might include supplies for a lament rag wreath, including a macramé hoop (or wisteria wreath base) torn fabric, and dark blue, purple, or black candles. The Longest Night liturgy invites worshipers to write prayers of lament on strips of fabric and tie them to a wreath; you could encourage your members to create a wreath at the start of the Advent season, and then add to it during your Longest Night service.
2) Devotional Booklet
Print an Advent devotional booklet to encourage families to engage with the content daily. The written reflections in our devotional booklets, including our “Those Who Dream” devotional with commentary from Dr. Marcia Riggs, are aimed at youth and adults. You’ll also find colorable images in the devotional that children can help color. If you’re looking for a child-friendly devotional, see item #3 below.
3) Star Words
This year we’ve formatted 150 words to be printed on perforated paper (or printed and cut) to be used as star words, but they can be used before Epiphany Sunday, too! Separate the words in our “Those Who Dream” Star Words into stacks of 25 for families to use as a daily Advent devotional. Each day from December 1 to Christmas, children can choose a star word to add to the tree or a garland (include ornament hooks or ribbon and clothespins in your care package) and talk about what the word means. We include some additional conversation and prayer prompts with the star words. There are several non-English words included, which makes for great learning about other countries and cultures!
4) DIY PAPER LACE ART
Advent at home means creating sacred space where we live. One way to do that is by using our Advent designs to create DIY Advent art. Our “Those Who Dream” Advent banner designs include a file that can be printed on 11x17 card stock. Include an X-acto knife and cutting mat (or cardboard), and youth or adults can make their own beautiful paper lace art from home. Got children? We also created a coloring poster version of the banner designs that can be printed and included in your kit with some colored pencils. Read this blog post for more about how to use our banner designs in lots of different ways.
5) Children’s Materials
For children, we have a few special resources you could include. Our “What Can’t Wait?” Advent Action Calendar has been very popular with families. Simply print on 11x17 paper, post it on the fridge, and move a magnet to count down the days from December 1 to Christmas Day. We also have a Lord’s Prayer visual map that can be printed as two 8.5x11 sheets or as an 11x17 placemat for all the special meals families share over the holidays. You might also include materials for a special holiday craft, such as a Chrismon ornament or a nativity set.
6) Christmas Illustrated Foldables
Whether you are a child, youth, or adult, our Christmas foldables are a simple and fun Christmas Eve or Christmas morning activity. Simply print the foldable on 8.5x11 paper and include some colored pencils for coloring in the illustrations. Our “Love Drawn Here” foldable folds in half to create a booklet and illustrates a Christmas poem by Sarah Are. “The World’s Child” foldable is slightly more complex to fold, but instructions are printed on the foldable itself. This foldable illustrates the Christmas story from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, and a shepherd.
7) At-Home Liturgy for the First Sunday After Christmas
Knowing that this season will look unlike any other, we’ve created a full at-home liturgy for the Sunday after Christmas, a day when many pastors take some time off to celebrate the season with their loved ones. This liturgy can be done by an individual, a family, or even a small group via Zoom. Print the liturgy to include in your package for families to spend a quiet Sunday morning together.
8) lastly, add A Taste of Home
There’s nothing like a personal touch when it comes to holiday care packages. What is your church family really missing right now? Imagine how you can include a taste of something familiar in the kit. It might be the recipe for Mary’s famous Christmas cookies, a CD of the choir singing Handel’s Messiah last year, an ornament in the shape of the church, or a candle for the candlelight Christmas Eve service.
What else are you planning to include in your Advent at Home kits? Join our Facebook community to share photos and ideas with us, other ministers, and lay leaders!
Rev. Anna Strickland (she/her/hers) looks for the Divine in the everyday like treasure in clay jars and first encountered God in the integration of her spiritual self and artistic self. She is a native Austinite and graduated from the University of Texas where she now works as a college minister, especially serving LGBTQ students.