Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting Ready for Advent + Link Party

Advent is now just around the corner. And here in Germany, where our Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) was in October, the Christmas markets are already being built, and the smell of Glühwein and Lebkuchen - very Advent-y things - are in the air.

I know that many of you are already getting ready for Advent. How does one get ready for a season of "getting ready"? I've thought about this a lot in the past few years. Let's face it, Advent can be a mountain of stress for most people. What helps me is to keep the idea of "waiting for the King" at the center. Advent is a time of waiting for and anticipating how Jesus will come into our lives in a fresh way.

Another thing that helps me is to decide beforehand what I can and can't do during Advent. I can do a few things: a few art projects, read some special books and tell the story of Christmas in creative ways to my kids. I can't however send out mounds of Christmas cards, buy presents for the whole extended family, or give Advent parties.

Despite what the commercial calendar tells us, it isn't all over on Dec. 25. That's when Christmas actually begins, and then we have all the time in the world to celebrate after Christmas Day. In fact, it's a great idea to leave many activities until the days following Christmas when you have time off and things are a little more relaxed.: )

In case you want to go ahead and begin planning, I'd like to share with you a few ideas from Advents past and are looking for a new idea.

The top of my list is the Godly Play Advent story. You can tell it in one setting or split it up into 5 parts.  For children under 5 years of age, I would definitely tell it in more than one sitting. Also, if you don't have time to learn a long story, telling it this way avoids stress. The English version is in  Godly Play Vol.3: 20 Core Presentations for Winter and the German one is in Godly Play 03: Gleichnisse und Weihnachtszeit.

Also, I'll be telling the enrichment story, "The Mystery of Christmas" about some of the lesser told parts of the Christmas story this year as well.  It features Giotto paintings and can be found in both of the above mentioned books as well. This story is better suited to children 5 and up.

If you are looking for art projects, there is the Nature Nativity

and Stacking Christmas Trees for the little ones.

You can also make Beeswax Ornaments

and, if it's cold enough,  Ice Ornaments.

I'd now like to invite all of you to a new link party:

Please feel free to share with us your wonderful ideas for Advent and Christmas! 

I'll be posting each week until New Year's. We all love to have a pool of ideas to gather from, so please share old or new posts.

If you participate, please link back to Explore and Express. Feel free to grab the button above or in the side bar. 

By participating in the link party, you give me permission to share your photos in weekly highlights.


  1. What beautiful Advent activities, Sheila! Thanks so much for hosting the Exploring Advent and Christmas Link-Up Party. I'll look forward to seeing what's shared throughout the season. Deb @

    1. Thanks so much for linking up, Deb! Your post is the perfect first entry. Thanks for sharing all of your experience with us!

  2. Thanks for posting this Sheila! I need to get thinking about it--it's been birthday party and now Thanksgiving! I especially like the idea of having activities post Christmas day. Hopefully I can implement some of your ideas!

    1. Thanks, Jenni! Your daughter's party looked like so much fun and I know that Thanksgiving at your home will be special as well. I'm glad that you find the idea of doing activities after the 25th a good idea. It's nice to enjoy the season longer than the stores tell us we can. Small children do this naturally. Ever notice how they keep singing Christmas songs for at least a month afterwards? We adults can join in the fun, too.: )

  3. I love your nature nativity! I hope we can incorporate that. Check the resurrection garden out for a similar thing for Easter here

    We have Big plans for Advent. Too Big? Too Ambitious? We will see and I am already breathing in and out knowing that maybe we'll have to change course.

    I'll share as I get it posted on my blog.

    Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas!!

    1. Thanks for the link about the Easter garden! I'm looking forward to seeing the things you do with your children in the next few weeks.: )

  4. Hi Sheila,
    Thank you for inviting me to participate in your Advent Link up; I shared a few links from past years and the 12 Days resources.

    I'd love to know more about the "Mystery of Christmas" presentation. Think I'll have to purchase that Godly Play book you mentioned. I love incorporating beautiful art into presentations. It seems to really resonate with my daughter especially.

    The nature nativity is so pretty! I think we might have to try that one this year.

    Your mention of Gluhwein and Lebkuchen remind me of the Christmas holiday I spent in Germany--especially the Christkindl markets. We have a market like that here in Chicago but it can't come close to those in Germany (although there are alot of German vendors there, it just isn't the same!) Now I'll need to hop over to World Plus Market where they have alot of food and beverage products from around the world, including some German goodies!


    1. Cheryl,

      I think the investment in the book would be worth it for you. With your background and experience in CoGS, you could do wonderful things with it. The Giotto pictures themselves can be downloaded from the internet. The links are in this post:

      So glad that you have a love for Germany as well!

      Many blessings on your Advent with Masha and your older children!

  5. I couldn't figure out how to add my links at the end without deleting the link-up, so just want to let everyone know that I linked this post to Friday's Nature Table at The Magic Onions: