Celebrating Advent and Christmas Purposefully (Part 2)

15 Apr

Okay, here’s the post with local ideas and decorations that we’ve come up with so far.

1) Attend Christmas concerts that are focused on Christ — this last year, we went to the Getty’s concert at the seminary where my husband attends. It was not all I hoped it would be, but the music was Christ-centered and Gospel-focused. Both our boys had a great time, and were even more excited to learn and sing Christmas carols and hymns the rest of the season.

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If you live someplace where there are good local music options, you might be able to find a church-organized Christmas concert for free, or even a performance of Handel’s Messiah.

2) Visit a “living nativity” — a church in our town puts on a lovely little performance of the story of Jesus’ birth, complete with mini-farm animals. We went this past year, and it was the highlight of our Christmas season!

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3) Choose a local Gospel-focused charity, or international organization (like Samaritan’s Purse, or Compassion International), or just someone in need, and decide as a family how to make a gift to them. Some families skip a meal and save the money it would have cost, or do extra chores, or find ways to make extra money, or collect all or some of their savings and pool it together to make a donation or buy something needed for a charity/organization or family in need. I remember as a kid, one year my family found out what a teen girl in a nearby foster family wanted most, and granted her wish. It was so much fun to take it to her and get to know her! She was so surprised and grateful when we showed up with a new waffle iron for her to fix her family breakfast. She LOVED to do that and the waffle iron she used had recently broken.

ATR International Charity

4) Make gifts for local service people — the mail person, police officers, janitors, garbage collectors, cashier at your favorite grocery store, gas station attendant, etc. People who’s jobs are a great service to the community, but who typically go un-thanked. There are lots of great ideas online of how to make simple and inexpensive gifts. One of my favorites is a “s’mores” treat gift bag, found here.

Now for decorating ideas.

1) DIY Christmas wreath from Christmas cards — you can use old cards from previous years, or even scrapbook paper, for this project. I made it up after googling paper wreath ideas. You can find my inspirations here and here. Make a cardboard circle with the middle cut out (I used an old cereal box) for your base. Then cut 1 to 2 inch wide strips out of your cards or paper, and glue them down around the circle, overlapping them like a fan. Hot glue a strip of fabric or ribbon to the back to make a loop from which to hang the wreath. The first wreath, I used scissors and trimmed the edges to be flush with each other. The second wreath, I left the edge uneven.

Here’s how ours turned out (I added an ornament a friend made for us to the bottom of the first one I made):

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If you like the ornament, my friend found it on Pinterest, and you can find it here.

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2) Spelling seasonal words and phrases with alphabet blocks — if you have alphabet blocks of any sort, or magnetic letter, or Scrabble letters or anything similar, this is just really easy to do. Here’s how ours turned out.

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3) Use nature: if you live where you can readily collect pretty pinecones, nuts, berries, holly branches, or evergreen greenery, bring the “outdoors” indoors, and marvel at the beauty with which God crowns His world, even in the “dead” season of winter. In years past, I have spray painted pinecones and glued stuff to them, or just washed them off and used them “as is”. I’ve also made table decorations from fresh holly branches and berries. Holly really lasts quite a while, once cut! I’ve also collect nuts and arranged them in bowls and glass dishes. You can find a lot of great ideas and uses for natural things like that on Pinterest.

My Natural Christmas Decorations

4) Focus everything seen from the outside of your house on Jesus as much as you can. You’ll see  from the pictures below that I tried to do that this year.

That’s it for tips on what to make/how to make it, so far. Below are just some pictures of other things I came up with, from scraps and pieces of things we had lying around. Nothing that I’d recommend copying, or that I could even tell you how to make it, because the stuff for it was just so random, I couldn’t duplicate it if I wanted to. But, honestly, to me that’s half the fun of crafting! Repurposing junk into something beautiful! 🙂

Front door hanger:

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Leftover cardboard packaging for a wall hanging — paint, scrapbook paper, hand-drawn letters with a Sharpie.

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A Christmas card mounted on matching scrapbook paper.

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Scrap paper, hand lettering with a Sharpie.

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A left over gift tag mounted on scrapbook paper.

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Left over egg crates, painted with acrylic craft paint, letters cut out from scrapbook paper, pompoms and more scrapbook paper.

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Scrap paper decorations, with glue, clothespins and popsicle sticks.

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