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Tips for Starting Church Year Celebration in the Home

Here are tested ways to begin family traditions

Advent wreath Christmas babe Epiphany star Ash cross Paschal candle Dove

Do what feels right for your family
Each family is unique, some formal, others informal; some like making, others singing, and most like eating. Find what fits your family.

Make small changes
Start with one season (Advent or Lent). One season is less overwhelming and can be completed successfully. It is then easy to add the another one, then Christmas and Easter to complete Advent and Lent. Then fill in Pentecost and other days and before you know it, the year is complete.

Keep it short
Five minutes is maximum for a meal time activity. This is important for younger children, and, even more so for older ones. Other activities can be done at other times—making, reading, etc. Avoid materials that have too many words; they can become a burden. READ/SING/PRAY, but just a little of each!

Use tangible aids—props
Color, candles, movement, food, music, and more, are experiential, not just verbal. Using these makes memorable traditions that are fun, and appeal to all ages (food is especially important for this). Objects are hard to ignore, so they help keep you going. Accumulate things gradually, only getting things you really love—then you will look forward to getting them out each season. These objectswill  help create a total experience, serving as aids to meaningful celebration.

Have a copy of materials for each person!
Make folders for prayers, scripture and words to sing. This eliminates the confusion of passing things around  and says each person is equally important. (It doesn't matter if everyone can't read—my youngest used to proudly hold her folder upsidedown!) Children may decorate folders, printed bulletin covers may sometimes be purchased in small quantity from church supply stores, or if your church uses printed covers they may have useful leftovers. If you want to reuse the folders don't use construction paper as it fades.

Everyone should participate
Social psychologists tell us that our actions affect our attitudes: We act ourselves into a way of believing at least as much as we think ourselves into a way of acting. This parallels the biblical understanding of faith growing through obedient action. Worship is not a spectator sport; it is the work of all the people. Everyone needs to take part. Young children may first snuff, then light candles with supervision, and read when able.

Try to make it daily or on a regular schedule
Time and schedule varies with each family's circumstance. Celebrating regularly makes faith a visible part of family life.

8) Keep records
Records help you remember what you've done. They help you decide what  to do the next time and remind you of needed supplies. Plan ahead so days don't sneak up on you.

9) Make it fun—real, joyous celebration!

Advent in the Home

Christmas in the Home—All Twelve Days
Epiphany in the Home
Lent in the Home Updated!
Holy Week in the Home Updated!
Easter in the Home
Ascension Day in the Home
Pentecost in the Home
Trinity Sunday in the Home
Ordinary Time in the Home
Baptismal Anniversaries  

Church Year Resource Books for Families Updated! 

Links
Home Practices: Our picks for building faithful households
ideas for all, regardless of size and form of household, from Building Faith, Virginia Theological Seminary 
Praying before Meals at Home
"When we intentionally invite God into meal times, we remind children—and adults—how God is intimately involved in all our lives. Furthermore, we demonstrate how to connect with God regularly and sincerely." 
Meal Prayers for All Occasions
by Evelyn Bence 

Church year clip art from Clip Art for Feasts and Seasons, Celebrations and Service, by Gertrud Mueller Nelson, Liturgical Press, 1996
Over 700 black-and-white images (tiff and EPS formats) for liturgical celebrations, school activities, and works of ministry.
Purchase from amazon.com

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