Advent in the Home

Advent wreath
The words WATCH, PREPARE, REJOICE and BEHOLD are wonderful words for the Advent season. They come out of the lectionary every year of the 3-year cycle. They are theme words that will never be outgrown.
Advent I

Advent II

Advent III

Advent IV
Advent graphics: Sacred Design Associates

Advent begins the Church Year; it always begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This is time to pay attention. GOD IS COMING!

Advent is the time to prepare for the all the COMINGS of Christ into our lives—all three.

  1. As the babe born in Bethlehem long ago
  2. Coming into our lives through Word and Sacrament now
  3. Coming again in the fullness of God's reign in the future


The focus in Advent is in expectation of God's presence with us—incarnation—more than with the past event of Jesus' birth. Advent is not sentimental. It is a time to live in the tension between the "already" of Jesus' birth and the "not yet" of God's full reign.


Advent is a subdued season, with anticipation, longing, deep desire, waiting, watching, and preparing. The traditional liturgical color purple helps convey an Advent spirit. This quiet mood is very much in contrast to the culture's seasonal message. Advent is, in fact, countercultural.


The Advent wreath is a wonderful tangible symbol: you can see it, smell the fresh evergreens, and light the candles. The fresh green evergreens (Balsam fir retains both color and needles) represent God's gift of everlasting life. Candles remind us Christ's light is coming into the world. The circle of greens, with neither beginning nor ending, reminds us that God is eternal, with neither beginning nor end. Each week the the light increases as another candle is lit, showing the light of Christ coming nearer.

Advent wreath on table
Advent wreath with purple placemats
Advent benner with dove
Advent banner: Advent decorations come out for Advent I; Crèches & more around Advent III; Christmas tree in the week before Christmas
Candle smoke
Young son saying "'moke! 'moke!" as candles are snuffed
Candle snuffer
A long-handled snuffer allows young children to participate safely by snuffing candles

Watchmen remind us to "keep awake," to be alert, for we do not know the hour or the day our Lord is coming.

There are many ways to keep time in Advent. Simple paper chains have a purple link for each weekday and white for Sundays. A Bible verse or activity may be placed inside each link, if desired. Advent calendars, available in many designs, show the passing of the days.


We have simple, unfrosted, sugar cookies for the nights of the O Antiphons (December 17–23). Made in the shapes of the O Antiphon symbols, each night one is placed in the middle of a plate for each person's Advent dessert.

O Antiphon Cookie
O Wisdom!
O Antiphon Cookie
O Lord of Lords!
O Antiphon Cookie
O Branch of Jesse!
O Antiphon Cookie
O Key of David!
O Antiphon Cookie
O Rising Dawn!
O Antiphon Cookie
O King of Kings!
O Antiphon Cookie
O Emmanuel!

Finding a symbol for "Wisdom" is a bit of a challenge. This shows the "All Seeing Eye" for Wisdom. We've also used an open book, though it is harder to make so it really looks like a book. Sometimes we've also used a scepter for "Lord of Lords" rather than the tablets of the Law or an Advent rose rather than the shoot coming out of the stump of Jesse. O Antiphon Cookies

There is a great wealth of materials to enrich families' Advent seasons. Use them as you READ, SING Advent music, and PRAY, just a little bit of each.

Singing the same Advent songs each year makes them familiar to your family. You may wish to use the Taize chants "Prepare the way of the Lord" and "Wait for the Lord" as well as other appropriate Advent music.

Use the ancient Advent prayers, the O Antiphons, on the last seven Advent days (December 17-23).

Worship Leaflets

PDF files for Advent family worship leaflets are below. They have just a bit to read, to sing, and to pray. They may be used daily or weekly. The O Antiphons are included for December 17–22. Other material, such as an Advent calendar with content, a Jesse Tree, or another resource, is intended to be used with this format.

Print 2-sided on heavy stock and you'll have reusable leaflets that may simply be pulled out to be used year after year.

Reading should be done by both adults and children; it is important to involve everyone at an appropriate level. Used with an Advent wreath, children may light and snuff candles, open Advent calendar doors, make and hang Jesse Tree symbols, and, of course, read.

Advent I PDF
Advent II PDF
Advent III PDF
Advent IV PDF

Count the Days
Ways to mark the passing of Advent days, some traditional, some less so
Create an Advent Environment

Ideas and examples of ways to enrich Advent using color, symbol and sound
Mike and Molly and Baby at Advent
Learn about Advent along with Mike, Molly and Baby; simple Advent cartoon for December 1 – 25 with Bible verse, short reflection and Christmas carol for each day; nice to use with Advent wreath or alone
O Antiphon Cookies
Patterns and recipe to make cookies for the O Antiphon days, December 17-23
Advent Music
A rich variety of Advent music enriches the season
St. Nicholas, Protector of Innocence

Advent, Christmas & Epiphany Resource Books for Families
Jesse Tree Ideas
Christmas Books for Children

Tips for Starting Church Year Celebration in the Home
Church Year Resource Books

Advent in the Home

Christmas in the Home—All Twelve Days
Epiphany in the Home
Lent in the Home
Holy Week in the Home
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 in the Home
Valentine's Day in the Home


Fling Wide the Doors: an Advent and Christmas Calendar
This Advent calendar follows the church year with biblical characters and saints, including John the Baptist, Nicholas, Lucy, and Los Posadas and the O Antiphons. It begins November 30th (St. Andrew's Day) and continues through Epiphany (January 6) and the Baptism of our Lord. It forms a free-standing tower with translucent pictures which may be lighted from within. Comes with a booklet with short daily prayers and readings.
Purchase from Liturgical Training Publications

Advent Resources from Healthy Church Resources
Advent in a Box activities with links for all the sources to make a resource for families to experience Advent in both silly and serious ways, from Building Faith
Blessing Your Christmas Tree 
Three Teaching Points for Advent from Building Faith
Handout for Advent at Home from Building Faith
Antiphons for Advent short devotionals using ancient antiphons with the Advent Wreath, ending with the 7 Greater "O" Antiphons, from Building Faith
Advent Wreath Prayers At Home: 4 Options from Building Faith

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