On the First Sunday of Advent, we light our Advent Wreath candles and pray the Advent Wreath prayers before we say grace. We will keep the candles lit until dinner is over. The kids take turns each night blowing out the candles.


We put our Advent Tree with our Advent books underneath it to read to the kids every day. We will not put lights on the tree until December 21st, the 5th day of the O Antiphons. I bought plastic purple ornaments to put on the tree whenever the kids do a Corporal work of Mercy.

We will also set up an empty stable. We gradually add the figures throughout the 4 weeks of Advent. On the First Sunday of Advent, we set up the stable. Then on the Second Sunday of Advent, we add the animals. On the Third Sunday of Advent, we set up the sheperds to watch over their flocks. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we set up the empty manger. On the morning of the 24th, we put Mary and Joseph in the stable. On Christmas morning, we place Baby Jesus in the manger. Finally, on Christmas Day we start moving the three wise men towards the stable. Each day they get closer, arriving on the feast of the Epiphany.


Another fun great way to get the kids involved in praparing for Christmas is to set up an empty manger. The idea is that when acts of service, sacrife, or kindness are done in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday present, the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. Here are some suggestions for the straw:

Acts of sacrifice, prayers for the poor souls, the Rosary and other Marian prayers, doing extra chores without being asked, going to Mass.


The Jesse Tree is another wonderful way to celebrate Advent. A Jesse Tree is a small. leafless tree decorated with symbols portraying Jesus' spiritual heritage. It is a kind of family tree, which suggested by Isaiah's prophesy, " There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots."


Lastly, you can make an "O Antiphon House". December 17 marks the beginning of the "O" Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer.  The "O" Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The first letter of the Messianic titles: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—spell out Latin words ERO CRAS, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come."

The antiphons are part of the evening prayer of the Divine Office, the antiphon before and after the Magnificat. They are also the alleluia verse before the Gospel at Mass.