Parish Project: Making Advent Wreaths

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Advent is a perfect season to connect church and home. Here are ideas for making Advent wreaths together at church, together with ways to use them at home.

Why Advent Wreaths?

The purpose of Advent is to prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, both the first and second times. With its themes of penitence and expectation, Advent brings us opportunities for reflection and celebration. In the face of intense pressure to indulge in the materialism and busyness of a typical December, Christians in community support one another to focus instead on the coming of the One True Gift, to empathize with the Israelites as they withstood hundreds of years of yearning while they waited for the advent of Messiah.

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But waiting is not easy. Waiting – that most counter-cultural of exercises – needs a community. In church we practice waiting by giving Advent its own liturgical color (either deep blue or purple), saving the white of Christmas for the glorious day itself. We sing Advent hymns and songs of expectation, waiting to add Christmas carols later in the month. In the liturgy, our collects and prayers focus on anticipation of His coming, and the lectionary readings reflect the cries of Israel as they waited.

How can we help our families to practice waiting through the week, to take the Advent theme home? One influential way is by working together as a congregation to create Advent wreaths and equipping our people to use them well in their family seasonal celebrations.

So gather together after a Sunday service, early in the season of Advent. Provide all the materials needed, throw in snacks or a light lunch, and you have created a wonderful fellowship and learning activity for all ages. You will help your families create an heirloom, a symbol of the Advent season to reappear on their table year after year.

How to Make the Advent Wreath

For each family or household, you will need:

  • wreath form – These are usually 12” in diameter, made of green or brass-colored wire. Search “advent wreath forms” on Amazon, and the choices will be clear.
  • one taper candle holder – Shorter is better.
  • candles – 3 blue or purple, 1 rose or pink, and 1 white – usually 10” taper candles, but different kinds are fine, too.

For the group, add in:

  • glue guns and sticks
  • light florists’ wire
  • scissors and wire-cutters
  • miscellaneous greenery, such as sprigs and small garlands
  • an assortment of narrow ribbons
  • small decorations, such as tiny ornaments

Assembling the wreath itself can involve all ages, especially as the finished product will ideally be simple and elegant, rather than elaborate and fussy.

  1. Begin by cutting pieces of garland or greenery into lengths of about 8 inches or so.
  2. Wire or glue them to your wreath form until the wire is not evident.
  3. Add narrow ribbon, if you like, winding it through the greenery.
  4. Add decorations as you please.
  5. The three purple or blue candles and the one pink or rose candle go into the four spots in the wreath itself. The white candle in the taper candle holder is placed in the center of the wreath.

While parents may want to restrict access to hot glue and scissors, even small children can participate. Add small wooden or chipboard stars or other shapes to your supply table, along with washable markers, and the kids can color the decorations and add them to the family wreath.

Using the Advent Wreath

Now for the most important part!

First, you have not made a Christmas decoration to sit on a side table! The wreath is meant to be central to family activity in the coming weeks of Advent. Give it a place of honor in your home: the center of the dinner table, the kitchen counter where you gather for breakfast, or the coffee table in the family room. Use it actively and often (as often as daily, but weekly at least) to light the appropriate candles, discuss their meaning, and foster meaningful exchange with one another and with God. If we are wise to pray for each other as well, celebrating all these things can make for a time of holiness that is not overlooked, a season of its own in which no one is prone to ask, “Why aren’t we singing Christmas songs yet?!”

Every household at your wreath-making event should be sent home with a booklet (or something similar) about how to use the wreath. Include the meaning of the season and the candles, of course, but go deeper. Add readings and suggested songs or hymns to make the candle-lighting into a ceremony of significance. For families, include activities that will appeal to all ages. Encourage your members to send pictures of their Advent activities to your church’s social media coordinator and newsletter writer. Share the ideas!

The Advent wreath is not intended to add another thing to the “to-do” list. Don’t heap it on top of an already overbooked life. Rather, let it be a practice of peace and calm that can set the tone for the rest. Bathe your Advent in the serene glow of the extraordinary and singular love shown to us by the very Son of God, Who descended to our world to love us and give Himself up for us, that we should receive eternal life.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” (Mark 1:2-3)

Published on

November 26, 2022

Author

Teri Cober

Teri is a member of Trinity Anglican in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she directs the Cultivate Women's Ministry. She has two grown sons with her husband Bill.

View more from Teri Cober

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