The Advent Calendar and wreath have been my very favorite traditions of Christmas since I was a young, newly saved mom. When my kids were little I usually purchased an Advent Calendar from the Hallmark store, or Wal-Mart as soon as I could find them in November; one for each child. They were made of cardboard, with a nativity scene on the front, had 25 little doors (one for each day) that my girls could pry open, to reveal a scripture verse inside and expose a little treat hidden in the compartments behind the doors.
As they got older I thought it would be fun to have an activity for our family to do every day in addition to the peek-a-boo calendar, which prompted me to create an Advent Calendar with daily activities that I could pull out and use every year. It also helped me to get organized. I laminated my creation so I could write the dates in with a vis-a-vis marker and then wipe them off for the next year.
It was this long-standing family tradition that inspired me for the creation of the December bulletin board for my granddaughter’s school.
I love burlap and lace (it’s what I used to make my fireplaces stockings last year), and evergreen branches and pine cones are burlap and lace’s perfect pals. I dug in my craft supplies bin and found a couple rolls of burlap, but was a little shy on the amount of lace I would need. But, I did have some sheer curtain material and out of budget limitations thought it would do. I added some ribbon, and rope, and buttons to my box of stuff, and decided that would be the foundation of the board.
I thought it would be cute to hang scripture cards from the ribbons with little clothes pins and wondered if someone with lots of time and artistic talent might have already created advent cards with scriptures on them, and also if they were possibly kind enough to offer them for free on the internet, and the answer was, YES: Harvest House!!! YAY!!! Once the cards downloaded, I was able to print them whatever size I wanted, from wallet size to 8 x 10.
Now what should the daily surprise be? What if we did something educational — like the names of Jesus? Maybe every day one of the lunchroom staff could flip a card around to reveal a name of Jesus on the backside, and then stir up table talk while the kids were eating their lunch, asking if anyone knows where in the Bible that name is found? I even found a free printable Names of Jesus Advent Cards online that could easily be cut apart and glued to the back side of each of the Harvest House cards.
Or….what if, similar to my laminated activities calendar above, I came up with 25 or 30 random acts of kindness that basically any kid of any school age could do? This could work the same as the Names as far as lunchtime table talk, and be something the kids could give instead of receive (even if what they are receiving is educational)? Some things might cost a little bit of money, but many could be totally free, like taking someone’s shopping cart back to the store for them after they’ve unloaded their groceries, or helping (an elderly person, or veteran) unload their groceries? Or holding the door open for someone. Helping someone clean up a mess, making a sibling’s bed, or letting the person in line behind them go in front of them.
I started jotting things down as they came to me, and when I ran out of ideas, I googled the topic to help fill out my list. I found so many wonderful, thoughtful ideas, such as taking a towel to the park and drying off the swings and slides after a rain, or giving stickers out to kids who are waiting in line at the stores, or (and this might be my personal favorite): take a hot beverage to a Salvation Army bell ringer. There were other great ideas too, like picking up trash around the school or a neighborhood, taping dollar bills to the backsides of a few toys at the Dollar Store, taping quarters to the vending machines in hospital waiting areas (with a note that says, “This treat’s on me.”), or giving crayons and coloring books to a children’s hospital, or leaving diapers at diaper changing stations in the stores.
If you’ve ever heard of the ChristmasAngel (an alternative, or accompaniment, to Elf on the Shelf), they have a website where folks have shared their 25 messages, things like: Give Hugs, Share Some Toys, Go Caroling, etc. In their blog they have created six pre-made lists that could easily be cut apart and glued to the back of the scripture cards. Check them out for a ton of loving, caring, giving things kids can do any time of year, but especially during the holidays.
For my advent calendar bulletin board, I printed out the Harvest House cards, and then created my own RANDOM ACTS CARDS and glued them to the backsides of the scripture cards. (*Click here for the FREE PRINTABLES. Each sheet will fit on an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper, and then you can cut them apart and have them laminated).
I took my set of cards to my local print shop and had them laminated with their good quality lamination and a nice sealed edge all the way around each. That way the cards wouldn’t get ruined by being flipped around on the board, and could also be used again next year, if the school wanted to keep them. Or, if I wanted to bring them home, I could use them for my own family year after year. Or even give them away as a gift.
This is how the bulletin board looked when my daughter and I finished putting it together. What do you think? You are welcome to borrow this idea for your church or school. It could easily be re-created in the home on a smaller scale too, just by printing out the cards in a smaller size and using a smaller size cork board as the foundation. Or put the cards in a basket and have a family member draw one each day as a family “challenge” for everyone to do. It will make for great table-talk around the supper table, or at bedtime as you are all saying your prayers.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”