My computer screen illuminated my squinting visage as I deftly clicked and tapped and typed and dragged and searched. I was looking for all those cool filters I kind of used to know. I was never an expert at Illustrator, but before kids, I had been well-versed. I wanted my design to look like watercolor. 

The image before me started to take shape. I got excited and moved faster, ignoring rising tensions in the house as kids logged off of school. (Isn’t that still so weird that they were logging into school last year?) A wreath – a lovely green wreath with the warmth of handmade watercolor – popped off the page. Adding the gradient and the blur to the candles and their flames, I was finally satisfied with my creation. 

Funny enough, these pretty printouts don’t do me any good without sending them somewhere else. Our color printer has finally given out. I think it was neglect. Or maybe that it’s 10 years old. But, that gave me the idea to make a black and white option (Advent wreath tags bw), and a Cricut/cutting machine option, too. I do NOT suggest cutting them out and then painting each piece. It is way too much work, and takes up way too much space drying. That is, unless you’ve got a bunch of little hands who love to make brush strokes. I’d actually suggest a print-then-cut sticker. You can watch Jennifer Maker’s video on how to create your own stickers for a Cricut here

When I did cut and paint each piece for ours at home, I planned to attach them to brown paper bags. Brown paper bags could not be found at the two or three places we were going that time of year during the pandemic. I mean, I know church isn’t going to hand me a pack when I walk in for Mass, but the grocery store didn’t have any either. Not willing to give up, I pulled out brown shipping paper from our multitude of Amazon shipments, measured, cut, and taped together little pockets. Don’t do this. Buy paper bags. Your time and energy are worth far more than $2. 

I glued on all my little hand-painted ones. They were not as cute as these because I am not a fabulous painter, but I was still satisfied as I clipped them with wooden clothespins to a ribbon that runs around our table. 

What you put in it is up to you. We have a tradition of cleaning out one type of thing every day, though this often gets thwarted by school busy-ness. We also add in some kind of Christmas prep, and take time to read a Christmas-themed story or Bible verse together. One or two years, we had a charitable act challenge for each day (Advent Countdown.docx). And last year, with all my energy directed to just our little clan, I made a printable pdf of symbols to use to make the to-do list more exciting. One of them is a puzzle piece because we had a big nativity puzzle to put together. The computer was used when I had a video or something else to show them online about the season. The Christmas tree was for any decorating, and the crayon represented a craft.

You can write your activity lists all in one shot, a week at a time, or the day before. (Ok, I did it the day of.) You can also skip the lists and just use the print outs, putting one up each day or alternately taking one down each day.

You could even fill them at the end of the day with warm thoughts about what you did and a printout of a QR code that links to the pictures you took each day while doing good works during Advent. Going that route, the symbols could be like patches you earn when you help or do that type of activity.