Preparing for Christmas :: Seven Fun Finds for Advent

by | Dec 1, 2013 | Advent and Christmas, Advent Fun Finds, Christmas 2013, Giveaway, Shining Light Dolls, Wise Men Adventures | 101 comments

Advent has arrived and the Christmas countdown has begun!  Tonight we will light the first candle on our Advent Wreath, draw names for our Christkindl just like we did last year, and unwrap our first book after our family Rosary and Christmas Novena!  I ♥ Advent! 
My St. Andrew Chaplet from Mary Devotions

The past few years I have shared some of my “Fun Finds for Advent.”  I had every intention of finishing up this year’s post last Monday or Tuesday before our guests arrived for Thanksgiving, but I just wasn’t able to squeeze it in… Even though it is a little late, here is what we are adding to our usual traditions for this Advent!  

#1: Wise Men ADVENTures 

Inspired once again by Catholic Inspired, we are going to be enjoying some Wisemen Adventures this Advent!  The Wise Men had one last game of Farkle to finish last night before they set out to search for the Christ Child… Our oldest two boys (who will be keeping the wise men on the move all through Advent!) are having so much fun with this already!  And I couldn’t resist emphasizing the “ADVENT” in Adventures.  🙂

It’s not too late to join the fun!  Put that Elf back on the shelf and pick up some Wise Men!  😉 We will be using the Playmobil Wise Men, but any would work just fine.  I read that Jennifer will be hosting a link-up, so be sure to take pictures each day!
#2: The Jesse Box 

I also pulled out The Jesse Box! I was given this last year as a sample, but just didn’t have the time to review it back then.  I pulled it out this week and am so excited to use it with my children this year.   (Update:  You can find all the details and additional downloads, activities and lesson ideas on the website created by the makers of The Jesse Box.) 

Each week we will be creating a new scene based on the Gospel Reading for the week! 

#3: The New Holy Heroes Jesse Tree DVD
I’m simplifying our Jesse Tree (or perhaps I should say trees!) readings this year with the help of Holy Heroes brand new Jesse Tree DVD!  The videos for each day will coordinate perfectly with our new Jesse Tree Swap ornaments as well, and I have also printed out the ornaments for the little ones to color too!  

#4: Saints of Advent

Saint Nicholas from Shining Light Dolls will be making an appearance in our home this December 6th and Our Lady of Guadalupe with arrive on December 12th!  Our three girls will also discover Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Lourdes in their Christmas Stockings! When I originally saw these online I wasn’t sure I’d like them or not, but they are just as cute as can be in person

As cute as the vinyl dolls are, I really LOVE wooden toys!  This past summer, during a special sale, I purchased some more wooden dolls from Armadillo Dreams.  I’ve posted pictures of our sweet Santa Lucia doll in the past. St. Nicholas will arrive on December 6th and the Star Boy will join Santa Lucia on December 13th.  I also had just enough in my Paypal account (from All About Learning affiliate sales – thank you!) to also purchase the Nativity Set at the discounted price! I am planning on giving that to the family during the O Antiphons for “O Emmanuel.” 

#5: Advent Calendars

I love that Advent begins on December 1st this year and so nicely coordinates with our favorite Advent Calendar!  Along with our original Jesse Tree, this Advent Calendar (pictured above) was one of our very first Advent traditions… It is still a favorite! 

This year, since Advent doesn’t often land on December 1st, I did something I have never done before and bought a few totally secular fun Advent Calendars for the children.  Originally I had just bought the Playmobil Winter Wonderland calendar (for Snuggles and Bud to share), but with the great sales this past week I added the two lego calendars (for the four older children to share) as well, along with a chocolate calendar for my husband and Rose!  
(*all way over priced at the moment…) 

“Mama!  Deer, Deer!” Yep, I knew he would love that!  🙂

#6: A New Family Puzzle
This year we are going to assemble “The Invitiation” – a gorgeous Noah’s Ark themed 1,000 piece puzzle (along with this Ark-Full Animals Puzzle or this Animal Alphabet for the younger ones) to go along with some of our Jesse Tree readings! I’m also still considering this lovely 12 Days of Christmas Puzzle for during the 12 days of Christmas…. So pretty!

#7: Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children

Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children is a brand new book by Colleen Rooney which was just released last month!  Colleen kindly offered to send me a review copy along with a second copy to offer to one of my visitors here at Shower of Roses!  
It is such a beautiful book, packed with great ideas and recipes, and is a welcomed addition to my collection.  I look forward to trying some of her ideas with my own family soon! 

Amazon is currently offering Celebrating Advent and Christmas with Children at a 41% discount, you can currently purchase the Kindle version for only $3.99, or you can enter the giveaway below to possibly win a FREE copy here at Shower of Roses! 
Check out the additional “Fun Finds For Advent” in the archives:  

I hope you all have a very blessed Advent! 


  1. Unknown

    I love all your ideas – thanks for sharing! God bless you!

  2. Unknown

    Thanks for sharing! I'm really interested in the book!

  3. Beth

    We are using the Holy Heroes DVD as well. My son loves it! He wanted to keep going past the first day! It is simple and engaging and I think he's going to get a lot out of it.

  4. Jen Jen

    Love this blog!!

  5. kgill26

    You have such great ideas!

  6. Lori N from MN

    Your square candles – too cute!
    I saw the Wise Men ADVENTure idea, too. I think we'll try this from Christmas to Epiphany this year, and maybe longer next year if its a hit. 🙂
    Blessings to you~

  7. Anonymous

    This looks great! I am having problems commenting on Google etc…so I'm trying it this way.
    Karla in MN

  8. Anonymous

    This looks like a perfect book to use with my grandchildren…would love a copy. Your Advent ideas are wonderful Jessica. We are third generation Advent Calendar users…it was first introduced to my siblings and I when my Dad was stationed in Germany many years ago…then after I was married our children were given a German Advent calendar filled with a Bible verse and a chocolate every year…loving this custom–they still opened a door a day while they were in college…and now we are passing on this wonderful tradition to our new grandchildren. I began reading Kersti and Saint Nicholas today…I just know your daughter is going to adore this charming story of Kersti's adventure with the good Saint Nicholas also known as Sinter Klaas in the Netherlands! Happy Advent to you and your dear family. Isn't wonderful to celebrate this special season with children!!!! ~Debbie

  9. Emily

    Looks like a great book!

  10. Anonymous

    I have been waiting for advent to begin. Such a blessed time for our family, with some old traditions and new ones as well. Your blog gives me so many ideas. Thank you for all you do and blessed Advent to you and your family.
    Laura G.

  11. Liz

    I ran across your blog this evening looking for some information and traditions surrounding St. Nicholas' upcoming feast day for my daughter's preschool class. I love it! Definitely going to be a regular visitor here! Happy and Blessed Advent!

  12. Amy

    These are such wonderful ideas. I love all the Advent suggestions I've found here so far. Thank you!

  13. Erin

    Enjoyed these finds:) Love to win:)

  14. Erin

    I love the wooden St. Lucy!! I have to get one for my little Lucy!

  15. Jennifer F

    I love your ideas!! I put my favorite (affordable and doable) into a word document and have it all in a folder and already referred to it aout 4 times today. Thanks so much for sharing all this!! We are definitely going to do the 3 Kings activity!! I always thought the Elf on the Shelf looked like fun but…never did it because it wasn't meaningful.

  16. Anonymous

    Thank you for the giveaway! Thank you also for sharing your wonderful ideas.


  17. Sue

    What fun!!

  18. Sarah

    We have the same wooden Advent calendar and are also doing the Holy Heroes Jesse Tree DVD this year. Thanks for so many new ideas!

  19. Natalie S.

    The book looks like a beautiful resource!

  20. Stacy

    Your resources are always great! Now I have more things to add to my advent season! The Jesse Box is FANTASTIC!!

  21. Vallimasoos

    OH I love the Three Wise Men Idea!!

  22. Shaina

    Sometimes I think your wonderful blog and money leaving our checking account go hand-in-hand. Gotta snag some Playmobil Wisemen.

  23. Karina

    Thanks for sharing this giveaway, and all your beautiful Advent/Christmas traditions. Happy Advent!

  24. Cheryl

    Forgot to mention something in my last comment. For those people purchasing The Jesse Box set, they should also check out It is the website created by the people who make The Jesse Box, and it is filled with 'lots of freebies (activities, lesson plans, etc.) to go with the box. I've been eyeing this item for a while — thank you for posting the website with the lower price. Much more in my budget!

  25. sandra

    A wonderful book! Have a wonderful advent season:)

  26. mary

    I love your ideas. We used to have the playmobil advent set, but through the years the kids lost the pieces to it. I think we only have very few left. I like all your other ideas too. This year we are adding to our traditions and making a soft manager for baby Jesus. We are still using our felt Jesse Tree with the symbols that my mom made over 12 years ago. I have to find the sheet that goes along with it for the readings.

  27. Cheryl

    More wonderful ideas, Jessica! I love the square candles on the stands by the way! I would love to try the Wisemen idea, but my daughter is so enchanted with our elf on the shelf that I think she would be very disappointed if we skipped them this year! So I usually have them doing some things like reading the Nativity Bible passage, checking out the advent wreath, etc.

    This new book looks wonderful! What a wonderful resource for any mom!


  28. Angie W

    Would love this book! Looks great!

  29. montanamama90

    Another great post! This book would be a great resource for staying Catholic during the crazy holiday season!

  30. Sarah

    Love the Wisemen idea! Where did you get your Advent Wreath?

  31. Anonymous

    Some great new ideas! Thanks!

  32. Sophie

    beautiful Jesse Box, thank you for a chance to win!

  33. Christina

    Thank you for these great ideas! We've started the wiseman adventures this year as well!

  34. Anonymous

    I would love to win! Thanks for the giveaway!

  35. Joan Stromberg

    Thanks for sharing Jessica! You are awesome!

  36. 9peasMom

    Wonderful links (as always) and a great giveaway! I absolutely LOVE the wise men idea!

  37. Margaret Mary

    You mentioned a Nativity Set from Armadillo Dreams, but I can't find it on their site. Can you reply with a link?

  38. Margaret Mary

    You should check out Illuminated Ink – they also have some wonderful things for Advent and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

  39. Anonymous

    Thank you! looks like fun!
    Donna Marie
    child of mary 2002 at yahoo (dot} com

  40. Mimi G.

    This looks like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!! Blessed Advent!

  41. Jessica Gordon

    Great suggestion, Cheryl! I was looking at there website yesterday and meant to include the link but forgot… I just updated the post! 🙂

  42. Jessica Gordon

    I don't think it is currently available… You can see a picture in this sold Etsy listing: Nativity Set During the summer, when I ordered the Nativity, St. Nicholas and Star Boy, they were offering 30% off all Christmas items! I posted the sale on my personal Facebook page, but should have thought to share it here too…

  43. Jessica Gordon

    When we were first married we would always use fresh greenery for our Advent Wreath, but it never lasted all of December, being so close to our fireplace. . . So, years ago I bought two artificial wreaths from Costco – one for the front door and one for our Advent Wreath. I bought the 4 silver pillars from The Dollar Store (along with 4 short pillar candles – they were so much easier to find back then) and have been using it ever since! 🙂

    The Advent Candles were from a Monastery. I bought an extra set (the last set the store had – short and square) a couple years ago when I found out that the monk would no longer be making them… Hopefully sometime in the next year I will be able to find another new source for affordable candles that I love! 🙂

  44. Anonymous

    Oh, my goodness…I couldn't resist! I have just purchased Rooney's book! Thanks for sharing such fun ideas!

    Marisa M.

  45. Unknown

    Thank you for this giveaway! Merry Christmas.

  46. Anonymous

    Thank you!

  47. Lauren

    I love all of your ideas and plans!!! Blessed advent season!

  48. Julie

    I love all of these. How do you do the Christmas Novena? Does each child take turns.?Once my kids do the Rosary all they want to do after is play. Please pray for me. God Bless!


  49. Lisa H.

    Advent is my favorite liturgical season! Thank you for hosting the giveaway of such a wonderful book!

  50. Jessica Gordon

    My husband led the Christmas Novena, following the blessing of our Advent Wreath, the prayers for the First Sunday of Advent (while I lit the candle), and our Rosary. We ended with a song. It took about twice as long as our usual family rosary, but still only about 30 minutes all together. I just offered a prayer for you and your family! God bless!

  51. Emily

    I am so grateful for you! You always have the best ideas!

  52. Robina

    wonderful as always. those wooden dolls are precious. Happy Advent. We are trying to keep it as slow and simple this Advent but still do as many of our fun traditions as possible. starting to nest for this baby coming, but I want to be able to put all the to do list stuff behind me this week so I can just savor the rest of Advent with my family.

  53. Anonymous

    For affordable advent candles you can purchase the cheap (they are about $1) glass jar candles that have the religious stickers on them from the candle section at Wal-Mart. I just buy purple and pink ones, then soak the glass in warm water and peel off the stickers. Not only are they cheap and easy to find, the glass keeps the wax from ruining your table.

  54. Unknown

    Your blog has provided our family with so much inspiration, not just for Advent. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  55. Anonymous

    Great ideas!

  56. Anonymous

    This book looks so lovely..thank you for the opportunity …Ro

  57. kSm

    Stealing the wise men idea and I love this giveaway. Looking to start traditions with my 15th month old 🙂

  58. Sarah

    Love all your fun finds, Jessica! The twins got the Lego City & Lego Friends Advent calendars for their birthday. They are having a great time with them! St. Nicholas should be here in time for Friday, too 🙂

  59. Monique G.

    wonderful giveaway! Thank you for all the great ideas.

  60. Anonymous

    This looks like a lovely book! I would love to win. I am a feast day -challenged mom! 🙂 KB

  61. Melissa

    Jessica, You are such a blessing to Catholic families everywhere!

  62. mrsryko

    Great ideas! Thank you!

  63. Lindsay K

    Thanks for the giveaway! I love liturgical year resources!!

  64. noreen

    What a perfect giveaway during Advent. I would appreciate a chance to win a copy! May your Advent be filled with God's peace and blessings.

  65. Lenetta

    Thank you for the chance, Jessica!

  66. Anonymous

    I love this post. There are so many wonderful Advent activities to take advantage of.

    Christina – schola.athenarum at

  67. Emily Ruegg

    I'm so glad I found your site! I, too, am beginning the journey of a homeschooling Catholic mother, and I'm so heartened to find a virtual friend! 🙂

  68. nicole

    You have such amazing, inspiring ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  69. Maria @ Frugal Homesteading

    What wonderful ideas! We are keeping it simple with an Advent wreath and candles, Jesse Tree, and Fontanini Advent calendar. I love this time of year!

  70. Cindy in NH

    Love your ideas! Thank you for taking the time to share them!

  71. Carrie

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this great book!

  72. Hidden Fern

    Thank you for the giveaway! Happy Advent!

  73. Tamalyn

    Thank you so much – your blog consistently inspires me to do more for my family on our faith journey. Would love a copy of this book to add to our Advent collection of ideas!

  74. Candice O.

    Your blog is such an inspiration to our family! Thank you for the opportunity!

  75. Sarah

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to win this lovely book; it looks very inspiring! And thanks for your blog, it has been a blessing to me.

  76. JenniferM

    Thanks for all of these Advent finds and for the giveaway too!

  77. Anonymous

    Thank you for all your great ideas (and for sharing other's ideas as well)! Have a blessed advent season!

  78. Anonymous

    Thanks for being such an inspiration

  79. Ticia

    I love those wooden sets, I need to go check them out. You've got lots of great ideas!

  80. Becky

    Love angelus press and the Jesse box looks fun.

  81. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the opportunity to win this lovely book!

  82. Ashlyn

    How darling! Love Advent traditions. Thank you for sharing!

  83. Amy

    Would love to win the book….we love your blog! 🙂

  84. asliceofsmithlife

    The book looks so wonderful to add to my Advent traditions and collection of books! Thanks for the opportunity!

  85. Jacqui

    I would love to incorporate activities into our Advent journey, thanks for sharing!

  86. Unknown

    Love all your ideas

  87. Karen

    The Jesse Box looks like it would be a great for the kids. I'm surprised no one thought of something like this before.

  88. Jen-Marie @ Catholic Inspired

    Hi Jessica! Thanks for mentioning me! Your wise men look like they are having fun! I'm glad to see you and so many people joining in with the Wise Men ADVENTures this year! 🙂


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