With a wide range of ages in my household, I’m always looking for novel ways to include all of my children in the beautiful traditions of our Catholic faith.
During the season of Advent we try to keep the focus on anticipation and preparation. But it’s not always easy to keep those sugar-plum dreams of Christmas at bay for four weeks.
We’ve found that having a traditional Advent wreath can be a great help.
Our regular wreath includes the prescribed four candles (three purple, one pink). One more candle is lit on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Each candle is a reminder that we, like those who lived before Jesus’ birth, are waiting for the Messiah, the Light of the world.
Since dinner time is the best time to find the majority of my family in the same location, we light the candles in our wreath just before saying our Grace Before Meals prayer.
All of our children eagerly beg a turn at lighting the appropriate candle for the week, but for obvious safety reasons the youngest children have had to be satisfied with my “wait until you are older” response to their pleading.
This year, I decided to craft my own child-friendly Advent wreath for my younger crew. The goal was to make a simple, inexpensive wreath that their little hands could manipulate while maintaining the traditional aspects of the wreath (e.g. different colored candles, round space, evergreen trim).
I came up with a lightweight wreath made from floral craft foam covered in felt. The felt candles are easily removable as are the felt flames.
If you’d prefer a more detailed tutorial continue below.
Trace a circle in the center of the floral craft foam. I used a glass to make a circular imprint on the foam, then I used a long, narrow, sharp knife to saw my way around the circle. This part takes a bit of patience.
Mark four locations around the circle at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock spaces (thinking of a clock). Using a shorter knife, cut a small circle half way into the foam. These holes should be deep enough to hold the felt candles upright.
Trace or free-hand draw shapes that look similar to holly leaves onto your paper. Draw your leaves in 2 – 3 different sizes to add variety. Then cut the paper leaves out and use them as your pattern for the felt. You’ll want to use a pen to trace the patterns on the felt. I opted to use three shades of green for my leaves. I used approximately four sheets of felt for the leaves. This step is a good one for an older sibling or helper to handle.
Cut out all of the felt leaves.
Use all purpose craft glue to attach the leaves to the foam. Remember to cover the top and sides, but leave the four small holes uncovered. You’ll want to overlap the leaves in order to cover all of the foam. Once the leaves are glued down, use straight pins to better secure all of the edges. These pins will remain in place, so be sure they are pushed in firmly and cannot easily be removed by small children.
Note, in the picture you can see the glue saturated through the felt, but it did dry clear by the next day.
I needed 1/2 a sheet of pink felt for the one pink candle for Gaudete Sunday and 2 1/2 sheets of purple for the other three candles. Simply roll a half sheet of felt 2/3 of the way and then spread the fabric glue on the inside of the last 1/3 before rolling completely. I wanted my candles to be taller, but you could opt to roll yours to be shorter if you prefer. Remember not to roll the felt too tight as you need the center to be hallow since it will need to hold the flame. Since the glue needs to set for several hours, use either tape or straight pins to hold the edges closed temporarily. Once the glue is dry, remove the tape or pins.
Trace and cut out four flame shapes from yellow felt. Be sure each flame has a long tall as this will be the section they gets inserted into the center of the candle to hold the flame upright and in place.
Once the glue has dried thoroughly remove any unnecessary fasteners from candles and let those little hands practice lighting their very own Advent wreath.