We hung the kids' stockings up and put out some cookies and carrots for St. Nicholas day. Traditionally children put out their shoes, but we decided to do the stockings to help separate Santa from Christmas this year. It's definitely been a bit of a challenge with Santa so entwined with Christmas in our culture (I wonder how that came to be, exactly).
Rather than taking Santa out of the picture entirely, we've been focusing on who the real "Santa" was. I found this great book about the real St. Nicholas at my local Catholic bookstore. There are many traditional stories about St. Nick, most focused on his love for children and the poor. This book tells of Nicholas helping three poor girls by putting gold coins in their stockings hanging to dry on the fireplace.
We read the story over hot chocolate before school that morning (and have been enjoying lots of hot chocolate since).
We also went to our local nursery to pick out a tree. To make room for it, we took our t.v. out of the family room for the month. We've been debating whether we should get rid of it altogether, and figured that Advent and Christmas would be a good time to make that sacrifice as a family. As a compromise, we went ahead and let the kids put all the ornaments on the tree, but we're still waiting until Christmas to turn the lights on and add the star.
I used some of the tree clippings and some berries from our garden to make a little something for the front door.
We've also been working away on our Advent ornaments from the Truth in the Tinsel ebook. It's been a fun tradition to do with the kids each day.
And we've been working on our handmade gifts. I found the inspiration for the monogrammed mugs over at Soule Mama, and you can find instructions on how to make your own on Design Mom.
And now we're onto the third week of Advent! How are you observing Advent this year? Anyone starting any new traditions?