Here we are again, knocking at the door of the beginning of a new Church season – Advent – which begins in less than a month on December 2! Every year, for the last 8 years, I have been building an Advent and Christmas Planner and sharing it. In truth, this planner has been in existence longer than 8 years, but in those early years it existed as a few lists and scraps of paper that I cobbled together here and there in order to set an atmosphere of quiet anticipation in our home. As children grew, and the internet made sharing so easy, I began to assemble my lists and resources into a document, that over the years, has grown into a book. Last year, my Advent & Christmas planner was 21 pages long and this year the book is 35 pages!
What can you expect from this planner?
- This planner is first and foremost the work of a simple mom who just wants to live out the beauty and richness of the liturgical year in her home with her children, and as this mom’s children have grown to start families of their own, it is also (I hope) a starting point for them. I make no claim to a professional sort of work and you may find a few errors. I did try to offer you something as polished and proofed as I could create because a tool should be sharp.
- This book is compiled by a lay Catholic who is faithful to the Magisterium and teaching body of the Catholic Church. This booklet is not affiliated with an approved ecclesiastical source.
- This planner is Catholic – from beginning to end. I want to be clear about that, and I hope if you are not Catholic, you will feel welcome, invited, and encouraged to use this planner and consider the riches here. After all, we may all claim the rich inheritance and liturgical traditions offered to us through the great Mystery of the Incarnation.
- The book contains the rich liturgical history of the season of Advent.
- It is a week by week planner which contains a daily listing of the liturgical feasts and customs appropriate to that day.
- Both the Extraordinary Form Calendar of 1962 (the Latin Mass) and the Ordinary Form Calendar of 1969 (the Novus Ordo Mass in the vernacular) are represented in the planner.
- Each day contains book ideas coordinating with the daily feast, and Advent customs.
- There is an index booklist for you to consider.
- You will find plenty of room to jot down new books you’ve found, existing books you have which may be different from those listed in the planner, or books you’d like to add to your daily reading.
- The O Antiphons are listed with a link to a prayer companion for praying the O Antiphons. (copyright, Jennifer Gregory Miller)
- The booklet contains daily plans and ideas from November 30 through January 13 (the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord) – covering Advent and the Christmas season.
- This booklet is in pdf format – you are free to download, print, read on your tablet (most tablets will allow you to view a pdf in your ibooks or kindle app) or computer.
- By all means share with your friends! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam! Non Nobis! All I ask is that if you share, you share the link to this post, not the file. Also, sharing on social media is invited and encouraged. Please post the link back to this post.
- This book is copyrighted, Jennifer Mackintosh, 2018. Copyright permission is granted to print and use this within a family or small church or class group. If you would like to print and distribute large copies of this document, contact me first.
- There are a couple of extras that are included in the planner that are ideas that have been shaped or formed through my own family through the years. I pray they are a starting point.
- All the books and resources in the planner (and more) are linked at the end of this post. Many of the links are affiliate links. They cost you nothing, but I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase, and I am truly grateful for that!
- This is a 35-page book this year. The book contains several printables for your use. I find it saves paper if you print pages 1 – 23 (two-sided), and pages 24 – 37 (one-sided) since the final pages are the printables.
The Advent & Christmas Booklist & List of Resources
What follows is a collection of books our family has enjoyed over the years. Many of them are included on the plans. This is not an exhaustive list! We don’t read all of these each Advent season – we choose a few to enjoy. Collect books for your Advent basket a little at a time, keeping choices lovely and reserving enough quiet to prepare for the season. (Please note that I am an Amazon affiliate and most of these links are through Amazon – if you click through these links I do earn a very small amount. Thank you!)
- Crusade: The Story of the Bible Retold for Catholic Children by the Maryknoll sisters – this out of print set (1 – 20 and 21 – 40) is so worth hunting down – we read these for Bible stories, Church History, and as part of our Advent reading. It is such a worthwhile investment for your home library and I have peppered them throughout the Advent plans! (If the Amazon link above doesn’t provide many results, try ebay)
- Story Library of the Saints (3 volumes) by Joan Windham
- Twenty Miracles of St. Nicholas by Brenda Bryson
- Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Little Lives of the Great Saints by John O’Kane Murray
- The Christmas Story by Jane Werner (a delight – and the new edition retains the older illustrations which are so quiet and charming!)
- Wonderworker: The True Story of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus by Vincent Yzermans
- The Real Santa Claus by Marianna Mayer
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend: by Julie Stegmeyer
- The True St. Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William Bennett
- The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
- The Miracle of St. Nicholas by Gloria Whelan
- The Huron Carol by St. John de Brebeuf
- The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum (illustrations are more charming in this older version)
- The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe by C. Lourdes Walsh
- Christmas In the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
- Christmas and the Saints by Hertha Pauli (excellent Vision book for readers capable of chapter books)
- Our Lady’s Feasts by Sister Mary Jean Dorcy
- The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola
- An Advent Calendar by Tasha Tudor
- A Book of Christmas (Pop-Up Calendar) by Tasha Tudor
- The Ageless Story by Lauren Ford (out of print and difficult to find)
- The Friendly Beasts by Tomie de Paola
- Legend of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola
- Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
- An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
- Marta and the Manger Straw by Virginia Kroll
- Christmas Around the World by Mary D. Lankford
- Waiting For Christmas: A Story About the Advent Calendar by Kathleen Bostrom
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
- Wenceslas: The Eternal Christmas Story by Geraldine McCaughrean
- Good King Wenceslas by Jamichael Henterly
- Stephen’s Feast by Jean Richardson
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
- The Christmas Knight by Jane Louise Curry
- My Christmas Book by Lee Mero
- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson
- The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden
- Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
- The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie de Paola
- The Christmas Flower by Joseph Henry Jackson
- The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
- The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
- Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd
- Silent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges
- Nine Days to Christmas, A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets & Aurora Labastida
- The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie de Paola
- The First Christmas Stocking by Elizabeth Winthrop
- The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown
- Saint Francis Celebrates Christmas by Mary Caswell Walsh
- The Living Nativity by David Haidle
- Silent Night by Susan Jeffers
- The Miracle of the Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Story by Joanne Oppenheim
- The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Candymakers Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane by David Haidle
- The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
- Hanna’s Christmas by Melissa Peterson (Wiley)
- Lucia, Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde
- Kirsten’s Surprise: A Christmas Story by Janet Shaw
- Lucia: Child of Light by Florence Ekstrand
- Jesus, Son of Mary by Fulton Sheen
- The Last Straw by Frederick H. Thury
- The Gifts of the Magi by Carolyn Vaughan
- Mary, Mother of Jesus by Mary Joslin & Alison Wisenfeld
- Mary the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola
- When Jesus Was a Little Boy by Georgia Moore Eberling
The Juggler of Notre Dame books – see note and explanation of the books and ideas that sprung from this beautiful 13th century poem/song in the Advent planner, p. 20)
- The Juggler of Notre Dame by Mary Fidelis Todd
- The Little Juggler by Barbara Cooney
- The Clown of God by Tomie de Paola
- The Way of the Storyteller (The Juggler of Notre Dame) by Ruth Sawyer
- Story Library of the Saints by Joan Windham (Barnabas of Compiegne :: Barnabas the Juggler :: St Hermann Joseph
- Our Lady’s Juggler: An Antique Legend by Alexander Woollcott (Reader’s Digest WWII Compilation, Oct. 1941)
- The Saving Name of God the Son by Jean Ann Sharpe, all images Fra Angelico
- Who Is Coming to Our House by Joseph Slate
- The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore
- One Shining Star by Anne Vittur Kennedy
- Baby’s Christmas by Esther and Eloise Wilkin
- The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer
Books which may be a blessing in your own home liturgical celebrations:
- Christmas to Candlemas in a Catholic Home by Helen McLoughlin – FREE version is linked; I formatted the free text so it was easier to read and print – you can print it by clicking below:
- True Christmas Spirit by Rev. Edward J. Sutfin – FREE version is linked; I formatted the free text so it was easier to read and print – you can print it by clicking below:
- Around the Year With the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp (recently reprinted by Sophia Institute Press
- Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Father Francis Weiser, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952
- The Christmas Book by Father Francis Weiser, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952
- The Holyday Book by Father Francis Weiser, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1956
- The Twelve Days of Christmas by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, 1955
- Cooking For Christ: The Liturgical Year in the Kitchen by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 1949
- Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Hugo Hoever, 1955
- All Advent Prayers contained in this planner are taken from: Crusade: The Story of the Bible Retold for Catholic Children, Volume #22, Imprimatur, Francis Cardinal Spellman, 1956
New this year:
Each year, I add a few new books and resources that help me set an atmosphere of Advent in our home. This year I added the following new helps:
- Jesse Tree set of wooden ornaments
- O Antiphon set of wooden ornaments
- St. Nicholas figure by Ostheimer (with evergreen tree)
- St. Nicholas book
Steps to Advent Resources:
New to this year’s Advent planner is an iteration of the Jesse Tree which I came up with, almost by accident, last year. The variation brought together many of the practices (like the Jesse Tree and the O Antiphons) we love, but always had trouble keeping up with. For some reason, this practice was intuitive and workable from beginning to end. The Advent printable contains more along with all of the printables.
- Journey to Bethlehem Fontanini set of Mary (with child) and Joseph
- Jesse Tree symbols – make your own or there are many available to purchase on etsy.com (printable Jesse Tree ornaments)
- O Antiphon symbols which I tuck under the dated stepping stones in addition to the Jesse Tree Symbols. You can create your own based on the O Antiphon prayer guide (linked above) or consider the beautiful O Antiphon ornaments at etsy.
- Printable number cards to designate the dated steps along the path – these are used to “hide” the Jesse Tree and O Antiphon symbol which is tucked underneath the number card. This year, I plan to print on cardstock and laminate. The printable number cards are attached to the end of the Advent & Christmas planner – for you to print and cut – one for each day of Advent.
- A small manger to place on day 25 – the Nativity.
- Take the Infant Jesus and tuck him somewhere special – and hidden – so that the manger waits empty for His arrival on Christmas morning, but be sure to make a note in your planner reminding you where you hid the Baby Jesus! December 24 is full enough without adding a frantic search for the Baby Jesus!)
- Small pieces of decorative straw (this can be found at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby) or straw colored yarn pieces. The little children add a piece of straw for each good deed completed in order to make the Baby Jesus’ manger soft for His arrival Christmas morning.
- Small tree or stand for hanging your Jesse Tree ornaments (for a no cost option – use a sturdy vase and clip a few branches from a nearby tree/shrub and place it in your vase)
Resources which have been a help to me in planning and living Advent:
- Family in Feast and Feria Advent posts – this blog written by my friend, Jennifer Miller, is a treasure trove of liturgical year resources.
- O Night Divine – a website built and maintained by another dear friend, Mary Ellen Barrett. This website is another delightful collection of Advent and Christmas resources.
- For years – and I mean YEARS (as in…since my Mom was homeschooling my brother and sister) – Dumb Ox Publications has been providing simple and beautiful tools to assist with living the liturgical year. They offer many Advent items that are very affordable!
A little something a friend sent me:
- Theresa at My Catholic Kids is offering a set of Jesse Tree Stickers that she sent me to preview. I think these would be fun for little hands during Advent! The Jesse Tree Stickers launch November 14, 2018! Shop them here – there will be lots of sales and launch day packages available just in time to order before Advent is rolling!
I pray that in your home, the upcoming season of Advent is blessed with the quiet anticipation that allows room in your heart for the great joy and light of the Feast of the Nativity!