Precise instructions for how to put together the contents of your own fabric Advent Calendar - with a surprise in every pocket.
Anna Chaplaincy network members Catriona Foster and Sally Rees have ideas for all 24 days leading up to Christmas. Catriona, who is based at St John's Church, Harborne, Birmingham, explains:
Following on from the idea of creating a large Advent calendar to gift to a care home, with the help of Sally Rees in Wales, I have created 24 inserts to go in each pocket of a calendar. Each piece of A4 paper is numbered and folded to fit into a pocket along with a gift, and each is on a different Christmas theme, hopefully providing some opportunity for discussion and reminiscence as well as something to think about. Themes include, ‘Christmas during World War II’, ‘Carols’, ‘Tinsel’, ‘The Wise Men’, ‘No Room’, ‘Christmas Dinner’, ‘Mary’, etc. Each theme has four short sections:
‘I wonder…’ – These are ideas to engage the residents in conversation and the sharing of memories.
‘Did you know?’ – This is an interesting fact about the day’s theme.
‘Thought for the Day’ – This is a short, inspiring thought based on the Christmas story.
‘A Prayer’ – To end with, there is a very short prayer based on the theme.
Some of the gifts are linked with the theme, for example, mini crackers, a Christmas pudding tree decoration, star -shaped chocolates, etc. Other gifts include bookmarks and sweets.
There is also an accompanying letter to staff of a care home introducing the idea, explaining how it works and encouraging them to use the calendar as an activity, as well as thanking them for all that they do and wishing them a Happy Christmas.
Sally and I are very happy for anyone to use the words of the 24 reflections, and also to alter them in any way you like to suit your situation. For example, if you were using this idea for a home where all the residents were living with quite advanced dementia, the reflections might want to be simpler. When writing these particular words, Sally and I also had in mind the fact that they would be read out by care staff who may not have any experience of the Christian faith, but we hope that they will enjoy delving into the pockets and reading aloud the contents each day, and that both staff and residents will find it inspiring and helpful.
If you would like to see the words, you can download them here.
An alternative use of the words, if you are unable to produce a large fabric calendar, would be to create, say, a basket of 24 envelopes, or a box of 24 envelopes with 24 small gifts.
So it is, hopefully, a comparatively easy way for you to offer this gift to your local care home. And please let us know if you give it a go and do tell us what response it received!