The front of our house is fortunate enough to have a very large picture window composed of a middle section that is about nine feet high and four feet wide.
The first year we lived in this house -- it's been nearly four years now -- the girls and I invented a craft involving our window and it's one that pleased us all so much, we have repeated it every year since.
Our craft is this: We turn the middle section of our picture window into an Advent wreath. We put this up on our front window a couple of days before Advent starts.
Here are the materials we use to accomplish this:
12 pieces of 8x11 purple cardstock
4 pieces of 8x11 rosy pink cardstock
8 pieces of 8x11 dark forest green cardstock, folded in half
8 pieces of 8x11 green cardstock in a slightly lighter shade, folded in half
1 piece of 8x11 yellow cardstock, folded into fourths
1 piece of 8x11 orange cardstock, folded into fourths
four four-inch strips of white paper to serve as wicks
First, make the "wreath"
Take the green cardstock (already folded in half) and, on the fold, cut out an approximation of a "fir branch." I cut out something that is the basic shape of a loaf of French bread. When you've done that, use the scissors to snip-snippety-snip along the unfolded side, you're going for kind of a Frasier fir look with this. Don't be too meticulous, because you're just going for an approximation, remember. People passing by in cars or on foot are going to get the idea.
After you've snipped the green paper, open it up, cut it in half, and there you have it! Two fir branches. Carry on until you've cut up all your green paper. Tape all the fir branches to the bottom of your window, overlapping to make sure there are no holes. Tape the pieces on so that they'll stick up randomly, like you'd expect evergreen branches to do. Now you have your base.
Second, make the "candles"
Our window is very tall, so our candles are quite large. Each "candle" is four sheets of paper high. If your window is shorter, you might just want to make each candle two sheets of paper high, cutting your two sheets in half before taping them to the window (you'll see why cutting them in half is important later.) Tape the paper candles to your window in order from left to right as seen from the street, two purple candles, then the rosy-pink candle, then the last purple one.
Note: When you tape the candles together, just use SMALL PIECES of tape, because you're going to be taking them apart as the season progresses.
Third, add the "wicks"
Tape a white paper strip to the top of each candle to serve as a wick.
Fourth, make the "flames"
On the fold of your yellow paper, cut out the approximation of a candle flame. If you're uncertain you can do this with your scissors, then draw the shape you desire with a pencil first, then cut. You'll be making four flames, remember, since your paper has already been folded into fourths. When you've finished, open up the paper and cut your four flames apart.
With your orange paper (also previously folded into fourths), cut a smaller version of the flame you just created with the yellow paper. Open the paper and separate into four pieces, then take the smaller orange flames and tape them to the larger yellow flames. This gives you a two-toned flame that has a better visual depth and dimension to it than just a plain yellow flame. Or at least that's the way I see it.
Now you're ready to light your first candle!
The first Sunday of Advent, take the white wick off the first purple candle and replace it with a flame.
The second Sunday of Advent, take the white wick off the second purple candle and replace it with a flame. Then take the first piece of purple paper off the FIRST candle and discard; place the flame on the first candle's second sheet of paper. The idea is to make the first candle look as if it has burned down a bit.
The third Sunday of Advent, take the white wick off the pink candle and replace it with a flame. Then take the first sheet of paper off the second candle and the third sheet of paper off the first candle. They've both burned down a bit by this third week, after all!
The fourth Sunday of Advent, take the white wick off the last purple candle and replace it with a flame. Then remove the first sheet of paper from the pink candle, the second sheet of paper from the second candle, and the third sheet of paper from the first candle and tape their wicks back on.
By the time you get to the fourth Sunday, the passage of time should be evident on your "wreath." The first candle is a mere stub, the second one definitely short, the third one has melted quite a bit, and the fourth one is there to lend its brightness to the approaching holy day.
When we get home from midnight Mass, we tear the whole shebang off the window and there's our Christmas tree shining through for all the people passing by to see.
We really enjoy doing this every year, and maybe your family will, too.
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