I’ve been really busy this week making a few crochet Christmas elves for the Bearwood Handmade Winter Fair on 5 December.
The inspiration behind these little chaps was the American tradition of ‘Elf on the Shelf’, now growing in popularity here in the UK. Each Advent, families welcome an elf doll into their home. The elf’s job is to keep a watchful eye on the children and make sure they belong on Santa’s “nice” list. Parents place the elf in different fun scenes every night for the children to discover in the morning: some choosing for their elf to be helpful, others preferring to make their elf get up to naughty shenanigans.
The hype surrounding these little elves got me thinking about the Advent traditions of my childhood, mostly involving chocolate and that overwhelming feeling of excited anticipation.
As a small child, I had the standard (and let’s face it, rather disappointing!) paper advent calendars, with 24 numbered windows to open showing images relating to the nativity. It wasn’t until I was slightly older that I progressed to the chocolate version and learned the excruciating agony of having to wait 24 hours for my next tiny taste of chocolate.
As a teenager, my Mum got really into patchwork and made this gorgeous hanging fabric advent calendar, with 24 felt star-shaped pockets. The first year we used it, she filled each pocket with a small gift, mostly stocking fillers of the non-chocolate variety. It made Advent particularly special and personal. We still use Mum’s calendar each year, now filled with chocolate for my two boys, but I think this year we will use it in conjunction with one of my elves. A former work colleague does the most amazing Advent treasure hunt for her children and I love the idea of the elf providing a clue as to where that day’s treat might be hidden.
Another feature of my childhood Christmas preparations was the Advent wreath. I went to a Catholic primary school and we lit the candles in the wreath each week of Advent. Readers of my vintage will also remember the presenters doing this on Blue Peter! I found this modern jam jar version on Pinterest and love the simplicity of it.
What Advent traditions does your family follow?