Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent, so I came up with a few options for how you can make your own Advent Wreath at home. So before we get started, let's go over a few things we need to know before we start making wreaths.
First, one of the most important parts of the wreath is the candles. We use candles a lot in church. Not only does it help set the tone, but we can also use it to help invite the Holy Spirit into our space. For Advent, it helps represent Christ’s coming into the world. Plus, if we look at the Gospel of John, we see how Jesus is often associated with light, and Jesus even declares it himself in chapter 8. So basically, candles = Jesus.
Next, let’s think about the wreath itself. The circular shape is what is important here. The circle represents eternal life that is promised through Jesus. I have seen a few alternative wreaths that aren’t in a circle, for instance, people have put their advent candles on a log or in some sort of a line. You’re not going to go to advent jail for using one of those alternatives, but at least we have some background on why we use the round, wreath shape.
Another thing to keep in mind is using some sort of evergreen branches. We use these to remind us of God’s faithfulness, even in death. You will notice if you’ve been to a funeral here, Pastor Repp will have some sort of evergreen branch with him, and dips it into the baptismal font, then sprinkles the water on the casket or urn of the departed. It’s the same connection with the wreath here. Now, I got really lucky and the maintenance people at my apartment complex actually trimmed a lot of the trees and bushes and forgot to clean up after themselves, so I have lots of trimmings. But, if you don’t have access to real evergreens, fake is fine. But I will say the real stuff smells really good and so it adds that aromatic reminder as well to the whole wreath.
The last thing we need to talk about is the colors. You will notice at Grace we always use blue candles and use blue for anything advent related. Blue is used to represent hope, which is perfect for advent. In Advent, we wait at home for the coming of Christ. Now, you may notice other places will use purple or even pink for their candles. Purple is used to represent royalty. Obviously, that fits right in with Jesus, seeing as though we think of him as the King of Kings, or even remembering the Sunday right before Advent when we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. However, you may remember that purple is also used during Lent. In that season, purple is seen as a color of repentance. While repentance is still important all the time, it's a different focus for a different season. Therefore, we tend not to use purple candles. There is also often a pink candle that would be used on the 3rd Sunday of Advent. This is associated with rejoicing, coming specifically from Philippians 4. That reading used to be read every year on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, but now we have gone away from that and only have it once every 3 years, so that’s why we don’t use the pink candle. So even though we use blue candles here at Grace, you will totally be OK if you use the purple and pink candles.
So today I have 3 different examples of wreaths I have made that I think you will be able to do at home.
The Bowl Wreath
The first option I did was what I call "The Bowl Wreath." This checks a lot of the boxes we need for a wreath. The bowl itself is circular, so that takes care of the roundness we get from a standard wreath. I also really like this bowl because I'm pretty sure it's made from natural wood. I found it at Goodwill for $2, but it had a name and date on it, so my assumption is that it was someone's shop project from school. I also filled the bowl with some of the clippings I found. I will note that I added some moss to the bottom, just to give it a bit more filling. Then all I needed to do was add my candles. Now, you may notice I didn’t add any blue to this wreath, but that is an easy fix. Blue can be added to the glass part of the candles, by painting them or adding washi tape. Or if you have any other small blue decorations to add in with the clippings, that works too!
The Plate Wreath
The second option I made was what I call “The Plate Wreath.” Again, since the plate is round, we get the circular shape that we want for our wreaths. Then I added the clippings to make a base for my wreath. You may notice I tried to lay them down in a circular pattern to keep with the theme. Then I added my candles. The jars that are holding the candles are actually old yogurt jars. So if you want, you can use any sort of jars you want, like mason jars, or I’ve even seen small terra cotta planters used before too. With my jars, I also added a band of blue washi tape on them, so I was able to sneak in the blue that way. Again you can use blue candles, or even a blue plate to get the color in if you want.
The third option will give you the most traditional looking wreath, and it’s what I am calling “The Foam Wreath.” I start out with a foam wreath base that I got at the dollar store. You can also get similar bases at any craft store. The first thing I did was to take a box cutter to make little wells for the candles to sit in. Then, to cover up the green foam, I first wrapped it in white ribbon. Now, the ribbon doesn’t need to be perfect, because we will be adding more later. Also, since I made the little wells for the candles, I cut into the ribbon so the candles would be able to go through. The next step after the ribbon is to add the evergreen garland. Now, if you have trimmings and you want to take the time to add real evergreens to your wreath, go for it. I just do not have the skill or the time to add all sorts of little branches to this kind of a wreath. So, I got the garland from the dollar store as well to still have the evergreen feel. The nice thing about the garland is that’s basically just wire, so to attach it to the wreath, I just have to twist it like the ties we have on bread bags. Then I just kept wrapping until I ran out of garland. It’s not incredibly long, so you don’t have to cut the garland if you don’t want to. Now the last step is to add the candles. I would say that for mine, I would prefer to hot glue the candles in place or have some sort of stabilizer like that. You may not need to do it on your wreath, depending on what kinds of candles you use, but for mine, I will add that later.
I will also note that for all of these wreaths I used real candles. I know sometimes when we have little members of our family, having real flames around isn’t the safest option, so feel free to use battery-powered candles as well.
Now you have a few options to choose from, but the last question is, when do we use these? The first option is to light them when we light them during Sunday morning worship. We will do this in the beginning of the service. There will be a prayer, then the candles will be lit, and then will sing Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah. That would be the time to also light yours at home.
We will also be having midweek Advent Evening Prayer services. When you join us for that, you can light your wreath then as well.
The other option is to light your wreath during dinner time. If you keep your wreath on your kitchen or dining room table, you can light your wreath, do a table blessing, and have your wreath there for your meal as well.
If you want more information about Advent Wreaths, the ELCA put out a great resource for us to use, and you can find that here: https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/What_is_the_Advent_Wreath_and_how_is_it_used_in_worship.pdf?_ga=2.215979664.685635515.1605115736-804971421.1600879570
I hope this gives you some good ideas for how to make an advent wreath for your home if you don’t already have one! If you do make one, feel free to send me pictures!
Watch the YouTube Video here: