This simple tutorial will show you how to make an advent wreath to celebrate the Christmas season. Easily craft your own DIY advent wreath on a budget!
I first started hearing about the tradition of Advent as a new mom. I was so excited to build important, meaningful traditions with my children. The only problem was, they were both under 3-years-old at the time.
I had zero margin to figure out this whole Advent thing.
Do I have to use purple candles? What do those advent candle colors even mean? And how do I know when to light them?
For that matter what is the meaning of the Advent wreath?
I closed my laptop more than once and let the season pass without putting anything together.
I had in fact heard of Advent as a child, and my perception was that it was a great thing. Advent meant I got a thin cardboard box and each day I got to pop out a piece of milk chocolate as I counted down the days until Christmas.
As for the deeper ritual behind it, not being Catholic, I was at a loss.
But this year, I was so far ahead on Christmas shopping thanks to our Christmas Budget Challenge, that I had a free hour or two, so I recruited my now 3-year-old to help me in creating our Advent wreath.
Advent Wreath Meaning
I first wanted to know the meaning of the Advent wreath. While I wasn’t too concerned about breaking with tradition, I guess I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing something offensive.
The good news is, there are as many Advent traditions as there are sects of Christianity, and you can’t do it “wrong”.
Advent means “coming”, and is simply the time of year where the Church anticipates the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
I love how this tradition is one way to pull the focus away from Christmas as a consumer holiday, and put it back in its rightful place.
How to Make an Advent Wreath
Now, onto to making the Advent wreath itself. Thankfully, this turned out to be quick. We were able to use only materials that we had around the house, so it was frugal, too!
1. Candle Holders
Practically, you’ll need something for your candles to set on to collect the wax.
You can use almost anything. I’ve seen adorable homemade Advent wreath ideas that use all of the following.
Candle Holder Ideas
- empty tin cans
- mason jars (of course)
- cake plates
- serving trays
- candle holders
- flower pots
Anything goes! I used one of the serving plates from our dinnerware set.
2. Advent Candles
Next, choose candles.
The traditional advent candle colors vary and may include:
- Violet or Purple, used in Catholic churches
- Blue for Hope, more common in Protestant traditions
- Rose, sometimes used for the 3rd candle
I decided to depart from the traditional color scheme for a more modern look.
Purple and pink don’t scream Christmas to me, though that color selection would have thrilled my little daughter.
In the end, I used white candles left over from our wedding that have been serving as backup lighting for power outages for the last 8 years.
All I had to do was dust them off a bit.
One consideration is, the candles need to last up to 28 nights of Advent, so tealights might not be the best option.
Some attribute the following meanings to the candles.
Advent Candle Meanings
- #1: Hope
- #2: Prophesy
- #3: Joy
- #4: Angel’s Candle
- #5: Christ Candle
Many Advent wreaths omit the fifth candle. If you do decide to use one, it’s usually white and/or slightly larger than the other four.
I went with four, because that’s what fit on my serving tray, but I’ll bring in the fifth candle for Christmas and set it behind the rest. More on that below.
3. Make It a Wreath
Now it’s time to add a bit of decoration to make it more wreath-like.
You can use any real or artificial greenery. Trim the ends off a couple branches of your Christmas tree if you already have it.
I went out and trimmed some leaves and berries off a bush in our front yard.
Advent Wreath Ideas
- greenery (real or artificial)
- Christmas ornaments
- pine cones
Get creative. Anything could work, but it’s a fun challenge to try to use something you already have on hand.
4. Wreath’s Ready, Now What?
The most common tradition I found as I researched was for Advent to start the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
First Day of Advent
- November 27, 2016
- December 3, 2017
- December 2, 2018
Though, many Advent reading plans begin, simply, on December 1.
If you miss it by a day or 12, don’t worry. The idea is to bring meaning to the season.
On the first week of Advent, the first candle is lit. In the second week, the first and second candles are lit, and so on.
We’ll light ours before dinner, and do a short reading each day.
Many great advent studies and activities geared toward kids and grownups, too are available. Here are a couple of my favorites.
Advent Reading Plans
- Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (for kids)
- Free Reading Plan to go with the Jesus Storybook Bible (for kids)
- The Greatest Gift (for adults)
As I mentioned earlier, many Advent wreaths only have four candles, but for those that use the fifth, it’s lit on Christmas Eve.
We will likely light ours on Christmas morning and read the Christmas story before opening presents.
Our New Advent Tradition
Every day we talk about how we’re anticipating the birth of Jesus and his eventual second coming.
Really, I think my kids are anticipating the baby Jesus Birthday cake we’ll have on Christmas Eve and of course the gifts. What can ya do?
This is still my favorite new Christmas activity, and I’m so happy it turned out to be much simpler than I thought. I hope this little guide will make creating your own Advent wreath and practice much easier for you too!
What are your favorite Christmas traditions in your family?