Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Service Stars

I wrote about what I am reading for Advent, but I've been trying to figure out something fun and meaningful to do with our girls. I called my sister Deb for ideas. I'm not genetically inclined when it comes to crafts or projects, but I can pilfer with the best of them. So we worked out the details and last night I put this Advent idea together.

I printed and cut out 25 stars.


I went to the dollar store and spent $7.00 on treats and do-dads.


Then I placed a star and a treat in each pocket of this advent tree.


No tree is needed. My sister made (yes made) one of these last year, then gave it away. Very cute. But my creative juices flow in a different direction so I finally bought this one after three years of eyeing it in the catalog. You definitely don't need one. You can wrap each goodie separately or just use envelopes. One for each day until Christmas.

Eliza started us off today.

As she pulled her paper star and peppermint candy out of the pocket I explained the two items. "There will always be a treat or a prize," I said, "but it is the star that is most important. It's a service star! An opportunity to see a need. To do something kind for someone else in the family." I told them it had to be a service (not a picture or a note). Something like cleaning up someone's toys, making a bed, setting the table. And wherever they performed their kindness, they would leave the star so that person knew they had been served.

Eliza is cooking up something servicey as I type. I saw the twinkle in her eye the moment I finished my explanation.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed Ali and Eliza secretly carting a laundry basket stuffed with clean towels upstairs. A few minutes later they pulled me into the living room to see what they had done. All the towels were folded and placed in stacks - quite neatly I might say. They saw a need and did it. Together. My buttons were bursting. I had no idea they could fold so well!

So the secret's out. They are capable.


Seconds later Ali spun into a hot pout and kicked over the stacks of towels, then refused to stand next to Eliza for this picture. And right now I can hear Eliza yelling at her sisters that she does NOT, I repeat NOT, want their help. Hmmm....

How is your December starting out?

The countdown begins...


  1. We have these Adventcalenders here, it's been a tradition I think for about a century or so. We only have 24 days, though, since we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, ;-).

    For my son this year I made a Lego Calender, my youngest one has candy in hers and every third day a little present. So does my oldest daughter, only that every third day she will find one chapter of a story I am writing for her.

    I absolutely love the idea of including these stars -- that is just such a great idea. And kids do love to help -- if only we let them. I will definitely think about that for next year's calender!

    Great idea!

    Your girls are so beautiful, by the way!

    So long,

  2. this year i put together 25 service suggestions on little strips of paper with 25 ghiradelli chocolate squares in Lizzie's Christmas stocking. she is drawing one of each every day.

    i love your advent and stars...the season is one of joy. xox

  3. Great idea, Catherine.

    Have you heard of Advent Conspiracy? I have a link for it on my right sidebar. I love their idea of freeing ourselves up so that we can worship the Savior.

    I just blogged about our countdown today. What I want my kids to experience more than anything is a sense of fullness and lightness--Christ fills us and frees us. He doesn't drain us and chain us with debt, and that's sometimes how the holidays leave us feeling.

    Your girls will be naturals. Things always get better.

  4. love this idea! And I've been eyeing that calendar too.. so do they have any left at PBK?

  5. I can't wait to hear all the stories of the secret acts service! Your kids will be awesome!! Love you all!

  6. Love it Cath. Last year I had something planned for every day in December. So each day they would open up the box with the dates number (I have an advent stack of presents where each present has a little door that opens - bought at Target a few years ago). Inside was a piece of paper describing the activity. They ranged from very small, drink hot chocolate, watch a Christmas show, to big - going somewhere or baking something complicated. While fun, it wore some people in our family out. So this year I am not repeating it, but this is great because they can choose their own activity each day!

  7. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I needed a great idea to go with the treats on the advent. The service stars are wonderful. Hope it works X4! It will go great with the advent scripture cards we use each day. Happy Holidays to you! I hope we can find a time to get together during the break. Let me know if you make it down to Debs. We have the whole week off after Christmas!

  8. Corinna - What an amazing gift. You are writing a story for your daughter?! That's marvelous. And I'm also amazed you made a lego advent for your son. Both of my parents are fluent in German and spent some time in Austria and Germany. They share a sense of nostalgia for German traditions when it comes to Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

    Cristie - Serving and taking care of the one. You're such a good good mama.

    Liz - Wow. I am loving Advent Conspiracy. We stand in line to buy a gift someone doesn't need while others stand in line because they can't afford what they need. Powerful. Replacing consumption with compassion. That is going to change how I move through the next couple weeks. You are plugged into the right things Liz. Thank you my dear!

    Michelle - No more advent trees available online. They go so fast every year! But you could check Trolley.

    Deb - I already have a good one for you.

    Shells - I love the boxes idea too. Funny how we try things though and sometimes they're a bust. I've had plenty of those. We live and learn, right?

    Trina - I want to see you! We might be down over the holidays. Haven't talked the break over with Deb. But if we come south I will definitely call you! I bet you're looking forward to the vacation. Love you Trina!

  9. What a cute idea! I'm impressed with Eliza folding laundry--I think Margot's been holding out on me! :)

  10. love the idea of the service stars. we just made a construction paper chain out of red and green paper. i should purchase one of these advent trees some year. where did you get it?

  11. Erin - the advent chain is always a hit. The tree is from Pottery Barn Kids. And I checked online - already gone for this year. They go fast!

  12. We just started our own advent countdown. Bought the same calendar and LOVE it. But what I love most is your service stars! Will have to add a few to ours.

  13. I love this way of teaching your children to see need! Beautifully written, as always, Catherine. You are doing great work.


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