Sometimes, fully living out the season of Advent can seem like a lost cause. With Christmas decorations making an appearance in October and raging consumerism appearing everywhere you turn, it can be difficult to focus on what is truly a beautiful time of anticipation. So when it comes to fruitful and creative Advent activities, many of us give up before we even start. But it’s possible to truly have fun during this busy season!
10 Meaningful and Stress-Free Advent Activities
To help you (and your family) enter into the possibilities of Advent, I’m sharing ten Advent activities for you to consider adopting this season.
1. Good Old St. Nick
December 6th is the feast of St. Nicholas. If you have children, read his story during bedtime on the 5th and have your kids put their shoes outside their doors to be filled with goodies! Some simple and exciting items to possibly include are:
- holy card
- small prayer books
- chocolate gold coins (the traditional gift)
If you don’t have kids, you can still celebrate the feast day. Pray about the spirit of generosity that St. Nicholas carried and ask God how you can bless someone else’s life in the same way. Ideas for taking action could be:
- going through and donating some of your gently used clothes
- volunteering at a soup kitchen
- buying someone the first warm meal they’ve had in a long time
2. Petitions for Baby Jesus
Dig through your Christmas decorations and find either an empty manger or a nativity figure of Baby Jesus. Find a special place for it in your house. If you have a little oratory, that would be the perfect spot! Take some time to write down a list of prayer intentions that are on your heart. When you are finished, place your list in the empty manger or at the feet of Baby Jesus. For the rest of Advent, make those petitions your focus and know that the Infant Jesus is holding them close to His Heart.
3. Roses for Mama
December has two awesome days celebrating Mama Mary that are wonderful opportunities for meaningful Advent activities. December 8th is the feast of the Immaculate Conception (a Holy Day of Obligation) and December 12th is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pick one of those days (or both) and bring roses to place at the state of Our Lady at your parish. If you have children, make it a family activity. Let everyone choose their own flower to give to the Blessed Mother.
4. Music for the Soul
Around this time of year, many city orchestras perform Handel’s Messiah. Look up performance times and grab a ticket. You could even get a group of your friends together and make it a special outing with dinner before or after the show. Handel’s Messiah is a really beautiful way to enrich your soul and prepare your heart for the upcoming birth of Our Lord and Savior.
5. Christmas Card Prayers
The Christmas cards start to arrive around this time. Find a fun way to display the cards as you receive them. Every night at dinner, when you light your Advent wreath candles, pick a Christmas card and pray for that specific family or friend.
6. Care Packages
During Advent, as we prepare our hearts for the greatest Gift ever given, think about the gifts you’ll be giving. But I’m not referencing the ones under the tree. Think about the gifts you can be giving those around you who may feel forgotten, or to someone who challenges you (read: is helping you get to Heaven (wink)). Assemble some care packages for the homeless you pass on the street, bake cookies for your garbage man, or pick out a special ornament for that person in the office who lost a loved one this year. When it comes to the potential generosity of this Advent activity, the options are endless.
7. DIY Wrapping Paper
As part of your Christmas preparation, host a wrapping paper party. Thrilling, right? But seriously! Buy a few rolls of brown and white craft paper and have your guests bring a variety of paints, stamps, or glitter (if you dare). Make a large batch of hot chocolate for everyone to enjoy and listen to your favorite Advent playlist while decorating the wrapping paper for you each to use while preparing your gifts.
8. Pink Candle Week
On Gaudete Sunday (the third Sunday of Advent), the theme is pink! Have fun with it! Buy pink flowers for your home, eat pink donuts after Mass, paint your nails pink, dress in pink, and so on. The main thing to remember is that whatever “pink” you decide to add to your day, do it with great joy and anticipation of Christmas!
9. Feast of St. Lucy
You don’t have to have a Lucy in the family to celebrate this feast day! On December 13th, the Church remembers the saint who lost her eyes and was ultimately martyred for her Faith. Go to Mass and listen for her name in the Eucharistic Liturgy. Then, enjoy a baked sweet in her honor (here’s a recipe for Lucy Bread) as is the tradition in Sweden. In the evening, light a candle and ask for her intercession. Get cozy by the fire and read more about St. Lucy and the many traditions of her feast day.
Advent is a great time to remember those who have passed away, those for whose freedom for Heaven Christ came to earth. During Advent, make a list of the people you know who have died. Bring the list with you to Mass on Christmas Eve and pray that they are now enjoying the Beatific Vision.
Technically this is for “after” Christmas Day, but be sure to celebrate the octave! As Catholics, the Christmas season only just begins on the 25th. If you have little ones, have them place their stockings out each night of the octave and leave little candies or other small gifts inside the stocking for them to find every morning. This simple tradition reminds them (and us!) that the celebration of Christ’s birth continues.
What Advent activities or traditions do you practice? Leave a comment and let us know!
Susana Starbuck is wife of a youth minister and mother to four littles five and under. She lives in Phoenix, AZ and enjoys reading a good book, posting her highlight reel on Instagram, and drinking wine. You can connect with her here.