25 November 2014

Advent Ideas {How To Make the Season Holy}

Advent is my favorite liturgical season of the year. The joyful anticipation...excitement...hope...peace. In my family growing up, we had special traditions to help us as kids get ready for Baby Jesus' birthday, which often included a birthday cake on Christmas morning complete with candles and singing. Yup, we were that family.

One of the challenges of Advent for me as I gotten older is how to really celebrate Advent well; to live out the Advent season intentionally and with a proper disposition of heart. In the last few years, I have come to mix my Advent preparations with all the hustle n' bustle of the season.

I tend to not really celebrate Advent (other than lighting the Advent wreath at dinner) because I'm more focused on having the tree up and decorated right away or finishing the shopping/planning.
A lot of bloggers I follow have been talking about the way they celebrate with their families and its been giving me different ideas on how our family can better live out this Advent season.

Here's a sampling of ideas that I'm excited to try out this year:

Holding off on Christmas music...create an Advent play list on Pandora or Spotify
Public Service Announcement friends-I am not not anti-Santa, Jingle Bells, or Frosty the Snowman. I believe Santa and Jesus can happily co-exist together. But I started to realize that Advent and Christmas are actually two separate seasons. Mixing the two can happen so easily you may not even realize it at first. Advent is the four weeks that prepares us for the Christmas season.

So this year, I'm spicing things up and trying to focus on celebrating the season of Advent separately from Christmas. For me, that means holding off on jingle bells and Rudolph and listening to music that helps put me in the right mindset for Advent.
I recently made a play list on Pandora and am actually surprised how good it is! It includes all types of chant, traditional carols, and simple music to help focus my heart.
Once Christmas comes I'll be jingle bell rocking around with the rest of you...but I'm curious to try out this musical Advent experiment.

What to do with all those Christmas cards? Pray for a different family each night at dinner!
Everybody always seems to get an endless stream of Christmas cards during the month of December and early January. A few years back I read somewhere of the tradition of each night a new card is received, to spend a few minutes at dinner praying specifically for that family and their needs. After a family has been prayed for, then you can display the card with the rest.
Looking forward t adding this to the nightly lighting of our Advent wreath before having dinner!

Be intentional with using an Advent devotional

Obviously reading Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ is a grand place to start, but sometimes ya just need something else to help you stay engaged and focused. Last year I used this Advent devotional from Ann Voskamp and really really enjoyed it!! This year, I'll be using it again as well as an Advent devotional from Blessed Is She. Clearly, I was pretty stoked to see my copy come in the mail.

The devotional from BIS has all the daily readings for Mass + journal questions to prompt deeper thought and prayer + spacious room to write away your thoughts. You can order your Advent devo HERE and do so quickly...they are very near to selling out!!!
Whether its one of these two, or another one completely different, find some kind of devotional to use in the coming weeks of Advent.

Decorate your home for Advent
This one I have come to hear more about in the past few years. In my family growing up, we didn't really decorate for Advent. Our tree went up the day after Christmas, which was always a loud, joyful event in our home and holiday merriment started right after Turkey day. I still love the fun of putting up our tree right away, so we have more time to enjoy it, but in wanting to better celebrate Advent I want to decorate our home to reflect that.

So how does one decorate in a simple way for Advent? Well for starters an Advent wreath on the kitchen table is how we roll. I also have a small manger crib with a separate Baby Jesus I bought when I went to Assisi. I usually leave the crib empty out in a visible place (maybe the coffee table) as a reminder Jesus has not yet come, but we're excitedly waiting. On Christmas Eve, when Jim and I come home from church Jesus makes his grand entrance into his wee little crib.

Other ideas could include: setting out a Nativity display but keeping it empty till Christmas (even move the wise men around the living room showing them traveling to Bethlehem!), use the color purple in creating a simple banner to hang, and set out simple religious pieces to draw your mind to the reason for the season.
This year I want to hold off on certain decorations to put out until Christmas and have more simple decor out for Advent.

Crazy to think Advent starts this Sunday...hope your season is full of joy and peace!

What would you add to the list? How do you celebrate Advent in your home?


  1. Great post, Patty. I've been trying to be more intentional about Advent in recent years, too. Praying your Thanksgiving & Advent are very blessed...

  2. I love your ideas! What song did you start with to do your Advent Pandora play list? I was trying to do it the other day but it didn't really work. We have several Advent traditions at our house but I really needed fresh ideas. I didn't know Ann had an Advent devotional. I'm definitely getting that! Thanks for this post. <3

  3. Have you read "A Child In Winter" ? I hear that is a good one too. I think I have it on my shelf somewhere, LOL. I see that Ann also has a family Advent Devotional. I'm ordering that as well.


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