Happy Advent Friends! Advent truly is one of my favorite liturgical seasons. Over the past few years how I view and celebrate Advent in our home has changed. In our culture there seems to be little value in waiting and delaying gratification. It feels like the Christmas season starts on November first and ends abruptly on December 25th. I remember when I first started to feel a pull to slow down, be still and enter into Advent more prayerfully I felt very resistive. I didn’t want to give up all the festivities or miss out! But what I have found is that by truly anticipating the birth of Christ during Advent I am all the more ready to celebrate the season of Christmas. It takes some intention and patience, but now I truly enjoy celebrating Advent and the Christmas Season in turn.
This does not mean that there is a ban on all things Christmas in my house until December 25! I’m not a Grinch! I just want to make sure our December days aren’t so jam packed that we miss this beautiful opportunity to prepare room for Christ in our hearts!
I want to share some of the ways that we enjoy celebrating Advent in our home. These are things that I have found work for me and my family. I share my ideas because I love hearing what other families do, and collecting ideas and inspiration from other Mamas, but I always worry a little when I share ideas, because I do not want to add to the noise and pressure of the season. I have learned that, for me to have a truly fruitful Advent I can’t try to do ALL THE THINGS. I do not think that the recipe for a good Advent is to try to ADD in a bunch of things on top of what we are already doing. I think it is important to take stock of what your December looks like and prayerfully discern what you might be able let go of, and what you might want to intentionally add. Ultimately the purpose of the season is to grow closer to Christ…not check all the boxes! Over the past couple of years I have let go of a few things that I used to do, embraced a few new traditions and practices, and changed when we do some traditions. By embracing Advent as a season of waiting I have naturally started to see Christmas as more than just a day. Shifting my perspective on Christmas has been very freeing. I no longer feel the pressure to squeeze all our favorite Christmas traditions into December. We can watch movies, back cookies and enjoy our decorations all the way until Epiphany!
Creating an Atmosphere
Decorating our home for Advent is one of the ways that we celebrate the season. This practice really helps keep me grounded in the season of Advent. I have found that adding reminders of Advent throughout our home helps to draw me more deeply into the season. I realize for some people thinking of decorating for Advent and then Christmas is a little overwhelming. I get that. For the most part my Advent decorations are a simple swap for Christmas decorations later in the season.
Here are a few simple ways I decorate for Advent:
- Nativity Scene– If you have a nativity this is a great way to decorate for Advent. Placing it out without baby Jesus can be a great reminder that we are waiting for Jesus.
- Advent Wreath– The Advent wreath can be a great decoration as well as a wonderful Advent practice. There are tons of options to choose from. I made a simple one with a wood disc, candles, greenery and peg dolls. Find one that fits your style and budget.
- Touches of purple– Purple in the color of the season so I like to use purple candles and table linens. I’ve also set out cheap purple ball ornaments in jars before.
- Art and Prints– I love THIS print of the journey to Bethlehem from Jen Olson Illustration. I leave it up for Advent and then swap it for an image with baby Jesus for the Christmas season. I also love to create printables to display with words or phrases that I am drawn to for the season. You can download this years prints below. You can trim them and put them in a frame, tape them to a mirror or above your kitchen sink for a reminder of the season.
- Lights and Candles– I love the soft twinkle of lights and candles in the early morning and evening hours of Advent. We usually put our tree up early in Advent, but wait to make it festive until later in the season. I think the bare tree is a beautiful reminder of the joy that is to come later in the season.
Music is another way I like to set the tone for Advent in our home. I love my Advent playlist. It is softer and more subdued than a lot of Christmas music, with a focus on longing and waiting for Jesus.
HERE is my spotify playlist if you want to check it out.
Traditions & Practices
We have a few go-to Advent traditions that I really look forward to. It is so tempting to want to do a BUNCH of things so I have to work hard to pick and choose what we add to our weeks. Here are a few things that make the cut:
- Advent Wreath– We do a devotion each Sunday with our Advent wreath, and also try to light it for our evening meal if we are all eating together.
- Jesse Tree– This is a tradition from my childhood that we continue to do in our home. We have a read a scripture reading and place a corresponding ornament on the Jesse Tree. HERE is a link for free printable ornaments from Catholic Icing.
- Advent Meal Prayer– This is an easy swap if you are already in the habit of doing a meal blessing. I have a printable for the one we use linked below.
- Advent Devotions– If you are already in the habit of using a devotional switching to an Advent devotional can be an easy way to focus on the season. If you are interested in an advent devotion Dynamic Catholic has a free program with reflections emailed daily. You can sign up HERE.
- Prayer & Fasting– Advent doesn’t feel like a penitential season, but it actually is. I have not really embraced this part of Advent in the past, but I am looking for small ways to practice self-denial this season. I think this is definitely counter cultural so it is going to stretch me a little bit. I also plan to try an add a weekly family adoration session. I hope this will be a beautiful way to add some prayer and adoration into our life in preparation for the Lord’s coming.
- Giving/Serving– We try to be intentional about giving and serving more during Advent. There are usually lots of opportunities like angel trees and food drives. We try to pick one thing for each week of Advent.
I like this YouTube video with Fr Columba Jordan that explains a little bit about the penitential side of Advent, if you want to learn a little more.
Here are some Advent prayer and display cards you can download.
I pray you have a beautiful Advent season! What are some of your favorite ways to prepare your heart and home for Advent? I would love to hear!