Sunday marks the beginning of Advent in the Christian church. This is the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ. These past few years Advent has meant so much to me, the acknowledgment of the dark world and the looking forward to the light, the promise of what’s to come.
I think there are a lot of ways to recognize Advent in your life. And if you aren’t particularly religious, you can count down to the first day of winter (December 21st!) as it means that after that each day will get brighter and brighter (absolutely worth celebrating!). Or you could make it a countdown for the whole month and celebrate the end of the year.
Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be something monumental. A few moments a day set aside to contemplate whatever it is you choose to contemplate can be very powerful. Here are some easy ideas to get you going!
a daily devotional There are some great books out there that walk you through Advent. I am going to be using In the Bleak Midwinter: Advent and Christmas with Christina Rossetti and I’m very excited about it! You could also just choose to read scripture every morning or take part in morning prayer, either on your own or with a podcast or online church service.
morning pages Get yourself a journal and a pen and put it by your bed. Every morning take the time to write. Here is an article about the practice of morning pages, but you could absolutely make it whatever you want. Or even do it before bed! Journal, write a gratitude list everyday, whatever you want.
poetry Get yourself a poetry book, an anthology or works by one writer, and sit everyday and just read one poem.
self care cards grab a set of notecards and write down one simple self care activity on each one. Then pull one out every day and do what’s on the card! Some ideas are- soak in the tub, paint your nails, put on a fancy face mask, call and talk on the phone (no texting or zoom!) with a good friend, turn off your phone and read a book, make popcorn and watch a cheesy movie you love, whatever small things that fill you up that maybe you don’t make time for during the week!
celebrate with a friend either plan with a friend or just surprise people in your life. Venmo them coffee money, send them a card, drop off cupcakes from a local bakery on their front door. And if doing it every day is too much, pick every other or a set number of days on your calendar.
simple chocolate calendar Don’t knock the simple chocolate calendars in the grocery store! Get yourself one and just enjoy the 5 minutes a day to open it and savor something totally for yourself. Get your pets one too! Get the wine ones! Whatever, they’re all just as great as the ones you had when you were a kid!
With a partner
make each other advent calendars Divide the countdown in half (so 12 an 12 for a traditional Advent calendar) and gift each other little treats throughout the month. I’m actually doing this with a friend, and while it takes a bit more planning up front, it has not been difficult to put together.
read something together Pick an audio book to listen to together or choose a book you’ve both been wanting to read and spend time every day reading it. Even more fun if there’s a movie version and when you’re finished you can watch it and tell each other how much better the book was- ha!
make a list of holiday movies to watch together For September and October Chris and I watched scary movies every weekend. It was really fun and especially with us all being home for so long, watching all the Netflix, it was a fun way to get excited about something to watch. Pick a theme and look forward to snuggling up on the couch together.
write each other 12 love notes each Alternate leaving each other love notes throughout the month. You’ve probably spent more time with your partner this year than ever before. Doing something together for Advent could be a nice way to break up the monotony of being home all the time or a good reminder of why you wanted to be together in the first place!
Book calendar This is one of my favorite traditions! I wrap up 24 books and each day the kids open one and we snuggle up together and read. When I first started, I checked out a bunch of books, but after quite a few years of doing this I have managed to collect more than enough books. I love when they get excited about an old favorite and every now and then I surprise them with something new. Last year I just pulled out a book a day since we were packing and getting ready to move and it was still a lot of fun! I don’t really pre plan books unless I want to. This year I’ll make sure St. Nicholas is on the 6th and The Night Before Christmas is on Christmas Eve! In year’s past I’ve wrapped Polar Express when we went on a train and Nutcracker books around seeing or dancing in the Nutcracker.
fill the box I saw this idea on pinterest and thought it was brilliant. Print off a list of needs from a local food bank and get a big box. Then every day your family fills the box with one of the items (or multiples of that item) in the box. At the end you have a sizable donation to drop off and there can be a lot of meaningful conversations and thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas.
paper chain Cut out 24 strips of paper and tape them together in a chain. Hang the chain somewhere everyone can see and take turns tearing off a chain every day. So easy and simple and I guarantee your kids will love it.
individual toy calendars I get made fun of for this but I get each kid a toy calendar. Legos, squishies, Harry Potter big head things, I don’t care. They each get one and they pay for themselves on those mornings late in the month when they are so excited and you are tired and they open it up and play for at least 30 minutes with whatever was in there. It’s fun, no work after you buy it, and it will make sure you get to drink your coffee hot throughout the month of December.
family devotional I have a couple of books that I’ve used before, I’m not sure that we’ll do it this year (see book calendar and individual calendars) but it’s lovely to all sit down and read a devotional together. You can also save this for just the four Sundays in Advent, especially right now when we can’t physically be in church. Lighting a candle together and reflecting on the story of the week would be a nice way to celebrate and prepare for Christmas.
cards with fun ideas to pull Get 24 index cards and put something fun on each one. They don’t have to be big! Make them things you already have supplies for or can easily do any night of the week. Make cocoa, decorate the Christmas tree, color cards to send to a retirement home, make cookies, play games, have a dance party. Plan them out or let your kids draw one every day. Even with something as simple as make cocoa, it will force your family to slow down and be intentional about spending time together.
read A Christmas Carol together I started reading this every year when the twins were little and last year I started reading it as our read aloud during December. This book is perfect. Absolutely perfect. And no, they won’t understand every single bit, but they will understand. And when you’re done watch A Muppet Christmas Carol and feel the spirit of Christmas!
Do you countdown in some kind of meaningful way through the month of December? Tell me about what you do!