Don't forget, we are in the midst of our Family Advent Devotional series! If you're new here, make sure to look back through the blog for the last couple weeks to see the advent liturgies for weeks 1 and 2. If you like what you see, make sure to subscribe by entering your email address in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page. I'll send you a link to download a free printable PDF version of the whole series!
Do you ever feel like the season of advent just comes and goes, and by the time you realize it's advent it's too late to do anything about it? I can tend to get pretty overwhelmed by advent idea lists that involve wrapping a gift every day, doing a little craft every day, having some special food every day...just about anything I have to do "every day" makes me want to turn and run! (If you are one of those people who loves all that, great! Way to go!) Well, I'd like to give you a few really simple ideas here for bringing a spirit of advent into your your home with very little effort. Sometimes even just taking a couple small steps is enough for me to be mindful of the atmosphere I am fostering in my home.
1. Begin an advent wreath tradition.
If you've been reading the blog at all lately, you'll know that I've put together some really short and simple advent devotions for families. They only take about 15 minutes, once a week, but the advent wreath stays on your table through all of the season as a constant reminder of the meaning of advent. The PDF of the devotional includes super easy directions for making an advent wreath like ours. But really, you don't need a tutorial! I have seen some homes where they simply line up 4 shorter pillar candles with one taller one in the middle, on a mantle, windowsill, table...anywhere you have room to leave it set up.
There is also a wealth of ideas online for advent devotions. If you're already feeling overwhelmed by the busy-ness of the season, I would recommend keeping it really simple. Pick one that just has a lesson or devotion once a week, put it on your calendar, and be faithful about it. There is also not an "advent police." If you're late to the game and just getting started (since we are a few weeks into advent already!), just work through the series a little faster to get caught up.
2. Use essential oils and a diffuser to cheer your home.
I love using essential oils as fragrance in my home. They are so much more subtle and natural than most scented candles (although I do really enjoy our evergreen scented candle we're using right now for morning time!) Using a certain blend of oils during the season of advent that you don't use at any other time of the year can help make lasting memories for you and your family. There are certain scents that remind me of specific times and places in my life: roast beef is my grandma's house for Sunday dinner, bacon and fire smoke is camping with our kids. And I've decided that frankincense, spices, and citrus is going to be our family's Advent/Christmas aroma. I love the oils from Mountain Rose Herbs (affordable and high quality), and this diffuser because it's nearly impossible to tip over.
3. Include words for advent in your home decor.
When you place words in your home with intention, in places where you can see them often, they can be more than just cute home decor, but reminders of where our focus should be this time of year! Ok, "joy" should be a main focus all year round, but...you get the idea!
I got these great little wood cutouts last year at our local Meijer store!
4. Wear something purple.
Purple is the liturgical color for the advent season (in most denominations!) It is also the color for Lent. Wearing purple reminds us both of Jesus's royalty as the King of Kings, and His sacrifice.
I was going to take a picture of something purple in my wardrobe for the post but...I don't have anything! Apparently I don't enjoy wearing purple all that much. But I think the idea of wearing something purple every day could be a really nice, subtle reminder of the season. I came across this idea and I think I might try to make one soon, since it looks so easy.
5. Read an advent-inspired poem together.
This year we have chosen to read "The House of Christmas" by G.K. Chesterton. It's really lovely. This doesn't have to be complicated; just sit down together and read the poem every few days. I have asked my oldest 2 kids to work on memorizing it, but it's not necessary, especially if you are already working on other memory work. I decided to simplify our morning time for the month of December and replace our usual poetry memory work with a Christmas poem!
6. Save your biggest celebration for Christmas Eve and afterward.
Does that strike you as a little strange? It did at first to me. The month of December always gets filled up with Christmas parties, Christmas baking, Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, and still...it's not Christmas yet! I understand that it's impossible to avoid every inkling of Christmas celebration before Christmas, unless you go hide under a rock from Halloween until December 25. But what you can do is make some changes in your own attitude (and planning) to create a sense of anticipation leading up to Christmas day and beyond. I know that our family always experiences some "party's over syndrome" at the end of Christmas day. All the fun and parties are already over, decorations are coming down soon, and we're left vacuuming pine needles for days. We're hoping to change that this year by saving our best celebrating (at least at home) for Christmas Eve and beyond! Here are a few examples of how you could do this:
-break with tradition and hold off on doing your Christmas baking until after Christmas. You can still give goodies as gifts! You could just include a little note explaining why you have chosen to wait.
-take advantage of being on school break to snuggle up together, drink hot cocoa, and read Christmas books together (find some great choices here!). Other than that, give yourself and your kids a true break from school work!
-Throw a really special midnight party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. We are going to attempt this this year. Christmas Eve is really busy for us, with an evening church service and our annual extended family Christmas party (which we wouldn't miss for anything!) But with a little planning I believe we can make this happen. I'm thinking white linens, our best serving pieces, fancy hors d'ouevres, the whole nine yards. At that time we will also light our final candle in our advent wreath, the Christ candle.
-put up your Christmas tree a little later in December and leave it up until Epiphany .
-Add a special ornament or decoration to your Christmas tree on the night of Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
I hope these ideas will help you to cultivate an advent spirit in your home, while at the same time helping you to resist the stressful aspects of the season that can so easily invade our lives! I believe Christmas should be celebrated to the very best your means will allow-after all, the birth of Jesus is the greatest gift the entire world has ever known.
For more great thoughts and ideas for advent and Christmas, check out the Schole Sisters Podcast Episode 16: Don't Be the White Witch!
Praying God's grace and peace to all of you this advent season.
Take the next step: leave a comment or question about your advent ideas below!
How does your family celebrate advent?
Do you tend to see the "party's over syndrome" happening in your home after Christmas day?
What are some ways you intend to fully celebrate Christmas this year?