Ideas for Advent
Making Advent Visible at Home
Here are some ideas to bring Advent into your home. Whether you live with others or alone, there are suggestions here for you! Many of the ideas we share come from Traci Smith’s new book Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas.
In the introduction to this book, Traci emphasizes that “one of the remedies for making long days count is a deliberate focus on ritual to mark the moments. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes in the midst of ordinary life to slow down and say, ‘this day will not pass by unnoticed.'” She also points out that holy moments cannot be forced, and often come as a gift. So instead of trying to complete this list of activities, focus on letting ideas come naturally from your life. Allow yourself to be led by the Spirit present each moment to show you surprising connections between yourself and God.
Idea #1 – Have an Advent Wreath
We usually share the lighting of the Advent candles together in worship. This year, consider having an Advent wreath to light each Sunday in worship and throughout the week with those in your home. Here are some simple ones we recommend:
Idea #2 – Sunday Lighting of the Advent Wreath
Advent Wreath Liturgy – by Traci Smith
Many Protestant and Roman Catholic churches use Advent wreaths to make the passing of the four weeks in Advent. The candles are lit, one additional one per week, for four weeks. On Christmas Eve, a fifth candle is lit to represent Christ, the light of the world. The first week represents hope; the second, peace; the third, joy; the fourth, love. On Sunday evening, after dinner, sit around the table with your dessert and candles and go through the simple routine of lighting the candle, discussing the Advent value of that week and ending with prayer.
Week 1: Hope
Light: Today we light the candle of hope.
Read (optional) : Psalm 25:4-5
Discuss: What does it mean to have hope? What do you think about when you hear the word hope? How can we share hope with others?
Pray: God, we thank you for giving us hope. Help us to have hope and to share hope as we wait for Jesus to be born. Amen.
Week 2: Peace
Light: Today we light the candle of hope and the candle of peace.
Read (optional) : John 14:25-27
Discuss: What does it mean to have peace in your heart? How can we share peace in our family and in the world?
Pray: God, please help us to understand peace and to share it with others. We wait for Jesus to be born with hope and peace. Amen.
Week 3: Joy
Light: Today we light the candles of hope, peace and joy.
Read (optional) : Philippians 4:4-6
Discuss: What does it mean to rejoice? How is joy the same or different from happiness? How can we share joy with others?
Pray: God, we thank you for the gift of joy. Help us to share it with one another. We wait for Jesus with hope, peace, and joy. Amen.
Week 4: Love
Light: Today we light the candles of hope, peace, joy and love.
Read (optional): 1 John 4:7-12
Discuss: When have you felt or seen God’s love? How can we show God’s love to the world?
Pray: God, thank you for showing us what true love is. Help us to love you and to love one another. We wait for Jesus with hope, peace, joy and love. Amen.
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day: The Christ Candle
Light: Today we light the candles of hope, peace, joy and love, and we light the center candle for the birth of Jesus.
Read (optional) : Luke 2:1-16
Discuss: The day we have been waiting for is here! How does it feel to celebrate the birth of Jesus today? What does the birth of Jesus mean to you?
Pray: God, today we are thankful for the birth of your son, Jesus, and for the lessons he teaches us about how to love one another. Help us throughout the year to share hope, peace, joy and love wherever we go. Amen.
Idea #3 – Prayers and Blessings for Decorating
by Traci Smith
Christmas Tree Blessing
God who created all things, bless this tree as we decorate it and make it a joyful symbol for our home. May its branches remind us of the shelter and shade you provide for us and for many creatures. May its trunk remind us of your strength. May its lights bring us peace. May we remember your gift to us this season, the gift of baby Jesus, Amen.
Putting the Angel or Star on Top of the Tree
Angel: As we put the angel on top of the tree, we remember the angels in the Bible who say, “Do not be afraid!” May we be reminded of the modern-day angels who tell us the same thing and who watch over us all night and all day.
Star: The stars in the Bible shine light and show the way to Jesus. So, too, may this star shine brightly on our tree, reminding us that Jesus can light our path.
For Hanging Stockings
We hang up our stockings, empty, knowing that they’ll later be filled with treats and treasures. May these stockings also remind us of the warmth of family, the joy of being with others, and the truest Christmas treasures of all: hope and peace, joy and love. Help us to share these treasures with others.
When We Take the Decorations Down
We put the decorations up to remember a special season.
We take them down and remember this special time.
We put things away gently and look forward to taking them out again next year.
Next year they will be new again.
Next year they will be waiting for us.
Next year they will bring us joy and happiness.
Idea #4 – Hot Chocolate Gratitude Party
Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. Fix steaming mugs of hot chocolate and take turns practicing gratitude while the chocolate cools. Each person shares their gratitude until everyone has had a turn. End by saying, “Thank you, God, for these gifts. Amen.”
Idea #5 – Looking Back and Looking Forward
Take time after Christmas Day to create a meaningful transition between the Christmas season and the new year. A year end review can guide family reflection.
Reflect on the year that has just passed:
- What are three memories from last year that make you smile?
- What are three things you are grateful for that happened last year?
- Draw a picture of a happy memory from this year.
Reflect on the year to come:
- What new thing would you like to do this year?
- What skill or habit would you like to work on this year? (What are your goals?)
- How can we show kindness to others in the year to come?
Consider making a video recording of the family answers to be a time capsule to review the following year.
Traci Smith’s book has more ideas for celebrating the small moments with rituals for faithful living.
You can buy it at one of our local bookstores or on Amazon here