For most of us, growing up, Advent was something more liturgical denominations celebrated. Those denominations reserved the practice of Advent for Sunday services; it wasn’t been a centerpiece in our homes.
Until recently. Our generation is determined for our lives to mean something!
We are all about those red cups filled with our favorite holiday coffee, twinkle lights hung up, ugly sweater or white elephant gift parties, and red Essie nail polish. We line up for Black Friday and log in for Cyber Monday. We aren’t one those people that cringe if someone says “Happy Holidays” or thinks Santa is just satan spelled wrong. We realize those things don’t matter. What matters is celebrating Jesus’ coming.
Even though we want our Christmas to mean something, we still find ourselves at the Christmas Eve Service holding our candles singing “Silent Night” and thinking: I missed Him, I missed Jesus this Christmas. Guilt ensues and plans are made to do it different next year. Then the New Year hits and life takes place and we repeat this cycle.
Not this year.
For me that year was 5 years ago when I had enough. I wanted it to mean more for me and for my family. A few of these tips are things I’ve learned the past few years.
Slow and Steady wins the race. I was super overwhelmed by Advent. A simple Google and Pinterest search left me with about 3,983,207 things to implement. I wasn’t sure where to land. So each year I add a few things to what we do, some work and some are major fails. Keep trying. Pick a few things this year and implement them. Next year add a few more. Remember there isn’t a right way to do Advent, find your way.
Practice Advent Candles. This is one of my most favorite parts about Advent. The same magical feel you get when you finally put up the tree and plug it in for the first time will come when you light those candles.
How it works: Get 5 candles. Each Sunday, starting on November 29, you light a candle, finally lighting the last one on Christmas day. This prepares your heart and is a constant reminder that Jesus, the Light of the World, is coming!
Focus Your Heart and Get an Advent Study. We can get in to the bucket lists and service projects and pretty printables, but still miss Jesus. If you have kids, you can become so obsessed with teaching them about the real meaning of Christmas that you haven’t really connected with Him yourself. There are lots of options out there, I’d recommend asking friends which ones they’ve done and liked.
I would SO love for you to do the Sacred Holidays Advent Study—The Gift in You: Seek the Light & Finding Your Purpose. Use promo code SPARROW10 at check out to receive 10% off your entire order from the Sacred Holidays Advent Shop (link: http://www.sacredholidays.com/shop/).
Reign in the Gift Giving. This has gotten OUT OF CONTROL. Giving is good. I’m not saying don’t give. I think giving gifts are a sweet part of Christmas as it reminds us that Jesus came to give us the gift of Himself and His grace. We give because He gives. With that said, we all need to calm down on the amount of gifts under our tree. The gifts are fun but they shouldn’t be the focus, and they certainly shouldn’t put you into debt or cause stress.
Create an Advent Bucket List. This will be extra fun if you do it with your co-workers, roommates or family. Sacred Holidays has a Bucket List in our Advent Extras but you can also find ideas on Pinterest! Make your list geared towards others and serving. Try to do one item a day. Implementing this will keep your focus on what matters and less on the crazy to do list and jammed up calendar.
Use a Jesse Tree or Other Ornaments. The Jesse Tree is a popular thing to do with children, but can be done with adults as well. Google it as there are about a million resources out there. I’ve done this a couple of years and not a couple of others (and will probably keep this cycle to mix things up). Last year we had a “Jesus Gives Good Things Tree,” for lack of a better word. We do this at Easter and I wanted to do it at Christmas too. I bought little hanging chalkboards and we (my family) would write different things that we saw Jesus give or do that day.
I hope these tips help! Would love for you to follow along on our Sacred Holidays journey for encouragement and more ideas: www.sacredholidays. All of our social media links are on the website. Remember you get 10% off your order by using SPARROW10 at check out.