An invitation to Advent

Sunday, Nov. 29, marks the beginning of Advent. The season of Advent is a time of new beginnings for the Christian Church, as we mark the start of a new liturgical year and wait with anticipation for the arrival of the Christ Child and the union of human and Divine, of heaven and earth. Although the word advent means “coming” or “arrival,” the season of Advent is not celebrated with the fanfare often associated with new beginnings, but instead is a period of preparation as we keep vigil of expectation for what is to come, calling forth our desire and rekindling our sense of hope. (from

Book Ideas

Shadow & Light by Tsh Oxenreider

Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas by Jan Richardson

Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditation for Advent by Fr. Richard Rohr

Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent by Amy-Jill Levine

Children’s Book Ideas

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L’Engle

We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use of the Advent Wreath by Catharine Brandt

Online Resources

The Advent Door with Jan Richardson – Online Retreat for 2020

Advent Word – A Global Advent Calendar – mediations, prayers, podcasts and more

Praying in Color Advent Calendar – Older Children and Adult Coloring for Advent

Coloring Pages for All Ages

Cooking the Christian Year – a taste of the season based on the liturgical calendar

From Faithful Families for Advent & Christmas 

by Traci Smith

A Christmas Story Per Day

This is one of those ideas I’ve seen passed around the internet, and I’m not sure where it came from originally. My family has done this for a couple of years and loved it.

Buy or borrow 24 picture books about the season of Advent, Christmas or winter; wrap them all up; and number them 1-24. Every evening from Dec. 1, to Christmas Eve, unwrap a book and read together. My children have loved the anticipation and excitement of opening the books, even though they are books they have long known and loved.

The joy of the practice is in the surprise and the togetherness, not in the books, so don’t worry too much if you don’t have enough Christmas-themed books. Wrap up any book around your house, and you’ll find the practice to be just as meaningful and fun as if it were a Christmas books.

Creative Night In

Imagination, beauty, and creativity are all spiritual practices that can easily go by the wayside during a busy Advent season. Make it a special point to do something creative as a family without a lot of pressure. Gather together all of the art supplies in your house: paper, glue, markers, crayons, and so forth, and get everyone together for a creative evening in. Make the evening as low-stress as possible by having no rules. Each person is allowed to create whatever they wish Advent-related or no.  You’ll find surprising and delightful creations spring forth!

The Gifts All Around

Help your family think about how the things we use every day can be gifts. Read this short meditation:

When you take a drink of clean water from he water fountain at school, that’s a gift. When you take a deep breath and fill your lungs with fresh air for your body, that’s a gift. When you give or receive gifts all around us, every day. At Christmastime, there is a lot of talk about gifts, but the important thing to know is that gifts, but the important thing to know is that gifts don’t need to be bought in a store and wrapped in a bow. When you are thankful for the things you have, you have all of the gifts you could ever want or need.

After reading it aloud, take some time to identify the gifts all around you.  Make a list. One way to do this practice is a one-time activity where you gather together as a family and see how many gifts you can think of that are hiding in plain sight. Another way to do this is to put a piece of paper on the wall titled The Gifts All Around and add to the list throughout the season.

Spiritual Practices for Ending the Season

Memory Box for the Year to Come

This practice, which was also in my first book Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home, is one of those practices that takes a little bit of effort for a huge memories payoff later. Simply get a box or a jar, and fill it with memories of the year. Write down simple things and include the date: “We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast on March 3.”  You can also put ticket stubs, programs, and other memories from the year in the box or jar. Then next year, on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, take turns pulling out the memories from the box and enjoying them. You can recycle the memories or paste them into a scrapbook to enjoy for future years.