Advent starts on Sunday! It is one of my very favorite church seasons, and yet one so difficult to celebrate properly. While the entire secular world is singing Christmas carols and decking the halls in a frenzy, we are called to WAIT. To slow down. To breathe. To hold off on the celebration and to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. Not only as a little child who brought salvation to mankind, but as the Prince of Peace for whose second coming we should all be prepared.
It is a difficult season for families trying to live their faith while also living in the world. The joy of Christmas is so infectious that it is difficult to ignore the secular trappings in favor of a “little Lent”. The way our family compromises is by making our Advent as meaningful and liturgically appropriate as possible, while still indulging in small amounts of Christmas fun. As we have learned more and more about the rich traditions the church has surrounding the feast days and customs of Advent, it has gotten easier and easier. There are so many wonderful devotions and traditions for Advent! I’ve tried to share as many of the “major” ones as possible below (other than feast day fun which will be a separate post). If you are having trouble keeping track of everything, might I suggest using this Advent Checklist from Joy Filled Family. This printable calendar from Family Feast and Feria is also a great way to keep track of feast days.
If this seems completely overwhelming to you, then by all means, hold off! Again, the purpose of Advent is to focus on Christ. For me, these activities help me reach this goal. For you, they may not! If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed, then focus on Jesus in a way that works for you!
The Advent Wreath is an old Germanic tradition that pairs an evergreen wreath with a set of 5 candles – one for each Sunday of Advent and the Christ candle, which is lit on Christmas. Read more about it at Catholic Culture.
Advent Wreath Art with Removable Flames @ Catholic Inspired
Paper Advent Wreath @ Catholic Inspired
Printable Advent Wreath w/ Words on Candles @ Look to Him and Be Radiant
Last Minute Super Cheap Non Drip Daily Use Advent Wreath @ Catholic All Year (Very bottom of post)
Kid Friendly Washi Tape Advent Wreath @ Happy Little Homemaker
Perler Bead Advent Wreath @ Catholic Playground
Salvation History with the Advent Wreath @ Familly Feast and Feria
Suspended Advent Wreath @ Family Feast and Feria
Advent Wreath Ceremony and Prayers Printable @ Family Feast and Feria
Advent Wreath Coloring Page @ The Catholic Toolbox
Pipe Cleaner Advent Wreath @ Catholic Icing
Advent Wreath Mini Book @ The Catholic Toolbox
Advent Wreath Nail Art @ Catholic Playground
A Jesse Tree is a traditional devotional that counts down the days of Advent by reading a different story from scripture each day starting chronologically with Creation and ending in the birth of Jesus. I have only included simple options that allow for fairly quick set-up as opposed to those that require more effort such as felt options. Read more about the Jesse Tree @ Catholic Culture.
Online Jesse Tree @ Catholic Culture
Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments to Color @ Catholic Inspired
30 Jesse Tree Ornaments to Print and Color @ Do Small Things with Love
Magnetic Jesse Tree @ Homeschool Is Where the Heart Is
Catholic Jesse Tree Coins @ Catholic Cuisine
A Jesse Tea for Advent @ Catholic Cuisine
A Jesse Tree Printable Calendar Tree @ Paper Dali ($)
Jesse Tree Unit Study @ Harrington Harmonies (Note – starts Dec. 1 – not Nov. 29)
There are many ways, outside of a Jesse Tree to countdown the days of Advent. I did not include any non-Catholic sources such as chocolate or lego Advent calendars. Those are easy to come by and I wanted to make sure to encourage the use of more meaningful options.
Advent Countdown and Prayer Chains @ Catholic Inspired
Mary and Joseph Countdown @ Catholic Inspired
Advent Prayer Ring @ Look to Him and Be Radiant
Service Advent Chain @ Homeschool is Where the Heart Is
Bible Verse Advent Chain @ Catholic Playground
My Little Advent Reflection Cards @ Family Feast and Feria
Advent Calendar Coloring Page @ Audrey Eclectic Folk Art
The O Antiphons are an old tradition from Dec. 17th-24th, which recall the prophecies of Jesus through his many titles. I’ve also listed activities for the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” since the song ties in perfectly to the O Antiphons. Read more about it at Catholic Culture.
O Antiphon Snacks @ Catholic Cuisine
O Antiphon Ideas @ Catholic Icing
O Antiphon Coloring Pages @ Michelle Quiqley
O Come Emmanuel Hymn Printout @ Family Feast and Feria
O Antiphons Ornament Printable @ Life, Love, and Sacred Art
O Antiphon House @ Catholic Culture
O Come O Come Emmanuel Coloring Page @ Real Life at Home
Preparing the Manger
This is an Advent custom in which families place pieces of straw in an empty nativity cradle in order to prepare it to hold Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. The straw is typically placed when the family member performs a good deed. Read more about it at Catholic Culture.
Good Deeds and Sacrifices for Baby Jesus @ Catholic Icing
Preparing Our Hearts @ Small Things
Straw for the Manger Poem Printable @ Small Fine Print
Popsicle Stick Manger @ Craft Out
Manger Printable @ Sunday School Kids
Baby Jesus in the Manger @ Catholic Inspired
A “secret Santa” style tradition in which instead of buying gifts, you choose a family member for whom to do kind deeds.
Advent Buddies @ Catholic Playground
Christkindl Prayer Chart @ Joy Filled Family
Christkindl Prayer Cards @ Memories of a Catholic Wife and Mother
Secret Jesus @ Catholic Inspired
St. Andrew Christmas Novena
This novena begins on the Feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) and is repeated 15 times each day until Christmas.
St. Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer Card @ Catholic Playground
St. Andrew Christmas Novena Printable @
Christmas Novena Chaplet @ Joy Filled Family
Advent Tree @ Catholic Inspired
Advent Music and Video Playlist @ Look to Him and be Radiant
Magnetic Advent Devotions @ Homeschool is Where the Heart Is
Liturgical New Year’s Eve @ Catholic Cuisine
These great links provide ways to teach your children (and yourself!) a bit more about the Advent season.
Printable Advent Pack @ Raising and Teaching Little Saints
Pre-K Advent Lesson @ The Catholic Toolbox
Advent Activity Pack @ Life, Love, and Sacred Art
Seeking Our Savior Old Testament Scavenger Hunt @ Look to Him and be Radiant
Advent Jeopardy Game @ Look to Him and Be Radiant
What Advent Looks Like Coloring Page @ Look to Him and Be Radiant
Thanks for reading!