Parenting

How to Keep Advent Sacred

how to keep advent sacred

Another Christmas season is approaching us so quickly! Usually that means we’re inundated and easily overwhelmed by all of the ways that we can keep Advent and Christmas in our homes.

From the Jesse Tree ornaments or O Antiphons to decorating after Thanksgiving or right before Christmas, there are so many ways you can bring Christ into your home during this season. And let us be the first to tell you that there is no right way. The best way is the one that supports your family culture and reminds you and your children of the reason for the season.

With that in mind, we asked our team what their favorite gifts and traditions are and they came back with many wonderful and fun ideas. So if you’re looking for some fresh ideas, read on! If not, you can jump to the bottom to check out our recommended Catholic gifts for the whole family.

 

What’s the Deal With Advent?

Our culture seems to skip Thanksgiving and Advent entirely. Come November 1st and suddenly, everywhere you look are Christmas lights, shopping deals and Pinterest-perfect home decor.

But there is a certain beauty that we miss in the longing and waiting for the coming of Christ at Christmas when we gloss over that time.

Advent is a time for penance, like a mini Lent, skillfully placed before Christmas to remind us of the end times. This is a time for us to remember our own mortality, to prepare ourselves to meet Christ both in the coming of Christmas as well as on Judgement Day.

This might seem strange – shouldn’t we save these thoughts of penance and judgment for Lent? Sure, those themes belong there! They should always be in our minds in some way. But in a special way, the Church asks us to recall fasting, penance and preparation during Advent so we can be prepared to welcome Jesus into our hearts and homes at Christmas.

 

How We Keep Advent

Our team had so many great ideas when it came to Advent! Many are about celebrating the multitude of feast days that are dotted throughout these short weeks. But there are also a few more penitential ideas too! Ideally, we would treat this season like a mini Lent, with prayer, fasting and good works. Our team had some great ideas for each!

First, we recommend a beloved prayerful practice – the St. Andrew Novena. Even though “novena” means “nine days prayer”, this prayer is recited 15 times from St. Andrew’s feast day through Christmas Day for a specific intention. This is a powerful prayer to a great intercessor. We recommend praying this one as a family throughout the day. One idea on keeping track of them is to create a St. Therese bead strand and hang it on your fridge with the prayer so you remember to pray it every time you walk into the kitchen!

Next is fasting. We love the idea of fasting but always want to pair it with good works. When we fast, we create space in our life for things that are better than the things we’re giving up. Space is a great thing, especially for busy families, but we can easily fill some of that space with good habits.

One of our favorite ways to incorporate prayer, fasting and good works is to use a Christ child’s manager. The idea is that throughout Advent, as a family, we intentionally choose to make sacrifices for baby Jesus. When we do, we put a piece of straw or dried grass in the manager. You’ll want to give your children some ideas of what they can do. Maybe even stress doing small things for each other in secret, while offering those little things up to baby Jesus. This is a great way to build your family culture while preparing your hearts for Christmas!

You can read more about these and other ideas on preparing for Christmas in our Advent book, available on our website.

 

Our Favorite Gifts

When it comes to Christmas gifts, homemade is always going to beat out store bought in our books. But that isn’t always possible for everyone, especially for large families with young kids. So we’ve put together a short list of some of our favorite Catholic shops and products for you to reference when doing your shopping.

**Some listings contain affiliate links that support our ministry at no cost to you.

For the kids:

We love Catholic Family Crate! We love the ways that they help their customers build an authentic family culture in their homes. In fact, we like their products so much that we’ve included them in our Advent gift boxes this year! A favorite of ours is definitely their Pray by Sticker book, which is perfect for your elementary aged children!

For the youngest in the family, we love to recommend Shining Light Dolls and ChewsLife. Both are wonderful pro-life companies with completely adorable products.

For moms and young women:

Whether you’re a husband or dad reading this, or a mom in search of ideas for her empty list (we’ve all been there!), don’t worry! We have a few wonderful gift ideas to share. Feel free to pass this list along like it’s your own. The following small businesses are beautiful Catholic shops that have wonderful products for the moms and young women in your lives.

First, we love The Little Catholic Shop and their beautiful jewelry! Our team of mostly women loves this shop for the particularly Marian perspective in the pieces.

Emily Wilson, Catholic author, speaker and youtuber, has a ministry that speaks directly to women, supporting them in their journeys to sainthood. She has a variety of products, from courses to a children’s book. Check her out here!

For dads and young men:

Dads and older boys can be tough to shop for! When it comes to finding authentically Catholic gifts for the men in our lives, we always recommend Baritus Catholic and the Catholic Woodworker. From stickers and prayer cards to rosaries and home altars, we choose these two for many a gift and they’re Catholic dad (Mike Hernon) approved!

And if these aren’t hitting the mark for you, many of our team love Sock Religious, which now come in sizes and lengths for everyone!

Something for everyone:

There are so many great shops that we can recommend. Our favorites are the places where you can find something for everyone. Let’s face it, when we find a good company, we want to stick with them. That’s much easier to do when we find beautifully Catholic gifts for the whole family.

Our first favorite is Studio Senn, run by Kortnee, a stay at home mom, artist and military spouse. Kortnee creates beautiful artwork, prints, illustrated books, candles and so much more! We personally own a few of her books and find them to be wonderful for kids of all ages!

Our next favorite is Be A Heart, run by Erica, another wonderfully talented artist, whose online store carries a host of Catholic baby, toddler and home products. You’ll even find things like liturgical calendars, Jesus bandaids and punch needle kits. We’ve peeked at our team’s Christmas lists and spy a few of Erica’s products so check this one out!

Are you hosting a Christmas party this year? Then you have to check out these fun Christmas Crackers from Gloria and Praise. We definitely have these on our list to purchase for our family party this year!

And finally, while this might not technically be for everyone, we love our Mystic Monk coffee and highly recommend them!