My husband, Alex, and I decided to compile a list of must-do activities for the season of Advent.
We call it the Advent Bucket List. We hope this list will help Catholics prepare their hearts for Christmas. We wrote it in mind for those who find themselves in long distance relationships, but even if you are not in a relationship, you can check off the items on this list with family and friends.
The ideas are all based around acts of service, or rather, making a gift of ourselves, our time, and our resources. Grab your local friends and family and get started!
1. Gather your friends, or nieces and nephews and go caroling. Your choice of neighborhood, children’s hospital, mall, or nursing home.
2. Every church has an “angel tree.” Pull an angel (or two), and buy gifts for underprivileged kids.
3. Bring stuffed animals or crafts to a children’s hospital. Contact their volunteer department, and ask if their recreational therapist needs any help for their activities.
4. Bake cookies for inmates. Contact parishioners, friends, or families, and make a huge drop-off platter for the prison.
5. Attend a Christmas pageant. Or organize one with local friends to throw as adults (our young adults group did this one year, and everyone had so much fun)!
6. Contact your youth minister to help plan activities for the college students while home on Christmas break.
7. Babysit your friends’ kids, nieces, or nephews so that the parents can have a little respite and still manage to shop for their children inconspicuously.
8. Instagram your favorite nativity scene while out doing the above activities.
9. Repeat the same for best light decorations.
10. And inflatable lawn ornaments.
11. Get to Mass every week, and if you already do that, try going one extra day per week.
12. Make a holy hour and if you are in a long-distance relationship. schedule it for the same time.
13. Have an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.” Yes…you won’t be together, but you have to wear your ugly Christmas sweater for a whole day.
14. Don’t have an ugly Christmas sweater? Go shop for one for your significant other. Have him/her do the same. Budget too tight? Just take a picture and have your S.O. pick their “favorite” one.
15. Go ice skating—by yourself, with friends, families. If you don’t know how, contact your local recreation department to find group lessons. Or go to the open skate session, and prey upon kind citizens in the festive mood to give you free lessons. Make friends with a perfect stranger.
16. Make a gingerbread house. You can cheat and use graham crackers instead of baking gingerbread. If you’re a purest, I recommend this recipe for chocolate gingerbread (feel free to use up that left-over Halloween candy for a Tim Burton themed house).
17. Instead of exchanging gifts for each other this year, opt to donate to a charity of your choice in their honor.
18. Create playlists for each other of your favorite Christmas Carols.
19. Perform your favorite Christmas carol with an air guitar on Skype-at the same time. Gingerbread martini’s are also recommended (but not necessary) for this activity. Check out Amazon every day in December for deals or possible free MP3s.
20. Pray the Way of St. Louis De Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary with us.
21. Make up your own Advent calendar/Jesse Tree for each other with inspirational messages or prayer intentions.
22. Make your dream Christmas list, and not just objects, but dreams and goals. The list you would really want if you could imagine no obstacles.
23. Take turns reading A Christmas Carol.
24. Watch your favorite Christmas movies together (Skype/phone).
25. Host a Christmas cookie swap party. Have everyone make (or purchase) enough of their favorite cookie for everyone to have one. Split half of yours and mail them to your significant other.
Enjoy making new memories this Advent season as we all await the coming birth of our Lord, and remember to accomplish all the tasks with joy (pun intended)!