Seven ideas for Advent to help you prepare joyfully for Christmas

With the relentless commercialisaton of Christmas, it can sometimes feel like Christmas starts with the Big W toy catalogue in September and ends with a food coma after Christmas lunch on December 25.

For Catholics, the season of Christmas begins with Advent (1 December – 24 December), reaches a high point with the birth of Jesus (25 December) and ends with the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany (6 January).

Throughout this season, we remember and celebrate Christ coming to us as our source of true light. It is our hope and prayer that we receive this light and share it, in faith, with those around us.

Advent should be a time of joyful anticipation as we eagerly await the coming of Jesus at Christmas. It is a time to reflect on how you can be a source of light to others, helping them experience the deeper, richer meaning of Christmas beyond the rigours of shopping, decorations and food preparation.

Here are seven simple ideas to get you started:

  1. Make an advent wreath 
    The wreath consists of evergreens (symbolizing continuous life) with four candles (traditionally three purple and one rose, the purple symbolizing prayer, penance and preparatory sacrifices and the rose rejoicing that preparations for the arrival of the Christ are half over as we are at the midpoint of Advent)
  2. Keep a gratitude journal 
    From the First Sunday in Advent (1 Dec) until Christmas Eve (24 Dec) list 3 things you are grateful for each day and take a few minutes to thank the Lord for your blessings.
    Then from Christmas Day (26 Dec) until Epiphany (6 Jan) find ways to share these gifts of gratitude with others – just as the Wise Men gave gifts to Jesus in the days after he was born. Tell your family and friends how grateful you are to have them in your life.
  3. Do random acts of Kindness
    Commitment to doing a random act of kindness each day through Advent – a small thing for someone else that only you know – as your secret gift to Jesus! It could be as simple holding a door open for another, bringing cake for morning tea, or just having a short conversation with a colleague you don’t know very well.
  4. Create a Jesse tree 
    Explore the true meaning of Christmas with your family by decorating a tree with home-made symbols from bible stories about those who waited for the coming of the Saviour more than 2000 years ago.
  5. Reach out to others
    Look beyond your own backyard; recognise those who are alone or those who may not be as materially or spiritually fortunate as you.
    Find quiet and gentle ways to share this season of hope with them through your care and concern; support those who are suffering due to the effects of the drought or recent bushfires; or making a commitment to a worthwhile cause.
  6. Set up a nativity scene 
    Find a focal place in your home to set up a nativity scene. Each time you pass it, offer a simple prayer of thanksgiving for someone you love.
  7. Say ‘Yes’ to God in small ways
    In a busy life, it is easy to miss God’s invitations for closeness.  Listen with your heart through Advent, say ‘Yes’ when you discover such an invitation, and acclaim with inner joy the grace that comes from your acceptance of it!