December 5, 2012

Advent Acts of Service by Leanne Willen

I've known for awhile that this year would "make or break" us. Up until now, we've kept Advent and Christmas low key because our kids have been too little to understand.

This year, however, my oldest child is four. He's at the age where his curiosity is on fire and he makes a lot of connections. He also absorbs (and remembers) everything. I knew I needed to step things up a notch in our home this Advent.

Beyond the Advent wreath, special prayers, stories about the birth of Jesus, St. Nicholas, and our Advent calendar, I wanted activities that would help him grow in faith and learn what the season is all about. I decided that the best way to help him grow closer to God and stronger in faith was to teach him to love and serve others.
After much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I came up with "Advent Acts of Service." Each day of Advent, we will do one age-appropriate activity to serve others. With a four year old and a 19-month-old at home, I was realistic when creating the activities. Some days we will do small things to serve our family or friends close by. Other days we will reach out to our community.

Using construction paper, we made a paper chain with one link for each day of Advent. I printed out the activities and glued one per day on a link. Every morning we will remove a link from the chain and see what our activity is for the day. Before we do the activity, we will talk about who we are serving and why. After we've completed the service, we will talk about how we helped the person and how it makes Jesus happy to do nice things for others. Each day of service brings us closer to Jesus and to Christmas Day.
I strategically planned certain activities for certain days based on our schedule and other important events.

Some acts of service we'll do during Advent:
§  Draw a picture to send to my grandmother who is homebound
§  Call a family member to sing Christmas carols
§  Help with someone else's chores at home (toys/dishes/laundry)
§  Donate toys and clothes to St. Vincent de Paul
§  Take Christmas goodie bags to neighbors
§  Pray for others
§  Shop for and purchase Christmas presents for a child who is in need
§  Visit a nursing home to spread love and Christmas cheer
§  Hand out Christmas gifts to children in a shelter

I look forward to a wonderful Advent season filled with anticipation, love, and joy. I hope that the activities we do this year will take root and become traditions we continue for years to come. I hope to celebrate the season while remaining loyal to our faith.

Above all, I hope to instill in my children a desire to serve others and the Lord. What better way to honor Him this Advent than to do just that?

Leanne is a Catholic mother and wife, a writer, and a stay at home mom of two young children. She writes about faith, family, and finding happiness. Her blog, Life Happens When, encourages others (and herself) to embrace the moment and enjoy the journey of life. You can also findher on Facebook sharing uplifting Bible verses, encouraging quotes, and amusing happenings from her daily life.

For more posts on Advent traditions and reflections check out the Advent series.


  1. Awesome, I love how simple the acts are and you can't beat paper chains for a countdown! :)

  2. Great suggestions (and reminder!), Leanne. Thank you for living your vocation and sharing a bit of that with us here.

  3. I really like the paper chain idea! Thanks!