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Are you thinking about What to Give up for Lent? ¬†If you are looking for things to give up for Lent, you’ve come to the right place.¬† During the 40 days of lent, while making our preparations for Easter, you can do something to better yourself and the world around you.

A Lenten fast doesn’t have to consist of just fasting and abstinence from the things we love, but it can be adding things during this season of lent that will make our lives more meaningful.

lent ideas

I wrote this post several years ago, but I updated it today and wanted to share it with you.

Lent is the season leading up to Easter.  Many Christians celebrate Lent, including my family. My husband and I were both raised in Catholic churches (Catholics are Christians). We both celebrate Lent, and we teach our kids to take part in it, as well.

What should you give up for Lent?

These 10 ideas for Lent are for you & your family.¬† I want to help you decide what to give up for Lent this year because it is such a great time to really better ourselves and spread love, goodness, and kindness to the world.¬† It can go beyond “not eating ice cream” or “not having candy,” but we often overlook these things.¬† There are many things that you can give up for Lent.

You are welcome to read about Lent or you can even skip down in this post, to below the picture.¬† There, you’ll find my list of ideas for Lent and things to give up for Lent.

What is Lent? 

“Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. ¬†In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.

When is Lent?

Lent lasts for 40 days and it begins the day following Shrove Tuesday, on Ash Wednesday.¬† ¬†There are actually 46 days in between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, but Sundays during Lent on not considered to be “prescribed.”
Note: The Tuesday before Lent is often called Fat Tuesday because it’s the day before fasting begins.¬†

Why do we give up things for Lent?

Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or volunteering and giving of themselves for others.¬† The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan.” (source: umc.org)

It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. ¬†This is when most people ask themselves “What should I give up for Lent?” or when people find themselves asking others… ¬†“What are some good things to give up for Lent?”

A close up of a bread.

WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY:

“The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance.

In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance.

Now, the ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many people that receive them will leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.  (Source: catholicism.about.com)

Fasting is done on Ash Wednesday: we abstain from meat and snacks during these fasting days in the Lenten season. There are certain things that you can eat/not eat during Lent.   In fact, no meat on Friday is followed until Lent is finished.    You also will try to refrain from what you gave up for Lent.

I can remember walking around our high school, in PA, and seeing 90% of my friends with ashes on their heads. I went to the early morning mass on Ash Wednesday with my family, as did most of my friends (my high school had many Christians: Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc… so most of us celebrated Lent). That week we were all talking about what to give up for Lent.

A lot of us went to church in the mornings during Lent. I also went to church on the morning of Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  Our church would hold special services to talk about the stations of the cross and the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Note: Palm Sunday was one my favorite masses… my brother quickly learned how to make crosses out of palms, but I never quite figured it out.¬† I still have many of the crosses that he made for me while we were growing up.¬† ¬†I also love the readings during mass on Palm Sunday.

HERE ARE 10 THINGS TO GIVE UP FOR LENT: 

unique ideas for lent

What to give up for Lent:

If you want what to give up for Lent… start here with these 10 ideas of what to give up for Lent. ¬†I have also added in some ideas of what you can ADD or DO for Lent, to better yourself and help others.

1. Don’t buy¬†anything that you don’t NEED.

If you can live without it, you don’t need it. ¬†Give it up for Lent. ¬†Put the money that you would have spent into a jar. ¬†You will be surprised at how quickly you build up your savings.

I even wrote a book about how to save money (Seeing how much we can save so quickly led us to do it year-round.  It was how we saved enough money for me to quit teaching and be a stay at home mom).

Tip:¬† Once you see how much you saved after the 40 days, split it into two groups: saving & donating.¬† Don’t spend it.¬† You worked too hard!

Oh- if you want to try to earn more during lent, you could even try to earn more money (and donate some of it) with these work at home jobs. 


2- Throw Away 40 things for 40 days

Every day, you walk around your house and collect 40 things to donate or throw away… every day, until Lent ends. ¬† (Try donating, because you are helping others). ¬† Print these 40 things in 40 days cards to help you with your daily journey.
FIND THESE CARDS HERE. 
A close up of text on a white background

3- 40 Days of home Organization

Go a step further this year. I have a declutter course that would be perfect for Lent! It’s a course that offers a day-by-day cleaning & decluttering guide with videos (and house tours).¬† It will last you through Lent.

You can do 40 tasks or follow this program and just work through Lent. ¬†It’s a way for me to free up the things that hold me back… material things.

Tip: Be sure to DONATE & GIVE TO OTHERS.

Donate your unused or unwanted items after you have decluttered & organized your house.

If you want to get the kids involved, use these SWAP CHORES FOR SCREENTIME cards for 40 days (by the last day, you won’t even need them anymore because your kids will be in the habit of helping.

chores for screentime cards

It happens to everyone who uses them… I always get an email after a few weeks letting me know that these cards changed their child’s work habits so much that they don’t even have to use them anymore & the kids are helping out more than ever.)

4- No Gossiping. 

Give up gossiping for Lent. That means you cannot do any gossiping.  None!

If someone says something negative about another person, either say something nice or don’t say anything at all. ¬†You would think this is going to be SO easy, but when you can’t say anything negative about anyone else, you realize how often it happens, sadly.

I find myself saying, “Ugh. ¬†The clerk at the store today was really rude today.” ¬†or “I wish Mickey (my husband) would have given the boys a bath before I got home from the store.” or even “Wow- those kids are really loud at that table, when while we are out to eat‚Ķ I wonder if their Mom is going to tell them to be a little quieter at dinner?”
Simple things like that make this one really hard… and really important. ¬† It sort of goes along with #10, which you will see in a minute.

5. Work out daily to take care of the body God gave you.   

Spend this time focusing on taking care of the body that God gave you.  For Lent, commit to doing some kind of workout every single day.  You can go on a walk or join a gym, or even workout at home.

Bible Verses to Remind You that You & Your Body are Important:
Corinthians 6:19-20
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Corinthians 6:19-20

John 1:2
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

6- Don’t Eat After Dinner

This one is hard for me, so it really makes me think about Lent because I can see just a glimpse of how Jesus struggled when he was hungry.

I eat most of my snacks in the evening when I am watching TV with my husband.  This year, I plan on letting myself have one bowl of YoNanas every night since it is only frozen fruit. ( Trust me, with my ice cream cravings, this is a mini-sacrifice all on its own.  haha .)

7- Give Up Soda for Lent 

This one is easy & not really out-of-the-box, but it is my struggle, so I had to include it. ¬†I have one diet coke a day when it is not Lent, so it is my sacrifice. ¬† It is harder than most people think since it is such a habit & routine of mine (I just stop on the way home from preschool at McDonald’s & grab a diet coke… every day).

Luckily, I have the soda stream & it gets me through that first week or two (I use the flavored water drink mixes).
The rest is easy.

8. Say 3 Nice Things to Your Spouse & Kids Daily

You may think this is easy, but try to say things that aren’t the normal “Thanks,” or “You look nice,” or “Good job.” ¬† Try to do 3 out-of-the-box things during Lent this year.

Try, “I love how you always help the kids,” or “I love how you work hard on your homework, even when it is tough tonight. ¬†You are a hard worker.” ¬† Try to say this important word to your kids. Remember… your words become their inner voice.

Try this 40+ Printable Card pack.  (They are perfect for 40 days of getting-to-know-you ideas & words of affirmation)
40 days of lent cards for kids

9- Don’t Eat Out for 40 Days

Try to make easy crockpot meals, like this French Dip Sandwich recipe or this Chicken Salsa recipe.
You can try this:  42 Days of real food Рthis course is filled with 21 days of recipes, menu plans, grocery lists & more
(Tip: After you go through it once, start over again… this will give you 42 days worth of meals)

10- Replace 30 Minutes of TV or Screen Time with 30 Extra Minutes of Devotion/Prayer Time.

Read a devotional or bible story with your family and have a discussion about it.  You can use these PRAYER PROMPT CARDS FOR KIDS to help you get started.  Or you can print out & make these prayer hands:Prayer hands - free printable

I also suggest picking up a great devotional for kids (like this one) and read a devotion every night. 

11- Do Not Complain or Speak Negatively.

I added this one because I feel like it’s a great thing to give up for lent… complaining and speaking negatively.
We often complain and whine about things, but we need to try to have a positive outlook on things. I tried this one year and it was VERY hard.

You don’t realize how much you complain until you give it up‚Ķ ¬†‚ÄúDo everything without arguing or complaining‚Ķ‚ÄĚ Philippians 2:14 NIV

Instead, use this time for daily prayer.  You could even try these daily prayer cards (we use them).   Print them out, cut them apart and follow one card each day:
A close up of text on a white background

Or… Join us for 40 Days to a Better You!¬† ¬†

We’ve taken ALL of the 40-Day products that you saw above and combined them in one place! 40 Days to a Better You!

Lent FAQ: 

Do only Catholics give something up during Lent? 

No, this is just a great time to better yourself. ¬† Even if you aren’t Catholic, it is a great time to try to do¬†something to better yourself, your spirit & your heart for 40 days.

I’d encourage you to also encourage your children to try to give something up, as well. ¬† ¬†I try to have them do #7 and I remind them often and #9. ¬† Last year, they tried to give up vegetables‚Ķ ¬†haha! No such luck!

Paper hands cut out with prayers written on them.

QUICK List of links:¬† WHAT TO GIVE UP FOR LENT¬†‚áď

These chore cards are the best thing we’ve done to teach our kids about ‘work before play’ and the importance of helping out around the house.¬† You can find them here.

Chore chart for children.


What will you¬†Give up for Lent?¬† I’d love to see your ideas in the comments, to help others.¬†

Ideas for Lent written on a white background.

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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51 Comments

  1. Thank you! I LOVE ALL these ideas and will read them tonight with my family and choose. My girls and I have ordered a prayer bracelet making package for Mercy House in Africa (wearethatfamy.com). We will be raising money for girls and their babies in Africa

    1. This was incredibly helpful!! I’m tired of doing the same thing during Lent – giving up similar things each year but breaking that fast halfway through Lent. Was looking for something that could really make a difference to my spirituality and this is perfect, so thanks!

  2. Great ideas! I’m excited to check out your organizing series, I’m always trying to figure out how to organize the fridge and the pantry!

  3. I like the forty days forty things. I give up alcohol or caffeine, but I thought about social media/phone time this year…

  4. Love the suggestions! Just a little heads up though, we’re post Vatican II so Sunday’s do in fact count as days of fasting!

  5. Looks like a GREAT list – I think #1 and #2 will especially resonate with me and my family!

  6. This was a wonderful article – and I’ve shared it with everyone in the office! Lent is not something celebrated in the environments that I find myself in and an ex-colleague of mine has often bemoaned how we sort of fall into Easter, without spending time beforehand contemplating, being mindful, or preparing our hearts. We spend so much time and energy (and money!) on Christmas…is Easter not…more special? (Gasp! Is that politically incorrect to say one celebration is more important than the other?) But does our faith not hinge upon the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again and ascended into Heaven? The point of this rant: Thank you very much! I feel challenged by this article to be more mindful during these days leading up to Easter and to be more intentional about fasting, even in general. Many blessings.

  7. This is a great list. One year for Lent my Bible Study group did the Daniel Plan. We did the study and followed the eating plan. It was great to have the group support. Basically it is clean eating using the book of Daniel as the focus for the study. It was very meaningful.

    I am considering a similar eating plan this Lent, probably Whole 30. The hardest for me is to get in the right mental place to make it happen.

  8. Great ideas, but please don’t drink diet drinks any day. Artificial sweeteners are dangerous to your health.

  9. Love these ideas. I’m giving up sugar ,no eating in between meals , reading scripture everyday , on my hands n knees everyday asking for help to be a good servant.
    Thank you

  10. Thank you Becky! I’m always loss at what to do to better my relationship with the Lord! Number 4 spoke to me! I am going to pray for Gods guidance, Thanks again & God bless you & your family!

  11. Anglicans (Church of England) also practise Lent. I also do a ‘take up’ something for Lent – I begin a good habit etc.