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As we approach Ash Wednesday on February 14, 2024, marking the start of the Lenten season, we begin thinking about the best Lent ideas (and what to give up.) This is the season when we turn our hearts and minds towards the 40 days of Lent, leading us to Easter Sunday. This sacred time offers a unique opportunity to deepen our relationship with God, reflect on our lives, and prepare our hearts for the resurrection joy of Easter.
What is Lent?
Lent is a sacred period of 40 days leading up to Easter, marked by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert and is a time to reflect on their lives, repent for their sins, and prepare their hearts for the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.
Lent encompasses a period of reflection, penance, and preparation for Easter. Lent is an opportunity for spiritual renewal, deeper communion with God, and increased discipline in personal and communal faith practices. This time encourages spiritual growth, self-examination, and renewal in faith, aligning with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
When Does Lent Start and End?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on “Maundy Thursday” or Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Traditionally, Lent ended on Holy Saturday, which is March 30, 2024, the day before Easter Sunday. However, since 1969, many Catholics have stopped observing Lent on Holy Thursday.)
Below, you will find 35 unique ideas about what to give up for Lent… or what to DO during the Lenton Season. Often, when we ask ourselves, “What should I give up for Lent?” we might instead ask, “What can I add to my routine and life that would let me help others, strengthen my faith, and better myself?” Starting a new habit to bring us closer to God while bettering the lives of others and/or ourselves in preparation for Easter!
Related: Be sure to check out these Easter Basket Stuffer ideas!
What To Give Up For Lent
Remember, adding positive practices during Lent, in addition to giving something up, can be a deeply enriching and transformative experience. While the tradition of sacrificing certain indulgences or habits during this season remains significant, incorporating new habits or actions can have a profound impact.
Intentional additions to our lives during Lent can serve as a beacon of positivity, illuminating the path toward a more meaningful and faith-filled existence. In this way, Lent becomes a time of renunciation and renewal.
- Strictly Necessary Spending: Commit to spending money only on essentials, such as groceries, bills, and necessary household items. This practice helps cultivate mindfulness about financial habits and the difference between needs and wants.
- Compliment Each Family Member Daily: Make a conscious effort to say at least one genuinely nice thing to each member of your family every day. This can strengthen bonds, boost morale, and create a more loving home environment.
- Saying “Thank You” More Often: Make a conscious effort to express gratitude verbally more frequently, recognizing the efforts and kindness of others in your daily interactions.
- Don’t buy ____ for 40 days. Think of one thing that you splurge on each month: Maybe it’s coffee at a coffee shop each day, getting your nails done every two weeks, or ordering lunch out during the work-week. Use Lent as a time to skip those things. Save the money (keep track of how much you save) and use that savings for something that matters. money that you save for something that matters.
- Embrace Simplicity with Decluttering Start with decluttering, a physical and symbolic way to create space (in our hearts, minds, and homes) for what truly matters. Keep in mind that clutter leads to stress and depression, so use this time to get rid of it so you can devote your time to things that truly matter.
Using the “40 Days of Decluttering” cards can make this process less overwhelming, turning it into a fun family activity. Imagine finding old photos that spark stories or clothes that can be passed down or donated, making room for new memories.
- Generosity Through Donating. After decluttering, use the “40 Days of Donating” to find things to donate to the less fortunate. These cards will guide you on what to give away. It could be taking toys to a children’s hospital or donating books to a local school. These cards offer creative ideas to help others while cleaning out your space, teaching valuable lessons about generosity and simplicity.
- Stop Negative Self-Talk: Dedicate these 40 days to giving up negative self-talk, doubt, and insecurities. This involves a conscious effort to recognize and transform self-deprecating thoughts into affirmations of self-worth and positivity.
- No Gossiping: Dedicate Lent to avoiding gossip. This change can improve your relationships and foster an environment of trust and respect. (Don’t respond to gossip or partake in it, even if you don’t start it. If someone says something negative about another person, either say something nice or don’t say anything at all.)
- Meaningful One-on-One Time In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s crucial to carve out one-on-one time with each child. The “40 Days of One-on-One Time” cards provide prompts and activities, like a backyard picnic or game, to deepen your connection and better understand each other.
- Single-Use Plastics: Commit to eliminating single-use plastics (disposable water bottles, etc…) from your daily routine. This sacrifice can heighten awareness of environmental stewardship and encourage more sustainable living habits.
- Social Media Scrolling: Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, take a break or set strict time limits. This time can be redirected towards more enriching activities or personal interactions.
- Meal-Plan (and choose to eat at home instead of eating out): Use our menu plan and cook at home during Lent. Not only will you be saving money, but it is easier to have control over your health and what you (and your family) are eating when you are the one preparing it.
- Skip the Snooze Button: Challenge yourself to give up hitting snooze on your alarm. Rising with your first alarm can lead to more disciplined mornings and potentially more productive days. Try reading the bible, journaling, meditating, or going on a walk in the mornings instead of snoozing. 🙂
- Impulse Buying: Put a pause on impulse purchases. This period can teach financial discipline, gratitude for what you already have, and reflection on the difference between wants and needs.
- Daily Prayer and Reflection. Work on spending time in prayer each day. This could be a quiet time before dinner or a reflective moment during a morning routine, grounding your family in faith and gratitude. The “40 Days of Prayer Printable Cards” can guide your family in a daily moment of prayer or reflection, offering a scripture or thought to ponder together.
- Excessive Complaining: Focus on giving up excessive complaining. Transforming complaints into opportunities for gratitude or problem-solving can foster a more positive outlook on life.
- Procrastination: Commit to tackling tasks without delay. Giving up procrastination can lead to a more organized life and a feeling of accomplishment.
- Multitasking: Try giving up multitasking. Instead, focus on one task at a time, which can lead to more mindfulness and efficiency in your activities.
- Late Night Snacking: Refrain from eating after a certain time in the evening. This habit can contribute to better health and discipline regarding food.
- Judging Others: Make a conscious effort to suspend judgment of others. This practice can open your heart to more empathy, understanding, and compassion.
- Reduce Sugar Intake: Try cutting back on sugar together, making healthier eating choices. Experiment with making fruit-infused water instead of soda or baking healthier treats. It’s a practical way to care for your body while observing Lent.
- Comparing Yourself to Others: Let go of the tendency to compare yourself to others. Embracing your unique journey can lead to greater self-acceptance and joy.
- Screen Time Before Bed: Replace screen time with reading, meditation, or conversation before bed. This can lead to better sleep quality and more peaceful evenings.
- Fast from Indifference: Make an effort to engage more deeply with the issues facing your community and the world. This could mean educating yourself on a social issue, environmental concern, or political matter each day of Lent.
- Adding a Daily Walk: Commit to taking a 20-minute walk each day, using the time to reflect, pray, or simply observe the world around you with gratitude and mindfulness.
- Adding Daily Acts of Kindness: Introduce the practice of performing at least one deliberate act of kindness each day. This could range from writing an encouraging note to someone, paying a compliment, or helping a stranger. You can get started with this free Kindness Calendar:
- Limiting Meat Consumption: Beyond the traditional abstaining from meat on Fridays, consider giving up or reducing meat consumption throughout Lent to foster compassion for animals and care for creation.
- Journaling for Gratitude: Start or end each day by writing down three things you’re grateful for. This practice can shift your focus towards positivity and abundance.
- Adding Cultural Appreciation: Each week of Lent, spend time learning about a different culture or religious tradition. This can expand your understanding and appreciation of our diverse world.
- Volunteering Time: Commit a portion of your time to volunteer, whether in person or virtually. Choose a cause you’re passionate about and offer your skills and energy.
- Give Up Fast Food: Forgoing fast food during Lent can be a commitment to healthier eating and a more mindful approach to your meals. It encourages taking the time to prepare food at home, which can be a nourishing practice for both body and soul.
- Stop Over-Scheduling: Make a conscious decision to reduce the clutter in your calendar. Giving up the habit of over-scheduling allows for more spontaneous moments, rest, and quality time with loved ones. It’s a way to slow down, prioritize what’s truly important, and enjoy the peace that comes with unscheduled time.
- Wake Up an Hour Early for Prayer or Meditation: Dedicate the first hour of your day to quiet reflection, prayer, or meditation. This can set a positive tone for the day and provide a peaceful time for spiritual connection.
- Pray as a Family Every Day (or night) – Use this Prayer Hand Printable (make your own cards)
Or use these Prayer Prompt Cards for Kids to help your child begin praying every night.
- Perform a Daily Act of Kindness: Make it a goal to do something kind for someone else every day, whether it’s a small gesture like holding the door open, paying a compliment, or leaving a positive note for a coworker.
- Offer to Do Chores for Others: Volunteer to take on a chore for someone else in your household or help a neighbor with their tasks. This act of service can relieve someone else’s burden and foster a sense of community and care.
- All-In-One Lenten Journey For families looking to embrace all these practices, the “40 Days to a Better You Bundle” combines decluttering, donating, praying, and quality time into one comprehensive guide. It’s a holistic approach to renewing your family’s spirit, home, and relationships during Lent.