5 Ways to Pay it Forward During Advent

Advent is a time of slowing down and reflecting on God’s gift to the world in his son, Jesus. While this is a great time to introduce your teens to some more contemplative prayer, it can also be a time to take that grace from contemplation and put it into action. Here are five ways to give back with your youth ministry during Advent:

Gift Wrapping

Many parishes have an Advent Giving tree or adopt families from the community to get ready for Christmas. If your parish doesn’t have a giving tree, youth ministry could easily adopt a family for Christmas. One simple way to get your teens into the
giving spirit is by hosting a gift-wrapping night! Explain to your teens that each of these gifts will go to someone in the community who might not have had a great Christmas otherwise. Put on some Christmas music, have out some cookies, and get wrapping!

Caroling at a local Nursing Home

Ministry of presence is one our most important jobs as youth minister. Helping our teens to know that same gift is a blessing. During Advent, we pray for the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. A great way to help teens know this gift is by spending time at a local nursing home. Bringing the joy of the season to the elderly residents through songs that span generations will be something that your teens remember for a lifetime. Ask your children’s choir director, or youth ministry band to get
involved in a special way, and this is sure to be a memorable event.

Christmas Cards for Homebound Parishioners

Giving back during the holiday season doesn’t need to be a big production. It can be done in small ways too. Have your teens make Christmas cards for some of the homebound in your parish. The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion visit
these parishioners weekly to bring them the Eucharist. Think of how delighted they’ll be to receive a small token of kindness from the teens of the parish!

Create a Random Acts of Kindness Advent-Calendar

Another simple way to have your teens give back during advent is to create a Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar with them. Get a poster board, some markers, and start brainstorming some small ways to show love each and every day!
You can keep the original calendar in your youth ministry space or office, and send out each day’s act of kindness through Instagram, Snap Chat, or Flock Note.

Throw a St. Nicolas Party

Maybe you and your teens are feeling a bit more adventurous. Perhaps some of your teens want to serve in a leadership role. Combine forces with your parish’s family ministry to have a St. Nicolas Party! Have each teen leader plan an activity or
hospitality, send out invitations to the families of the parish through religious education or the catholic school, and get ready for a night of fun! Be sure to include some of St. Nicolas’s traditions, like small gifts in each child’s shoes. Having a story
time is also a great addition to any St. Nicolas party!

Advent is a time of quieting our hearts, but it’s important to remind our teens what that peace in the Lord is supposed to lead us to: action. These simple outreach ideas will help lead your teens to a place of missionary discipleship and living out their
faith in their everyday lives.

Mary Mullan

Mary is a youth minister on Long Island, a former missionary with the Capuchin Franciscans, a graduate student at Fordham, and a soon to be wife to her college sweetheart. Mary's love for youth ministry began way back when at her confirmation, and has journeyed as a participant, weekly volunteer, missionary, and now as a now parish youth minister. Follow along with her @marybridget_

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