Intentionally Celebrating Lent & Easter as a Family

I have been convicted lately considering how much thought and intentionality I love to put into preparing our hearts for the birth of Christ during the Advent season and then how little thought I take to preparing for the ultimate accumulation of Christ’s life in his death and resurrection that is the focus of our Easter celebrations. It usually just comes upon me with little to no thought or preparation. In light of this, I felt like this was the year to begin cultivating more intentionality in celebrating this glorious occasion which is the foundation for our faith. I am beginning early by preparing a list of activities that our family could complete during the lent season of preparation. There are 40 days of Lent, which starts on Wednesday, February 22, this year. I have decided to compile these activities on cards that could be completed throughout this 40 day period. These activities are primarily for young children but could be adapted as necessary. Pick and chose any of these ideas for your own use as desired. I hope to do 2-3 of them each week during Lent.

1. Make a Jesus Tree.
During the Advent season, we like to make a Jesse tree with symbols representing stories throughout the Old Testament that led up to the birth of Christ Jesus. For Easter/Lent celebration, why not make a Jesus Tree with images or symbols from the life and death of Christ. Find ideas to make your own Jesus tree here or buy a complete kit here.

2. Start a Garden.
Start a garden indoors to help your children understand the death and rebirth of Christ. Plant little lettuce seeds or whatever seeds you desire. Explain how the planting symbolizes the death of Jesus and how the sprouting seed symbolizes His rebirth. When Easter arrives, transplant your seedlings to your yard.

3. Make pretzels.
Pretzels were a common fasting food among early Christians, and they were traditionally made of flour, water and salt. The shape of the simple food signifies the arms crossed in prayer. Share your pretzels with a neighbor or family you are seeking to reach out to.

4. Make hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are also a traditional Lenten bread. Make some with your children while explaining how they are important in the celebration of Lent. The buns may have originated in the 12th century, and the frosting is applied as a cross. Younger children can make simple, bread-shaped crosses to give to grandparents, friends and other family members.

5. Make Easter Story Cookies.

6. Make a Salt Dough Crown of Thorns. An alternative idea: make a crown out of playdough and toothpicks.

7. Make a “Stained Glass” Cross.

8. Encourage a Heart for World Prayer.
Lent is a season of focused preparation and a great opportunity to focus on praying for the world around us. Traditionally, the first Friday in Lent is celebrated as a World Day of Prayer. Chose a continent to focus on during each week leading up to Easter.

9. Take a Nature Scavenger hunt and collect items that remind you of the life of Jesus.
Two sticks could be used to form a cross, a stone could represent the stone across the tomb, a thorn could represent the crown on Jesus’ head, an acorn shell to represent the cup at the Last Supper, long branch to represent a whip, something black (for sin), something red (blood), something white (a clean heart), something green (growing in Christ). Older children can go on a digital scavenger hunt, taking photographs of items that remind them of Easter.

10. Have a foot washing for your family.
Fill a bucket with water. Grab a few towels, and discuss how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and commanded them to love one another (John 13:34-35). Pray for one another.

11. Read an Easter related book. (See recommendations below)

12. Paint your doorpost for Passover.
Allow your kids to paint red paint on the (paper covered) doorpost to a particular room or the front door of your home to represent the Passover. Read Exodus 12:1-42. Explain Christ’s death as the ultimate sacrifice for sin and discuss the significance of God giving up His firstborn son.

13. Help your child understand that Jesus was called “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7-8). Make a lamb craft project with your kids by gluing cotton balls to a paper plate, then add pink and black construction paper eyes, ears, muzzle, nose and hooves.

14. Discuss as a family something that you could give up and give to another or use the money saved on that regular purchase to give to a charity ministry.

15. Listen to Handel’s Messiah.

16. Make a “He Is Risen” or “Our Redeemer Lives” poster and hang in a prominent place in your home on Easter morning.

17. Bake something for a shut-in or needy family.

18. Make palm leaf crosses.

19. Act out the “parade” of Palm Sunday as a family.
Take turns being the donkey, Jesus, and the part of the crowd. Discuss that “Hosanna” means “Save us, we beseech thee.” Read John 12:12-13. Make palm branches out of green construction paper and decorate the dinner table with your creations.

20. Dye Easter eggs and discuss the new life that has been a symbol of spring since ancient times. Discuss the “new life” that we experience in Christ.

21. Make a sand craft.
Sand is a Lent symbol of how God led the Israelites in their journey in the desert and how Jesus faced temptations for 40 days in the dessert.

22. Collect purple things from around your home.
Discuss how purple is the color of Lent. Purple symbolizes the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. It is also the color of royalty and symbolizes the kingship of Jesus in our lives. Wear something purple for the day.

23. Make a Jesus is Risen Tomb Craft. Discuss the significance of Christ’s resurrection.

24. Watch The Passion or Animated Passion as appropriate for your family.

25. Get Buried in Grave-clothes.
Read Matthew 27:57-61. Wrap up one of your children in toilet paper, or “grave clothes”. Allow the child to break free from the toilet paper and talk about how sad the disciples must have felt and how happy they must have been when they saw that Jesus had conquered death.

26. Find your own grave stone.
Go to a park, search for an oversized boulder and try to move it. Read Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-4. Discuss how a large stone couldn’t keep Jesus in the tomb and how surprised the soldiers must have been when it was rolled away.

Sources:

Christian Lent Activities for Children

Great Books/Resources for Easter:

The Animated Passion Film
The Passion Film
The Gospel of John film
(this is our favorite adaption of the life of Jesus)
From Trail to the Tree: A Family Devotional for Lent from Ann Voskamp (with printables for your own Easter/Jesus tree)
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter - deep thoughtful articles from many classic authors (C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Chesterton, etc.). A great choice for a couple to read together or for families with older children.
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross by Nancy Guthrie – another wonderful compilation of short articles by various authors that will help draw your heart to the Cross during this season.
A Season of Lent - devotional guide for the seven weeks leading up to Easter with a focused thing to fast from each week
The Very First Easter
The Tale of Three Trees – a fun children’s story
Benjamin’s Box (best used with the Resurrection Egg symbols)
The Legend of the Easter Egg – a fun children’s story
Resurrection Eggs – we have used these cute visual and select Scripture passages for meaningful discussion on Easter. Hide them and have kids find them and open one by one as you retell the story.
Felt Easter Banner – check our the Heart Felt Truths etsy shop for this fun homemade easter banner that provides you with meaningful visuals for Holy Week with felt icons and Scriptures passages for discussion. Very cute! Make your own instructions here.

(Some of the resources recommended here are affiliate links. We always seek to recommend products that we have used and love! If you purchase through our affiliates, you are helping to support our orphan home in India. Thanks!)

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

31 Responses to Intentionally Celebrating Lent & Easter as a Family

  1. Christine March 10, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Lindsay, stumbled across your blog today while searching for ways to celebrate the days leading up to Easter. Thank you for posting – I love all of these ideas!

  2. Joan February 23, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I have done many of these celebrations with my children over the years. One that I don’t see on your site is the ‘empty tomb’ bun. It is the same recipe as the Hot Cross buns, but you form it into a ball, have the children put a jelly bean in the center, symbolizing Christ’s death and burial. When it is baked, the jelly bean melts, so it is gone when they eat it, symbolizing the empty tomb.

  3. Julie March 1, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    A great book for children is “Why Do We Celebrate Easter” by Mark I. Sutherland. I was blessed to be able to illustrate this book. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Do-We-Celebrate-Easter/dp/0983236305

  4. Lexie March 1, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Thank you so much for this. I was just discussing with my husband that I wish we did more to celebrate Jesus this time of year. Growing up in a Catholic school and Methodist church, we did a lot to celebrate. But it seems we have sadly gotten away from that in our current denomination.

  5. laura m February 27, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    whoa, lindsey! what a list:). thanks for compiling this!

  6. Gretchen February 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    I love your list of ideas — THANK YOU! I started the tradition of giving my daughter a toy lamb and book for Easter, and then getting them out during Holy Week. As she gets older, I think we will get them out for Lent. I know what you mean about it sneaking up on you — Ash Wednesday surprises me every year!

  7. Belles February 24, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    confused.. are you Catholic?

    • Lindsay February 24, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      No, I am a Christian, but I am simply trying to incorporate more of a gospel focus during this season which I think is beautifully exemplified through the idea of Lent. Read more about the encouragement to celebrate Lent as Christians here.

  8. Kristi Knifong February 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    Lindsay, I don’t know if anyone else mentioned the newest book from Ytreeide who wrote Jotham’s Journey and Tabitha’s Travels for Advent. His newest book is for Lent called Amon’s Adventure and we just started reading it this week. I’ve been very impressed with his other stories and I’ve heard from women I respect that this one is just as excellent. FYI. Love Kristi

  9. Emily February 23, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    For some reason too we have always celebrated Christmas better than Easter and each year I want to ‘more intentionally celebrate’ Easter, and it sneaks up on me. Stopping by your website reminds me in time to make it happen better this year. I think your idea of having a foot washing ceremony is a beautiful idea, and the discussion behind it too, that we serve eachother in such a humbling manner such as Christ did, sort of the lowest and dirtiest thing he willingly did for his disciples, and how much we too can love and serve in those hard to serve ways…a Jesus tree is also a neat idea, reminds me of like a cute Tasha Tudor sort of sweet branch from a tree with some buds hanging on it to remind us of Christ and newness of life, and then cute little symbolic ornaments maybe from one of those Easter advent calendars like a round stone for the stone that covered his tomb etc.
    Painting the door post reminds me that we have had our own little passover and its really a neat thing to think of that tradition that taught of the coming of Christ, and going over such things as the bitter herbs that reminded them of the bondage of slavery, but we can remember the bitterness of sin, etc.

    Thanks Lindsay!

  10. Ariel Price February 22, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I love these suggestions! Hot cross buns remind me of when I lived in England. And I think I will plant some flowers in a pot for our apartment. Thanks for these great ideas to celebrate the incredible goodness of our God.

  11. jewels February 22, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Anna @ Feminine Adventures February 22, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Wonderful list! I didn’t grow up in a church that celebrated the traditional church calendar and though Lent was an excuse to eat more fish.

    As I’ve learned more about it, the beauty of the church calendar was made clear. Like you said, it is so easy to focus on just one aspect of Christ’s life (usually Christmas) and not Christ in all His different manifestations!

    Thanks for the ideas to make Lent a meaningful time for the whole family!

  13. Lyndall February 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    What a great list! I too have been challenged to make Lent a time of intentional training in our home. With our Baptist heritage, we’re not familiar with many of the lent traditions, but I can see a lot of value in them. We celebrated Shrove Tuesday last night with pancakes, and talked about preparing our hearts for God as Easter approaches. I’ve made a resurrection playset using paper rolls and a countdown calendar – printables from the Catholic Icing website (I am not a Catholic but saw these two resources would be handy for us.) We’re going to be implementing some ideas from a book titled ‘Before and After Easter’ by Debbie Trafton O’Neal. I’ve also been pinning heaps of ideas which I will hopefully be sharing with the mums group at my church – I’ll be sure to add yours too! Here’s my pinboard here if anyone’s interested: http://pinterest.com/lyndalldaniel/easter/ Thanks and may God bless this time for your family’s growth and togetherness in Him!

  14. Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds February 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    I have always (since becoming a christian) been a little sad that people put so much celebration into christmas but most don’t do the same for Easter. Thanks for these great ideas.

  15. Shelly February 21, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Thank you so much for this! I have been wanting to be (much) more intentional with the holidays, as they always sneak up and fly by so quickly! Easter, especially, seems to have been completely stolen by the world, which is so understandable from a spiritual perspective; my husband and I so badly want to find ways to focus ourselves and our children on the gospel during this time. . . to celebrate that which is so much more worthy of our celebrations! We have thought about trying to do a Seder meal, but really don’t know where to start. Do you have any recommendations on a good resource for that? Thank you so much for the time you put into this blog. . . it has been so helpful for me!

  16. Deb February 21, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    A great list. We too have been challenged to do more for Easter. we have started an easter tree on which we hang our crafts and other activities. then on Easter morning the children wake up to a house full of balloons and a big ‘he is risen’ banner and the celebrations begin!
    A great resource for celebrations is ‘the heavenly party’ by Michele Guinness as well

  17. Sarah February 21, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Thank You Lindsay!!! I was wanting to do something more this year and this list will help greatly!!!

  18. elaine February 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Fabulous! Thanks for all the ideas!

  19. Beth February 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Wow, this is amazing. I have to admit, this kind of stuff is not a strength for me. Each year I want to do better about making Christmas more special but then I let it slide by, just like any other year. It’s like I’m stuck at a road block or something. I couldn’t have come up with this list in a thousand years, and I’m so glad God has gifted people like you to help people like me! Now making these ideas happen is the other half of the battle and completely within my control so… no excuses!

  20. Angela February 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Hello Lindsay,

    Thank you for the reminder that Lent is approaching and for the ideas you shared here. I think we will incorporate some of them into our family’s preparations this year. Last year we made use of Ann Voskamp’s “Trail to the Tree” devotional (http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/03/free-easter-devotional-with-easter-passion-tree-because-easters-more-important-than-christmas/) and plan to use it again.

    Blessings,
    Angela

  21. Kamille @ Redeeming the Table February 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    these are great ideas. I appreciate you putting forth the effort to compile such a list. I’ve been thinking about the intentionality of the Lenten season with my family as well.

  22. Lacey Wilcox February 20, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I was looking for some great ideas for little ones for Lent. Growing up, my family didn’t celebrate it a lot, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize the importance of traditions such as this that have made up the church. Thanks for sharing such a great list!

  23. Heather February 20, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Another great resource is Christ In The Passover (DVD) by Jews for Jesus. I will never look at the Last Supper or Christ’s sacrifice in the same way. I plan on watching it with my family every year as a part of our Easter season tradition.

  24. Jillbert February 20, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    This a a great list. One thing we also do in our family is “40 Good Deeds” during the 40 days of Lent. This focuses our children on looking for ways to be helpful and serve others each day.

  25. Erin February 20, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Reading through your list made me so thankful for the gift of the traditions of my Catholic faith. We receive ashes at Mass (traced on our foreheads in the shape of a Cross) on Wednesday, with the priest reminding us, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are taken from the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday. We have a procession on Palm Sunday at Mass where we are reminded of how Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem, waving palms during this entrance. Then we read the entire Passion during the liturgy. It truly makes it all come alive for the children. The Cross and statues are covered in purple as Easter draws closer to remind us of the suffering of our Lord. What delight it is to see them again at Easter. So many beautiful traditions! And all of your wonderful ideas for the home fit so well with our traditions as well. It truly does bring the season alive with a Lent spent intentionally. Easter is that much more a joy when we practice little acts of self denial during the 40 days before to remind ourselves to walk with Jesus through the desert. Thanks for the great list!

  26. Julie Klock February 20, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    This is a great collection of activities! I will be sharing your blog with lots of young parents! Thank you – and blessings to your family.

  27. Sarah M February 20, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    I love this list–we also do a lot for Advent and seemingly nothing for Lent. I love this list and I will be printing it out, gathering devotions for the upcoming weeks, and talking to my husband about this–absolutely love the ideas.
    Thanks for the effort of all the links, too, they will be helpful!
    Sarah M

  28. Christy February 20, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    Just what I was looking for…THANKS!