1. Family sacrifice ideas: along with your personal sacrifices for Lent, try to find ways to sacrifice together as a family (for example: give up a treat you all enjoy; only eat food you prepare at home; agree to a technology free day or weekend; give up electricity for a day; do extra cleaning or chores; find ways to take care of the sick or poor; write letters to the lonely; etc).
  2. Try to set a daily goal to sacrifice in three areas:
    1. Diet: give up a treat or food item each day as a sacrifice
    2. Physical: set a goal to do something physically difficult every day of Lent (run a mile; do a set of pushups; go for a walk; etc)
    3. Spiritual: commit to spend daily time with God in prayer and Scripture
  3. Home décor: take away items instead of adding. Help your home reflect the penitential Lenten season with more sparse, less colorful decorations. For example: place a simple set of candles and a crucifix in the center of the dinner table. Wait to add spring florals to your home until Eastertide. For the liturgical color, a purple tablecloth or purple candles would be fitting.
  4. PRAY! Best thing you can do as a family is pray together. If you don’t normally pray a family rosary, Lent is the perfect time to begin. Start by praying a decade together and go from there.
  5. Movie sacrifice suggestion: instead of watching a favorite show or newly released movie, watch a Catholic saint story or other religious film (free with your parishioner FORMED account). Or, use that time to read good books on the Catholic Faith or lives of the saints.
  6. Save money as a family to give to the poor: brainstorm ideas for how you can do this. Perhaps eat at home instead of going out for a meal and give the extra $$ to charity. Is there some other little luxury that can be sacrificed and the proceeds donated to charity?
  7. Go to mass, confession, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as often as you can.
  8. Pray the “Stations of the Cross” this Lent. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the one at church; it is simple to pray them at home together. You can print out the prayers and pictures for your children to color (Fridays are a great day to pray the Stations).
  9. Sign up for “Holy Heroes” free Lenten adventure online (kids ages 5-12): LINK
  10. Have children color and follow along on this free printable Lenten calendar from Catholic Icing: https://www.catholicicing.com/printable-lenten-calendar-for-kids
  11. Make a salt dough “crown of thorns” to place on your table (see instructions below).
  12. Similar to the crown of thorns activity, you could also do a “bean jar.” On the kitchen table is placed a bowl filled with dried beans and a jar. When a family member makes a sacrifice, they put a bean in the jar. Then, on Easter morning, children wake up to find that the beans that have accumulated in the jar during Lent have been changed into colorful and yummy jelly beans!

To make a salt dough “Crown of Thorns” for Lent:

  1. Mix 4 (ish) cups flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 to 1.5 cups of warm water to form a tough dough
    (*Note: if you use coffee in place of the water, it will naturally darken the dough to look more brown. Adding a cup of cinnamon to the dough will also do the trick.)
  2. Divide ball of dough into 3 equal parts
  3. Roll each part into a “log” (long rope)
  4. Cross your logs into a simple braid then form it into a circle
  5. Ask children to help you add as many toothpicks as you like into the ‘crown’ (add them loosely so they aren’t too hard to pull out if you plan to do so)
  6. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment or foil and bake at 350 degrees for 60 +/- minutes until hard. That’s it! You could also paint it brown to look more like Jesus’s crown of thorns.
    Place the crown in a prominent place in your home as a visual reminder throughout Lent. It makes an excellent centerpiece at the family table. For a striking effect and added beauty, you may choose to place it upon a purple cloth, the liturgical color for the Lenten season.

To turn this into a Lenten activity: for each Lenten sacrifice a family member makes, he or she pulls a toothpick out of the crown. This activity is a wonderful hands-on reminder of the sacrifices Our Lord made for us and the suffering He endured for our salvation. Explain to your children that our sin brings additional pain to Jesus’ suffering and our good works and sacrifices are a way we can show our deep love for Him. The goal is to remove all the “thorns” from the crown by Easter Sunday. Once all the “thorns” have been removed, you can paint the crown gold and decorate it with colorful craft jewels, beads, or flowers, where the “thorns” once were. The crown is then transformed into a beautiful sign of the triumph of our risen King! It can also serve as a lovely Easter centerpiece.

An additional idea is to make an edible “crown of thorns” for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday:
simply braid store bought or homemade bread dough into a crown and bake.
Push pretzel sticks into the ‘crown’ as soon as it comes out of the oven.

LENT: a time to grow closer to God.
To take up new practices that lead us toward him and to leave behind practices that distract us from him.

When choosing what to give up and what to take up for Lent, use this idea chart:

THIS LENT I WILL STRIVE EACH DAY:

  • To do LESS:
  • To do MORE:
  • NEVER to:
  • ALWAYS to:

Every day, I will also set a goal for sacrificing something in my diet; I will do something physically challenging; and I will spend time cultivating my spiritual life through prayer and Scripture.

Prepared by the Catholic Identity Committee at Prince of Peace Catholic School