By Barbara Rainey
First posted on EverThineHome.com
Two weeks till Palm Sunday and Holy Week! How much time have you spent preparing?
A quick quiz for you:
Have you done any decorating to signal to your family and neighbors that Easter is coming and that this holiday is important to you?
Are you preparing for this day as the most important celebration of the entire year?
I could ask more questions but this is not a guilt trip.
My questions are simply meant to illustrate that most of us begin thinking about Christmas months before December arrives. At three weeks out our gift buying and decorating are almost complete and plans are being finalized for gatherings, parties and feasting. At least that was what we did pre-Covid and I hope it will return in 2021.
I’m not suggesting we make Easter equal in terms of consumerism, but I am suggesting we make it much more than a Sunday morning church event.
Here are 20 ideas to help you celebrate with great joy.
You might want to print this list and mark the ideas you want to try and then mark your calendar with deadlines and to-dos for making it happen. But don’t do them all. Discouragement will result not rejoicing! Rejoice if you accomplish even one!
1. Start thinking about Easter and begin planning today. First start by downloading our planning checklist with week by week to dos so you are ready in time. Second, there is still time to use the Lenten season to help us prepare our hearts to worship Jesus for His work on the cross. It’s OK to start late.
2. Create anticipation with a countdown to Easter. Help your kids make a traditional numbered a paper chain. They can tear off one paper loop each day. Let them each hang one in their room.
3. Plan meaningful decorations for your home. Please forego the chicks and bunnies. Instead, use our new His Easter Names cross in your décor and buy fresh spring flowers to set on your mantle or kitchen to represent new life. Encourage your kids to build a cross with old pieces of wood and let them decide where to display it. Frame and hang a print of my painting, Worthy is the Lamb print, in your home for Easter and all year.
4. Get your church and community involved with some advance planning. Organize a church or neighborhood egg hunt, using Resurrection Eggs from FamilyLife.
5. Plan to help your kids reenact the Palm Sunday story or the Good Friday story. Read aloud the story in John 12 and John 18-20. Encourage them to create costumes, and even the scene if you have the space.
6. Invite your friends over for a DIY craft night to make these Easter candles. Use them as décor on your kitchen or dining room table to use during Holy Week.
7. Celebrate Passover. This year Jewish Passover is on March 27. For recipes, a dinner guide, and activities, click here.
8. Tune your heart to worship the sacrifice of Messiah by reading John Piper’s book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s an excellent book for your personal devotion time, conveniently available as a PDF here.
9. Watch the film, Jesus. Dear friends of ours, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, watch the movie on Silent Saturday afternoon and take communion together as a family. Watching the story of Jesus every year will make Easter far more meaningful. You can watch it here.
10. Observe Holy Week. Starting on Palm Sunday, I will be posting I AM statements and stories about Jesus everyday during Holy Week that your family can use for devotions. Light your pre-decorated candles as you read the stories.
11. Attend your church’s Good Friday services. At home either before or after church, talk about Jesus’ death on the cross by reading the story in one of the four Gospels. Tear a handmade curtain or a yard length of muslin fabric to explain the ripping of the veil in the temple. At noon, close all your curtains and blinds to make your house dark. This is the hour when the earth went dark. Leave your house dark till Sunday’s morning to further the impact. Then on Easter Sunday to symbolize Jesus rising from the dead, serve Tomb Cake, or special pancakes to illustrate the empty tomb.
12. Send an Easter care package. If there’s someone you’d love to spend Easter with but distance or Covid keeps you apart, drop a meaningful gift in the mail to them such as a set of His Savior Names crosses. If they’ll be hosting the meal, send the Easter placemats. Or send our Resurrection Day Stories for your loved one to read as personal devotions.
13. Include truth-telling gifts in your children’s Easter baskets. A new shirt to wear to the sunrise service is great, but also add something that will continue teaching your children about what Easter really means. Check out Growing Together in Forgiveness, a read-aloud storybook for families.
14. Wear all white on Resurrection Sunday. Historically Christians have dressed in white at Easter to symbolize we are set free from sin and will one day be wholly pure. Think through what you have in your closet and your kids’ closets that you can dress in white. Or start shopping!
15. Invite others. Around the world monumental events are rarely celebrated alone. Weddings, birthdays, graduations are grand occasions shared with family and friends. Easter should be the same and more! We have a super cute free printable invitation here.
16. Help your church make Easter Sunday memorable. A good friend of mine, Andrea, a pastor’s wife, said Easter at their church is a party. She said they shoot confetti cannons and encourage all the members to bring bells to ring and banners to wave to enhance the celebration. Last Easter everyone was given a cake pop as they left the service.
17. Prepare a special feast. Find a suggested Easter menu or ask friends for ideas. One of our favorites for our Easter meal is Spring Salad. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to add it to your menu.
18. Create a grand table-scape for Easter lunch or early dinner feasting in a gold and white color scheme. Gold reminds us of our victorious King and white represents the purity of His perfect life and the purity that will be ours one day. Your décor doesn’t have to be expensive. Set the DIY candles on blocks of wood to create varying heights. Fill mason jars with white roses, white hydrangeas, or even baby’s breath. If the weather is glorious, eat outside with gold-rimmed paper plates, gold plastic silverware, paper cups. We even found gold-striped paper straws for our photo shoot. A backyard picnic setup gives the kids space to play when the feasting is over.
19. Recount the story of the Resurrection during your Easter feast. Read the miraculous stories on our Resurrection Day Stories cards. The short stories are written for 10 years to adult, but younger children can listen quietly to the stunning wonders that God performed the first Easter.
20. Make an Easter playlist of your favorite hymns and songs that focus on the cross and the resurrection. Download our playlist here. Listen for yourself and your family in the weeks before and after Easter, but on Easter Sunday play them all day in your home and during your backyard celebration. I want to encourage you to respond to the miracles in words or songs by celebrating with exuberant dancing, clapping, or singing together. Easter is a day to party like no other.
The resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is the pinnacle of world history. It is the greatest miracle of all time. Is it any wonder the watching world isn’t impressed with our faith if our celebration is marked by the appropriate somber tone of Lent with only an hour or two of moderate joy on Easter Sunday?
I pray you will join us and hopefully thousands of others as we plan celebrations that are worthy of our risen Lord and the envy of all who don’t know Him. Christ’s victory on the cross is the answer for every wound and need in every heart.
And share your photos with us! #easterpeople
“Come, let us magnify the Lord together.”
My Heart, Ever His: Prayers for Women (BRAND NEW from Barbara Rainey)
As we search for meaning in our world of shallow online relationships and glamorized selfies, many are returning to traditional and liturgical churches. The repeated words, benedictions, and historic hymns connect us to saints who have gone before, giving us a sense of belonging, richness, and transcendence. Written prayers, once cast off as archaic, are now welcomed as guides to tune our hearts to the heart of God.
In My Heart, Ever His Barbara Rainey shares 40 prayers for women. Readers can read and meditate on one prayer throughout the week or read a prayer a day for 40 days as a way to express the longing of our hearts to our Father who loves us even as he sees who we truly are. Like the psalms of David, these prayers are honest, sometimes raw. Barbara uses these transparent expressions of common female experiences to encourage us to surrender to Christ and help us see God as he is, not as we assume him to be. My Heart, Ever His provides a stepping-stone to help you become more transparent with God and discover his welcoming embrace.
This is too good to keep to yourself! Share with a friend or family member using the links below!