Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in beginner, intermediate, and advanced)

Through my various Lenten fails over the years, I've learned a different way of approaching Lent. In our house, we now view Lent as a time to try adding or taking away things from our personal and family lives to see if we are improved. We make it a time, not of suffering (necessarily) but rather of increased focus on God and others and decreased focus on self and personal comfort. I have found that I can take up or give up just about anything, no matter how big or small, and use it as a reminder to pray more and love more. With that in mind, here are 66 ideas of things to consider giving up or taking up, in beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Lents.

1. Don't take the best spot available in the parking lot
2. Take the worst parking spot you can find
3. Don't drive: walk or take public transportation

1. Make the bed everyday
2. Make the bed everyday before you leave the bedroom
3. Put the throw pillows on and everything

1. Go to daily Mass once per week in addition to Sunday Mass
2. Go to daily Mass 2-3 times per week
3. Go to daily Mass every day

1. Don't leave dishes in the sink overnight
2. Do the cooking dishes before dinner and the dinner dishes dishes immediately after dinner
3. Don't use the dishwasher

1. Don't use credit cards, spend only cash
2. Keep a list of things to buy and only shop one day per week
3. Don't buy anything (except maybe food)

1. Don't eat out at restaurants
2. Make all your food from scratch
3. Grow/raise all your own food

1. Watch only specific, preselected movies or TV shows, not just whatever is on
2. Watch TV and movies only as a planned family event, not spur of the moment, not alone
3. Don't watch TV or movies

1. Say a family Rosary once a week
2. Say one decade of the Rosary as a family each day
3. Say a family Rosary every day

1. Only listen to audio books or Classical music in the car
2. Turn off the radio in the car
3. Say a Rosary in the car or listen to a spiritual audio book

1. Get up at a specific time each morning
2. Go to bed at a specific time each night
3. Be in bed for a set amount of time each night

1. Get dressed before 8am
2. No stretchy pants

1. Have dinner as a family
2. Have a family game night
3. Read a book aloud as a family

1. If you like email, make phone calls
2. If you like talking on the phone, write letters
3. Go visit someone in person

1. Know what you're going to make for dinner by 10am
2. Start a meal-planning system
3. Teach your kids to meal plan and cook

1. Clean the house each week
2. Clean the house before bed each night
3. Clean the house before dinner each evening

1. Eat more simply
2. Eat up the food that's in the back of the pantry and freezer
3. Eat only soup

1. Give up one particular type of treat
2. Give up all sweets
3. I'm pretty sure there's nothing harder than that

1. Switch from coffee to tea or vice versa
2. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee or tea per day
3. Give up caffeine

1. Turn the lights off in empty rooms
2. Have lights turned on in only one room at a time
3. Don't use electricity

1. Say the Morning Offering when you wake up
2. And the Angelus at noon
3. And do an Examination of Conscience and say the Act of Contrition at night

1. Read the Sunday readings before Mass
2. Read the Bible for 10 minutes each day
3. And read the Catechism for 10 minutes each day

1. If you like TV, read a novel instead
2. If you like novels, read a classic
3. If you like the classics, read great Catholic nonfiction

If you've got any ideas for an out of the box Lent, add them in the comments . . .