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All month long I’ve shared posts about Christmas featuring gifts, matching pajamas, stockings, and Christmas cards. I’ve talked about several different ways to make Christmas special for your family, but I’ve missed one key thing: Christ. Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season and He should be the focus of all that we do. Yes, Santa and Christmas trees and gifts are fun, but if we aren’t careful, the true meaning of Christmas can easily get lost on our kids.
Today I want to share ways to help you teach kids the true meaning of Christmas. These ideas range from simple and quick to needing a little planning, but they all help put the focus of Christmas back on Jesus Christ.
1. Make a birthday cake for Jesus. One of my kids’ favorite ways to celebrate Christmas is making Jesus a birthday cake! I let them help and it usually doesn’t turn out super pretty, but it’s a small way to help them remember that Christmas is the day we celebrate Jesus’ bithday!
2. Participate in a giving tree. I recently heard this called a “Jesus gift,” and I thought that was a great way to put it. Before buying gifts for family members or friends, pick a gift off of a giving tree (we’ve seen them at church, my son’s school, the gym, and the mall) and get your kids involved in picking out a gift for someone in need. Talk to them about why you’re doing it, how you’re helping someone, and let them have a say in what you buy for the person you pick.
3. Participate in a service project. Even something as simple as putting together care packages, tying blankets, or coloring pictures for residents in nursing homes. Service doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can be very memorable for kids when they are able to see the faces of the people they’re helping. Make sure you remember to tell them about why you are doing service and the kind of service Jesus did while He was on earth, too.
4. Watch Bible videos about the nativity. A few years ago, our church put out a series of incredible, touching videos based on the life of Jesus Christ. We like to watch the ones focused on the nativity at this time of year. There are nine here that span from when the angel told Mary about Christ to the wise men coming to bring gifts to Jesus. Seeing real people act out the stories is a lot more meaningful than watching cartoons about it.
5. Display kid-friendly nativity sets. When our oldest was a baby, my father-in-law got him this Fisher-Price Little People nativity and five years later, it’s still a big hit. My kids love setting up all the different pieces, and it’s fun to see the reverence they give baby Jesus, even though it’s just a toy. We also have a little block set with nativity characters mod-podged on, as well as a nativity that someone cut out, laminated, and glued magnets onto the back (it’s on our fridge and the kids love that one, too). There are so many great kid-friendly ways to display the nativity, and it’s fun having a few that I don’t mind them playing with!
6. Listen to Christmas hymns. Yes, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a great song, but listening to Christmas hymns is a lot better way to teach kids the true meaning of Christmas! Find a radio station on Amazon music that plays Christmas hymns, or even one on your local radio. My favorite song is “Angels We Have Heard on High” (because I always thought it said “in ex-Chelsea’s deo), but ones like “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger” are a little easier to teach kids!
7. Read a Christmas book. Over the years we’ve collected a lot of Christmas books, and my favorites are the ones that teach my kids the true meaning of Christmas. My friend Susannah put together a great list of books, and I also love the book “Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas.”
8. Act out or read the nativity story. If you have enough kids and/or several stuffed animals or babies or Barbies, acting out the nativity story is a great way to get your kids to pay attention. If you don’t, just read it from the Bible! Sit down and read the whole thing (Luke 1 and 2) or even just a few verses (Luke 2:1-20). You can even give your kids different parts of a nativity to set up when they hear it mentioned in the story. That way they’ll pay attention better!
9. Give gifts to neighbors and friends. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but a nice plate of cookies, some homemade caramels (that’s what we do!), or even just a handwritten card saying “Merry Christmas” are all great ways to reach out to neighbors you might not normally talk to. Tell your kids that Jesus wanted us to be kind to everyone, and by giving a small gift to neighbors and friends, you’re showing your love for them!
10. Fill up an empty manger with straw each time you do some kind of service. I recently heard about this, and thought it was such a great Christ-centered Christmas tradition. You start with an empty manger (like this), and then each time you or someone in your family performs a service or does something kind (like making a family member’s bed, listening to Mom or Dad the first time, or picking up toys) they get to put a piece of straw into the manger. The idea is that you fill the manger with straw and make baby Jesus as comfortable as possible before Christmas comes. Even little kids can feel the excitement and love that comes from doing service when they get to put a piece of straw in!
11. Anything from the #LightTheWorld campaign. For the last few years, my church’s Christmas campaign has been called “Light The World.” Jesus Christ, also called the Light of the World, spent much of His ministry caring for individuals, one by one. The idea behind the campaign is that we follow His example and find ways to share our time, love, and resources with those in need. This year December is broken up into four weeks (Light The World, Light Your Community, Light Your Family, and Light Your Faith) and there’s even a free printable calendar with ideas of things you can do to help Light The World. Last year, there was a different theme each day so you could Light The World 25 ways in 25 days (that free printable calendar is here). Even if you’re not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s a great resource to help teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas!
12. Light an Advent candle and read a scripture each night. In college I took a class about ways different religions practice their beliefs in their homes, and one thing we learned about were Advent candles. They’re a special way to count down the days until Christmas, and it can be made even more special if you have a scripture to read each time you burn your candle. There are lots of different suggestions of scriptures to read each night (just search “Advent scripture readings”), but what really matters is that you are setting aside time each day to focus on Christ and his miraculous birth. Plus, lighting a candle always gets a kid’s attention!
The true meaning of Christmas can easily be forgotten with all we have going on and how commercial Christmas has become. But there are lots of simple, special ways that we can teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas. Try one (or two) of these ways, and the true meaning of Christmas won’t be missed by your kids!
Merry Christmas, mamas!