I love this time of year. There are so many opportunities to make memories with my kids that will last into their adulthood.
Decorating, crafting, baking, and shopping together. Listening to whimsical songs about winter wonderlands and evening sleigh rides. Watching Christmas specials while eating too many sugary treats.
But there’s also a downside. With so much to do, let’s face it: Jesus often gets lost in the mix. And how many of those Christmas shows or commercials on tv actually portray the real meaning of the season?
There are giant displays in stores featuring blow up-every-character-you-can-think-of and brightly colored fake trees, along with literally everything you could imagine to make your Christmas picture perfect. Mall Santas with overpriced photo packages invite our children to rattle off a whole bunch of toys they’ll likely play with twice and promptly forget about.
It can make you feel a little bit like Charlie Brown, wondering if there’s anyone out there who knows what Christmas is all about.
How do we help our kids cut through the noise and understand the true meaning of this often over-commercialized holiday? More importantly, how do we do it without becoming completely overwhelmed?
It’s likely you really don’t want to add “one more thing” to your already long list. Fear not! Here are 5 simple Christ-centered and kid-friendly activities to make it all about Him this season.
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Have a movie night (or afternoon)
Pop some popcorn and make hot chocolate- marshmallows and candy canes optional. Then snuggle up together under a cozy blanket and view a meaningful film about the birth of Christ. Why Do We Call It Christmas? by Jelly Telly is great because it informs young children about the meaning behind most of our holiday traditions, while also highlighting the reason for Jesus’ coming from a biblical perspective.
For older or more mature kids, you may want to watch The Nativity Story.
Be prepared to answer any questions your children have about what they’ve watched and help them process it, but don’t feel the need to give lengthy explanations. A biblical dissertation will just go right over their heads! Share what God lays on your heart about how that first Christmas has personally impacted your life.
Let them play with the Nativity Set
A non-breakable one, like The Little People Nativity, that is. Allow your kids to set it all up the way they want first. Read the Christmas Story aloud from Luke 1-2 while they play with the figures and act out the biblical account. Interacting with the characters and animals from the story over the next few weeks will help make the Nativity the focal point of their holiday.
Throw Jesus a birthday party
If you’re not keen on baking a whole cake in addition to the 12 dozen cookies you’re already making and frosting, set aside some cookies that your children can decorate especially for the occasion. Have your kids write down things they are thankful to Jesus for on red and green construction paper and then make a chain out of it to decorate the house with.
Put a present under the tree or hang a stocking just for Jesus. Inside, fill it with note cards from each family member with what they plan to give Him for Christmas. If a child can’t write, help them write it down or ask them to draw a picture instead. You’ll enjoy looking through and reading all your gifts to Jesus with your kids for years to come!
Focus on Christmas Carols
I love the classics like “White Christmas”, “Silver Bells”, and “Winter Wonderland” just as much as anybody, but those old traditional hymns really help us understand the reason for the season like nothing else. Switch up your play station to carols that will focus your heart and mind on Christ’s birth and let them fill the house while your kids are home.
Pick three of your favorites and teach them to your children. Then, have them “put on a concert” for grandparents or friends. If you’re feeling extra motivated, do a little bit of research on the carols’ backgrounds. Music appreciation and biblical truth, boom!
Give to someone in need
Isn’t serving others what this time of year is all about? One of the best ways to shift our attention off of ourselves and exude Christ is to consider the needs of others.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Make a list with your kids of people they know who could use some holiday cheer. Then come up with small ways to serve them like baking them cookies, leaving a present on their doorstep, bringing them a handmade card in the hospital, etc.
We can easily become overwhelmed by all the good and lovely Christmas activities this time of year. Knowing that childhood traditions and memories are important, we strive to make the advent season magical, merry, and bright for our children.
But if these traditions don’t bring us any closer to Jesus, it may be time to pitch them. Pray about which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of. May you and your kids make Christ the center of your Christmas this year!