Last year I struggled to make Christmas anything but Santa. I really wanted to balance out Santa with Jesus. I looked at blogs, pinterest, etc, but really all I needed was a bit of time to think about the things that we already do and why. It was quite simple but required my own education. I had vague ideas about why we do candy canes and wreathes but it took time to gather the info and time I didn't have. So hopefully the links and ideas will be helpful to others like me. Truthfully, I wasn't thinking about Jesus enough myself. When I refocused MY thinking then it was/is much easier for me to refocus the kids.
1. When we put up the Christmas tree, I have Addison decorate and design a star from construction paper. As she does so, we discuss the wise men and how they followed the star. They followed the star in hopes of worshiping the newborn king. Spend some time talking about what is amazing and worthy of worship about Jesus. More than one craft age kid then just put the stars on their doors instead of the tree. I love this site and will reference it more than once. http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/star-of-bethlehem.shtml
2. Who doesn't love candy canes? While myths around the candy cane representing Jesus seems to be unfounded, the idea is still a good one. Run with it and enjoy a candy cane with the kids as desert. Or have them write a note with a candy cane to give to someone at school who needs a bit of sweetness in their day.
3. Repurpose that Christmas Elf for good. Instead of causing mischief, have him encourage the kids, be caught doing something good, giving ideas of how to help others. Personally, I don't have time for the Elf.
4. An easy one. Watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Movie.
5. Start an advent calendar-just make sure it was based on Jesus. Advent means the arrival of an important person.
6. A popular one, of course, is to help some one in need and emphasize Jesus command to love your neighbor as yourself. Ideas here are endless and I'm sure you have plenty of opportunities facing you every day but the trick is to make sure your children are in on it...don't just write a check.
7. Have girls? This one might be particularly fun for them, but remember that Mary was getting ready for her baby. Spend some time playing baby doll and talk about what things Mary might want to do to get ready.
8. Play act a nativity scene. Or go to my favorite site and color and cut one out: http://www.whychristmas.com/fun/nativity-coloring.shtml
9. I still love Santa! So let's go visit him. Pair the visit with one of the following books:
-A Special Place for Santa
-Santa's Birthday Gift
-Santa and The Christ Child
10. More Santa. He is a Saint after all. Tell his history and be inspired by his devotion to God and his people: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/
11. A fun one I remember as a kid. We made our table cloth out of butcher paper and decorated it. Have the kids write, draw, or stamp all the things that they associate with Christmas.
12. Color pictures of the Magi and their three gifts. What presents would they give to Jesus? Why would they give it?
13. Watch Island of the Misfit Toys. Read this blog post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/misfit-toys/
Then work with your children to identify the "misfits" that Jesus chose to be part of his family. How is Jesus himself a misfit?
14. This one takes planning...Jesus was born in a manger but most kids have no clue what that means. Visit a ranch to get an idea of the conditions Jesus was born in.
15. Have the kids read their favorite Christmas book and ask them to connect it to Jesus. How does it demonstrate his goodness, his hope, etc...?
16. Another easy one. Read from the Bible the Christmas story from Luke 2.
17. Make some salt dough crafts in the shapes of crosses, wreathes, stars, candy canes, angels, etc...
18. Shopping for Christmas at the mall or shopping center. Have the kids do a scavenger hunt (use their smart phones for older kids) or for younger ones just point out religious items with eager awe! The kids with the most connections to Jesus (they can be creative) can earn a surprise or just bragging rights.
19. Christmas caroling. Not really going to do this outside with people hearing my voice, but I sure can do it inside with hot cocoa and silly girls.
20. Go on a nature walk. A couple ways to connect this: Mary and Joseph's walk to Bethlehem, the Magi's journey,
21. Star gazing! You can connect to this to the Magi or to the shepherds herding their sheep by night.
22. Make your own wreath or hang one.
23. Focus on the word Christmas. What does the word mean? Then do a fun craft. Cut out each letter of the word big enough for your kids to write several words or draw pictures inside. In each letter have them write a word or draw a picture that reveals part of Jesus character or love that starts with that letter. C-christ, crucified, caring, comforter etc..., H-holy, happy, helpful, etc. You can do one letter a day or all at once. You could also hang up a letter every time your child demonstrates the character of Christ in that letter then give them a special Christmas related treat when the whole word is spelled.
Post more of your own so that I can join in.