Our kiddos know the Christmas story backwards and forwards. They hear it at home, church, and in books. In the past few years, we’ve done the basic Christmas activities and Advent calendars. They can tell you about Mary and Joseph. They can explain that Jesus was born in a manger. They can even announce who visited the new family.
As I am growing in my understanding of who Jesus is, I realize that it isn’t enough to be able to regurgitate the Christmas story-or any story from the Bible. I don’t want our children to simply know the facts.
I want them to know the Savior.
So in pondering what to do in the month of December to help them understand a little more about the King who came as a baby, I came up with some unconventional ideas.
1. Host a Happy Birthday Jesus Party
Since birthdays are near and dear to a child’s heart, hosting a birthday party for Jesus is a wonderful way for children to understand why we celebrate Christmas. Have fun with your family or invite friends to make it a neighborhood party. You can make this as simple or as detailed as desired by adding crafts, a scavenger hunt, or other fun activities during the birthday party.
2. Make a Birthday Cake for Jesus
Whether you have a birthday party or not, involving children in making Jesus a birthday cake can be a wonderful idea to tie Christmas and Easter together. The cake, frosting, and other pieces of the cake can be used to symbolize the Gospel message. One idea is to make a chocolate cake to represent the human sinful condition. Frost with white icing for how Jesus washed away our sins. Add a red candle to represent Christ’s blood shed on the Cross. A green candle represents renewal and growth. A yellow candle stands for the golden streets of heaven. Read more about this idea here.
3. Collect Hay for Jesus
My friend Nicole shared this childhood memory with me. “Growing up, our coffee table housed a little manger with hay under it. During the time between Thanksgiving until Christmas, every time we did something without being asked to do it, we got to place a piece of hay in the manger. The goal was to place enough hay in the manger by December 25th for baby Jesus.” This idea could be used as a reward for immediate obedience, finishing a chore, using kind words, or sharing.
4. Host a Neighborhood Open House
While this sounds incredibly stressful, it has been one of the most rewarding activities that we do with our family. Each December we invite our neighbors to a simple Christmas Open House with apple cider and cookies. It has helped unite our community and teach our children how to welcome people into our home and serve them while here. Even as preschoolers, our children assist in preparing the food, greeting guests at the door, and giving them a gift as they leave. Read more about this idea here.
5. Study the Characteristics of Jesus
One way to help our children know Jesus is to daily focus on His characteristics. For 25 days, we focus on themes like “Jesus is Immanuel” and “Jesus is Light” and then we build a Lego Christmas tree celebrating each aspect of our Savior. You could also add an ornament to the tree each day after discussing who Jesus is.
I don’t want my children to look back on December and simply picture a manger scene with Joseph, Mary, a baby, and animals. Also, I don’t want them to remember a stressed mommy. It is my prayer that in using these simple ideas, December will be a month of celebrating Jesus and others.