Are you looking for a special activity for your children’s ministry this Christmas? Then consider having a Jesus Birthday Party. This activity includes hearing the story of Jesus’ birth and thinking about what gifts we can give to Jesus, and compares the celebration of Christ’s birth with a traditional birthday party. It would make an excellent Sunday School or Children’s Church lesson, and could also be a really fun and effective intergenerational family ministry event.
Estimated length is 45-60 minutes.
By contributing writer, Nicole VanderMeulen, Children’s Ministry Coordinator at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, Washington.
Children will hear the story of Jesus’ birth, brainstorm what gifts they have to give to Jesus, and participate in traditional birthday party activities to help them explore how celebrating Christmas is like having a birthday party for Jesus.
Target Age Group: Children age 3-12 years
Bible Story: Luke 2:1-16 The Birth of Jesus
Explanation: Children learn what birthday parties are all about at a very young age, so having a birthday party for Jesus is an extremely cognitively appropriate way for kids to see what celebrating Christmas is all about. Just like we celebrate another year of life with a birthday party, Christmas is an annual celebration of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.
- Cone Shaped Birthday Hats or Construction Paper and Elastic
- Glue Sticks
- Stickers/Foam Shapes/Sequins/Other Decorations
- Christmas Music
- Large Manger Picture
- Yellow Feathers
- Cake or Cupcakes
- Plates and Forks
- Balloons, Streamers, or other decorations
- The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomi dePaola
- Nativity Set or Picture of Nativity Characters
- Birthday Candles and Lighter or Matches
This program plan will detail four different activities that could be included as part of a birthday party for Jesus. Depending upon your group size, volunteers, and available resources you may want to do each activity together as an entire group, or split the class into smaller groups and set up each activity as a separate station each led by a different volunteer, which each small group will rotate to for a set amount of time. Encourage each activity leader to ask the children how a birthday party and Christmas are the same? How are they different? Continue to reinforce the idea that Christmas is a birthday party for Jesus. If time, money, and resources permit you may want to add decorations to your activity space. Even simple things like a few streamers and balloons make things extra special for your children.
Birthday Gift Giving: For the story portion of this activity, there are several options. One would be to read the book The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomi dePaola. An alternative option would be to share the story of Jesus’ birth by reading it from the Bible in Luke 2:1-16 or using another children’s book that tells the story. If reading from the Bible, you could use a nativity set or pictures of the nativity characters and show the children each one as they are mentioned in the story. Following the story, ask the children what gift they would bring to Jesus at his birthday party. The children could write words or draw pictures of their gifts and then place them by the nativity.
Birthday Hat Making: Provide each child with a plain, colored, cone shaped birthday hat to decorate. An alternative would be to make hats using colored construction paper and elastic. Use stickers, sequins, foam shapes, markers, or whatever you have available for decorating.
Birthday Game Playing:
Musical Chairs- Children walk around chairs (one less than number of participants) placed in a circle as Christmas music plays. When music stops, they must find a seat. The person left standing is out. For younger kids, use enough chairs for everyone and do not call anyone “out”.
Pin the Hay in the Manger- Played just like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”. Blindfold each child. Spin them around, and then have them attempt to add a yellow feather (hay) with a piece of tape on it to the manger picture. Little ones can add their hay without the blindfold or spinning!
Birthday Cake Eating: For snack, sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and then eat cake or cupcakes. You may want to provide each child with a lit candle on their cake and let them blow it out. A great discussion question while you are eating would be, “What do you think Jesus would wish for when he blew out his birthday candle?”
Prayer: Consider gathering the group to conclude your event with a “repeat after me prayer”. Pause between every few words, allowing the children to echo what you have said. Dear God/Thank you/for our birthdays/especially/Jesus’ birthday. /Amen.
Need More Christmas Ideas? Then check our all our children’s ministry ideas for Christmas.