This is guest post sent to us from Michelle Bailey from the Congregational Church of Topsfield. Submit your articles to Tony@Ministry-To-Children.com
Often the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season leaves less time than we’d like to enjoy and celebrate. We’ve complied a list of simple not to add to your already stressful week, but help our church families remember the true meaning of Christmas.
1. Follow the Magi – Give Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?
The Magi brought Jesus 3 gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Ask Santa for 3 gifts or see if Santa can deliver only 3 gifts.
Purchase 3 small gifts for stockings to represent the gifts of the wisemen – chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil for gold, a scented item for frankincense (candle/lip balm/lotion/soap/scratch’n sniff stickers, etc.), maple candy for myrrh (a type of harden tree sap use as incense)
2. Create a Good Deeds Manger
Need: small box, brown paper (construction or bag), hay (yarn, pipe cleaners, raffia), small doll or picture of a baby
- Wrap the outside of a small box with the brown construction paper.
- Use the markers or paint to make the paper look like slats of wood (draw lines, knot holes, etc.)
- Tie the pipe cleaners or straw into a bundle using the ribbon or raffia.
To use your “good deeds” manger:
Place the manger in a prominent spot (such as the center of the dining table or coffee table). Put the bundle of pipe cleaners or straw near the manger. Have your family get together and talk about the good deeds they’ve done during the day. For every good deed done, a person gets to place one “straw” in the manger. On Christmas Eve, place baby Jesus in the manger, on the soft bed you have built for him with your good deeds!
3. Get a Crèche for your kids-
Give your kids their own creche. Buy one from Playmobil, Little People or www.christianbooks.com or make one from Legos, PlayDoh, or even paper.
- Let kids retell the story during their playtime or perform for you.
- Play a hide and seek game with the wisemen.
- Use the Baby Jesus as your Good Deeds Manger Doll.
4. The Empty Gift?
Two years ago I was teaching Sunday School for grades 1 and 2. The kids were so excited about Christmas and we were talking about family traditions. A girl said she had a good idea for a family tradition. She said, “What if you wrapped an empty box and put it under the tree. Then when it was opened, everyone would think their mom made a mistake. But then you could tell everyone that the box wasn’t really empty because Jesus is everywhere so he would be in the box too.”
I thought that was such a clever idea from such a young child, so that Christmas I wrapped an empty box and put it under the tree. Indeed, everyone looked around at me when the box was unwrapped and there was nothing inside. When I explained that Jesus was in the box, since he is everywhere, everyone in the room paused. It made us stop and remember the true meaning of Christmas in the frantic midst of opening gifts. Now it is one of our family traditions. Thank you, Becca T.!
5. The Stocking Prayer
When packing your stockings, write a prayer thanking God for the blessings of this year and ask for one thing in the New Year. Next year, you can find the prayer and see how God blesses and answers prayer throughout the year.
6. Happy Birthday, Jesus.
Our family bakes a chocolate cake on Christmas then decorates it like a birthday cake. After dinner we sing happy birthday to Jesus and blow out the candles. The boys enjoy blowing out the advent candles all month long, so blowing out the birthday candles is just another part of advent.
7. Read Books About Christmas – Give a Book for Christmas
When searching for Christmas books at Amazon.com or in the special section at the bookstore, there are many great traditional stories that retell the story of the first Christmas. It can be overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of books to consider to read or give as gifts.
The Advent Book http://www.adventbook.com/adventbook.html is more than a story; it’s a beautiful work of art to celebrate advent each year with your whole family.
Birth to 3:
- Books by Crystal Bowman: J is for Jesus, My Christmas Gift, Jesus, Me and My Christmas Tree.
PreK – 3rd grade
- Books by Tomie DePaola: The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Legend of Old Befana , The Night of Las Posadas , Tomie’s Little Christmas Pageant, The Story of the Three Wise Kings
- Books by Max Lucado: The Crippled Lamb, Alabaster’s Song: Christmas through the Eyes of an Angel, Jacob’s Gift
- The Parable Series: The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
- Santa, Are You For Real? by Harold Lawrence Myra
- Who Is Coming to Our House? (Board Book) by Joseph Slate
- The Legend Of The Three Trees – by Catherine McCafferty
- The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
- Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
- Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Dick Schneider, Richard H. Schneider, Elizabeth J. Miles
- We Believe in Christmas by Karen Kingsbury, Daniel J. Brown
- God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Older Elementary School Students
- One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Patrick James Lynch (Illustrator)
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson and Judith Gwyn Brown
8. Celebrate Epiphany
- Take time to undecorate your tree and home together.
- Hamilton, MA has a place at the back of Patton Park for residents to drop-off their Christmas Trees between Dec. 26 and Jan. 6. At 6pm on Jan. 6, the Christmas trees (along with a few dozen wooden pallets) are set ablaze by the fire department. Start a bonfire tradition in your community. Or for this year, build a fire at home using the stump or branches from your Christmas Tree.
- Slice a small disc-shape off the end of your Christmas tree’s stump. Sand it and drill a hole in it to make into a decoration for next year’s tree.
- On Jan. 5th, read the Legend of Old Befana by Tomie De Paola. Have Befana leave you children a small gift overnight to find on Epiphany.
- Make a kings cake or cupcakes. Make a small cut in the cake or one cupcake to hide a small bean or trinket. Then frost with yellow/gold frosting and decorate like a kings crown using “ jewels” like skittles, silver balls, jimmies, etc. A Bundt cake would look great. Who ever finds the bean, gets to be the King of Dinner, sitting at the head of the table.