When my kids are old and grown, I want them to look back on Christmas pasts and remember many things. I want them to remember fun events that we did together as a family. I want them to remember the smell of cookies that we baked together. I want them to remember delivering gifts to our neighbors. I want them to remember helping with the outreach activities we did at church. I want them to remember going to church together as a family on Christmas Eve. I want them to remember a special gift that they received. I want them to remember spending time with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents on Christmas day. But most of all, I want them to remember how we always made Jesus the center of our Christmas celebration. Truthfully, I hope they see every day like that, but especially at Christmas, when it’s so easy to get bogged down by commercialism, giant wishlists, and me me me.
Last year we changed how we did Christmas a bit. Instead of a ton of Christmas presents, my kids each got one big gift from my husband and me. Now don’t get me wrong, they were larger gifts, but they were meaningful gifts that I knew would last instead of just more STUFF that would clutter up our house and never get played with. Yes, they were still very excited Christmas morning and yes, they still got several presents from other people in our family. Trust me, they weren’t left sad and lacking. Here are other things that we did to make Christmas meaningful and more than just about the presents.
We celebrated Advent.
I want my kids’ anticipation to be building for more than just the loot under the tree. That’s the beauty of Advent. It’s the celebration of the time leading up to the birth of Christ and his coming. It’s as if we are participating with the Israelites awaiting the coming of the Messiah and for God to make good his promises to his people that he would bring a way for our relationship with him to be restored. It’s the anticipation of the promise a king that would reign forever! That’s something to celebrate! So last year, we did just that.
I’m not the most organized person and sometimes lack in my crafting skills. I love to craft, but coming up with fun activities and crafts to do with my kids to celebrate Advent is enough to make me feel overwhelmed and anxious, certainly not the feelings I want to have surrounding the Christmas season. I don’t even know how I found it, but I stumbled upon a wonderful resource called Truth in the Tinsel. (aff link)
Every day in the month of December, there is scripture to read, a small devotion, and a small ornament to make, which all tell the story of Christmas. My five year old loves the crafts, and I love the fact that the templates and guess work is already done for me. I can just focus on sharing the good news with my kids and enjoying the craft.
We are using the same plan again this year. You can either make all new ornaments, use the printable pre-made ones, or change them up a bit. We did not get through the entire curriculum last year so we are just doing all of the ornaments over again.
Here are some pictures of our Truth in the Tinsel experience last year.
This is our advent wreath. I made these clue tags with printables from the curriculum. On one side, my daughter wrote numbers, and on the other side was a printed clue as to what we would be talking about that day.
We focused more on events and memories than presents.
We went to see a large Christmas lights display in our area. My kids are always in awe over this.
We attended a “Journey to Bethlehem” event at a local church. This is one of my favorite things to do. You walk through an elaborate re-enactment of the journey the people took to Bethlehem for the census. It’s sooo cool!
We helped with a giant drive through Christmas card display event at our church, which tells the Christmas story through giant Christmas cards.
We attended Christmas parties with friends.
Adding this year:
Help put up my grandma’s Christmas decorations.
Bake cookies and candy with my cousin and grandma.
Build a gingerbread house or gingerbread manger scene adapted from this one.
Make a fridge magnet nativity scene. This is an adorable printable to laminate.
We focused more on giving instead of getting.
We made and hand delivered cookies and cards to all of our neighbors on our street.
We tried to make handmade gifts for friends, family, and people at church.
Packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Adding this year:
Take meals to people that may need it.
Go visit a shut in or someone in a nursing home.
So that’s it. Our December in a nutshell. I’d love to hear from you and find out how you make Christmas meaningful in your house. Even if yours looks totally different from mine, that’s ok too! I just love hearing stories from you! Let’s chat in the comments below.