By Jessica Bordeleau
Christmas is coming! The excitement and anticipation of the holiday season has started building. Young imaginations are envisioning parties and presents under the tree. It’s the perfect time to ride that wave of energy and guide children to see the greatest gift of all—Jesus!
When you set aside time for discussion and activities that focus on the birth of Jesus, you show children that his birth is a priority at Christmas. Instead of simply telling children that Christmas is about more than gifts, show them! Here are some ideas for activities that children can do at home to help understand and experience the true meaning of Christmas.
Send God’s Love
Excitement over receiving presents is normal and healthy. Talk with children about ways to share that feeling with others and point to God’s gift of a Savior. Guide them to look outside of themselves and see the needs of those around them. Explain that some people don’t have others around them during the holiday season; discuss how that might feel and what you could do about it.
Read Matthew 25:35–39 together and discuss ways to encourage those who are lonely or sick. Brainstorm ways that they could reach out with a friendly gesture to show God’s love. Assemble a list of mailing addresses of people from your congregation who live alone, can’t get out of the house, or live at a senior care center. As a group, pray together for each person on the list.
Have paper, card envelopes, and crayons ready—it’s time to make Christmas cards! Make sure your paper is cut to the correct size so that once folded in half, it fits inside your envelopes. Ask children to draw their favorite part of the Christmas story.
The inside of the cards can say something simple: “Dear (insert name), Merry Christmas from your church family at (insert your church or ministry)!” Adding a personalized message, if possible, will make it even more meaningful to the recipient. Use the church’s building as the return address and send the cards to those on your mailing list. While the recipients won’t know who made the cards, they will know that their church family hasn’t forgotten them!
Build a Christmas library! Collect children’s books, videos, and puzzles that highlight the biblical account of Christmas. Picture books and videos that focus on Christ’s birth bring the story to life. Bring out your library in December and keep it packed away the rest of the year. The fun will stay fresh as children look forward to seeing their favorites again each season.
Check the Manger
Get a nativity scene and include children as you set it up. As you unpack each piece, talk about each of the figures. Ask questions like these: “What do you think the shepherds were doing the day Jesus was born?” or “How did Joseph help Mary as they traveled to Bethlehem?” Allow children to arrange each piece and decide where each one should go.
Leave the figure of baby Jesus packed away. Talk about how God’s people waited for many long years for the promised Messiah to come—at just the right time he sent Jesus, his only son, to save us. Throughout December, encourage children to “check the manger” for the figure of baby Jesus. When they find the manger empty, say, “It looks like we are still waiting, but God always keeps his promises!” Late on Christmas Eve, secretly place the figure of baby Jesus in the nativity scene. On Christmas morning, encourage children to check the manger, and then celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior!
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2021 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.