By Ashley Vaughan
Thanksgiving is over (though who else has turkey leftovers still?) and the Christmas season is knocking on our door. It’s a wonderful time of year. But let’s face it, with all of the parties, concerts, shopping, Christmas card writing, family get-togethers, and more, we often feel like this…
And in the hubbub and uproar of a season that can include the equivalent of 60 hour work weeks, it can be easy to miss the reason for the season.
What if, before sailing full steam ahead into a flurry of activities, we took a moment (or several) to take a step back and evaluate our traditional busy-ness? And also ask ourselves, are we passing on to our kids the materialistic values of our godless society? Or are we intentionally laying a foundation in their hearts of a God-centered view of this time of year?
To that latter end, this blog has some suggestions for activities that can help redeem the time. But first, check out these past blog posts for suggestions on how to simplify this season.
- 26 Tips for Simplifying Your Season Part 1
- 26 Tips for Simplifying Your Season Part 2
- Embracing Homeschool Flexibility at the Holidays
Ideas for Younger Kids
- Jesse Tree — A different kind of advent calendar which focuses on seeing Jesus throughout the entire Bible, starting in Genesis. This book includes short, daily devotionals for kids and for adults, and suggestions for items you can make or purchase for your Jesse Tree. Or there are several Jesse Tree kits available online. Simply search “Advent Jesse Tree.”
- Advent Paper Chain — You add a chain each day of Advent, and with each one you read a short Scripture passage, and there is a simple follow up question for your child to ensure they are paying attention. Your child will be excited as they see the chain grow throughout December, and you’ll be planting seeds of the Gospel account in their hearts. Click here to view and download the PDF.
- Christmas Gift Craft Party — This is something you could do with some other families in your church or homeschool group. Have the parents brainstorm a few craft ideas that the kids could make (here are some ideas to get you started). Then choose a day for everyone to gather, have the crafts set up in different stations throughout the house (or wherever you choose to meet) with a supervising parent at each station. Then the kids can rotate through the stations, and you’ll leave with gifts made by your kids that can be given to grandparents and friends.
- Christmas Goodie Giveaway — With your children, choose a few of their favorite (simple) Christmas goodie recipes to make as a family. Then you can put them on paper plates and give them to family, neighbors, and/or friends at church.
Ideas for Older Kids
- Advent Using Handel’s Messiah — This classic work was written entirely using Scripture passages, and walks the listener through prophecies regarding Christ, His passion, and His resurrection. Click here for suggestions on how to use this as an advent devotion.
- Christmas Open House — Katie Ward (former Marketing Director of CHEC) and her family have done this for years. (I’ll tell you what they do, but feel free to adjust this to whatever level of difficulty fits your family and schedule.) The Ward family found that there were just too many Christmas goodie recipes that they liked, and if they made and ate all of them, they would be in a sugar coma until July. The solution? They make all of the goodies, and then host an open house in mid-December, inviting their entire neighborhood, church, and friend group. It is a lot of work, but they have discovered it is an excellent outreach opportunity to their neighbors, and has become a beloved tradition.
- Volunteer at an Operation Christmas Child Processing Center — For those in the Denver metro area, this is a great way to serve the less fortunate. Click here to learn more and volunteer.
- 12 Days of Christmas “Secret Santa” — This is a favorite Vaughan family tradition (probably because of the slight mischievousness of the gift giving). Essentially, you choose a family or two that you will be dropping a gift on their doorstep every day for 12 days (bonus points if you ding dong ditch in the process). Each gift is themed along the lines of the 12 Days of Christmas song, and when giving the last gift you stay on their doorstep to sing the song to the family and hand the gift to them (or you can choose to remain anonymous). The giving in secret is fun, and a subtle way to reinforce the joy of giving. (I have some pretty fun stories about families of boys trying to catch us as we dropped off their gifts. Ask me sometime. 😉 )
Again, these suggestions are not meant to bring guilt or pressure to add yet another thing to your schedule this Christmas season. But I hope that they can give you some good ideas for how you might be able to start traditions that are focused on Christ and help lay a foundation of a God-centered view of this season in your children.