Keeping Christ in Your Family Christmas -Part 2: Giving A Gift To Jesus
Keeping Christ in Your Family Christmas: Giving a Gift to Jesus...
(Part 2 in a three part Blog Series... see bottom for links to the series.)
As a parent, I always want to make sure my children understand the true meaning of Christmas. About the time my oldest was in 3rd or 4th grade, it really hit me I wanted to make a significant connection between Christ and Christmas.
That focused desire turned into one of our most meaningful Christmas traditions. We call it our Gifts for Jesus. It was our effort to shift the focus from getting wrapped up in what we want to get for Christmas and focus back on our Savior and what GIFTS we could GIVE to Him. Afterall, HE IS THE REAL REASON FOR THE SEASON. We decided the best gift was serving others.
What we did:
I took a simple Christmas box that had a removable lid, wrapped it up in Christmas paper, tied a bow on top and put it under our Christmas Tree. I also took glass Mason jars and put each child's name on a jar. I put the jars on a shelf in our family room cabinet.
I typed up a list of simple service ideas, thinking specifically about each child and what types of service were age appropriate. I cut the ideas into individual strips and put them into that child’s jar. (Grab the "Christ Centered Christmas" printable with 27 ideas ready to go (just cut out) + more Keeping Christ in Christmas helps! - bottom of post)
The service ideas were quite simple. I wanted our kids to recognize how simple service is impactful too and I didn't want to expect so much that we couldn't keep up with it. The ideas included things like, “Smile at everyone today,” or “Open the door for everyone you see today. as well as bigger things like, "Do a chore for someone.”
Each morning when we had family prayers, the kids would go to their jar, pull out a slip of paper and read it. That day, they could use that service idea and try to do it or come up with one of their own. We talked about recognizing ways to serve too. As parents, we did it with them as well. — As our kids got older, we went to just having one jar of ideas and we would pull it out and read it to everyone in the morning.
In the evening, before the kids went to bed, as we gathered for family prayers again, everyone would put into the gift box the "gift" they gave to Jesus. If they used the idea on the slip from the morning, they would just sign the paper and put it in the box. If they did something else, they would write what they did on a blank slip of paper, sign it and put it in the box. We did this all December.
Make it Part of Your Christmas Eve Tradition
On Christmas Eve night (or some years Christmas morning), came my favorite part. We gather as a family and open our “gifts to Jesus”. We take turns pulling out a service and reading what gift /service was done for Jesus. Sometimes this even prompted individuals telling a neat story of their experience, which was always special. Most of all it was just so fun to see the creative service that has been done, feel in our hearts the confirmation it was good and remember what the season is really all about.
Now, if this seems overwhelming to keep up with, you can do it the 12 days leading up to Christmas or even the week of Christmas. We’ve done it differently in different years, but it’s always one of my favorite things. The years we haven’t been as diligent with it, I noticed a part of the sweetness of the holiday wasn’t as much (and the mom guilt was there that I could have helped them feel more this season.)
You don’t have to do the gift box either, one year we did it with a paper chain so we could watch it grow throughout the month. Each night we would just write what we did on the paper and add it to the paper chain. Personalize the idea however fits your family.
Other holiday service ideas:
If you don't like the idea of daily service, it's always wonderful to plan with your family a way you can all serve together.
Before my husband and I had kids, it was our favorite Christmas experience to help a family in need. I still remember the year we pulled a few friends together and created an amazing Christmas for a family that had very little.
I have a friend whose family would serve Christmas Eve dinner at the local shelter. She always said it was a memorable experience and even the teens wanted to go again. There are sometimes restrictions on ages allowed to do this, but what an eye opening experience it can be.
One of my wonderful friend's siblings and their families save their coins (you know, the leftover change) all year and then at Christmas they take that money and use it to serve someone or an organization… what a wonderful small family or extended family tradition this would be thinking about serving at Christmas, all year long and then carrying it out as a family.
Here are a few other service ideas to get you thinking! (Get a copy of this in the "Christ Centered Christmas" printable!)
I hope these ideas got you thinking how your family can give a gift to Jesus this Christmas, through service. I promise you it will make your holiday more meaningful!
** This post is part of a 3 part series on Keeping Christ in Your Family Christmas. Check out these blog posts for more ideas on how to Keep Christ in Christmas this year.
- Keeping Christ in Your Family Christmas- Part 1: Decorating
- Keeping Christ in Your Family Christmas: Part 3- Other Ideas
Be sure to grab the "Christ Centered Christmas" Printable too! It includes the printable SERVICE IDEAS and more! Sign up below and it will be in your inbox in minutes!