Any good ideas of kid-friendly ways to celebrate Christmas with the main focus on Jesus instead of on opening the presents?

Michelle - posted on 12/17/2008 ( 29 moms have responded )

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Just wanted to hear of any other kid-friendly ideas for celebrating Christmas with the main focus being on Jesus' birth instead of on opening the presents. We have an almost 3 year old and 17 month old twins, and I just want to create the most meaningful focus from the beginning with them. I have a few ideas, but am still curious to hear of more fun, special ways to do this :)

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Rebekah - posted on 12/17/2012

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Here are a few ideas:

- Happy Birthday Jesus Party on Christmas
make a cake, put a baby Jesus under the tree with wrapped boxes and notes inside explaining all the gifts He gave to us to share in, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and eat the cake

- Giving Advent Calendar
I bought the nativity bulletin board set off of Oriental Trading and it had 24 gifts to put under the manger that I decorated and labeled with each day of December. Then I taped a giving activity behind each present that could be dropped down. Activities included: give a gift to the mailman; deliver a card and goodies to the fire station; light a candle and say a prayer for family far away; make a mini stocking and leave on a neighbor's door; pick up trash and trash cans around the neighborhood after the garbage collectors have been by; deliver homemade cards to a senior center; etc. I based it all around the verse Luke 6:38, that tells us when we give, God gives back to us!

- Star on the Shelf
Christian version of Elf on the Shelf, only your child follows the star like the 3 wise men to find baby Jesus! Check out my blog: www.sonshinetotschool.blogspot.com

- Truth in the Tinsel
Really cool advent idea for the month. Your kids will learn something new about Christmas each day and make a craft.

Melinda - posted on 12/18/2008

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Well Christmas Eve we spend the evening singing Christmas Carols, and not "Jingle bells and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer". We sing away in a manger and song that show the meaning of Christmas, we read the nativity story and Christmas Day we treat as Jesus' birthday. We don't "celebrate Santa but thanks to cartoons my daughter believes in him so we have decided to tell her the meaning of Santa and that Saint Nicholas was a Christian man who's giving heart shows how we are supposed to love others. We also sit under the tree and thank Jesus for coming as a baby and enjot the time as a family. Christmas morning we have our gift giving time and then we celebrate Jesus' birthday when we have our meal. We explain to our daughter that we give gifts as a reminder of the gift that God gave us. She is still young but she will understand as she gets older

Lori - posted on 12/17/2012

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Hi. I love all these ideas and am trying to figure out which ones I will do.

One idea I just love is doing a "Jesse" tree. The basic idea is that each day you read a passage of the Bible that illuminates Christ's coming, starting with the prophecy (a root shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, which of course, is Christ), and other prophecies in the OT that foreshadow the coming of the Messiah. It ends with the events of Christ's birth. Each day after you read the passage and the devotional explaining how the passage relates to Christ, you put an ornament on the tree. You can make your own, or download pictures that you print out, color and cut out and punch a hook through it and hang it on either the main tree or a little one on the side.

You can google it and I think find several free versions, or buy a small book.

Theresa - posted on 11/11/2010

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We always go to church on Christmas Eve. It's one fo my favorite times to go to church. We do a candle light service with lots of Carols. Then we come home make and eat a diner together, then we open presents from eachother. It lets them know what's most important and in what order things should hold importance at Christmas especially (but even all year). First God, then family, then all the "things" come last. We always have had "Santa" too though. My kids know that the real meaning of Christmas is Jesus' birth and that Santa is just fun. Emphasize that the best gift is that God gave us his son. Without that gift nothing else matters. I've also heard of people having a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him. To emphasize the giving nature of the Christmas season you can have your kids pick out presents for needy children. One great wy to do that is the shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Alot of churches are involved in that. One year I had my boys pick out a few gifts that they would like, then we wrapped them up and brought them to a local homeless shelter. We marked each boys' bag with the age and that it was for a boy. The boys were 6 and 9 at the time. It was very interesting to find out what they wanted in the bags and why. My oldest said we should put Bible sin the bags so that the child receiving the bag could know the real meaning of Christmas. I thought it was very touching that he would think of that.

There are lots of ways to emphasize the real meaning and reason for Christmas and you can still do some presents too.

Anne - posted on 11/10/2010

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THe one thing that my mom did with my older sister was to put the Nativity Scene up in early December, even before the tree was up. I think she put it up when Advent started. She had died cotton balls blue for me and pink for my sister. When we were "Caught" being kind or helpful we were allowed to put our color cotton on the "bed" the the infant would rest on when mom added it Christmas Eve. If however we were naughty we had to take out some of our color cotton balls. On Christmas eve after we had gone to bed she would remove the colored cotton balls and put in ONLY WHITE cotton balls. Her reason for doing any of this was that our behavior was why Jesus came to earth. Our behavior was a direct cause of sin or forgiveness and redemption through The Blood Of Jesus Christ. She took the colored cotton balls and replaced them with whit ones because Jesus Blood took away our sins. I hope this made sense.

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Misty - posted on 11/09/2010

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We have four children a now 9 year old and now 6 yr old triplets. We started our Christmas traditions when my oldest was 2. On Christmas, we always start out reading a kid friendly version of the Christmas story that is full of pictures.I make a birthday cake for Jesus and the kids help me decorate it and we have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas.

Throughout the month, the kids also fill a shoe box (operation Christmas child) to help focus them on giving to others since God gave us Jesus for Christmas, we try to pick a child somewhere in our children's age range. We have also adopted a child in need from our church and anonymously given gifts to the child. Our children participate in picking and wrapping gifts or placing items in the shoe box. We have also had them make gifts for our family members attempting to focus them on what they can do to help show others Jesus' love through their gifts and find joy in giving. We have also made simple Christmas treats and given our plates of goodies to our neighbors. We've also done Salvation Army bell ringing to remind our kids that Jesus likes to help people in need and they can help just by waving,saying hi or Merry Christmas. I also have the kids go through their toys and pick at least one that they do not use anymore and they take it down to our local "Christmas Store" in our community to donate for kids and families that can't afford to buy Christmas presents. We are constantly trying to remind our children that Christmas is about giving not getting and limit the number of presents for each of them and instead make their personal birthdays a time for presents for them. I have had some friends that have only given each child three gifts since baby Jesus received three gifts from the wise men. We also do an advent calendar (you can make your own) or buy them in the store. We have one with the days of December each containing a pocket with an item in each that pertains to part of the Christmas story. We usually have had a felt Christmas tree in the center of the calendar and the items from the pockets are safety pinned onto the tree and act as ornaments for the tree. Hope this helps a little. God bless and have fun :)

Heather - posted on 11/09/2010

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We make a birthday cake each year for Him and sing Him happy birthday. We also have a book that is filled with Scriptures about Christs birth that we read during breakfast, and Christmas eve we watch the Nativity story movie. This year instead of having a tree, we are going to have a manger to put the gifts around. I am really looking forward to this as it will help us remember that He is the greatest gift of all, and I just love the idea of laying the gifts at His feet (or at his manger I guess).

Alice - posted on 11/09/2010

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One thing I started with my children when they were young. I wanted to share with my children about Christmas. I wanted them to know that Christmas was about sharing, about giving and it was about thinking about all our loved one.
It wasn't long before my children got the message that Christmas was about them getting lots of gifts. I felt that this was not really the message I wanted them to get. I remember my oldest son telling his younger brother that Christmas was coming so he needed to make a list of everything he wanted or he would get nothing for Christmas. My oldest was about 5 yrs old at the time.
This got me to thinking. Was this the message I was sending to my children?
That night I sat down and wrote some things we could do to change the message. As I looked around I could see all of the toys that my children already had. Some played with over and over and some that were hardly touched at all. So here are some things I came up with.
I sat down with both my boys, I made up a story about the boys who wanted to give. After telling my story I asked the my boys a few questions. How many things do you get for Christmas. Answer from my oldest: 100's. Okay, lets find 100's of toys that you have that we can give away. The look I got back was priceless. I don't want to give away all of my toys. But you said that you get 100's of toys for Christmas so if you get 100's of toys then we need to make room for all of your new toys, that means we need to give away 100's so you can get 100's.
I could tell that my little boy was really thinking about this. This was something new for him. Finally he said he really only wanted a few new things. How many I asked. 14 he said. Fine know lets find 14 things to give away. He first looked at mostly what his brother would play with and said that he could give these away. Children are so smart! I said to him these are your brothers toys, you need to pick 14 of your toys.
This started something that we do every year. Not only did we do this for Christmas but we do something like this for Easter.
We came up with rules as to what gifts could be given away. Rules like the toys had to work, all toys had to have all the parts and 2 things had to come from the heart. Meaning that they liked to play with them but know they were ready to give them to someone else to enjoy. I started hearing my children talking to family members who had given them prier gifts, telling them who and were they had given their old gifts to and how happy they were and that they were going to play with their new gifts and share them next year. My heart was so full when I would hear them say this. {For some family members I really needed to explain so they wouldn't get hurt.}But for the most part they all came to understand.
This became such a lesson for both of my children I wanted to share it with others.
We would find organization that we could take everything they wanted to give away and the day of Christmas became so much more special.

Cassie - posted on 01/29/2009

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We always put out all of our Nativities before we get out any other Christmas decorations.  We have 5 kids so we have always taken turns putting out all of the pieces.  My children have their own Nativity that they put up as well.  It is a very big deal in our house to get to place Jesus in the manger.  My son asked this year if he could put all of the baby Jesus' in all of the mangers next year since it will be his last Christmas at home before he leaves for college.  We talk about why we put out the Nativities first.  We also pray as a family before we open gifts.  We always talk about how we exchange gifts in remembrance of the most precious gift we were given by God.  We are involved in several community service and charity projects throughout the year and of course at Christmas we work very hard to find projects that reflect the true meaning of the season.  I would say the most effective way to keep kids focused on the meaning of Christmas is to keep them focused on God year round.  We also don't do Easter eggs or baskets on Sunday we do it Sat.  We set aside Resurrection Sunday as the most sacred day of the year.

Angela - posted on 01/29/2009

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When I was little we always had a birthday cake for Jesus. We read the bible story and sang happy birthday to Jesus. After I had my son, I found a book called My Birthday, Jesus' Birthday. He's 13 and we still read the book, sing, and have a birthday cake for Jesus.

Dawn - posted on 01/19/2009

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we make a birthday cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus with my sister and her kids . then after dinner and cake we do presents.

Michelle - posted on 12/21/2008

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Just wanted to thank everyone who replied to my question!!! There are so many great ideas I'm excited to try, and our family Christmas celebration with be enriched because of them. (This was the first question I've posted through Circle of Moms, and it's a great resource!) I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas! :)

Amanda - posted on 12/20/2008

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the birthday cake thing seems to be a tradition that comes up a lot in families... and works fairly well! :-) something you could try to do to put the emphasis on giving instead of receiving, is having the kids pass the gifts out to everyone, one at a time, and wait until it's been opened before the next gift gets handed around. this gives them the chance to know what if feels like to give someone something and see the joy on the face of the person receiving the gift... works well after the focus of the day started with celebrating Christ and then asking them after everything is opened up how they felt being a giver instead of just a taker...

Wendi - posted on 12/19/2008

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what a blessing you're beginning so eaRLy with them. we've been trying this for a number of years ourselves... [our oldest is 20, and we have 9 daughters.] from the beginning, it actually came by default. we were way too 'poor' to buy gifts for those around us. it was so stressful for my husband and me when we first got married that it really made us have to evaluate: what iS tmas? is it a time to stress of how to buy THINGS when we have nO $- what are the things for anyway?? whose birthday iS it?



and once we came to answer this question w/ the obvious, then it became very easy to then put it before our girls this way once they got old enuf to 'understand'. if it is theiR birthday, we celebrate and bless THEM... so if it is JEsus' birthday, we look for ways to celebrate and bless HIM. we've never put presents under a tree for them- [do not have a tree becuz' we don't see how that reflects his birthday]. but we do decorate our whole living room and some in the kitchen and dining room [just like for bdays one uses streamers- for His, we just use garlands and lights all Over Ü] and every year we ask the girls how we can bless jesus this christmas. this year my 9 year old said, "whatever we do to the least, we do to jesus..." and it felt so GOOD that the msg. was finally getting "passed" and understood!! we've found poor families to bless w/ cash or needed items for their homes; we've always baked together for our neighbors and pass out plates of goodies to our neighbors on tmas eve or day so that the girls know "this" is how we're celebrating: taking His Good News to the 'streets'- sometimes w/ just christian tmas cards, [and the girls help sign them], and sometimes w/ a personal "newsletter" of our family and what God has been doing this past year in our lives. sometimes we caroled real CHRISTmas songs as well.

since we've still had exTENDed family to "tend" to about gifts, and none of them is poor, we began sending gifts to missionary org., gospel for asia's poor in HONOR of grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. at first, it was kind of hard to do this, esp. w/ my husband's side of the family, but God has used each year of our past 21 to just 'edge a little closer' to getting all commercialism gone and blessing "the least of these" as true priority. another fun thing is to have a big dinner and "don't invite the ones that can repay you"............... yes, we've still had it w/ our families, but at diff. years, we've had many "strays" that had nowhere to go, no place to call home or family, and we felt God bless our Home each time he would bring HIS treasures here that HE values [when the rest of the world would cast them aside.] so many lonely people really need kids to just jump on their laps and loVe on them Ü at your kids' ages, they can do their doodles on your christmas cards, help cut out cookies [mess and all!] and your 3 year old might be able to think of somebody who really needs help that doesn't have very much- maybe by just hanging at a groc. store and see who comes in poorly dressed and has only food stamps?

we've also had access to lots of homeless near where we've lived, so we've taken gloves and blankets to "under the bridges" and passed these out-

one year our family actually got to take meals from city union mission [or salvation army?] and deliver them to shut ins on christmas day..... what an eye opener.



God bless you as He highlights diff. things for you and your family thru the years!!!! ÜÜ

Vicki - posted on 12/19/2008

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Since my kids were very young...as young as yours now, I have always made a homemade birthday cake for Jesus. They even helped decorate. And we all sing "Happy Birthday Jesus". My youngest is now 16 and the other kids are out on their own. But they all still ask if we are doing the birthday cake again. Also, every Sunday during Advent we light a candle.

Mandy - posted on 12/19/2008

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We hang a stocking for Jesus. We also try to focus on the giving part. We pick toy's to send to St. Jude. Make cards for a senior citizen home. I also have them pick things out for each other. Hope this helps. Merry Christmas!

Laura - posted on 12/19/2008

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I set up a little manger as center instead of the tree and we put our gifts around baby Jesus. The tree is a decoration. When the kids were little I started turning the focus with "it's all about the baby". Now at 8 & 9 my older boys take it for granted... Santa's a great story, the decorations are so pretty and it's a good thing Jesus has such a big birthday party!! I think the birthday cake would make perfect sense to them.

Melinda - posted on 12/19/2008

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I forgot to mention that we give shoebox gifts. Samaritans Purse I think is the name of the organisation. Our church gets shoeboxxes every year and does a gift box up for children in other parts of the world who don't know about Christmas then after they open their gift they have a little church meeting to tell them about Jesus. I love the idea.

Heather - posted on 12/18/2008

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We always make a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before anything else on Christmas morning...then we open our Bibles and read the story of the birth of Jesus before we eat, open presents, check out stockings, etc....this way the day that is meant to celebrate God's gift to us begins with thanks and celebration to Him...then we engage in the festivities. Hope this helps!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

Misty - posted on 12/18/2008

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We make a birthday cake for Jesus. We try to focus on the fact that Jesus gave us the ulimate gift. So we adopt a family or children that don't get Christmas presents and buy them together for the family and need. The kids also go through their toys and pick ones to give to boys/ girls that don't have anything and then we donate them to the Salvation Army Christmas center. We remind our kids each time we do one of these activities, that Jesus gave the most special gift to us and we need to give gifts to others to honor His birthday.

Amber - posted on 12/18/2008

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wow, just have to say thanks to all of these GREAT ideas. I always wondered how to begin with our daughter (14 months old now) teaching about the real gift as opposed to getting them. My husband also wants our daughter to choose(probably not till next year when she will better understand) a child to sponsor every year around Christmas so that she can learn about giving across the world too.

Sara - posted on 12/18/2008

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Of course you can sing Happy BIrthday to Jesus and maybe bake a birthday cake just for him. Simple is good at this age. Sorry, I am not very creative.

Chelli - posted on 12/18/2008

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Here are a couple of ideas: I knew a family that only gave each of their children only 3 presents at Christmas. Why? They said if three presents were good enough for baby Jesus then it's good enough for us. Mind you, the three presents were usually very nice presents that the children had been wanting all year.

In our family, we have a big box that we bring out the day after Christmas. For each present that our children receive, something has to leave. For example, if my daughter gets three new toys this year, then three of her old toys go in the box. When we have finished choosing what leaves the house, we take the box full of stuff to our local Goodwill store and give it to them. We make it a point to talk about how Jesus wants us to give to others, unselfish behavior, and helping those in need. Usually, the kids look forward to giving their old toys away more than getting new ones! It also cuts down on clutter in the house and lots of "gimmies" at Christmas time.

Ali - posted on 12/18/2008

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Putting baby Jesus in the manger first thing Christmas morning and singing Happy Birthday and Jesus Loves me, rather than running straight to the tree or stockings. My husband and I also decided to forego Santa Claus, meaning that we have told our children the Truth about Jesus, and they are allowed to pretend about Santa because it's fun. I treat it the same as I do my daughter pretending to be Dora or my son pretending to be Yoda. We just aren't spending time and effort trying to convince them that a literal person will be flying with reindeer, landing on our roof, coming down the chimney, and leaving gifts. It's a difficult decision because of family members who don't agree, but we believe our children won't have to struggle as much to accept our faith if it has always been explained as the Truth, and the only Truth. Hope this helps!

Marilyn - posted on 12/17/2008

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we have a 6 month old girl, and while she's too young for it to even matter this year, we are hoping to accomplish the same goal of making Christmas about Christ and about "giving", not "getting".



one idea we've talked about is volunteering and looking to help others, and including her as she gets older. also, it's a good idea to set an example of a "giving" heart (instead of a "greedy" heart) ALL year round. at my MOPS last week, our speaker compared it to training for a marathon - it's A LOT easier to do when you've trained in advance for it, just like being Christ-centered and charitable is a lot easier to do at Christmas when you've been practicing it all year...

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at church we have been talking to the children about how God gave us a gift of Jesus. At home we are repeating, reminding and remembering that its not about getting gifts, its about the big gift we have all received.

Kristen - posted on 12/17/2008

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Though I wish I could take credit it must go to my mom. On Christmas when we all get together at my moms house, before opening presents we celebrate Jesus' birthday. She makes a cake, we sing Happy Birthday, blow out the candles, talk to the kids about what's really important (Jesus coming to Earth) then open gifts. Not sure how much that helps you, but it allows my family to put the focus back on Jesus instead of just gifts! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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