Christmas is the time for remembering the Son of God, and renewing our determination to take upon us His name.Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The holidays are rolling in, and it’s my favorite time of year! I love the crazy bustle, and the general sense of anticipation that comes with it. I’ll be honest, I’m an early decorator, like before Thanksgiving early. (No shame) I love taking my kids to see Santa, driving around to see the lights, and making all of the special holiday treats.
But my favorite part of Christmas is being able to spend time focusing on Christ. This week, I’ve collected lots of ideas for how celebrate the birth of our Savior even more this year to help you prepare for Christmas the next couple of weeks.
Do you remember having advent calendars at Christmas with the little chocolates? They are such a cute way to count down to Christmas, and build the anticipation for littles! An easy way to include more focus on Christ is to include a Christ-focused advent calendar.
One year, my sisters got together over Thanksgiving and made a felt nativity calendar. Each day, another piece is velcro-ed to the Stable scene. Etsy and Pinterest have a ton of adorable patterns like this one here.
Picture or Chain Countdown
Another fun way to countdown is to create a picture or paper chain calendar. Some people have created a garland by hanging small 2×3 pictures of Christ with clothespins across the mantle, and each day telling a story about Jesus using the pictures. Or, you could create a paper chain with one of His names on each one, and talk about what each means as you tear it off.
Quote and Scripture Calendar
For more grown up families, you could also include quotes and scriptures with your countdown. These could go on the back of each picture, or be printed separately. The Dating Divas have an adorable countdown calendar printable here.
Use Your Nativity Set
Another easy tradition to start is to use your nativity set and read the scriptures that coincide with each piece, and use that as a family scripture study, devotional time. The scriptures for each piece are:
Joseph— Matthew 1:18-25
Mary— Luke 1: 27-38
Animals (Inn Keeper and Stable Story) — Luke 2: 7
Shepherds— Luke 2: 8-12, 15-17
Wise Men –Matthew 2: 1-12
At the focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen. Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph—and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.Jeffrey R. Holland
One my favorite parts of Christmas is all of our family traditions. I love hanging the stocking with our names on them. We have a mantle with all of our nativities on it. I love to cuddle up with cocoa and watching the Christmas tree lights.
Understand Symbolism of Different Holiday Traditions
The candy cane, the Christmas tree, presents, all of these things have a more spiritual symbolism associated with them. (Brad Wilcox’s introduces them in his book, Because of the Messiah in a Manger) Learning the meaning of our Christmas traditions can remind us of why we are celebrating Christmas amid all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Candy-gram for Kids
Along with learning the symbols of our traditions, a candy gram for kids can help them remember the different parts of the Christmas story. A candy cane can remind them of the shepherd’s crook. Dove chocolates can remind them of the gifts we give and the Gift of Christ’s Atonement. Rolos can represent His crown as King of Kings.
Soft Bed for Baby Jesus
If you have a nativity where Jesus can come out of the manger, this is a super fun activity for the whole family. (You can totally adapt it if you don’t, it will just take a little creativity with what you have at home.) Each time a family member does something kind for someone else, they can add straw to the manger to create a soft bed for the baby when He arrives Christmas Eve.
Reenact the Nativity
This is a common tradition in many families. It can be fun to dress up and act out the story, instead of just reading it. There are many places that sell the costumes, but you can also make the costumes out of bathrobes, and scrap fabrics.
Visit Live Nativities or Community Concerts
In addition to acting it out at home, many communities and churches have live Nativities you can attend. Others host live concerts of Handel’s Messiah, or other Christmas music to help invite the Christmas spirit into the holidays.
The Lamb of Bethlehem
One tradition we have added is the Lamb of Bethlehem. (He works an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf) He is a stuffed animal who comes with a story about a lamb in the stable the night of Jesus’s birth. He teaches children to serve others, and follow Jesus’s example. Our babies are still little, but we like helping the Lamb be kind.
There is joy in giving and receiving the generosity that God inspires, especially at Christmas.Henry B. Eyring
Service is so huge this time of year! There are opportunities to serve our fellow brothers and sisters everywhere. Many of us make treats to share, donate to toy drives or goodwill, or other community service activities. The Church has a list of local service opportunities where you live on Just Serve.
If you’re looking for more service ideas, the Church also has their annual Light the World campaign with daily challenges to serve in different ways each day between November 30 until Christmas Eve!
Mary and Joseph
This book is one of my books to read at Christmas is Mary and Joseph by Robert Marcum. This is a fictional retelling of the story based on the culture, traditions, and what is in the Bible. (If you are a fan of The Chosen, it’s similar style of story telling, allowing the reader to imagine what their lives might have been like, and what it might have been like for them.)
This is the book (found here) I am planning on reading this holiday season! Emily Belle Freeman offers seven traditions to help deepen our love of the Christmas story.
Because of the Messiah in a Manger
This is another one I am planning on reading this Christmas. Brad Wilcox explains how Christ began fulfilling His mission from the beginning, and how we can better understand the reason for the season through the different traditional symbols (Available here.)
Reading the Nativity
As many people do every year, we also read the Nativity each year, found in Matthew 1-2, and Luke 1-2. It’s also fun to add in the Book of Mormon stories Helaman 14 & 3 Nephi 1.
The Reason for the Season
This Christmas mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love, and then speak it again.Howard W. Hunter
This Christmas, no matter how you choose to invite Christ into your life this Christmas season, it will bring us closer to Him. We can bring the Christmas spirit into our homes, and become more like Him.
- How to see the Real Meaning of Christmas, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2010
- Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to the Savior, Emily Belle Freeman
- The Gifts of Christmas, Howard W. Hunter, 1994
- Home for Christmas, Henry B. Eyring, 2009
- Etsy Felt Advent Link
- Without Ribbons or Bows, Jeffery R. Holland, 1994
- Christ-Centered Christmas Printable, The Dating Divas