W hether your Christmas festivities involve extravagantly decking the halls or frosting cookies with your family, it’s quite obvious how important traditions are during the holiday season. Christmas is a beautiful time to spread cheer and create special memories with the people we love, but as followers of Christ it’s also a very special time to remember all that God has done for us through the gift of God’s son. There are plenty of Christmas activities for families out there, but what about Christian Christmas traditions?
How can you–for lack of better words–keep Christ in your traditions this year? Here are a few family Christmas ideas:
1. Give intentionally
The tradition of giving for Christians at Christmas is symbolic of the gifts the Three Wise Men brought Jesus. Gift-giving is also a reminder of the ultimate gift God gave the world–the gift of God’s son. This Christmas, start a tradition of giving a gift as a family that moves beyond acquiring material possessions. Gift of Hope is a tangible way your family can provide basic needs, education, access to the gospel, and more to people around the world who need it most. Every gift you give through Gift of Hope reaches individuals on the margins with the resources they need but also the love of Christ.
2. Read through an Advent Devotional
Spend a few moments every day reading through the story of Advent with your family. The Jesse Tree is a wonderful resource to help you journey through the stories on Jesus’s family tree. Each day of Advent, read a Bible story about someone on Jesus’s family tree and hang an ornament symbolizing the story on your Jesse Tree. As you decorate your tree, you’ll see how God prepared for Jesus to be born through many generations. Purchase a print copy or download a digital version for free. There are also a number of free digital resources.
3. Move the Nativity
I’m sure you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf–an activity that involves a cheeky, mischief-causing elf. Consider swapping that activity with a moving nativity. In the days leading up to Christmas, place your nativity figures all over the house. Place the empty manger under the Christmas tree. Every day closer to Christmas, have your kids move the nativity figures closer to the manger. On Christmas morning, move all of the figures near the manger and have your children unwrap baby Jesus. When they place him in the manger, remind them that Jesus is the best gift we could ever receive.
4. Light Advent candles
Advent candles can help your family see a visual progression toward the birth of Christ. Each week during Advent, a new candle is lit until all the candles burn on Christmas or Christmas Eve. The circle shape of the wreath represents Christ’s constant, unchanging nature and the fully lit wreath symbolizes that Christ, the light of the world, has arrived. Learn more about this tradition and access free candle lighting readings.
5. Practice hospitality
Host a meal for new neighbors, bake cookies for your kid’s teachers, open your doors to a college student who is unable to go home for the holidays–whatever works for the season of life your family is in, find a way to practice and model hospitality. As we reflect on the humble hospitality of the innkeeper who offered his stable to a laboring Mary and Joseph, may we too find space to welcome in members of our community, strangers, and new friends as part of our traditions of celebrating the birth of Christ. Here are a few hospitality ideas related to global Christmas traditions and food that your family may consider adopting: Christmas Chile from New Mexico, Carols and Cookies from Lebanon, Hot Chocolate from Peru, and Jollof Rice from Niger.