The older my kids get, the busier the Christmas season becomes.
Last year I had planned all kinds of fun ideas for us to do, but because our school district’s winter break didn’t begin until Christmas Eve, we didn’t get to do a lot of them.
This year I am planning our Christmas activities differently, because I know it will be a busy time.
Here’s what I’m learning.
I can create meaningful holiday celebrations with minimal activities. If I choose the activities carefully, I can maximize their impact in my children’s hearts.
I first tried this “minimal but meaningful” approach with Easter last year, and I can’t wait to share with you what we did.
The true message of Easter was planted deeply in their hearts, and they still talk about it today!
5 Meaningful Christmas Activities for Busy Families
A few years ago, I learned the valuable lesson of laying down my expectations for Christmas.
Two weeks before Christmas, I ended up having gall bladder surgery. Thankfully, I had managed to quickly get my Christmas shopping done and our tree decorated before I was admitted to the hospital.
However, I didn’t manage to get any Christmas baking done.
Everything was rushed, Christmas dinner was without it’s usual fanfare, and the only Christmas goodies we had were what friends and family gave us.
And do you what?
It was a wonderful year that taught me a valuable lesson. Christmas doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark movie to be meaningful.
It just needs Jesus at the center!
This year, we will be slowing down even more to just enjoy Jesus, enjoy each other, and enjoy the season.
Each night after dinner we will read a passage from the Christmas story in the book of Luke by the light of the tree. Then each week we’ll learn a new Christmas carol, based on the true meaning of Christmas.
Each Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we’ll do one of the activities below that either reinforce the birth of Jesus and the importance of giving to others.
1. Read the Legend of the Candy Cane and make salt dough candy cane ornaments
I absolutely love this story. The symbolism in the candy cane is just beautiful, because seamlessly connects Christmas and Easter while also reminding us of the salvation message.
You can read about the Legend of the Candy Cane here.
2. Discuss the meaning of the Christmas tree, lights, and presents. Make Christmas tree and present sugar cookies
I remember that as a child every year my dad would remind us that we decorate a Christmas tree to remind us that Jesus died on a tree.
Then he would tell us the story of how Martin Luther, one night, saw the light of the moon and stars twinkling off of the snow-laden branches of the evergreen trees and it reminded him of how Jesus is the light of the world. And that is how we came to put lights on our tree.
Finally, he would remind us why we give gifts; because God gave us the gift of salvation.
I have begun telling these stories to my children, because I want them to know that the tree, lights, and gifts aren’t just traditions. They are symbols of the greatest story of all!
Plus, they help to – once again – connect Christmas and Easter, and they tell us the story of salvation.
I love this recipe for sugar cookies. It’s easy and the edges stay defined even after baking.
3. Memorize Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Have each child buy a gift for a needy child or family
One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children at Christmas is that the joy of giving is greater than the joy of getting.
One of the ways we can reinforce this lesson is teaching our children the joy of giving to those who cannot give back.
This lesson is reinforced even more when our children give from a place of sacrifice; using their allowance money to purchase a gift for someone they don’t know and who cannot reciprocate in any way.
Do some research through your church, denomination, or local area to find out ways your child can give a gift to a child who would otherwise not receive a gift for Christmas.
4. Make Christmas cards for your teachers and give them the candy cane ornament you made with the Legend of the Candy Cane attached
This is something my nieces and nephews do each year, and that I want to start doing with my children this year.
Each year, my sister’s children would make these beautiful, creative Christmas cards and/or tree ornament and give them to their Sunday School teachers.
I have saved them all.
This is such a thoughtful way of remembering your children’s teachers, but even more that the gift they receive is a gift your child made.
Here is a post about how to make handmade Christmas cards.
Here are more Christmas card ideas.
And here is a printable version of the Legend of the Candy Cane that you can include with their gift.
5. Make Christmas tree ornaments and date them
One of the things my kids have done each year is make a homemade ornament.
I love digging them out each year and remembering the time and effort we put into making the ornament special. Most times they weren’t super-spectacular, because they were really, really little.
But it isn’t about the ornament as much as it is about the memories.
This year, make an ornament that will remind you of the time you’ve spent reflecting on the Christmas story.
You can make a salt dough ornament shaped like a candy cane, tree, or gift, or come up with a creative idea on your own.