Make the most of your family Christmas traditions this year by leading your family with intention and purpose.
In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Moses clearly highlights a pattern of establishing an everyday faith for families. It’s the type of parenting rhythm that takes advantage of opportune moments in everyday life.
This Christmas, you can have spiritual conversations with your family through built-in traditions. During the season of celebrating the birth of Jesus, your child will repeatedly come face-to-face with the reality that God became human in order to make us whole again.
This guide will provide devotional material and conversation starters to use your holiday traditions to make a significant impact on your child’s faith. Enjoy!
Family Holiday Calendar
The holiday season can be chaotic. All of the hustle and bustle can leave you without time or energy to be fully present in any given moment. It’s easy to lose sight of the true reason we celebrate.
Prioritize quality time for your family this Christmas season and don’t let less important activities crowd them out. Good things have the tendency to overtake the best things. Being proactive with your calendar helps you make the most of the season. You’ve got this!
Print out a calendar and hang it in a visible location. Print/cut out icons, representing various activities your family will participate in this Christmas. Place the icons on the calendar and enjoy!
Activity examples: Christmas lights, decorating the tree, giving gifts, caroling, baking goodies, playing in the snow, Christmas movies, Birthday Party for Jesus, attending a church service, Christmas Eve devotional
Kids love anticipation. Often, the anticipation is more fun than the event itself.
That’s the idea behind an advent calendar. The word advent means “to come,” referring to Jesus’ coming to earth as a newborn baby on Christmas Day.
A daily countdown provides a regular opportunity to connect with your family. Spend time with them talking about things that matter to them. Ask them about their day and spend time looking forward to upcoming Christmas celebrations.
Purchase or make an advent calendar. Count down the days toward Christmas in a fun and anticipatory way. Each day, talk about the things you’re most looking forward to this Christmas and get excited together!
Decorating our homes with Christmas lights is symbolic of who Jesus is: the "light of the world." Jesus shines a bright light into a dark world so that everyone can have hope, peace, joy, love, and grace.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." (John 8:12)
As we follow Jesus, we also get to shine His light for all to see.
Jesus said, "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
As you look at Christmas lights, talk to your family about what it means for Jesus to be the "light of the world." Ask them how they might also shine light into a dark world.
Decorating the Tree
A beautiful, decorated Christmas tree represents God in many ways:
The triangular shape of a Christmas tree represents the three Persons of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
In the center of the tree is a piece of wood, much like that of the cross. The branches stretch out to the sides, like the arms of Jesus when He gave up His life in order to save the world.
Making the tree beautiful with ornaments and decorations reminds us of the beauty and perfection of Jesus.
When you see the star at the top of the tree, remember the star the wise men followed as they were seeking out Jesus for the very first time (Matthew 2:10).
As you decorate your tree, talk about all it represents. Add a star (maybe even make one out of paper!) toward the top of the tree. After you decorate the tree, take time to pray to God, thanking Him for sending His Son into the world!
On the day Jesus was born, God gave the the entire world the best gift ever: His one and only Son! The very first Christmas gift was baby Jesus.
The birth of Jesus is the best part of Christmas. Because of Jesus, we now have forgiveness, grace, and acceptance into God's family.
The tradition of giving gifts is all about selflessly sharing love and joy to others in a tangible way.
It is easy to accidentally make your child's happiness the center of the season. Receiving gifts is fun, but don't miss the main reason we celebrate Christmas: celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Help your family consider the needs and wants of others. Purchase or make gifts for them. Wrap your gifts with care and notice their delight as they receive it. Celebrate the joy of giving as a family.
Singing songs is a great way to declare God’s goodness through music. That's why we sing whenever we come together as a church.
The tradition of door-to-door caroling is a powerful way to spread the joy and love of Jesus to people who may not know Him. While your neighbors might not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they will likely open their doors to listen to songs praising and glorifying Him. It’s an impactful way to share the Word of God.
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. (Psalm 105:1-2)
Even if you cannot participate in door-to-door caroling, spend time as a family singing and dancing to your favorite Christmas tunes. Fill your house with a joyful noise to the Lord, praising Him for sending His Son on Christmas Day!
Christmas and baking go hand in hand. Some of the best Christmas family memories include cookies, hot cocoa, gingerbread men, cakes, and other tasty treats.
Throughout the Bible, God’s people gathered together for feasts to celebrate all that God had done and to appreciate the foods that bring us joy. Holiday meals bring together loved ones to share delicious food and connect on a relational level. There’s just something about good food and conversation that sets the table for relational connection and for memories to be forged.
As the sweet smell of Christmas baked treats fills your home, reflect on the words of Paul: Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice to us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
Choose your favorite recipe and bake some goodies together as a family. Make sure to bake a few extras! You can deliver some to your neighbors as a way to spread love and joy.
Playing in the Snow
One thing is for sure: kids love having fun! One way you can invest in your family is to have fun with them.
Having fun establishes trust through shared experiences. It gives you a platform to speak truth into kids' lives in a memorable way.
Playing and laughing together provides a chance to connect. When a family is having fun, kids feel a sense of safety and belonging.
When you lead kids with fun in mind, it creates impactful opportunities to connect with them. When a child connects with an adult, they're more likely to be able to connect with God.
Go outside and play in the snow! Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make a snow angel! Take a break in the action to talk to your kids about life. Leverage the fun as an opportunity to invest in them.
If there’s one thing every parent wants, it’s more quality time with their kids. It can be hard to find time to truly connect as a family. And kids aren’t always interested in having meaningful conversations.
You can use your kids' favorite Christmas movies as an intentional way to connect to their heart. It’s amazing how many characters and themes can be pointed back to Jesus and the amazing love He has for us.
When you’re willing to enter their world and watch their favorite movies, you’re showing your kids that you value them. Use what kids know and love to connect them to deeper spiritual truths.
Have a Family Movie Night and watch a Christmas classic. After the movie, ask your kids about the characters' decisions, feelings, and actions. Ask your kids questions about their favorite scene and the life lessons from the story. To make it more personal, ask if they’ve ever been in similar situations or if they’ve had similar feelings.
Birthday Party for Jesus
Explaining the significance of the incarnation to a child can be difficult. Yet, all kids (even toddlers) understand the concept of a birthday party. And Christmas is the most important birthday party ever!
In life, we throw parties for big moments and milestones. The bigger the moment, the bigger the party. By throwing a lavish, ridiculously fun birthday party on Christmas, you’re conveying the importance of Jesus’ birth to your family.
Throw a birthday party at home! Decorate your house, bake a cake, and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Stay up late, watch movies, and have a blast! However you do it, throw a party worthy of celebrating the birth of our Savior!
Christmas Church Services
Christmas church services are some of the most special services in the entire year. Come together with your church family to worship God, encourage one another, and glorify Jesus in a big way.
Consider who you might invite to come with you. People who aren’t yet following Jesus are most open to attending a church service during the holidays. This is a great opportunity to share the Good News and the best message of hope and joy that the world has ever known!
Attend a church service with your family. Talk about what you learned and what inspired you during your drive home!
Christmas Eve Devotional
READ: Luke 2:1-20
Why do we celebrate Christmas?
What makes Jesus’ birth different from any other baby’s birth?
Why was Jesus born? [answer: Jesus was born to rescue us from sin]
What makes Jesus’ birth good news?
WATCH: To understand the full picture of the good news of Jesus, watch The Gospel Message video as a family. Discuss any questions your kids have, as well as anything you learned.
PRAY: "God, thank you for Jesus. As we do all the fun things that come with Christmas, help us remember Jesus most of all. Thank you for loving us so much that you sent your very own Son to earth as a baby so that we could be saved from our sin and can spend forever with you. We love you! In Jesus’ name...Amen."
Resources for kids:
A Jesus Christmas: Explore God's Amazing Plan for Christmas by Barbara Reaoch
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
The Wonder of Christmas: 25 Days of Advent Journaling for Girls by Shanna Noel
The Way to the Manger: A Family Advent Devotional by Jeff and Abbey Land
Jesus Calling: The Story of Christmas (picture book) by Sarah Young
Resources for parents: