Keeping Christ in Christmas
I love everything about this time of year, but I’ll admit, it’s easy to get caught up in the materialistic parts of the season.
It’s so fun to decorate, buy gifts, and make goodies, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, focusing too much on these things can take away from why we celebrate Christmas — to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I absolutely love this quote about refocusing our efforts during the holiday season:
How will we worship Him this season? Endlessly shopping? Hustling about and adorning our homes? Will that be our tribute to our Savior? Or will we bring peace to troubled hearts, good will to those in need of higher purpose, glory to God in our willingness to do his bidding? Jesus put it simply, ‘Come, and follow me.
— Elder Ronald A. Rasband
Don’t get me wrong — we anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus, exchange gifts, and go look at Christmas lights, but I hope that as our children grow up, they will be able to have a love for this time of year, not just because of the gifts, but because of a love he’s been able to develop for Jesus Christ.
Here are several ideas I’ve come up with on how to keep Christ in Christmas for children (though really, many of these ideas can be applied to people of all ages!)
I believe that these can be appreciated and used by people from all faiths and walks of life.
I also wanted to recommend this book called “Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas“ It is an easy read with some great ideas on how to remember why we celebrate Christmas!
Originally posted in 2013; updated in 2019.
Put Christ Back into Christmas
1. White Stocking
The white stocking is something my mom started quite a few years ago. I think she must have gotten it at a church activity.
A simple, white stocking hangs at the front of the rest of the stockings throughout the Christmas season.
Whenever a person does something kind for another person, or just has something to be thankful for, they are encouraged to write it down, and put it in the stocking (anonymously.)
On Christmas Eve, my mom reads each of them out loud. Some of them are silly, others very touching. But they all are meant to be our gifts to Jesus. It’s fun to hear what others wrote down, from the children to the adults.
It’s always something I really look forward to, and I hope to continue for years to come.
2. Give to Others
There are so many ways to give to others this time of year. It doesn’t have to be some big elaborate event — it can be as simple as shoveling your neighbor’s driveway. By involving your children, you can teach them about how Christ was
- The 12 days of Christmas – as a family, select another family or individual that you feel could use a little bit of Christmas cheer. For 12 days, leave a small gift (it doesn’t have to be big) on their porch anonymously. Kids LOVE doing things like this, especially if they get to prepare the package, or drop it off and run. You can do different variations on this (bring gifts for the entire family, if your budget allows it, bring a different Christmas book on each day, etc.) I know many people who have been a recipient of something like this, and it meant a great deal to them.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or children’s hospital
- Tie fleece blankets for those in need – we always do this at our family Christmas party
- Donate clothes or toys to an organization or person in need. I saw one idea where, after opening all the gifts, going through the older toys in the house and having your child select a few to donate.
- Set out a basket of treats and drinks for delivery people
- You can find all sorts of ideas on how to #LightTheWorld here
I really loved this video; I feel like it is a wonderful way to teach children (and remember ourselves) why we give gifts at Christmas, and the best kinds of gifts to give:
Set up a Nativity scene (or multiple) around your home. Use it as a visual aid when you teach your children about the birth of Jesus Christ.
We have Fisher Price Nativity Scene since it’s not fragile, and won’t break with little hands.
I just heard of a cute idea, where you remove the baby Jesus figurine(s) from your Nativities until Christmas day, and you move your wise men a good distance from the nativity.
Every day, let your children move the wise men closer. On Christmas day, let your children search for the baby Jesus (that you’ve wrapped up), have them unwrap it, and put it in the Nativity.
The baby Jesus they unwrap is the first gift they will unwrap to help remind them that Jesus is the center of the holiday.
My friend Kristina recently created a list of some great ways to celebrate the Nativity with your children. Be sure to check it out for some more ideas!
4. Build Bethlehem with Blocks
This is a fun one to incorporate with the Fisher Price Nativity if you have it. Bring out all your blocks, and tell your children about the birthplace of Jesus.
If you have a little nativity, set it up, and then have your children create the town of Bethlehem with blocks. If you don’t have a nativity, let your kids make one out of blocks, too!
It’s a great way to let them use their imaginations, but teaching at the same time
5. Study Scriptures about Christ
Throughout the month of December, make a special effort to read scriptures pertaining to Jesus Christ.
We try and do regular scripture study in our home (try being the keyword), but that can get a bit long for children.
Take some time at the beginning of the month to find individual verses of scripture of Christ that you can read and talk about with your children!
6. Listen to Religious Christmas Songs
I love all kinds of Christmas music, so I’m not saying don’t listen to White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman.
But be sure to include some beautiful religious songs as well. Sing them with your children! There are so many wonderful religious Christmas songs out there. Here are a few good ones:
Also, I recently got a CD called “Redeemer” by Nashville Tribute. It has songs all about the Savior and His life. I highly recommend it.
7. Christmas Caroling to a Nursing Home or Hospital
Several times at BYU, and also when I was in high school, I went with a group of other people to sing Christmas carols to a local nursing home.
There was nothing sweeter than visiting with these people, many of which never had any visitors.
I loved when they would sing along, and thank us with true gratitude for coming.
This is a great way to bring Christmas joy to some others; I know that lots of people in nursing homes love especially when children come along, so this is a great activity for the whole family!
8. Hay in manger
When I was younger, I remember going to church and being sent home with a little, paper manger, and a small bag of hay.
Throughout the month of December, we were supposed to put a piece of hay in the manger whenever we did something Christ-like. The goal was to have it filled up by Christmas.
9. Attend a Christmas musical performance
There are all sorts of musical productions going on this time of year; take some time to research ones in your area and go see one. If you are in Colorado, the Colorado Mormon Chorale has some coming up, and they always do a great job!
10. Attend a Creche display
If you’ve never been to a creche display, I highly recommend finding one to go. I know back in Colorado, there was one that we went too, and it was such a neat experience.
It’s basically a set up of all sorts of Nativity scenes — small ones, large ones, ones from different cultures.
The one I went to had beautiful musical performances going on the entire time. Children and adults alike can enjoy looking at these pretty displays depicting the birth of the Savior.
11. Discuss the symbols of Christmas
Do you know the symbols of Christmas mean? This site does a great job of explaining what they mean, and this looks like a great book that discusses them as well.
As you decorate your house for Christmas, you could discuss these symbols.
12. 25 names of Christ ornaments
On 25 ornaments (simple, glass or plastic bulbs will do) write down the different names of Christ (here is a list of them.) Each day, have your child hang one of the Christmas trees.
This is an awesome set of pre-made ornaments featuring the Biblical names of Christ.
13. Keep it Simple
It’s easy to do extravagant things on Christmas — that’s what all the commercials and TV shows tell us to do.
As I already mentioned, I love all parts of this season, including the decorations and treats and gifts. However, trying to simplify can help both you and your children focus on having a Christ-centered Christmas.
14. Talk about Christ with Others
I think the greatest gift that we can give the Savior, is to talk about Him with others and spread the message of His life to others.
This is something I definitely can be better about. I know everyone has different beliefs, but if you are ever curious about what I believe, feel free to send me an email, or visit Come Unto Christ.
Quotes about Christ During Christmas
To catch the real meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of ChristPresident Thomas S. Monson
Who can add to Christmas?” The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that he gave his only son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.Corrie Ten Boom
Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”Steve Maraboli
If we keep christ in our heart, Christmas has no end.Unknown
Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction and engenders enduring peace and joy.David A. Bednar
May we, this Christmas season, remember our generous Heavenly Father and give profound and heartfelt thanks to our Almighty God. Who has given all of his children wings to fly.Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you celebrate Christmas! With that, I wanted to share this video. I feel it shows a beautiful depiction of the birth of the Savior.
No matter how you celebrate Christmas, I hope you all will smile a little more, more a little more generous, and spend time with your family!
More Christmas Posts You May Enjoy:
- 20+ Festive Cricut Christmas Shirt Ideas
- 30+ Memorable Christmas Traditions for Families
- The Best Christmas Eve Traditions for Families
- The 13 BEST Alternatives to Elf on the Shelf (That Kids LOVE!)
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.
Nelibeth Plaza says
I completely agree with what you have written. I hope this post could reach more people as this was truly an interesting post.
Matt Dragovits says
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Our site includes a fully narrated version of our popular children’s adventure book that was illustrated by Disney artists. The site also includes embed code for free instructional videos on how to draw popular Christmas characters (The Nativity Scene as well as Elves, Santa, and a Reindeer
Rick Goldschmidt, the official historian for Rankin-Bass, gave a great review for our Children’s Christmas Picture book so I’m reaching out to other popular Christmas Bloggers and Christmas-focused companies to share this heartwarming story. You can share the free video content from my site, or you contact me if you have interest in learning more or scheduling an interview! I would love to hear from you. If you do share the content, can you please shoot me a link to the page once it’s up? I’d love to see it!
Thank you… and have a Merry Christmas!
Debbie Hogan says
My name is Debbie Hogan and I really enjoyed your blog about Christmas traditions and games. I have been married to my husband Jim for almost 49 years, have 2 adult sons and 6 wonderful grandchildren. I was a teacher and speaker for MOPS for over 20 years and have a real heart for young moms and their families. Christmas traditions are very important to our family, especially those that are Christ-centered. Our favorite tradition and game is The Candle Tree, a ceramic Christmas tree that has 15 holes to place birthday candles in. To play the game, each person picks a candle and makes a wish, then the adults light the candles. While they burn we first read the story about the birth of Jesus, then sing Christmas carols until, one-by-one, the candles burn-out. Everyone looks on with great anticipation until the last candle goes out with a flicker and we have a very happy winner. We have reproduced the Candle Tree and it will be available soon. Please go to our website: http://www.traditions4u to see our Kickstarter video so your family can enjoy this game that will become your favorite Christmas tradition!
Vicki Parry says
Thank you for these wonderful ideas. I will share them.
Thank you, Vicki!
Elizabeth Bunea says
Thank you, Katie, for all these wonderful ideas and for taking the time to share them with all of us! Great way of teaching our kids nowadays how Christmas (Christ, not Santa only) should be celebrated!
My daughter and I try to buy and decorate the Christmas tree on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, every year…after she checks her boots by the door, of course… and enjoys the little treats St. Nick left for her…
Merry Christmas to you and your dear ones!
By any chance do you have the video from your post about the most important gifts? It isn’t showing up:).
Lucinda Nutting says
I love love love No.1. My family never really implemented any traditions to keep Christmas centered on Christ. When I have children, I will definitely be hanging a white stocking for them to learn and concentrate on Jesus instead of the gifts 🙂 thanks!
It’s never to late to start! I love that particular tradition too =)
Thank you for this post! I hadn’t heard some of these ideas before. I purchased the fisher price nativity last year to give my kids some hands on play. It’s been a great investment!
Michelle Dickson says
Thank you for sharing these great reminders/ ideas. My heart was touched.
I’m so glad! Thank you for commenting 🙂
My family celebrates Advent with a Jesse Tree. Each day we hang an ornament and read the corresponding scripture. I make felt ornaments. You can see them in my Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/shop/PinkScissorsDesign
Pink Scissors Design on Etsy
pinkscissorsdesign @gmail .com
I love these! If you’d ever like me to do a review, I’d love to. They are so simple but meaningful.
This is such a great list Katie! Thank you!
Brenna @ Life After Laundry says
What a great article! I have been really struggling with this. I want my son to know the true meaning of the season, but I don’t think I have been proactive enough in doing so. Today I tried to talk to him about it and was so frustrated at all he cared about was the gifts. Thank you for the ideas to show him what it is really about. Love the quote, “Spirit of Christ.” So true!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s so hard to know how to teach our kids in a way that keeps their attention, and helps them know the true meaning. You’re a great mom though, I’m sure your little guy is picking up more than you think 🙂
Samantha Nielsen says
Those are such great ideas! I especially love the white sock idea.