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A Christ-Centered Christmas
We all know how easy it can be to get so caught up in the festivities and holiday traditions that we can so easily forget to keep Christ at the center of it all. But all the celebrations are supposed to be celebrating HIM! It is, essentially, His birthday! No one likes to be left alone and forgotten on their birthday – so let’s not neglect Jesus as we celebrate His birthday!

Here are some really creative, fun, and very practical ways we can keep Christ at the center of Christmas this year and really focus on celebrating Him . . .

Birthday Present for Jesus

I really love the idea of giving Jesus a present for Christmas . . . but what can you give to Jesus when He doesn’t need materialistic things? I found this idea at Train Up a Child in the Way and thought it was a fantastic idea! Though, I’m planning to do it a little differently for our family. I think it would be really great to fill 25 index cards with service project ideas (or ideas for how to bless others this Christmas season). Then, for each day leading up to Christmas we can draw a card out of the box and do the activity that day. In this way you are celebrating Jesus the whole month long by showing love to your friends, neighbors, and people in need.

Collection Present for Jesus

It’s always a nice thought to “give something” to Jesus for Christmas, so here’s a very practical way of giving gifts to Jesus . . . Wrap a box ahead of time (one that is open on top) and label it as being for Jesus. It starts out as just an empty box, but after all the other presents have been opened take some time as a family to gather up items you no longer need (old toys, shoes, clothes, etc), as well as items that could be very useful (canned food, toothpaste, etc) and keep gathering items until the box is filled up. These are your gifts to Jesus. The next day you can go and drop the box off at a local charity, homeless shelter, or food pantry as an act of kindness!

The White Stocking

As you hang up the Christmas Stockings this year, how about hanging one up for Jesus too! The White Stocking Tradition is becoming pretty popular. Another variation of this same tradition can be found Here.

The Night Before Christmas Box

I got so excited when I heard about this Night Before Christmas Box tradition. You could do one for each person in the family, or you could have one big “joint” gift for everyone to share, either way, the general idea is that there is a present that gets opened on Christmas Eve and the contents of that present are all things you can use THAT NIGHT! It’s something that can really make Christmas Eve really special for everyone (and make it a little easier for everyone to wait one more night before opening all the other gifts).
Popular “Night Before Christmas” gifts include new PJ’s, a holiday movie, microwave popcorn and/or hot chocolate packets, maybe a new fleece blanket or a new pillowcase, a Christmas book, or stuffed animal. Think about how you want to spend the evening and what would make “going to bed” more fun for everyone, then pack the box(es) accordingly!
To add my own “variation” to this tradition, I would really love it if the contents of the box could encourage the members of our family to spend the evening dwelling on Christ and the blessings of Christmas. So while I definitely like the idea of packing an evening snack and other fun items, I also want to include books, movies, or other items that are specifically focused on the true meaning of Christmas!
If you like this idea, you may also like the Advent Box that your kids can explore all month long.

Gift Seeking

The wiseman had to go searching for the baby Jesus. How about focusing on that aspect this Christmas by taking one gift for each person and hiding it somewhere in the house. You can give them clues for finding the gift (turning it into a Christmas Scavenger Hunt). Or you could put together a Kids Treasure Map.
For younger children you might consider playing “Hot and Cold” or do the search on Christmas Eve with all the lights off, and have the kids follow the light of a flashlight the way the wisemen followed the light of a star.
This Christmas Scavenger Hunt can work especially well for large gifts that are hard to wrap. Just leave the first clue in the person’s Christmas stocking and leave them to solve the riddles and find their present.

Twelve “Themed” Days of Christmas

The Twelve Themed Days of Christmas is a fun twist on the 12 Days of Christmas, you basically have a special "theme" for each of the twelve days and a special box that contains fun things you can do as a family that fits into that theme!
You could really get creative and have a lot of fun with this! I especially like the idea of a “Jesus Birthday” theme box . . . I would definitely work it out so that we did this one ON Christmas Day!

Secret Grocery Run

I really love the idea of doing Secret Grocery Runs. You basically just fill a box with groceries and anonymously leave it on someone’s doorstep. It can be just random, basic groceries (such as bread, pasta, or canned foods), or you can be more specific and give them all the ingredients they would need for a specific meal (such as spaghetti noodles, sauce, garlic bread, parmesan cheese, etc). You can really do whatever you want with this so long as you keep it anonymous. You could leave a nice Christmas note if you’d like – but NO NAMES!

Neighborhood Nativity Tag (or “I Spy”)

At Women Living Well Courtney shares about a favorite family tradition in which her family would drive around town looking at the Christmas lights and decorations and anytime they saw a house that had prominently displayed a nativity scene in their yard they would “tag them”.
The “tagging” is very simple. They would have nativity coloring pages that they had decorated ahead of time, with a simple note written on each one that read, “Thank you for displaying the reason for the season!”
These days, less and less people are displaying the nativity and less and less people are calling Christmas “CHRISTmas”, the say “Happy Holidays . . . People are taking Christ out of Christmas and it’s so important that we encourage those  people who are willing to go against the social pressures and boldly live out their faith and keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus!
Here are some Free Printable Coloring Signs you can print and use!

Sing Christmas Carols by Candlelight
If you have an advent wreath you could do your advent devotions with some music. You could get together with friends for a Christmas Carol party, or go door to door singing carols in your neighborhood.

Other Great Ideas:
* Decorate one of the trees in your yard for an outside Christmas tree
(better yet, decorate a tree as a surprise for your neighbor)
* Set up an outdoor Nativity Set
* Make Christmas cookies using Nativity Cookie Cutters
* Have a Ginger Bread Nativity building contest
* Turn off all the lights and read the Christmas story by candlelight
* Do the 12 Days of Christmas for a family in need
* Put together a few boxes for Operation Christmas Child
* Serve the homeless at a local shelter
* Donate Toys for Tots
* Make cards, sing songs, or just visit with the elderly in a nursing home
* Cook a dinner for a family in need
* Write a letter to Jesus (instead of to Santa)
* Host a Birthday party for Jesus
* Participate in a pageant, Christmas play, or living nativity
* Have a soldier to Christmas dinner (if they’re currently serving far from home)
* Host a missionary for Christmas dinner (if they are away from family)

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