Last year as we were coming into the Christmas season I had a few strong impressions from the spirit which lead to some resolutions. One that I needed to be a more deliberate mother, that we needed more structure in our lives. The other that I needed to focus on keeping this holiday about Christ. With absolutely no deliberate action on my part, my children will learn about Santa. Santa is everywhere. Shows, decorations, songs, EVERYWHERE. Let me be clear that I am by no means anti-Santa, and he does visit our house. BUT, because everywhere else we get inundated with Santa and commercialization, I felt very strongly that I needed to come up with meaningful and fun activities to make sure my kids understand that this holiday is about Jesus.
If you look at my Thanksgiving advent post I explain a little bit of how I put together these activities. But for a quick recap, I keep it simple, there’s candy involved, and I use dollar store muffin tins with circles of construction paper to make the calendar. I don’t have December’s put together yet, but here’s a picture of November’s for reference- just imagine red and green paper instead.
Some of my activities are based on the #LightTheWorld campaign from mormon.org, but I struggled to come up with activities for a 3 year old and 1 year old that fit with each scripture. I also did not go in the order of their calendar at all just because certain activities would work better for us on different days of the week.
You’ll notice that I included a day to celebrate Hannukah, I did this for a few reasons:
- One of my very best friends is Jewish and she has inspired me to want to teach my children to love and respect other cultures. Also she’ll be visiting right after Hannukah ends, so we’ll get together and have a belated Hannukah bash!
- My thought for that day is that we believe in a God of miracles. The story of Hannukah contains a beautiful miracle and it’s fairly simple for children to understand.
- I want my children to understand that God loves and gives miracles to EVERYONE, even those that believe differently than we do.
In addition to the activities listed below we also have Nativity picture books, one from Usborne and the others I think I just grabbed from Toys R Us, and I found some Nativity printables on Pinterest and turned them into magnets for the magnet board in the play room.
I don’t have all the dates set in stone, but here’s my list of thoughts and activities. Activities based on Light the World have a little star.
- Jesus created the world and all of nature. Decorate the Tree.
- Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.* Attend the Southwest Family Christmas Party (my mother in law works for Southwest and you should all be jealous because their family party is so much fun! But I felt like this Light the World activity should definitely be matched up with a party, so if you already have a holiday party to attend, just pair it with this scripture!)
- Jesus speaks through His Prophet and Apostles. Watch the Christmas Devotional.
- Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.* Make ornaments to take to neighbors (I’m using foam and felt snowflakes that I got from Target last year because they are super easy and low mess, but substitute whatever craft floats your boat.)
- Nativity sticker scene, again, I picked up a pack of stickers last year at Target.
- I was in prison and ye visited me.* Take treats to a police station.
- Make gingerbread stables for Family Home Evening.
- Jesus is the light of the world. Go to Glendale Glitters. Here’s an example of doing something fun, but still keeping it Christ-centered by linking the lights back to Him.
- I was sick and ye visited me.* Take treats to the NICU. If you want the long story for why we pick the NICU you can read that post here. Short story, my daughter was in the NICU for 10 days. We took treats last year, and I plan on continuing the tradition as the kids grow up. If you want to do a NICU near you just know it’s best to call ahead and you really will just drop the treats off, young children will most likely not be allowed in. But, being there even for the short time we were, was lonely and stressful, I can’t imagine being there during the holidays, so NICU parents are definitely a group that could use some cheer. You could pick any group of ailing individuals, visit someone who recently had surgery, etc.
- Jesus gave us temples. Got to the Mesa Temple Lights.
- Family Home Evening, movie night with Nativity movies. Bible Videos-Nativity, Collection of short Christmas videos, Joy to the World
- I was naked and ye clothed me.* Drop off donations to Maggie’s Place.
- We believe in a God of Miracles. Tell the Hannukah story, light candles, play dreidels, etc.
- Jesus gave us families. Make ornaments for grandparents.
- Visit a Live Nativity. There’s a few I’m considering but need to figure out some dates. Here’s some links to help you out. Walk through Bethlehem, Grace Glendale
- Because of Jesus, our family can be together forever. Make wreaths (circles have no end.)
- Ye shall meet together oft.* Go to church.
- Make more ornaments for friends and family.
- Family Home Evening- Caroling
- For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat.* Donate food, either to a food drive or take a meal to someone who is sick, or a refugee family.
- Wisemen still seek Him. Do a wisemen craft.
- Jesus was born in a stable with animals around. Visit a petting zoo.
- Go to see The Star in theaters. We aren’t huge movie goers, and part of me is wondering if I’m crazy to take a 1 year old and a 3 year old to a legit movie theater, but I feel like it’s important to support this film so that more like it can be made! Also, my friend’s son is one of the animators so that’s pretty cool!
- Bethlehem dinner. Last year we started this tradition, and it definitely went over my son’s head, and I think he was sick and didn’t eat anyway, but by golly we are going to stick with it. We’ve decided to do Christmas Eve on our own as just our little family. For dinner we eat the type of food that was eaten in Bethlehem. We had lamb with pita bread which I bought from a Middle Eastern market (you should find one, it was a really neat experience). We had goat cheese, I cheated on this and bought the stuff wrapped in cranberries from Costco, so maybe less authentic, but sooo good. Then we read the Christmas story and used our Nativity magnets to help act it out, as the kids get older we’ll have them do the acting, but for now we just use the pictures.