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Keeping Christ in Christmas is more about the way you live your life than the things you say—such as “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays.” The best way to keep Jesus Christ in your Christmas celebrations is to have him present in your daily life.
Each year Christians lament about Christmas. They complain that Christmas has become to commercialized or secular, centered on shopping, and no longer about Jesus’ birth. While most Christians agree with these issues, it can be hard to figure out what to do about it.
How, exactly, do we put Christ back in Christmas? Especially if you’re already knee-deep in decorations, cookie-baking, and struggling to put up the Christmas tree.
Below, I have a list of simple things you and your family can do to keep Christmas focused on Jesus.
Choose a few to remind yourself, your family and friends about the real reason for the season. It will help you enjoy the holiday on a deeper, more meaningful level.
Keeping Christ in Christmas means that throughout the season revealing the character, love and spirit of Christ that dwells in you and by allowing these traits to shine through your actions.
Simple, Yet Meaningful Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas
Here are simple ways to keep Christ the central focus of your life this Christmas season.
1) Plan a project of service this Christmas.
A few years ago, my family adopted a single mom for Christmas. She was barely making ends meet and didn’t have money to buy gifts for her young son. My family and I bought clothing, gifts and a new microwave for the struggling family and delivered them a few days before Christmas.
Do you have an elderly neighbor in need of home repairs or yard work? A single mom who could use a few hours to herself? A sick friend who would love a visit? Find someone with a genuine need, involve your whole family, and see how happy you can make him or her this Christmas.
2) Gather some friends and family and go Christmas caroling in a nursing home or a children’s hospital.
Who doesn’t love to sing Christmas songs, especially those that focus on Jesus? Gather your family and recruit some friends to go caroling at a nursing home or children’s hospital (with Covid this year, it may not be allowed, but file this idea away for next year). Sing songs including “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Holy Night”.
3) Give a surprise gift of service to each member of your family.
Jesus taught us to serve others. Even He, son of God, served others by washing the disciple’s feet. He taught us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 (ESV)
You can give the gifts of service unexpectedly or give a coupon for it. Giving an unexpected gift of service to members of your family demonstrates Christ-like love and service. You might consider giving a back rub to your spouse, running an errand for your sister, or shampooing your mom’s carpets, or repairing a broken toy of your child; or, how special would it be to actually wash the feet of your family members?
Make it personal and meaningful and watch the blessings multiply.
4) Do family devotions on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
Instead of rushing to open gifts, take some time to gather as a family in prayer and devotions. Read Luke 2:1-20 and discuss as a family the true meaning of Christmas.
5) Have a Christian Christmas movie night
Pop the popcorn, turn down the lights and together, as a family, watch a Christmas movie with a deeper meaning than elves or snowmen. Here’s a great list from Learn Religions.
6) Attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service
If you are alone this Christmas or don’t have family living near you, invite a friend or a neighbor to join you.
This is an easy way to share your faith at Christmastime.
7) Write a Christmas letter to a missionary.
Many missionaries are unable to travel home for the holidays, so Christmas can be a very lonely time for them. Write a special letter to a missionary of your choice (your church may sponsor missionaries and can provide some names and addresses for you) and thank them for giving their life in service to the Lord. Trust me—it will mean more than you can imagine.
8) Present Jesus as the Best Gift
For most children (and even some adults) the focus of Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts. To focus the family’s attention toward the gift that started Christmas, wrap the Bible in Christmas gift paper and place it among the other gifts. After all the other gifts have been opened, ask family members to be seated and announce the last and best Christmas gift for the entire family. Read the story of Jesus’ birth (from Matthew 1 or Luke 2).
When we ask our children ‘What do you want for Christmas?’, we are asking a question that cultivates selfishness.
In order to develop selflessness, we should be asking ‘What are you going to give?’
Christmas is the celebration of God’s great gift giving.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (ESV)
9) Send Cards That Say “Christmas,” Not “Xmas”
Send cards which have specific reference to Jesus, rather than those which abbreviate Christmas, by appearing to X out Christ in favor of Xmas. Some cards simply send Holiday greetings. Let your cards emphasize that you are celebrating Jesus. If you’ve already bought the reindeer cards—no problem! Just write a Bible verse and include a personal message with each card.
Dayspring has a huge collection of reasonably priced Christian Christmas cards.
10) Sing Songs About Jesus Instead of Santa
During the Christmas season, we all love to listen to and sing Christmas songs. Instead of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or “Frosty the Snowman”, play and sing songs about Jesus’ birth.
Here’s a great playlist you are sure to enjoy:
11) Explain the True Meaning of the Christmas Colors
Know and share why you decorate with red and green. They were not inspired by Santa suits and reindeer.
“There are two accepted beliefs about the origin of traditional Christmas colors, one based on Christian faith, and the other based on historical fact,” which dates to the fourteenth century, according to Anthropology Suite 101. Since apple trees were not available year-round for use in theatrical productions of Adam and Eve in the garden, the evergreen pine emerged as a symbol of the Christian’s faith in eternal life—evergreen corresponding to everlasting. Red symbolizes blood—necessary to produce life.
Use red and green M&Ms, found nearly everywhere this time of year, as a visual and yummy way to share the true reasons we use red and green at Christmas.
It’s a small, but meaningful way to Keep Christ in Christmas.
12) Decorate with Christian Symbols and Decor
Decorate the Christmas tree with symbols of the real Christmas: angels, stars, shepherds, Mary and Joseph figurines, for example. Also include the main symbol of the Christian’s faith: the cross. Let the cross be a reminder during the Christmas season that Jesus did not remain a baby, but grew up, lived and died to complete His mission as Savior.
Here are some of my favorites (Dayspring has a great collection). Click on the photos below to take you to Dayspring to check them out.
13) Discuss the Christian Symbolism of the Candy Cane
Talk about the Christian symbols of the candy cane. For example, it is shaped like the Shepherd’s crook which introduces the topic of Christ as the Good Shepherd, or like a J for the name of Jesus.
“Some say the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus and his virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The three fine stripes are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Others say they represent the blood spilled at the beating Jesus received at the hands of the Roman soldiers” (according to Laura Witcher Goldstein in The History of The Candy Cane).
Throughout the season, whether as decorations or for a taste of sweetness, let candy canes remind family members and visitors of the story of Jesus.
You can even print out the above explanation and tie it to candy canes with a ribbon to share Jesus’ love with others.
14) Point to Christmas Lights as a Symbol of Jesus
Lights at Christmas time have different meanings in different cultures and around the world, but light for the Christian symbolizes Jesus, the light of the world. When you hang your Christmas lights, light your candles or pass Christmas lights while driving, point to them and remind your family that Jesus is the light of the world.
15) Create a “Tree of Light.”
Set a small tree/plant (live or artificial) on a tabletop. Fill a container with either handmade or purchased stars, and place it at the base of the tree.
Your children or grandchildren will have fun decorating the stars or even adding glitter. Punch a hole in the top of the star and loop with ribbon, string or yarn.
As a family, read some Scriptures about Jesus being the Light of the world including verses such as John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:46. You can find more scripture about Jesus as light of the world here.
16) Explain the Meaning Behind the Circular Christmas Wreath
The Christmas wreath, of course, a circular shape, symbolizes the eternal nature of Christ and His endless love. Add a banner or printed cardstock with a Christ-centered message like, “Jesus, the reason for the season,” or The Savior is born,” or even candy canes, as described above.
(Click on the photos below to see more about these beautiful Christ-centered wreaths)
17) Discuss the Prominence of Angels in the Christmas Story
Angels feature prominently in the Christmas story. An angel announced Christ’s birth and appeared to both Mary and Joseph that Mary would birth the Son of God. The shepherds also had an angel appear to guide them to Bethlehem and pronounced that Joseph and Mary should take baby Jesus to Egypt.
Remind everyone that angels continue to minister to people every day, even now. Share stories or dreams about angels.
Here are some Bible verses about angels to share with your family.
18) Bring the story of Christ’s birth to life.
After reading Luke 2:1-20, locate Bethlehem on a biblical map. You can use a map from the back of your Bible or a Bible atlas. Depending on the ages of your children, you may want to compare the biblical map with a current map of the world. (Bethlehem is near Jerusalem.) Also, look online at a news website and discuss how this same area of the world is still in the news today.
Encourage young children to reenact the story. Use sheets and blankets to make costumes. You could cast the family dog as a donkey. A teenager may enjoy directing the play.
19) Share the Christmas message through the 12 Names of Jesus.
Instead of an advent calendar with candy behind doors, consider an advent calendar highlighting the names of Jesus and His characteristics.
I’m not an affiliate of this product but absolutely love it and feel that it truly focuses on Jesus at this time of year.
20) Give “birthday gifts” to Jesus.
Wrap a box in gift wrap (a shoe box works great for this) colorful holiday tissue and cut a slit in the lid. Fill a container with blank slips of paper and put it by the box. Brainstorm, as a family, about possible gifts for the Savior for Christmas (patience, love for a difficult person, sacrificial giving, ministry to needy person, etc.). Then ask them to write a description of the gift they’d like to give on a slip of paper and to drop it in the wrapped box—without names. Open the box on Christmas day and see what presents the family has given Jesus for His birthday.
21) Prepare the manger for baby Jesus.
Fill a basket with straw and place it near your nativity set. When family members do something special for Jesus (anonymously), they can leave a piece of straw in the manger—examples: being kind, sacrificial, generous, and patient. Another option is for family members to put straw in the manger when they see loved ones modeling the character of Christ during the holidays. On Christmas morning, lay the figure of Baby Jesus on top of the straw bed that the family has prepared for Him.
22) Announce the birth of a king
After reading Luke 2:1-20, family members can share how they would announce the birth of a king. Where would they arrange for the infant king to stay? Then talk about the way Baby Jesus entered the world more than 2,000 years ago. Be sure that the children understand that He was placed in a manger, which held food for livestock. Ask them why they think Jesus was born in a manger … why was there no room for Him in the inn? Then read Revelations 11:15,” … There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” Talk about how Jesus will come again to reign and to rule as our King.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” – Revelation 11:15 (ESV)
23) Write family prayer requests
Ask each family member to jot down personal prayer requests for the next year. Place the list inside individual envelopes (with names on the front). When you take down your Christmas tree and other holiday décor, tuck the envelopes inside one of the storage boxes. Next year, before you set up your nativity set, open the envelopes, praise God for answered prayer, and pray together for needs that have not yet been met.
24) Observe Advent with Your Family
Advent is the time of reflection and preparation before Christmas. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. Christians observe Advent to celebrate the arrival of Jesus at the first Christmas or anticipate His arrival for the second coming. Advent offers the opportunity to pause and consider the state of our souls, not our holiday to-do lists. You can create an Advent wreath for your home, follow Bible readings for each day of Advent, or follow an Advent Calendar, such as the names of Jesus advent calendar above.
(click the images below for a closer look)
25) Light Advent Candles
If daily Advent Bible readings don’t work for you or your family, consider lighting an advent candle each Sunday and reading the appropriate Bible passages and themes. This practice creates time for spiritual reflection in your home and not just in church on Sundays. Discuss each verse and how you plan to execute its lesson in your daily life. You will grow closer as a family while also keeping Christ in Christmas and at the center of your home.
Our Advent wreath didn’t survive our move, so I’m deciding on one of the below Advent wreaths to replace it with. Which one would you choose? (Click the image for a closer look).
26) Celebrate Jesus’ Birth with a Birthday Cake for Him
What better way to honor the reality of Jesus’s birth with a birthday cake? This is a perfect way to get young children excited about the true meaning of the holiday. Kids understand the basic meaning of a birthday and what the cake represents. This will help the Christmas story come alive for them in a tangible way. Christmas time is also about spending time with your loved ones and growing closer with them. Baking is a fun way to spend time as a family unit and grow your relationship that much deeper. Make it a family tradition to bake a cake for Jesus.
27) Focus on Gifts That Exemplify Loving Others
Whether shopping online or at the mall, we rush around trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones. This, alone, can be stressful but it is one more thing that prevents us from keeping Christ in Christmas. Consider, instead supporting a ministry or giving gifts that support ministry in the name of the recipient. World Vision has great options for providing help to those in need. You can purchase the needed items and give them on behalf of your loved one.
28) Pray a Special Christmas Prayer
I love this prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson. Simply titled, “The Christmas Prayer”, it is a beautiful reminder of Jesus’ birth and a petition for peace.
Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
29) Commit to Pray with Friends
Deepen your prayer life by sharing your prayer time with others. To know that others are praying for you, and to share their burdens and pray for them, is a wonderful gift. You can organize a prayer group through your church, or just ask a Christian friend to pray with you in the days before Christmas. You can also volunteer at your church to pray the prayer requests that are sent in by the members or guests.
30) Forgive Someone
Christmas is about Jesus, and He chose to show us grace. Jesus came to forgive our sins, and we, too, are obligated to forgive. Prayerfully consider who and how to forgive, whether it’s a person you need to ask for forgiveness, or a private moment between you and God. Forgiving someone can be a difficult task, but it lifts a huge weight off your shoulders and makes you feel better. It also gives you opportunities to connect again with people you once really cared about. Christmastime is a perfect opportunity for this, because people generally are welcoming of others.
31) Volunteer to Help the Homeless
Just as Mary and Joseph were denied shelter at the inn, there are many in our own neighborhoods that have no home. While we are quick to judge about how they may have gotten themselves in such a situation, it’s truly none of our business. It is not our place to judge – only God has that role. Jesus didn’t pick and choose who He offered help to, and we shouldn’t either. Volunteer at a shelter, donate, or make a monthly commitment for the coming year to volunteer. Volunteering helps teach you about kindness, humility and respect for others.
What other ways can you think of to Keep Christ in Christmas and focus on what truly matters? I’d love to hear your ideas or traditions that your family shares. Comment below or email me at [email protected]
Here are some great recommendations for books to have on hand with great ideas for Keeping Christ in Christmas. I’ve included some for kids and parents, as well.
Because He Lives!