In the midst of making the holidays special for our families, we often get so busy and distracted that we forget the reason for our preparations. We lose sight of the Prince of Peace as the bustle overwhelms us. But this is not the way it has to be.
Keeping Jesus at the center of it all doesn’t cost anything, and it promises to keep our hearts at peace and prepare us for the coming King. Let us focus our time and energy in a way that reflects our love for the Savior who loved us so completely. Let us take solace in the one who brings us peace.
But how can we do this in the busyness of the Christmas season? Here are ten simple tips to help your family stay focused on the meaning of the holiday season.
Choose an Advent devotional to read each day with your family. In a season full of stress for adults and the temptation of greed for kids, a daily reminder can keep the family grounded when we might otherwise become overwhelmed. ReFrame Ministries has free, online Advent resources. There are also many wonderful print resources, like Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift family Advent devotional.
Take time to serve others. Start a food or product drive at your church, volunteer at a local food pantry, or contact another charitable organization to see what your family can do to help. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, imitating him is one of the best ways to honor him! John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that he gave…” You can imitate him in your giving. Our family has often rung bells for the Salvation Army. It has been so fun and meaningful to stand by the famous red kettles and sing carols!
Delight in seeing the Christmas story acted out. Find a local church having a live nativity or Christmas production. Usually these are free or ask for a small donation. They are a great way to spend a faith-focused evening out with your family.
Plan a cookie exchange with family and friends. This is a wonderful way to keep baking simple. Everyone only has to make one kind of cookie, but after swapping cookies with your guests, you’ll have a variety without all of the time, expense and mess! In addition, it’s a great excuse to gather together and celebrate the season!
Have a door-decorating contest with your family. Let each member of the family decorate a different door in the house and ask a guest to judge which is best. If you have several categories, it’s easy to include everyone in the awards!
No need to do a lot of running to have fun together. Check out Christmas books and movies from the library and plan a night inside. Snuggle up on the couch and read A Christmas Carol aloud. Or enjoy a Christmas Movie Marathon - complete with popcorn and pj’s.
It really doesn’t matter how well you sing. We are all called to go out into the world and share the Good News. What better way than to stroll through your neighborhood with your family singing Christmas carols? As you travel door to door, you can also present your neighbors with a small baked item and an invitation to special holiday services at your church. People are more open to invitations to church during the Christmas season. Make the most of it!
Make hot chocolate and share a Christmas memory with your family. If you are the kind of family that takes lots of pictures, haul out a few albums from Christmases past and enjoy sharing memories.
Have some fun with the craft bin creating Christmas cards. Perhaps a grandparent or shut-in from your church might enjoy a handmade Christmas card. Have each member of the family make a card for someone. Then, they can either hand deliver it or send it by mail.
Take a self-guided Christmas lights tour. Check online or in your local newspapers to see what neighborhoods in your area really love to light up their houses or if there are any Christmas light tours. Sometimes there are even displays that are connected to local churches or charities. As you take in the lights, reflect on how “the light of the world” came into the world on Christmas day.
With a little creative thinking, this Christmas can be simply wonderful. It need not be the Pinterest kind of perfection that features 11-foot Christmas trees with hundreds of perfectly wrapped presents beneath them, but rather, the kind of Christmas celebrated with the simplicity of its humble beginnings. After all, Luke 9:4 (MSG) states, “Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there…” This is how Jesus entered the world— no luxury inns, no parades or fanfare.
So, this Christmas, may you keep it simple and focused on what is meaningful. And in the words of the old hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra