Christ-Centered Celebrations

December 16th, 2013

Christmas is full of parties. Children often have Christmas parties at school. Parents have work-sponsored holiday events. Churches sometimes host Christmas celebrations. And then, of course, there are all the family get-togethers. While we, as parents and teachers, certainly want to celebrate the season with our children, we also have the added responsibility and desire to make the events we host as meaningful as they are fun. But how exactly can we do that?

How can we create an atmosphere that is both festive and significant? How can we incorporate giving without taking away the fun of getting? How can we help our children to have fun while at the same time focusing on the truth of the Christmas story?

It is possible. There are ways that you can point your children towards Christ and make the event significant.

Remember, It’s More Than a Name

What do you call your celebration? Sometimes simply giving a name or changing a name can add value to an event. For example, instead of just a party, you can host a “Birthday Party for Jesus” or a “Celebration of Christ’s Birth.” A simple change in the wording can help remind children of the reason we are celebrating.

Decorate with a Purpose

Make Christ your guest of honor. Display a nativity scene or pictures of the nativity in a prominent position among the party decorations. Find paper plates or napkins that depict the birth of Christ, a star, or another religious Christmas symbol. Instead of party hats, provide paper crowns to remind children of the wise men.

Invite Christ

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the details, that we forget “the big picture.” Don’t forget to invite Christ to your celebration. Pray as you plan and prepare. And then, when the big day arrives, take a moment to pray with the children who are attending your event. Thank God for sending Jesus. Ask the Spirit of God to be with you during your time of merriment. Take time to briefly tell the story of Christ’s birth. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out lesson. Tell it in a few sentences. Sing a song, such as “Away in a Manger” and then review the words with your children.

Consider Christian Entertainment

Every party has some sort of entertainment. If you include music, make it Christian Christmas carols. If you are planning a craft, consider making it a Biblical one. Instead of focusing on Santa or snowmen or reindeer, consider various aspects of the holiday that depict the Biblical story. Make a star ornament in remembrance of the star that lead the wise men to Christ or a shepherd’s crook to remind children of the shepherds who were Jesus’ first visitors. Add elements to the games that help children review the Christmas story. For example, if you are playing a traditional game such as ring toss, ask each participant a question about the story. A correct answer can earn an extra throw. If you are hiring an entertainer, such as a magician or clown, consider Christians who include Biblical themes in their performances.

Make It Mission-Minded

Christmas is a season of giving, and while children love to exchange gifts, most of the children in our groups probably don’t really need anything. If there are needy children, make sure that you or your church reaches out to them in an appropriate way. Instead of putting parents in a position of spending more time and money purchasing toys for a gift exchange, make the giving aspect of your party mission-minded.

For example, the children can each bring an item to donate to a food pantry. Have a decorative basket or box where the items can be placed. If the children are working towards a mission-project, such as the Grow, Proclaim, Serve! Winter Mission Project, they can be encouraged to bring a monetary donation. If desired, they can place their money in a wrapped gift box to put under the tree.

Since children love to give but rarely have the means to do it on their own, you can also help them “earn” their own money to purchase gifts for mission projects. For example, choose a project such as “socks for seniors.” In the weeks prior to your party, have parents secretly donate socks. Then, at the party, have a variety of games. Reward participants with a small trinket or piece of candy, but also give them some play money as well. At the end of the game, allow them to use their money to “buy” socks from the classroom “store.” Then have them wrap the socks in Christmas paper. You may even want to have a class field trip to take the socks to a local nursing home or senior center to present to the residents.

Another idea is to collect change all year long. The rewards for the games can then be real money. At the end of the event, the children can count their money and use it to purchase items from a charity catalog (such as Samaritan’s Purse, Heifer International). This option is better for older children who understand that the money they are earning during the party is for the donations and will not be kept.

Whether your function is a small intimate gathering or a church-wide celebration, a little effort can make a big difference. Think creatively. Be Christ-conscious, and make Jesus a central part of your celebration.

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