Here are some ideas for making your Advent/Christmas season more meaningful. Some are just plain fun, but you can certainly make wonderful memories doing them together!
Building Graham Cracker Houses – we’re going to make houses out of graham crackers, frosting and candies. We might even have a contest in which everyone will win some prize (most festive, tallest, cutest, most symmetrical…)
Graham Cracker House Frosting
3 egg whites (room temp) NO YOLK
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 box powdered sugar (confectioner's) 16 oz.
Some Ideas for decorative accents: Mini Shredded Wheat for the roof, Necco wafers, licorice strings, Lifesavers, candy cane sticks, gum drops, mini marshmallows, Red Hots, Hot Tamales, Sprees
In large mixer bowl beat egg whites, cream tartar as you slowly add sugar. Beat 7 minutes until smooth and thick. Store in tightly covered container. Can be made ahead if tightly covered and kept at room temperature up to two days. Makes two cups.
Lay a damp cloth over frosting as you work on houses as it will dry out quickly. Make frosting one batch at a time. If for any reason the frosting isn't thick, add more sugar a few spoons at a time. It needs to be firm but not so thick it can't spread. It dries on graham cracker houses quickly if made correctly.
Christmas tree ornaments – green triangle and brown rectangle construction paper glued together and decorated with markers, stickers, jewels, pearls, stars, whatever you have around. Punch a hole and tie with a cute ribbon at the top.
Talk about the symbolism: Greenery in the midst of winter symbolizes eternal life, which we are to receive from the One to Come, the Christ Child (Matthew 1:21). He has come to save us from our sins.
I’m going to make a garland out of ours and string them in places that don’t normally get decorated, like the kids’ rooms.
Watch Christmas Movies together – we love Boz Christmas, Veggie Tales Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th St.
Read Christmas Books – books we like or that have been recommended to us:
Who is Coming to our House? By Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff
B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
Alabaster Song by Max Lucado
One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne
The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
Jacob’s Gift by Max Lucado
Christmas Memory Book – take pictures, write about the holidays, where did we go, what was an unexpected blessing, trace your children’s hands, and pull it out to add to the next year. It’s fun to look back on!
Tree Trimming – play Christmas music while you are putting out your decorations, while you are trimming the tree, anytime after Thanksgiving have Christmas music ready to play. We love Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, Andrew Peterson, Mariah Carey (yes, I know…). Drink egg nog, hot chocolate, cider and enjoy the time together.
God’s Greatest Gift Wreath Craft – from Oriental Trading
Paper Plate Angel – we are doing this the day that we read about the angel approaching Mary and telling her that she will be “with child”
Cinnamon Ornaments – I haven’t made these, but know people who have. Combine 1 C. applesauce with 1 C. cinnamon and mix well. Roll out to ¼ “ thickness onto ungreased cookie sheet or heavy aluminum foil. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Peel away excess dough. Use a toothpick to make a small hole for ribbon. Bake in warm oven (about 200 degrees) for 2 hours.
GFA and Samaritan’s Purse Catalog – choose gifts together from these catalogs, perhaps have children save up money and use it to give as their “gift” to Jesus
New Pajamas on Christmas Eve
Christmas “crackers” – cracking them together, pictures with crowns
Or make your own and fill it with whatever you want
You could even make these and put your advent devotions in here and crack them everyday!
Christmas pickle – hiding it in the tree and having a reward for the one who finds it
Birthday Cake for Jesus – sing happy birthday, bake foil-covered papers into the cake with strings attached. Answer the question you get in your piece for reflection and sharing
“Boxing Day” – Dec. 26th to box up old toys to give to charity
3 Gift Guideline – Jesus was given 3 gifts, give kids the same amount
We are certainly not doing ALL of these. We will pick and choose based on what works for our family and the ages of our children. These are just ideas to get you thinking about how to make your Christmas season intentional in terms of looking to Christ as the focus of our season and spending quality, meaningful time with your children.
Just a reminder...
"May our decorations, gifts, festivities or lack of them - never block our view of him but always point us toward him." -Noel Piper