The best part about Christmas for me is the memories that we make together. There are so many things we can do to make this time of year special. I have pages and pages of ideas and have selected a few of our favorites for your family to try.

 

The music of this season is so special. I fill the house with Christmas songs all day (if the family will let me!). I go to the library every year and select several CDs (go early; they go fast!). My favorite is Handel’s “Messiah.” I love to listen to it, but most of all I love why it was written. Did you know that this oratorio is about the prophecies that led up to the Messiah’s (Jesus’) birth? And that the famous Hallelujah chorus celebrates the fulfilled prophecies? Research the Bible verses the songs are based on. I found a copy of a program for a performance that gave the Bible verse for which each chorus was written. It is great to read those verses as a family before listening to each song and understand what they are singing about.

 

Another song to research the meaning of is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Discuss the meaning of each gift. While you are at the library researching these songs, read about Christmas traditions in other countries. It’s fascinating! Also find a book on the story of the candy cane and its inventor.

 

Crafts are such an important part of Christmas for my daughter and me. We make ornaments, gingerbread houses, centerpieces, wreaths and anything else we can think of. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Buy terra-cotta clay, roll it 1/2-inch thick and cut ornaments out with cookie cutters. Air dry overnight. Draw faces and write names of friends with puff paint and give as gifts.

  • Make cinnamon dough (1 1/2 cups cinnamon, 1 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup white school glue) and form into ornaments or snowmen for table decorations. Let air dry two to three days.

  • Create a photo ornament of each child every year. Make the frame from funny foam, Popsicle sticks, a decorated lid from frozen juice concentrate, or even construction paper.

  • Make your own Christmas cards for special people or the elderly, who will appreciate your personal touch.

  • Make a snow globe. We have done it two ways: one with water and one without. With water requires a baby food jar, glitter, and a small toy for the center. Fill the jar with water and some glitter, and glue the toy to the inside of the lid (the lid will become the bottom of the globe). Once the jar is closed, hot-glue around the edges so nothing can be opened or leak. For the waterless type, take a plastic bubble container that comes in gumball or vending machines. Find a tiny toy that fits inside the bubble. Glue the toy to the lid of the bubble. With a toothpick, dot white paint on the inside of the bubble to represent snow.

  • Make your own Advent calendar. Draw twenty-five tiny (1-inch) pictures on a large piece of construction paper (or glue on pictures from old Christmas cards). Take another piece of paper the same size and cut windows where the pictures will be. Glue the corners of the paper together and let the kids open one frame per day.

Crafts aren’t the only way to build memories. You could start a family journal that is written in only at Christmastime (keep it with the decorations and bring it out each year). Write what each person wants for Christmas, how tall the children are, what their interests are that year, what they want to be when they grow up, and so on.

 

Start a keepsake box for each child. Every year add an ornament for each of the children. The boxes can be given to them when they have their own tree.

 

To help the family understand and celebrate the reason for Christmas, celebrate it in a special way. Have an Advent wreath with candles to celebrate the month leading up to Christmas. Make a birthday cake for Jesus using colors and shapes to signify the uniqueness of his birthday: the cake can be star-shaped; the icing can be white for purity or gold for royalty; layers of the cake can be different colors for different symbols.

 

Watch some classic Christmas movies together. Get some from the library (they’re free or inexpensive!). Some of our favorites are “Miracle on 34th Street,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Veggie Tales: The Toy That Saved Christmas.”

 

If getting outside is the best way for your family to bond, try a few of these Christmas activities:

  • Have a Christmas caroling party. Invite the neighbors and visit your neighborhood or a nursing home. Offer warm drinks and cookies afterward.

  • Visit a living nativity scene in your town.

  • Adopt a family that is having a hard time financially. Deliver food, gifts or decorations to them. To find a family that wants this help, contact your church, Chamber of Commerce or local charities.

  • Practice Boxing Day. This holiday began in early England, according to some historians. On the day after Christmas, the churches would open their poor boxes and share the money with the poor. Later, in the Middle Ages, the gentry would wrap gifts that they didn’t want and give them to their servants. This day became known as St. Stephen’s Day, honoring the memory of this saint who was martyred. Use this day to give gifts to those who may not have much. Fill a box with things you aren’t using and donate them to a local charity.

  • Have a talent show for the family or invite the neighbors. Videotape it and show it every year.

 

Excerpted from: "Frugal Families" by Jonni McCoy, Copyright © 2003, Jonni McCoy. ISBN 0764226142. Published by Bethany House Publishers.

Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.