Christmas is the most festive time of year - a time when many memories are made. Sharing Christmas activities helps families create memories that draw them closer to God and each other. When particular activities especially bless families, new Christmas traditions are born.

Here are some traditions you can consider starting in your family:

  • Buy or make a nativity scene to set up in your home. As different family members place the figures inside the display, have someone read the Christmas story from the Bible. Spend a night visiting local outdoor nativity displays at churches.

  • Recycle your Christmas cards by cutting out figures of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, etc. and using them to produce a puppet show.

  • Walk around your neighborhood singing Christmas carols together. Make an audio or video recording of your family singing carols, then mail the tape to relatives who live too far away for you to visit this year.

  • As you eat candy canes, explain their Christmas symbolism to your children. Decorate your Christmas tree with candy canes.

  • Create a "giving tree" in addition to your regular Christmas tree. The giving tree can be canned goods stacked in the shape of a tree, to donate to your local food pantry. Or it can be a tree that's decorated with winter hats and mittens for a homeless shelter or with pet supplies for an animal shelter.

  • Visit a local church that features stained glass windows, and study the stories they illustrate. Explain the paintings to your children.

  • Customize plain gift wrapping paper by decorating it with the Christmas symbols you find most meaningful.

  • Discuss the colors of Christmas, such as red for the blood Jesus shed and green for the gift of everlasting life. Use Christmas colors to decorate your home.

  • Make wreaths together, personalizing each one.

  • Attend a local Christmas pageant or concert together.

  • Volunteer to ring Christmas bells for charities together at local shopping centers where they're used to solicit donations. Hang jingle bells on a door at home, and ring a bell to announce that dinner is ready in the evening.

  • Encourage and thank people who have blessed you or your family in some way by sending them cards telling them they've been like angels to you. Make a coupon book to give to someone offering to be an angel yourself by helping with a specific task you know that person needs done.

  • Create a Christmas memory book that includes photos and written entries by each family member listing their dreams for the future and prayer requests. Go through the finished book together and commit to praying for each person during the year ahead.

  • Remember the Christmas star by going outside to study the winter stars together, visiting a planetarium, stringing lights in your yard and on the outside of your house, and placing a star atop your Christmas tree.

  • Reach out to people who are seeking Christ today as the wise men did when He was first born. Invite people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas to share in your Christmas celebrations - people such as international students attending college and unable to afford to fly home. Offer to read Christmas stories at public story sessions in malls, bookstores and libraries. Sing Christmas carols for nursing home residents.

  • Decorate an outdoor evergreen tree with food for birds and squirrels. String popcorn, cranberries, or puffed cereal in garlands to hang on the tree. You could also use pinecones coated with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed.

  • Use family photos to make personalized tree ornaments, snow globes, or a Christmas meal table centerpiece.

  • Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for the freedom to worship Him and interceding for people in other parts of the world who aren't free. Pray for every person your family knows who doesn't yet have a relationship with Christ.

Adapted from Creating Christmas Memories: Traditions to Celebrate with Family, copyright 1999 by Zondervan Publishing House, compiled by Pat Matuszak. Published by Zondervan, www.zondervan.com, 1-800-727-3480.

What are some of your family's favorite Christmas traditions, and why? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.