At our house, a large Birthday Bag for Jesus sits under the Christmas tree. This tradition started early in our marriage when we decided to throw a birthday party for Jesus. The first year, we invited a few family and friends and had the kids attending act out the manger scene. We had a birthday cake with candles and gave everyone a party favor that represented the true meaning of Christmas.

The highlight of the party was the Birthday Bag. We made “birthday” postcards on the computer and gave everyone a card as they came through the front door. The heading on the card had the date and “This year I give Jesus….” We instructed them to think about what they would like to give Jesus as a gift and then write their “gift” on the card. Maybe it would be more of their time, or energy, or money. Perhaps getting involved in a ministry, or spending more time with family and less time at work would be their gift to Jesus. Or for some it would be the cherished gift of asking Jesus into their heart for the first time...

They could sign the card or leave it anonymous and place it in the bag. On Christmas Eve, our family read the “gifts” and prayed that each gift giver would stay true to their intent.

As the years went by, the party grew larger and larger. People heard about it and wanted to come and those who had attended before started expecting it each year. It also became an outreach as we invited neighbors and unchurched friends. One year, we had someone taking pictures of guests in front of the manger scene and then we gave them a printed picture. Our Birthday Party for Jesus became the highlight of many people’s Christmas season.

We have since moved to a rural area, and while we don’t have the Birthday Party per se, we do have the Birthday Bag under the tree and guests to our home are invited to give Jesus their gifts. We also have a manger scene that our grandkids enjoy. Below are some tips for throwing your own Birthday Party for Jesus and setting up a simple manger scene in your home.

A Birthday Party for Jesus!

Keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and invite friends and family to help.

For the manger scene:

  • Buy hay at an animal feed store
  • Use a barrel, box, large pot, wash basin, big trash bag…for the “bed” and cover it in hay
  • Wrap a lifelike baby doll in a baby blanket and place on the hay
  • You can add lights or small artificial Christmas trees
  • Hang a paper star over the manager
  • Put stuffed sheep and donkeys around the manger

Let the children act out the manger scene and Christmas story.

  • Shepherds and Joseph: Use large bath towels and cloth ties to wrap on their head,
  • Wise Men: Drape colorful pieces of material around their heads and adhere with cloth ties.
  • Mary: Take an old sheet, cut a hole to go over her head, and cinch at waist with a tie. Drape another piece of sheet over her hair.
  • Angel: Again a white sheet works great with gold ties.
  • The point is to keep it simple and have enough towels, ties, and pieces of material for every child who wants to participate.
  • Have someone read the story from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20 as the children act it out.
  • Sing several Christmas carols the children will know and Happy Birthday Jesus when you blow out the candles on the cupcakes.

Keep Food simple!

  • Serve finger foods so you don’t need silverware (use plastic if you do use it). If people want to bring something simply say “Sweet or sour finger food please.” That way you get a variety.
  • Paper plates, cups, and napkins
  • Punch and hot cider, chocolate and coffee.
  • Put candles in cupcakes

Invitations, Favors and Birthday Cards for Jesus