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Think it’s too early to start making Christ-centered Christmas traditions with your toddler this year? Think again! Here are 11 easy and meaningful ideas you can implement in your family this holiday season.
Seeing Christmas magic come alive through the eyes of a baby is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced.
Our daughter is coming up on her second Christmas this year and I am just so stinkin’ excited to do all of the holiday things with her (since she’s not in the sleepy newborn stage anymore!). Christmas has always been my favorite part of the year and I can’t wait to pass that excitement down to my daughter.
While Christmas should absolutely be full of fun and excitement about giving/receiving gifts, baking goodies and watching movies, the main focus for the holiday should always be on Christ and His birth. I want my baby girl to know the true meaning of WHY we celebrate Christmas and the amazing sacrifice that Jesus made by coming to this earth as a human being to save us. But since she’s a toddler who can’t talk yet, this might present a real challenge. How will she understand what I’m trying to teach her? Will my efforts be for nothing?
When I was trying to brainstorm all of the ways that I could possibly instill the true meaning of Christmas in her, I wanted to come up with easy and simple Christ-centered Christmas traditions that would point her to Jesus in a way that she would understand. She might not understand it all completely right away, or she might not even understand until she is a bit older. But I have to believe that God will bless my efforts and that those little seeds I am planting in my daughter’s heart will soon grow into an amazing love and relationship with God.
So, if you’re like me and you’re having a hard time coming up with easy and simple Christ-centered traditions to start with your toddler this year, hopefully these ideas will help you!
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1. Listen to Christ-centered Christmas music every morning during breakfast
My daughter is definitely a morning person (much to my dismay, ha!). She’s most active in the morning and loves to dance when I put on music. It’s the cutest thing ever and I think it could be a great way to teach her about the goodness of God through music! She will always be able to remember the important messages conveyed through the songs this way.
Every morning starting on December 1st, I plan to start playing Christ-centered Christmas songs while we eat our breakfast together. If you choose to do this, make it fun for them! Clap, sing, dance and make it a big deal. Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Away in a Manger are just a few good song choices. You can always find a ton of songs and albums for kids on Apple Music or YouTube.
2. Read parts of the Christmas story in the Bible as a family every night of December
We should actually be reading our Bible every night as a family (we are working on that – we will never claim to be perfect here!), but it’s also important to do during the Christmas season. At this age, your toddler may not care to listen or understand what you are reading. But if you keep this tradition year after year, they will eventually understand and will be able to help you tell the story.
Another good idea is to read a children’s bible that tells the Christmas story. Point to baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, etc and get your toddler used to seeing the nativity.
3. Participate in your church’s Christmas activities
Trust me, we know how hard it is to go to church when you have kids. Steven and I actually struggled with this the whole first year of our daughter’s life. Anything that can go wrong on Sunday morning, will go wrong. Am I right? Even though it can be hard and stressful, the benefits of taking your kids to church absolutely outweigh the chaos.
One of the best ways to help your toddler learn the true meaning of Christmas is to get involved in your church’s Christmas activities. Let them be in the play, even if they try to run away with baby Jesus or constantly try to take their costume off. Let them help make Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, make candy cane crafts in Sunday school, and be around their church family who can help pour into them. Making church activities a tradition at Christmas time will help your toddler view Christmas as being all about Jesus.
4. Instead of Elf on the Shelf, do Shepherd on the Search
I came across this post by Abbey at Small Town Soul blog where she was talking about a Christ-centered alternative to Elf on the Shelf. I’m absolutely in love with it! The book “Shepherd on the Search” tells the story of a young shepherd boy who hears about Jesus’s birth on the night He was born. Since he was just a boy, the other shepherds would not let him travel along with them to see Jesus. So, without them knowing, he follows the shepherds and ultimately finds Jesus at the manger. Now, his job is to help little boys and girls all around the world remember to look for Jesus during the Christmas season. He hides at night when they are asleep, and in the morning the kids have to find him. But on Christmas morning he is beside Jesus at the manger. This is one of the best Christ-centered Christmas traditions I have seen!
5. Serve others
One of the best and most effective ways to show others Jesus’s love is by serving them. We are called to love our neighbor. This Christmas, show someone the love of God by doing something kind for them. Involve your toddler and explain to them that Jesus wants us to do kind things for people that show His love for them. Here are a few easy ideas you can do with your toddler:
- Make cookies, brownies or any Christmas dessert for neighbors, people in homeless shelters, or nursing homes
- Get a group of families together and go caroling at nursing homes. This really brightens their day and they love to see the children singing!
- Pay for the person’s meal behind you in a drive thru line or beside you in a restaurant
- Donate to your favorite charity
- Offer to pray for your waiter or waitress, cashier, or anyone you see that looks like they are struggling
6. Act out the Christmas story
This is definitely one of many Christ-centered Christmas traditions that your toddler will cherish because it’s so much fun for them! Provide your toddler with a play manger scene like this one, then help them act out what happened in the Christmas story. This will give them more of a visual to help them understand the story better.
7. Make a birthday cake for Jesus
I came across the cute and meaningful tradition over on Proverbs 31 Mentor and I love it! Every year, set aside a day to make Jesus a birthday cake, complete with candles that the kids can blow out. Explain to your toddler that Jesus’s birthday is why we have Christmas, and that He loves when we give Him gifts and celebrate Him.
8. Give Jesus a Gift
This is another tradition I’m in love with from Proverbs 31 Mentor. Each year, her family places a gift box under the tree with Jesus’ name on it. Throughout the holiday season, each member of the family writes down (or draws a picture of) a gift that they plan to give Jesus within the next year (be kind to someone, read your Bible more, pray every day, etc.). Then the gift goes in the box, and year after year they go through that box and enjoy looking at all of the gifts they gave Jesus in the previous year. What an amazing tradition to start with a toddler!
9. Do this Christmas Story Family Scavenger Hunt
This is such a fun and unique idea from Arabah Joy! I can’t wait to try it. It’s an exciting scavenger hunt you can do at your home that will also help your kids study the Christmas story in God’s Word. It’s completely free, so go to Arabah Joy to download the instructions!
10. Watch Christ-centered Christmas movies
One of my classic favorite Christ-centered Christmas traditions to do with my family is sit down by the fire, snuggle up, and watch movies. While we love some of the secular Christmas movies out there, our favorites have been the Christ-centered ones that help tell the story of Jesus. Make a big deal out of your Christmas movie nights so the kids know that they are special. Make some fun snacks and let them pick out the movie. One of our favorite movies is The Star, but there are lots of other great ones out there. Check out this roundup post from What’s Up Fagans to get some ideas!
11. Make a DIY Nativity scene
This tradition is fun for older toddlers who enjoy arts and crafts. Help them make their own nativity scene! As you work, talk to them about the Christmas story and explain all that Jesus did for us when He came down from heaven. Here are a few nativity cool craft ideas from Just Bright Ideas.