7 Simple Traditions That Teach Kids the Real Meaning of Christmas

Samantha Lowe • 4 minutes

Christmastime is here! And so begins the all-consuming hubbub of shopping, traffic, and searches for the hot, new toy, on top of everyday busyness. It can be stressful! The holiday season can kind of just happen to us while our kids easily swallow the cultural perspective—get, get, get, and consume!

Some way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, huh?

As a parent, it can get frustrating. How can you keep your kids focused on the real meaning of Christmas when you don’t have time to add in one … more … thing!

Many of the traditions you’re already keeping can teach kids the real meaning of Christmas.

You don’t need to spin up any new family traditions to make it all about Jesus. Many of the traditions you’re already keeping can teach kids the real meaning of Christmas. Practice mindfulness in them, and you can re-center your family’s celebration.

  1. Put together a nativity scene. We see many beautiful, decorative, breakable nativity scenes during the holiday season. Buy (or make!) one in your home that is kid-proof, so your kids can handle it and play with it. As a family, use the set to act out the Christmas story. Read the Christmas story together, or choose a Christmas Bible Plan to read as a family, with the nativity set at the ready. Use it as you read along to help your kids have an interactive understanding of the characters they’re reading about.
  2. Enjoy the surprise of an advent calendar. Kids love the anticipation of opening each day of the advent calendar. Harness that excitement by choosing an advent calendar that includes snippets of the story of the birth of Jesus as well as poems, little pictures, tiny objects, or ornaments that represent the real meaning of Christmas. You can buy them ready to go—or the whole family can pitch in to make one!
  3. Be intentional with Christmas cards. Whether you send out a family portrait, sign old-fashioned cards, or post on social media, think about the message your greetings send. Shop for cards or designs as a family, and challenge your kids to pick the very best one that brings attention to Jesus’ birth, not just sugarplums and warm fuzzies.
  4. Believe in Santa Claus. Good old consumerism—it’s turned Santa into the jelly-bellied magic genie of Christmas. How can the Santa tradition teach your kids the real meaning of Christmas? Do a little research and teach your kids that St. Nicholas was a real man, and a very generous, Christian man at that. Let every Santa you see be a reminder not of gifts to be received, but the many opportunities we have to be generous.
  5. Decorate a Christmas tree. Kids love staring at a beautiful, decorated tree and the promise of gifts showing up beneath its boughs. Help them see more. As you decorate, talk about the evergreen nature of the tree, that it stays green and vibrant when other trees die. Tie it in with the victory Jesus won over sin and death by dying on the cross and coming back to life, and the new, everlasting life we have when we choose to love and follow Him. You can even ask your kids to look closely through the ornaments and pick one that reminds them of a great thing God did in their life during the past year.
  6. Give and receive gifts. Christmas began with a gift—God gave His one and only Son so that our sins could be blotted out and we could be friends with Him! That’s an incredible reason for us to be generous, too! But the tradition of gift-giving can become a fast-track to selfishness in our kids. They tend to get all-consumed with the question, “What do I want for Christmas?” Give your kids ways to fight back and remember the real meaning of Christmas. Each time your kids receive a gift, help them to thank God for His gift of Jesus or to tell Jesus, “Happy birthday!” As your family makes lists of gifts, purchases, wraps, and sends off gifts for others, talk about how our generosity reflects the generosity of God on the very first Christmas.
  7. Attend Christmas services. Attending church as a family (whether digitally or in-person) to commemorate the birth of Jesus re-centers our kids (and us) on the real reason for the season. Make the Christmas service a priority for your family, and take it a step further! Invite, invite, invite, and encourage your kids to do the same! Christmas isn’t just about remembering the gift God gave to us—it’s also about sharing the real meaning of Christmas with everyone around us!