My husband and I have four kids between the ages of 4 and 11, and I’ve noticed they can struggle with stress at Christmastime too. Like adults do, only in different ways.
As their mom, I want them to enjoy the gift aspect of Christmas, as well as the treats and other things that come with this season. I want Christmas with their family to be sweet in their memories.
But I also want it to be a calm, peaceful kind of sweet, and the only way I get that in my family is when I insert Jesus. He has to be the focus of the season for us.
That’s become an important aspect of this season for me—setting Christmas apart by making Jesus the focus.
Here are a few ways parents can help their kids appreciate Christmas for what it is—a sacred celebration of Jesus’s coming to earth.
Beyond Santa, toys, candy, and all the “small” things that can be fun for families to do, there’s a life-changing reason Christmas is important.
- Celebrate Advent
One key thing we do each December is celebrate Advent.
We use what I consider to be the best Advent calendar/book for kids: The Wonder of the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.
I love this Advent calendar because it starts at creation and weaves the cord of love and redemption all the way through to Jesus’s birth. So the kids get to see how—even way back at creation—God was already planning on Jesus being born. That’s how much He loves us.
Find an Advent calendar that suits you and your family, and go through it with your kids. Build their anticipation of Christmas as the coming of Jesus, who changed the world forever.
- Use the Christmas Tree as a Picture of Salvation
When we get our Christmas tree, my husband and I talk with the kids about a few simple, perhaps obvious things to help them remember what Christmas is about.
The tree points up to heaven to remind us of how the whole season is about Jesus. Also it’s an evergreen tree—always green, never changing—because He gives us everlasting life.
On top of the tree, we have a crown of thorns instead of an angel or star to remind us that this precious baby came so He could grow up and wear this painful, sharp thing I don’t even like to get out of the Christmas box—but that’s what He did for us.
You can use the crown of thorns to tie together the whole picture of Christmas for your kids, talking about Jesus’s death and resurrection and what these things mean in their daily lives.
For the Light of Truth was about to come into the world
and shine upon everyone.
He entered into the very world he created,
yet the world was unaware.
He came to the very people he created—
to those who should have recognized him,
but they did not receive him.
But those who embraced him and took hold of his name
were given authority to become
the children of God! (John 1:9–12)
- Help the Kids Get Excited About Giving to Others
In our family, we try to make Christmas about giving. We do a name exchange so the kids get to experience buying other people gifts.
Every year while we’re wrapping presents together, I ask, “Are you more excited to get your presents or give presents to your person?”
And every time they say they’re more excited to give their presents. Even at a young age, they can feel and understand in their hearts that giving is genuinely better than receiving.
The WHY of Christmas
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.
Some Christians don’t enjoy Christmas because when they look at it, they see the pagan traditions that can flow into it. That’s one of the reasons I want my kids to understand what Christmas and the coming of Jesus really mean. We aren’t celebrating a pagan tradition—but something deeply and intensely focused on our Savior.
We’re taking time to savor the gift of Jesus’s birth. We’re setting this time apart so we can think about Him and celebrate His life—not just His death and resurrection, but His life too. This includes the everyday work He did on earth as He healed everyone who came to Him and showed us what it means to live abundantly.
May God bless you and your family this Christmas season as you celebrate the most important gift any of us have ever received!
A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow! (John 10:10)