'Tis the season to be
jolly-and busy! Families have to cook a turkey for the Thanksgiving
potluck, shop, cook, clean for company, get their kids to choir
rehearsal, attend the Advent program, wrap gifts, go caroling with
their Bible study group, and drop the kids off for their Christmas
Wouldn't it be nice this holiday season to clear the church
calendar and help families focus on what's really important about
this season of the year? (Okay, I agree, one or two things are
important to keep!)
Encourage families to set aside a Family Night each week. Perhaps
they'll stay in for the evening, join with another family for fun
activities, or serve another family. Share these ideas with
families to help them plan for more than pizza and a movie.
JUST OUR FAMILY
- Look at a photo album of family memories. Or watch clips from
homemade family videos. Begin conversations with "Remember when..."
Tape-record a good memory and send it to the person who was part of
- Buy a new game as a family gift for Christmas. Open it early
and play it together.
- Work on a jigsaw puzzle. Play Christmas carols in the
- Each family night, read aloud a few chapters from A Christmas
Carol by Charles Dickens until it's finished.
- Have each family member choose a Christmas carol, read one
verse, and tell why it has special meaning.
- Make special cards for grandparents. Together, write a message
on each card.
- Have each family member think of something helpful to do for
another family member. Write the idea on a piece of paper, sign it,
and put it in a box. During the next seven days, do the helpful
thing and present the box to the right recipient. Repeat this each
- Go for a walk together. Look for the brightest star, the
largest pine cone, the most interesting house decorations, and so
- Help each other memorize a Christmas verse, a passage, or a
- Go through the alphabet naming gifts from God. The first person
begins, "God gave our family an apple tree." The next person says,
"God gave our family an apple tree and a basketball goal." Keep
adding items. See how far your family can go through the alphabet
and remember the gifts named.
- Invite a family that's different from your own to dinner. It
may be a single person, a single-parent family, or a family who has
a child with special needs.
- Decorate Christmas cookies with another family. Use a roll of
prepared sugar-cookie dough or make your own.
- Take a Christmas lights tour of your favorite places. Combine
with other families to use the church bus. Or you could rent a bus
if you have enough people. End your tour at someone's house for hot
cider and Christmas cookies.
- Get with another family and each share one holiday
- Have a simple supper together that symbolizes togetherness in
the family of God. It may be vegetable soup or a salad that both
families contribute to. Note the individual parts and how they make
up the whole. Include a loaf of bread to "break bread" together.
Read Acts 2:42-47.
FAMILY TO FAMILY
- Make hot chocolate mix, freezer jam, or a simple fruit bread.
Give to neighbors or people who live near your church. Write a
Christmas message on each item.
- Join with other families to sing Christmas carols to elderly
- Trade child care with another family for an evening or Saturday
so you can shop, bake, clean, decorate, or sleep.
- Help children shop for gifts for their parents (particularly in
a single-parent household). Help children wrap and tag their
- Adopt a needy family and provide gifts and food for their
Bobbie Bower is a children's ministry consultant in
This article is excerpted from Children's Ministry Magazine.
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