20 Family-Friendly Holiday Ideas

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fam‘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
party…

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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
    it.
  • 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
    background.
  • 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
    week.
  • Go for a walk together. Look for the brightest star, the
    largest pine cone, the most interesting house decorations, and so
    on.
  • Help each other memorize a Christmas verse, a passage, or a
    psalm.
  • 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.

FAMILY FRIENDS

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  • 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
    tradition.
  • 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
    people.
  • 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
    gifts.
  • Adopt a needy family and provide gifts and food for their
    Christmas celebration.

Bobbie Bower is a children’s ministry consultant in
Kansas.

This article is excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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