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The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Anticipation, excitement, and wonder-these are the hallmarks of the Christmas season, especially for children.

Can we decorate Christmas cookies?

Do you think it'll snow on Christmas Eve?

I wonder what's in those boxes under the tree!

In the midst of all the decorations and goodies, the parties and presents, is the greatest gift of all-just waiting to be discovered for all to see. Help your families unwrap the most glorious gift this season-Jesus. Use these crafts, activities, and games to host an evening for families to rediscover the miracle of Christmas and help them keep Jesus at the center of the busy holiday season.

1. Follow the Star

Families can journey together to arrive at a birthday celebration for Jesus.

Stuff: A host dressed in a shepherd's costume, glow-in-the-dark stars (available at www

.orientaltrading.com
), one large star cutout, a nativity set, a Bible, a birthday cake, matches, and three candles.

Before families arrive, make a trail of stars. You'll need to make a starting point, three middle stopping points, and an ending point. Place the appropriate characters and animals from the nativity at the corresponding stops.

Greet families when they arrive and announce that something exciting has happened but to find out what it is, they must follow the stars.

• Starting Point-Let children discover Mary and Joseph and read aloud Luke 2:1-5. Have children carry the figurines to the next stop.

• First Stop-Let children locate the stable and animals at this stop. Read aloud Luke 2:6-7. Continue following the path of stars with the animals in tow.

• Second Stop-Let children locate the angel and a shepherd at this point. Read Luke 2:8-20, then continue down the path.

• Third Stop-Children will find the wise men here. Read aloud Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 before continuing.

• Final Stop-Families will find the large star hanging over the cake with three candles and the baby Jesus. Explain that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birth. Light the three candles, representing these things:

1. The Star of Bethlehem shone brightly over baby Jesus.

2. Jesus, the Light of the World, was born into a dark night.

3. God wants us to be a light for others and show them the way to Jesus.

Sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and share the cake.

 

2. Star Search

Families get to search for the baby Jesus in a maze of stars.

Stuff: A large manger with a doll wrapped in a blanket, glow-in-the-dark stars (available at www.orientaltrading.com), fishing line, scissors, a flashlight, preprinted discussion sheets, and a glow-in-the-dark star for each person to take home.

Place the manger with the doll in a corner far from the room entrance. Spread glow-in-the-dark stars on the floor and hang them from the ceiling using fishing line, with a large star attached to the manger. Turn off the lights.

Challenge families to find their way through the stars until they find the manger. Then have them turn on their flashlights while they talk about the activity using the following preprinted discussion questions.

• Was it easy or difficult to find the baby Jesus? Explain.

• How is this activity like or unlike searching for Jesus today?

• How can we learn about Jesus?

• How can we help others learn about Jesus?

Give each person a glow-in-the-dark star to take home. Say: Place this star next to your bed to remind you that Jesus is the Light of the World who helps people learn about God.

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