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5 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas

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To Santa or not to Santa, that is the question!

Early on in our marriage, Andy and I had this discussion, and I’m not going to lie, I was on team NoSanta. But, we made the decision to compromise and enact a few traditions that would point our kids to the reason of Christmas and away from the consumerism that can overtake the holiday season, while still keeping the fun of Santa. I do want to say, I have friends that do Santa and go ALL out, and they are still good Christian people. I also have friends that are VERY anti-Santa and tell their kids its all about Jesus, and they are still good Christian people. The moral of the story is, you do you! Do whatever is best for your family. We chose to keep Santa, because Andy made a very compelling argument that Santa (especially the real St. Nick) is a good way to portray the love of Christ in a tangible way through giving of gifts. Regardless of what combination of traditions you choose to do, you set the tone for your family. If you choose to make it about things, they will make it about things. If you choose to be present and focus on the birth of Christ, they will too.

This is by no means, an exhaustive list, but these are some things we do to keep Christ in our Christmas.

1-Three Gifts

Over the years, many people have asked us, “How do you pay for Christmas for all those kids?!” Well, I’m going to share what we do to keep Christmas affordable while putting the focus on Jesus. We obviously talk to our kids about why we celebrate Christmas, but one way we reinforce that is the 3 gift rule. I’m not even sure how/when we set forth the 3 gift rule, but it has proven to be a good reminder for them of who and what we are celebrating. I just remember saying, Jesus got three gifts, and that’s enough for us too and it kinda stuck! It not only keeps the gifts cost effective, but also we don’t get too caught up in consumerism of Christmas. We also read about the real Santa Claus and how the tradition of gift giving started. All of these conversations help to give some meaning and the reason behind the gifts.

Over the years, we've compiled a list of gift ideas for little one, big kids, book ideas, and even a list of home/kitchen essentials for her. You can see our full gift giving guide here!

Look at that smile! We love outdoor toys for the kids!

2-Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

If you are a Southern Baptist then you have most likely heard of Lottie Moon. She was a revolutionary figure in foreign missions and changed the way the denomination supported and treated missionaries, especially those in foreign lands. She was not only a woman, but was unmarried and both of those characteristics were almost unheard of in missionaries at the turn of the century. She spent over 40 years in China and suffered much persecution and personal loss, but she loved the people and longed for them to hear the truth of Christ and the freedom it brought. She forever changed the foreign mission field with her work. For months before her death she was giving her food away, and had become so frail and sick, they were sending her home to America. On December 24, 1912 she died while still in port in Japan and so in her memory, each year at Christmas, we collect a special offering that goes specifically to foreign missionaries preaching the good news of Jesus all over the globe. You can read more about here here if you’d like.👇

Andy and I not only support this, but we look for ways that our kids can too. The older kids have begun making crafts and things to sell at our church craft bizarre each year. After we studied about Lottie Moon and read her biography, they wanted to give part of the money they make to support the offering. This is just another practical way of taking the focus off of self and putting it on things that really matter for eternity.

You may not have a Lottie Moon offering, but I’m sure your church, denominations, or family knows a missionary or ministry family that could use your support. There are so many worthy ministries out there, and unfortunately they aren’t operated for free. I firmly believe if we as the church would support ministry, we wouldn’t need the government. Pick a missionary and send their kids toys or treats for Christmas that they can’t get in country. Donate money to a food pantry. Pick a women’s shelter and donate NEW clothes. Adopt a ministry that you believe in and support them each month financially. Get your kids involved in missions and serving. Get them invested in furthering the gospel by not just giving, but doing too! Serve WITH your kids. We’ve been Salvation Army bell ringers, packed shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse, and picked out baby clothes for a pregnancy crisis center, all WITH our kids in tow.

3-Random Acts of Kindness

A few years ago, our church gave each small group preloaded debit cards to spend on random acts of kindness (RAK) throughout the community. It was the most fun thing I think we’ve ever done! We paid for people’s groceries, left gift baskets in hospitals and nursing homes, paid electric bills, blessed police officers and nurses, left quarters on coke machines, brought flowers to gas station attendants, paid for meals at fast food restaurants and left big tips, just to name a few. Some were big things, but most were not. Some we did anonymously, some we couldn’t. But everyone we encountered was so happy to receive an act of kindness.

My family started doing this many years ago, and it has become the highlight of our Christmas traditions. We will randomly do them all year round, but we love doing them at Christmas! We usually organize it all and take a whole day to go out and do RAK in a community near by. You could easily pick a few and do one a week, or just a couple throughout the month if you didn’t have a whole day. The main thing is to give, give, give. In taking the focus off of ourselves, it opens our eyes to the needs of others around us, and then, we are truly able to be grateful for what we have been given in Jesus’ birth. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or even expensive, but small things to say you are loved. For so many people, the holiday season is such a hard or sad time, and its a great way to reach those people in a simple way. Here’s a list of over 40 ideas to get you started.👇

You can also print these cards to go along with you RAK!👇

4-Advent Bible Reading

We have done several different advent programs and reading plans over the years, from reading a chapter of Luke every day, to opening small books to read each day, but this is the one we have done recently and love. It’s called “God With Us” by Catherine Pawlak. It’s easy to do as a whole family, it includes scripture, and is simple enough for the little kids to still understand. This one in particular has ornaments that correspond to it and I love that aspect of it, because it helps make the connection for the little kids, but you could make your own or even go without them if you don’t want to purchase them. Here’s the links if you’d like to check them out for yourself.

Click here to order a copy for your family.

Not only does advent help guide the kids to the reason for the season, but also sparks the anticipation leading up to the birth of Christ. It also provides a starting point for some great questions and conversations when reading the scripture each day. It has been some of the sweetest times of family study we have had.


This one may seem peculiar for me to include, but hear me out. As a parent, this season can be exhausting and full of anxiety. Let me just stop right now and say, this should NOT be the accepted normal.

You don’t have to do it all.

Your kids will be ok if they don’t attend every, breakfast with Santa, cookie baking party, festival of lights, or ugly sweater contest.

You can skip a year giving teachers and friends and even extended family gifts if you can’t afford it.

Do you know what my kids’ talk about and remember? Sleeping under the Christmas tree. When I let them put their pajamas on early one night and we drank homemade hot chocolate and looked at Christmas lights. When I let them help me make a mess bake Christmas desserts. You get the picture.

Be present. Your kids just want you!

So, let them put the ornaments on the tree wrong, let them help ice the cookies, and don’t worry if you don’t all have matching PJs for a Christmas picture.

Rest and just be present.


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