Editor's Note: Excerpt from Parties with a Purpose: Laying the Groundwork for Discipleship & Evangelism by Marlene LeFever (Cook). Used by permission of Cook Communication Ministries.
David, Danny and Douglas added a lot of life to our Christmas celebrations, especially when the adults wanted to settle down and listen to the Bible story of the first Christmas before we opened presents. Chairs squeaked, wrapping paper crinkled as little hands squeezed. Our young nephews just couldn't help themselves.
We'd hear whimpers: "When can we open the presents? How much longer?"
"What can we do to make them as interested in the true meaning of Christmas as they are in their gifts?" my husband asked. And then laughing, he answered his own question, "Nothing!"
He's right; they were just young children. But we could do a lot to increase their interest in the Bible story and at the same time begin to grow their understanding of the Christmas message.
So we decided to make them part of the Christmas story, instead of just listeners. These three ideas were answers to a meaningful Christmas tradition. Each year through their childhood, we worked together to make the story of Christmas live for the adults and children in our family. The birth of a tradition is exciting. People hardly realize it's been born until they look back and know how much it means to them and look forward to next year with new anticipation.
Christmas Story Envelopes
Before the family meets for Christmas present opening, write one question for each person who will be attending. Put that question into an envelope with the person's name on it. Match the questions with the abilities of the person. For the non-reader, draw a little stick figure picture that will illustrate a part of the Christmas story. When you're all together, read the Bible story and stop at the appropriate places for the questions. The non-reader will tell the part of the story that the little picture represents. Here are several examples:
Bible Reader: Luke 2:1-7
Envelope 1 for David, a third grader: If Joseph and Mary had come to your door and asked for a room, what would you have said?
Bible Reader: Luke 2:8-14
Envelope 2 for David's daddy: Suppose you had been one of the shepherds. How do you think you would have felt when the angels came?
The Christmas Story: A Family Play
An easy way to involve the whole family in the reading of the Christmas story is to script it and assign parts. Joseph: Daddy
We adjusted the parts to the ages of people at our celebration. Again, a young child got a picture to "read."
You'll need at least 12 people to play Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe, a game involving a review of the Christmas story and praise to our Savior.
Arrange the chairs like a Tic-TacToe game—three rows of three chairs in each row. One person sits in each chair.
Two players stand in front of the chairs. Each player has six construction paper blocks in his or her hands. One person's block are red and the other's blocks are green. Players should take turns calling on the people in the chairs to answer questions. They must call on someone before the 12th person reads the question. If the person called on knows the right answer, the player gives that person one of his or her cards to hold up. If that person doesn't know the answer, the next player takes a turn. The object, as in Tic-Tac-Toe, is to get three red or three green cards in a row.
Why did Joseph go to Bethlehem? Who was the ruler at the time of Jesus' birth?
How many shepherds came to the manger to see Jesus? (Trick question: The Bible doesn't tell us.)