Nine Memories Making
Taking the time to spend time together as a family during this busy Christmas season can be a challenge. We can get so distracted with all of the preparations, that we can forget that the celebrations are supposed to bring us closer together, rather than having us go in many opposite directions. If you are looking for some new ideas on some family nights, here are some suggestions. Note: if you choose to do all 9, you will be exhausted, and no one will have fun, so please try to only implement your favorite one or two. Next year, you can try out some more. The ideas that are highlighted with an @ symbol could also be fun to do with another family or could even make great outreach activities. Simply invite an unchurched family over and do the activity together. Then while you serve all of the kids cookies, read a Christmas story picture book or another Christmas related book together. (By the way, Rhonda is the one who gave me MANY great family night ideas – if a * is front of the suggestion, that idea is from her. Thanks, Rhonda – maybe I want to come join your family for the night! J)
- * @ First day of Winter tradition at our house (which happens to be today!) We invite a different family to join us each year, and then we make snowman cookies. Use sugar cookie dough. Roll balls in graduating sizes. Place together and use the bottom of a flat cup to “smash” them. Cool after baking. Frost and use candies to decorate. Mini M&M’s & mini chocolate chips work great! Orange sprinkles make excellent “carrot” noses. Colored frosting can be used also
- Jesse Tree: This would take several evenings and could even provide family nights for all of December for next year. See http://www.shalfleet.net/advent/makeajessetree.htm for ideas. (Note: I did not preview the whole site, just the Jesse tree part). There are also several books available on Amazon, but since I have not pre-read any of them, I do not feel comfortable recommending them. This is a tradition that Lynette has started this year in her family, so if you have any questions, you could definitely talk to her. Lorri and Danelle mentioned that some MOPs moms made Jesse trees last year during Bible study, so there may be other patterns available too.
- Pick a Christmas show to watch together as a family every year. Our family loves the original Peanuts Christmas. While it is a fun, we also like the fact that it has the true meaning Christmas incorporated into the story. (My daughter really likes Holly Hobbie Christmas too – I am amazed at how much of the true meaning of Christmas is incorporated in this DVD).
- *A Shepherds Meal at in the living room sitting on the floor – I have to throw down a blanket for my peace … 🙂 We have fruit, crackers, bread, sliced meat & cheese … anything a shepherd could have packed in his sack for the lonely days & nights out with the sheep! I stole this idea from a friend three years ago and have done it ever since.
- @ Have a birthday party for Jesus. Play “pin the tail on the donkey” (with Mary pictured sitting on the donkey). Play bingo using the word angel instead. Have a birthday cake with candles. This could also be another way to invite another family to join you for an outreach type event. (Idea from Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaymes)
- @ Make gingerbread houses together using small milk cartons as the base. This is a great way to use up leftover Halloween candy. To make the icing: beat 2 egg whites. Fold into 2 ½ to 3 cups of powdered sugar. You can also add some cream of tartar. This frosting hardens as it sits, so it does not keep very well. So make the frosting right before you are ready to use it.
- @ Place enough candy canes in a small box for each member of your family – use one large cane and have the rest be small ones. Wrap up the box. Put this in a slightly larger box – wrap it again. Continue putting the smaller boxes into larger boxes until you have a large box with lots of wrapped smaller boxes inside. Sit in a circle and pass the gift around while listening to Christmas music. Stop the music and let the person holding the box unwrap the gift. Continue until you are down to the last gift. The person opening the final box gets the large candy cane and then shares the little ones with every one else. (This idea is from The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel. She has so many great ideas that I could copy the entire book. Due to probable copyright infringement laws, I refrained and just passed on one idea. I will just again recommend you get the book instead!) Other ideas from G: to make it “fair” play a prechosen short song for the last time the big package goes around. That way when the box stops, you can’t be accused of playing favorites for the large candy cane. Also the candy cane is traditionally thought of as the letter J for Jesus, as well as representing the shepherd’s crook. This would be a great time to read The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. You can also find the legend in a printable form online, but the illustrations of the picture book make it very memorable and enjoyable.
- A new twist on an old tradition. Get the kids in their jammies and put them to bed early. About 5 minutes after you have tucked everyone in, surprise your kids by announcing that you are going to go around and look at Christmas lights. Then load them up, jammies and all and have a later night adventure. Hot chocolate is optional – warmed chocolate milk in sippy cups works too. (A good time to remind your children that Jesus is the Light of the world.)
- * We do name tags around the table at Christmas Dinner. On the back we put the passages of scripture with the Christmas Story starting with some of the prophesies in Isaiah. When we sit down to eat, we read the passages together.