We all seem to want to create a bit of magic at Christmas time. We say this is for the children and I’m sure it mostly is, but if we’re honest it’s kind of for us too!
Now, I’m no Scrooge. I love the glitter and lights that come out at Christmas time. I enjoy the festivities, decorating a tree, wrapping gifts, singing along to carols and even watch a fair few cheesy Christmas movies.
However, if you read my post on Introducing St. Nicholas Day to our family celebrations then you will already know that the Husby and I have made a rather controversial parenting decision. No Santa.
‘Oh, but it’s just making Christmas magical.’
I’ve heard this a lot recently as I plan my first Christmas as a parent and this is generally people’s response when they discover that we will not be doing the Santa thing in our home.
This response actually puzzles me somewhat though and leaves me wondering, why?
Why do we need to add magic to the Christmas season?
Why do people think that Christmas won’t be as special without a fantasy world?
Is the nativity story not miraculous and magical enough?
I believe it is.
Whether you include Santa in your celebrations or not, please do not underestimate the wonder and anticipation that can be found in the nativity.
By playing down the winter wonderland side of Christmas, even just a bit, you can make room for the extraordinary story of Jesus’ birth to be the most magical thing about the season.
Here are five ways our family is keeping our focus on the baby Jesus and letting the real magic of Christmas shine through:
1. Follow an advent devotional
We have chosen to do an Advent Jesse Tree which explores the lineage of Jesus, starting with creation and ending with his birth. It is a great way to daily focus in on the true meaning of the season during the advent period.
One of the great things about the Advent Jesse Tree is that it is very adaptable. You can make the devotions as short, simple, creative or fancy as you like. You can do crafts, sing songs, practice memory verses or simply unwrap pretty ornaments which point to Jesus.
There are several books available all with slightly different characters and symbols from Jesus’ family tree. We’ve opted for this version as I liked the story book style that seemed more child friendly.
2. Do an activity advent calendar
I found this idea over on The Art of Simple, shared it with the Husby and he loved it, as do I! Libby was a bit young for an advent calendar this year, but as from next year we will be creating our own advent calendar that daily reveals a family fun activity that will help us celebrate the holiday season together.
Bake gingerbread cookies, watch The Muppets Christmas Carol, drink hot chocolate, do a puzzle, play Uno, make a paper garland – these are just a few of our holiday favourites!
Not only does it help to create family togetherness and ensure that we do all our holiday favourites, it also helps to keep the more glittery and wintery celebrations of Christmas in their place, spreading them out over the season as apposed to overshadowing the main event.
3. Celebrate Jesus’ birthday
A friend shared with me how her sister and kids make a point of celebrating Jesus birthday by baking a cake. I absolutely love this idea! Such a visual and creative way to bring everyones attention onto Jesus during the family festivities.
On Christmas Eve you will now find us in the kitchen, baking a birthday cake in honour of Jesus. We will then blow out a symbolic candle and each offer him a prayer.
4. Gift-giving with meaning
A gift-giving philosophy is a great way to manage expectations, keep shopping simple and make Christmas more meaningful. I’m a big fan of the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy.
We’re kind of following this philosophy, but have adapted it slightly to have three gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. These three gifts will be symbols of the three gifts that Jesus received from the wise men. The ‘gold’ gift will be the main present, something they want, like a toy. The ‘myrrh’ gift will be something to wear and the ‘frankincense’ gift will be something to read.
The need part of the gift will be delivered earlier in the month in a small stocking hung to remember St. Nicholas Day. The stocking will be filled with practical things such as socks, undies, a fun toothbrush, replacement crayons, as well as a few yummy chocolate treats and of course, the traditional orange has to creep in somewhere!
5. Practice generosity
I think an important part of the Christmas season is capturing Jesus’ heart by being generous with our time, love and resources. This is why we observe St. Nicholas Day on 6th December so that we can remind ourselves to be a blessing to the people and world around us.
Some ways to be a blessing include volunteering at a local soup kitchen, filling a Christmas shoebox, choosing a charity to support during the upcoming year, donating unwanted toys to charity, sponsoring a child, adopting an animal, buying ethically sourced gifts, visiting lonely relatives or even inviting guests into your home for Christmas dinner. The list is endless, just make sure you involve any children in the process.
Whichever way you choose to create some real Christmas magic, I think you’ll find its worth it. Making memories with your family in a way that keeps things simple, yet meaningful will be a holiday season well spent.