Inside: Discover four kid-friendly Christmas activities to help your family focus on Jesus more this year. They’re so fun, you and your kids might just make some new traditions.
It’s the holidays, friends, (i.e. you are busy, busy, busy), so I’ll keep this intro short and get to what you’re really here for: ways to add more faith to your festivities without all the fuss.
In this post, Sarah and I are giving you our easiest, most fun, kid-approved ideas for adding meaning to your holidays. We’ve included tweaks for each age group so everyone from toddler to tween can be engaged. Plus, free printables to make your life easier.
Of course, doing all these activities is probably a little much. But picking one or two might be just the thing to help you and your kids prepare your hearts for Christmas.
“Names of Jesus” Christmas ACTIVITY FOR KIDS
This became a family tradition a few years ago after a friend gave me the idea. (Thank you, Michelle!) It’s one of my favorite kid-friendly, Jesus-focused Christmas activities because it really helps us center our hearts as Christmas approaches. It’s fun, it quickly captures kids’ attention, and (critical for busy parents) it’s easy. Plus, we can take it deep or keep it simple depending on the time we have and–let’s be honest–the kids’ attention spans.
- It all starts when I take the baby Jesus figure out of our nativity scene and hide it somewhere in the house. (If you don’t have a nativity set, you could hide an ornament or even a coloring book page showing baby Jesus.)
- Along with baby Jesus, I hide a card with a name of Jesus from the Bible like “Light of the World” or “Bread of Life.”
- Then I make a big deal about the baby Jesus figure disappearing and ask the kids to go look for it. (Of course, now that my kids are older, they know what’s up. But that also means I can pick trickier hiding places, so it’s still fun.)
- When the kids find him, we read the card together and talk about it. So simple!
The beauty of this Jesus-focused Christmas activity is you can adjust it to fit your schedule (or in my case, chaos). We usually start about a week before Christmas and (try to) do one name a day until Christmas, but you could also start earlier and spread out the fun. Or do them all at once like a big game of hide-and-go-seek.
Get Your “Names of Jesus” CHristmas Activity Cards for Kids
To make this activity even easier, we’ve made six foldable cards for you to download and print. Each card has a name of Jesus, a picture, a Bible verse, an explanation, and a scripture for further study.
For example, the card “Jesus is the Light of the World” includes:
- Name of Jesus: Light of the World
- Picture: Candle
- Bible verse: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12
- Explanation: Light helps us see. Jesus came to help us see what God is like. He came so we could see the truth about God’s love and follow God’s ways.
- Scripture reference for further study: John 1:4-5, 9, 18
AGE GROUP TWEAKS For the Names of Jesus Activity
- Younger kids are very concrete thinkers and tend to take things literally. You may want to explain that some names of Jesus are word pictures. They use familiar things (bread) to explain unfamiliar things (Jesus gives life).
- If some of your kids are too old for hide-and-seek, let them hide the cards for their younger siblings. Of course, you may want to make sure they’re not too good at hiding.
- If all your kids are older, you could skip the hiding altogether, and just discuss the cards over dinner with questions like:
- How has Jesus been the “Good Shepherd” to you? Can you think of a specific time when you sensed God was meeting your needs?
- When have you seen Jesus show up as “Light of the World”?
I’ll let Sarah take it from here. xoxo Valerie
“Christmas Story Project” ACTIVITY FOR KIDS
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In this activity, we help kids focus on Jesus by telling the Christmas story slowly over 12 days. This multi-sensory approach enlivens one element of the biblical narrative each day. There is a key truth, a song, a short prayer, and a Bible verse.
For example, on the second day we talk about Mary and how she trusted God in the middle of a miracle that she didn’t completely understand.
- Key Truth: We can trust God.
- Song: “What Child is This?”
- Prayer: We trust you, Lord.
- Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
When I first created this for my two-year-old daughter (who is now 14), I wrote each short lesson on a half sheet of cardstock. I added a corresponding coloring page torn out from a cheap coloring book. Then I rolled it all up like a scroll, which she “unwrapped” each day. I still remember how excited she got about the simple act of unrolling the scroll. (Christmas magic!)
Each day, we retold the earlier parts of the story before opening the new scroll and used the pictures she colored to help us remember. Of course, you could add more to this: an inexpensive Christmas sticker book or a quick craft. However, simply building on the story a little each day creates plenty of anticipation and excitement on its own.
Get the “Christmas Story Project” ACTIVITY CARDS FOR KIDS
To make it even easier, we created some printable “scrolls” that are ready to roll!
Age Group Tweaks for the “Christmas Story Project”
- For very young kids, keep the story short, and repeat the “key truth” often during the reading and throughout the day.
- If older kids aren’t interested in coloring, try drawing pictures each day to represent the story, adding them together in one large picture as you go.
- For older kids, you could also memorize some of the scriptures together.
“Nativity Scavenger Hunt” CHRISTMAS ACTIVITY FOR KIDS
Over the years, our family has collected a variety of nativity scenes, including kid-friendly versions: soft finger puppets, building bricks, and plastic play pieces. For a super-simple, play-based activity to get kids excited about the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, we love a nativity scene scavenger hunt! (And of course, we’ve got free printable clue cards for you.)
- Hide each piece of the nativity set in a different area of the house, according to your child’s developmental level, and write the name of the room or area on the line provided on the clue cards.
- Read Luke 2, and follow it up with Matthew 2:1-12 for the story of the wise men. You can also try the NIrV version in the YouVersion Bible App or the Jesus Storybook Bible.
- Present the clue cards one at a time.
- As the cards are read, kids discuss which object to find, then hurry to find it together. (For a happy Christmas, we always encourage collaboration over competition in this game.)
- Once the whole set is complete, kids can retell the entire story.
AGE GROUP TWEAKS for the “Nativity Scavenger Hunt”
- For older kids, you could make clues more challenging. Instead of writing the name of the room on the clue card, write something like: “Find me in the room with one table.”
- Like with the names of Jesus cards above, you could give older kids an active role by letting them hide the items.
- If younger kids are having trouble finding a particular object, you can play “hot and cold” to give them clues. (When they are getting close to the hiding place, they are “getting warmer;” when they are going the wrong way, they are “getting colder.”)
Get all the printables for this post
Okay, I’ve got two more ideas for you–no printer needed!
“Breakfast Birthday Cake for Jesus” CHRISTMAS ACTIVITY FOR KIDS
Perhaps the simplest but most meaningful idea of all, our family began this beloved tradition when the oldest was a toddler. With stockings, presents, and extended family gathered, Christmas morning can quickly snowball into a jumble of wrapping paper, excited chatter, and chaos. Sometimes it feels like the day slips by without a true sense of why we celebrate.
To balance that, try this. At breakfast, before unwrapping a single gift, take out a loaf of banana bread, light some candles on top, and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. It sets a beautiful tone for the day.
I like to bake and freeze the banana bread ahead of time so it’s easy to defrost and serve before the Christmas rush. Baking ahead of time also gives your family the opportunity to double the recipe and give a loaf to someone who needs a reminder of God’s love for them.
I love that this tradition is practical, prayerful, and purposeful. It provides delicious (and ready) food, a bit of structure to the morning, and a focus from the beginning. If banana bread is not your thing, substitute a favorite special breakfast; it’s helpful if it’s cake like (pumpkin bread, apple muffins, etc.), but feel free to stick candles in just about anything and call it a birthday celebration!
Age Group Tweaks For “Breakfast Birthday Cake for Jesus”
- For younger kids, consider reading the Little Golden Book version of the Christmas story that uses biblical text and lots of pictures or try Happy Birthday Christmas Child (and go to the book’s website for free downloadable Jesus birthday party supplies).
- For older kids, bake the bread together in advance, reminding them why we celebrate on Christmas morning.
- For all kids, talk about how special they felt on their birthday, and discuss how we can focus on honoring Jesus on his birthday.
Release a task or tradition that burdens you
As promised, here is a non-activity, something I pray will truly refresh your spirit and ready your own heart to receive the good news of Christ’s birth.
Over the years of parenting during the hectic Christmas season, I’ve made many mistakes, mostly along the lines of attempting to fill my calendar with the most entertaining events, the most elaborate crafts, and the most grandiose traditions. But as fun as those are, my most treasured moments have been the ones I have spent helping my kids prepare their hearts for the birth of Christ. (And as you’ve seen here, those moments don’t have to be complicated.)
This year, I invite you to consider trimming at least one task on your to do list, or one obligation, or one outgrown tradition, or one I-did-this-thing-once-and-now-everyone-expects-it.
Most Christmas traditions are fun experiences, but they are not all needed. So if it makes sense with their ages, talk with your family to narrow down the calendar to include just the events that add meaning and value to your December.
A Reason for Releasing
Regardless of whether it’s a family discussion or a quiet determination, I encourage you to trim something from your agenda and use that extra time to spend in your own personal devotional prayer time, remembering that the whole purpose of Christmas is to connect with the coming of Christ.
Christmas is not just for kids. By preparing our own hearts, we’ll be better able to overflow with hope, love, joy, and peace with our families.
How do you help your family focus more on Jesus at Christmas? We would love to hear about your favorite activities, traditions, and practices in the comments.
If you liked this article, please help other families add more faith to their Christmas celebrations by using the share links below. Then, check out: How to Celebrate Your Kids with a Simple Christmas Tradition.