Happy Birthday Jesus Cakes

My kids have decided that this is our favorite Christmas tradition. I bake each one of them a round, single layer cake. When the cakes have cooled, the kids get to frost and decorate their own. They use candies, flaked coconut, marshmallows, and sprinkles. I don’t make any rules about how much candy to use. They get to decorate cakes for Jesus, all by themselves. We light a candle in each cake and sing Happy Birthday. Then, they get to start eating their own cake.

Share Your Faith

Make it a tradition to share your Christian faith at Christmas time. You can pass out Santa Money Tracts at a Christmas light parade. Or, your family could make stocking ornaments out of craft foam (laced together with yarn) and stick a folded Santa Money Tract inside. Then, deliver them to the neighbors or hang them on doorknobs.

Remember the Orphans

Your family can show God's love to the orphans every year at Christmas. How To Help the Orphans has many Christian ways to help them.

Prayer Cards

Each evening after dinner, choose from one of the Christmas cards you have received. Pray for the family or person that sent you the card.

A Gift for Jesus

Give Jesus a gift of service. You can volunteer, donate a gift to an “Angel Tree”, or give money to a non-profit. There are Christian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse that have online gift catalogs. Families can pick out the item they want to donate.

Wrapped Present for Jesus

Whenever anyone does something nice for someone else, that person can write it on a slip of paper. Then, the paper can be put through the slit of a wrapped box for Jesus. These can be read on Christmas Day.

Christmas Caroling for Jesus

Go door-to-door Christmas caroling as a family. Take along a basket of items to give away. You can give away cards that tell about Jesus being born on Christmas, hand made nativity ornaments, or tiny Christmas trinkets.

Stocking for Jesus

Hang a Christmas stocking for Jesus, too. His can hang in the middle between everyone else’s. Each family member gets to decide what he or she wants to give Jesus. It can be a nice thing that they will do to make Him happy. Each person can write out what the gift is and place it is Jesus’ stocking. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, read aloud what each person is giving to Jesus.

Reason for the Season

Every year, think of a new way to spread the real meaning of Christmas – The Birth of Christ. Each family member can wear a “Reason for the Season” T-shirt, sweatshirt, or cap. Your family can pass out flyers advertising a fun Christmas website that promotes Jesus’ birthday. Or, you can make your own website that honors Jesus. You can deliver Christmas tracts with candy or handmade ornaments. Your family can dress up in Christmas costumes and pass out Jesus Movie DVDs. You can include a story in your yearly Christmas letter that tells about what God has done for your family over the past year.

Email Jesus

Write a Happy Birthday letter to Jesus and have it posted on the Internet.

Community Christmas Party

The family can dress up as Santa, Mrs. Claus, and elves. Go door-to-door passing out flyers inviting neighbors to the Church Christmas Party or Special Christmas Service. Pass out something in addition to the flyer like a handmade ornament.

Christmas Devotions

During the month before Christmas, read Christmas devotions as a family. You can also pray and show God appreciation for the fun things you’ve been doing during the holiday season.

Advent Wreath

Make a wreath of evergreen boughs and four candles. Three of the candles are purple and one is rose. You can also put a white candle in the center. The candles are to be lit at certain times. Your family can read Advent devotions, say special prayers and read passages from the Bible. It is a time to think about the importance of Jesus in your life.

Message in the Manger

On Christmas, write down a character improvement goal that would make Jesus happy. Place the piece of paper in the manger and work on accomplishing that goal through out the year. Next Christmas, you can read your goal aloud to the family and share about how you improved yourself for Jesus.

Add Straw to the Manger

Have children put a piece of straw in the manger for every good deed they do in December. By Christmas, the manger should be filled with straw to make it more comfortable for the baby Jesus.

Birthday Party for Jesus

Have a real birthday party for Jesus. You can take the family to the store and buy presents to give away to a church’s Angel Tree. Wrap them up and they will be Jesus’ birthday gifts. Decorate with balloons and streamers. Plan party games, too. Some families make a chocolate cake with white frosting and cherries. The chocolate stands for our sin. The cherries stand for His blood that was shed for us. The white frosting stands for His forgiveness and cleansing us.

Act Out the Christmas Story

Your family can have a lot of fun acting out the Christmas story. You can get really serious and make fancy costumes, or just use what you have. If you want to, you can invite a few neighbor kids over for the performance and to hear the Christmas story.

Thankful Snowflakes

Use small, white doilies as snowflakes. Write a thank you note to Jesus, on each snowflake and tape them to the window. You can also decorate the snowflakes with silver and blue glitter glue.

Traditional Christmas Candy

In my husband’s family, each family member always received a wrapped box of Lifesavers. My family members always found a tangerine and a See’s candy stick in their stocking. Some families give out boxes of chocolate covered cherries or chocolate oranges every Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas

Some families celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. On Christmas day, they spend time with family and friends. They open just one present each and save the others for the remaining 11 days. It makes the Christmas celebration last longer, and it helps everyone be gracious for each gift.

Passing Out the Gifts

Distribute the Christmas gifts in a unique way. You could let the children take turns wearing a reindeer headband or Santa hat while passing out gifts. Or, you could have a family member hand out gifts dressed as Santa’s helper, in a Santa suit.

Christmas Day Special Activity

After opening the presents and playing with the toys, come up with a fun activity that your family can do. Some families go to a movie, go bowling, ice skate, play football, hike in the woods, or play a certain game every Christmas.

Notes from Santa

If your children leave cookies and milk out for Santa, if would be special for them to find a note from him on top of the empty plate. Some families keep all of Santa’s notes in a special memory book and re-read them the following years.

Christmas Breakfast

Make the same breakfast every Christmas. Some families like to make a fancy breakfast like blueberry crepes, ham, and orange slices. Other families like to have cinnamon rolls or monkey bread with a fresh fruit salad – all made the day before.

Santa is Coming

Right before bed, gather around the living room window listening for Santa Claus. An adult can be hiding outside or upstairs jingling sleigh bells out a window. Since Santa is on his way, it’s time to hurry up and get to sleep.

Track Santa's Flight

On Christmas Eve, your family can Track Santa’s Flight online.

A Gift of Love

On Christmas Eve day, each family member gets to give a gift of love. Draw names and think of something special to do for the person. It has to be a gift from the heart, like cleaning the bedroom of a sibling.

Christmas Eve Ornament

Get a special ornament to hide in the tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find the ornament gets to unwrap the Christmas Eve family gift. You could also hide a special ornament and the child to find it gets to put the star on top of the tree.

Christmas Eve Family Gift

Have a special family group gift to be opened on Christmas Eve. It could be something to do that evening like a new DVD or a game.

Christmas Eve Pajamas

Some families give the children one present to open on Christmas Eve. The present is always a new pair of pajamas. Even though the children will know what the traditional gift is, they will be looking forward to it.

Key for Santa

If your home doesn’t have a chimney, you can make a Santa key. The key lets Santa come in through the front door. It’s a magical key and it will only work for Santa. You can make the key out of yellow poster board and tie on a ribbon. On Christmas Eve, hang the magical key from the outside doorknob or hide it in a wreath that hangs on the front door. Or you can buy a special looking key.

Magic Reindeer Food

Mix ½ cup oats, ½ up sugar, and ¼ cup red or green sugar crystals. Or, you can use cake sprinkles. The kids can sprinkle the magic reindeer food onto the lawn. The smell of oats and the glittery path will guide the reindeer to your house.

Snacks for Santa and the Reindeer

You can leave homemade cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. Set out a few carrots for his reindeer, too. Some families put out candy corn for the reindeers.

Attend a Christmas Eve Service

Some churches have a traditional evening service or a midnight service. There are also some church productions or services shown on TV on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Vacation

Some families go to Disneyland, an exotic island, or a cabin in the woods for Christmas. One year, my parents took us to Hawaii. Instead of spending a lot of money on presents, we bought just a few and brought them with us. The hotel was decorated for Christmas and it was very festive. We even got a good discount by flying on Christmas day. Going on a Christmas vacation is a good opportunity to get away from some of the holiday stresses. You’ll also get to spend lots of time together as a family.

Cultural Event

Choose a cultural event to attend at Christmas. One year it could be going to a symphony, the next year a ballet, or play.

Santa Hats

Buy Santa hats for each member of the family. Wear them every time you go shopping or out for dinner during the Christmas season.

Attend a Light Parade

Many towns have light parades during the Christmas season. People stand along the sidewalks as the decorated floats pass by. Sometimes the local food pantry has a float and collects food along the parade route. Kids would enjoy bringing food from home and giving it away during the parade.

Date With Dad

When I was a little girl, my Dad would take me out on a date at Christmas time. He let me choose the restaurant where we would eat. After dinner, we would go to the mall and go Christmas present shopping for my mom.

Flowers for Neighbors

You can make flower arrangements and pass them out to the Seniors in your neighborhood. Use red and white carnations and cheap vases from a dollar store or garage sale. Or, you could deliver poinsettias instead.

Santa Delivers

Rent a Santa suit; deliver toys to kids in your neighborhood, even if they are cheap toys from a dollar store.

Christmas Light Tour

Drive around neighborhoods looking at decorated houses. Take along hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, or a bowl of popcorn and listen to Christmas music. You may even want to have a family sing-a-long.

Candle Centerpeice

A few weeks before Christmas, start decorating the kitchen table. Set one candle in the centerpiece and light it at supper. Each night, add another candle to the table and light that one also. By Christmas, your kitchen table will be really well lit and festive. You can use a variety of candles and votives, or use candles that are all the same.

Fabric Gift Bags

You can make fabric bags for some of your gifts. Your family will like seeing the familiar Christmas fabrics year after year.

Many Cards

Your family can wish each other Christmas greetings through out the whole month of December. Encourage the kids to make a bunch of cards and to e-mail each other Christmas cards. It’s a good opportunity for everyone to write nice things about each other, also.

A Craft a Day

A few weeks before Christmas, start doing a craft a day until Christmas.

Painted Windows

Your family can paint winter scenes on the windows. You can buy special window paint at a craft store or learn how to make your own window paint.

Fancy Wrap

Wrap the gifts for relatives in plain white paper. Then, let the kids decorate the packages with markers, paints, stickers, and glitter glue.

Work of Art

Your child can decorate a picture frame with paint, glitter glue, and stickers. You can use the frame for a photo of your child or your child’s artwork. Then, send it to a grandparent. Each Christmas, your child can send the grandparent a new picture or photo for the frame.

Homemade Cards

Save your Christmas cards. The following year, your family can use them to make new cards and hand deliver them to a nursing home or veteran’s home. Just cut out the front, or the picture, and glue it to folded construction paper. You can add glitter glue, stickers, or another craft item. Write a greeting or poem inside the card.

Personal Gift Tags

Spend an evening making gift tags with stickers and craft supplies. Children can even glue their photograph on to their gift tags.

Advent Wreath

All of the kids will want to make their own advent wreath. Cut a piece of green construction paper into the shape of a wreath. Cut out 24 holly leaves. Starting on December 1, glue one holly leaf to the wreath each day. On Christmas day, finish the wreath with a red bow.

Yearly Stockings

Choose a day in December to make new Christmas stockings. It can be as easy as hot gluing decorations to store bought stockings. Fill last years stockings with items that a Senior would like. You can take your filled stockings to a nursing home. The nursing home employees will probably know which residents need a special Christmas gift.

Surprise Eggs

My kids like to blow the yokes out of eggs. Then, they clean the inside, paint the outside, let them dry, and fill them with confetti. When no one is expecting it, they crack an egg on a family member’s head. It is so much fun that we decided to do it during the Christmas season, also. The kids paint their eggs Christmas colors and fill them with red and green construction paper confetti.

Christmas Craft Day

Spend the afternoon with the kids making Christmas crafts. You can choose to make crafts to decorate the house and to give away as presents.

Surprise Ornament

You’ll need a few rolls of red crepe paper and many little treasures like – tiny toys, decorative erasers, stickers, costume jewelry, candy, coins, and other trinkets. Tape one of the items to the end of a crepe paper roll. Wrap the item about 5 times, then add another item. Continue wrapping and adding little treasures until you eventually form a large ball. Set the ornament in the tree. When it is time to unwrap it, the family members can take turns. Someone unwraps until she finds a treasure and then she passes the ball on to the next person.

Slumber Party Under the Tree

On one of the nights before Christmas, have the kids set up their sleeping bags and pillows around the Christmas tree. You can have popcorn and games like a real slumber party if you want to. They will enjoy falling asleep while looking at the lights and ornaments on the tree.

Ornament Memories

When I was a child, we talked about each ornament that we hung on the tree. We remembered where the ornament came from and what it represented.

Personalized Ornaments

Purchase ornaments for your child that represent your child’s interest for that year. Every year, when the ornaments are hung on the tree, you’ll have a memory of what your child was like.

A Tree for the Animals

We like to decorate an outdoor tree for the birds and squirrels. The ornaments are: pinecones covered in peanut butter and birdseed, popcorn garlands, empty grapefruit halves filled with sunflower seeds. We decorate a tree that we can see from our dining room window. That way we can watch the animals enjoy their feast. If you don’t have a tree, you can take a hike and decorate one in the woods.

Candy Tree

My kids think that some of the best decorations on the Christmas tree are the hanging candy canes. They are thrilled when I give them permission each day to take one from the tree. You can also tape yarn loops to the backs of foil covered Christmas chocolates and them hang on the tree.

Kid's Christmas Tree

Set up a second Christmas tree, just for the kids to decorate. They can string popcorn and hang their handmade ornaments.

Real Tree Ornament

Before you set up the Christmas tree, cut off a 1/4 inch thick piece from the trunk. Then, sand it on both sides and drill a small hole near the top. Write or paint the year on the wood and then varnish or shellac it. Put a fancy ribbon through the hole and tie the ends together making a bow. Make one each year and hang them on your tree.

Plant a Tree

Every December, buy a tiny Christmas tree or seedling and plant it outside. Keep track of which year it was planted. You may want to do this on the same day that you bring home the tree for your home. If you’re still living in the same home when the trees are larger, you could use one each year for your indoor Christmas tree.

Toy Party

Throw a festive Christmas party with decorations, Christmas music, and snacks. Invite your guests to bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the toys-for-tots program or battered women’s shelter.

Neighborhood Collection

On the first Saturday in December, pass out flyers announcing that you will be coming around next Saturday to collect donations. Canned Food for the Food Pantry. Clean, gently used coats for Coats for Kids. New toys, new kitchen items, and new towels for the Battered Women’s Shelter, Clean Blankets for the Homeless Shelter, etc. This way people can give what they can. A family may not have enough food, but may have a few used children’s coats to donate. That evening, serve your family a simple supper like potato soup and rolls. It will give your family an opportunity to discuss how some families have to eat simple meals every day; some families even have to skip meals.

Elves of Kindness

During the Christmas season, your family can pretend to be elves and perform acts of kindness. Here are some ideas that you might be interested in: anonymously leave a gift on someone’s doorstep, send a well deserving family a Christmas card with a gift card inside and do no write your return address on the envelope, dress up as Santa and his elves and deliver toys and food to a family in need, under the cover of darkness decorate an outdoor tree in your neighbor’s yard, anonymously send some Christmas flowers, send a Christmas thank you card to the mail carrier, shovel or plow someone’s snowy driveway before they get home from work, carry wrapped Christmas candy to pass out when you’re in public, deliver $1 Christmas items to people in the hospital, fill a stocking and hang it from someone’s front door knob.

Kris Kringle

When I was a child, my family participated in the tradition of Kris Kringle. We all drew a family member’s name out of a Santa hat. Then, we spent the next few weeks, doing nice things anonymously for that person. Sometimes, I would find that my Kris Kringle had fed the cat, or set the table for me. My mom would find the shoes in her closet straightened, or her bed made. My dad would discover a special love note in his lunch, or a pie sitting on his desk when he returned home.

Special Advent Calendar

Make an Advent calendar that lists different generous acts and fun activities for the kids. For example: baking cookies for the local retirement home, going out to see a Christmas movie, shoveling a walkway for someone who can't, making a Christmas craft, taking unwanted clothes toy to a homeless shelter, and buying a gift and placing it under the church “Angel Tree”.

Earn Money for the Kettle

Give your kids opportunities to earn money. They can decorate their own jar that will hold the change that they earn. Find a store that has a Salvation Army bell ringer standing at the front door. Your kids will be so proud as they pour their individual jars of money into the kettle. The bell ringers stop collecting money around a week before Christmas.

The Yearly Christmas Letter

Each family member can help write his or her own section of the Yearly Christmas Letter. They can handwrite it and add a little drawing. Then, photocopy the letter before sending it out with the Family Christmas Photo.

Family Slide Show

Make a computer slide show from the digital photos you have taken over the past year. Choose the ones that you want to include in your Family Slideshow CD. Make copies to give to special relatives. Keep one for your family, too. You can plan a special family viewing night, including a Christmas snack or dessert.

Holiday Box Exchange with the Cousins

Each December, fill a cardboard box with simple items that tell a story about the lives your family led over the past year. You can include vacation souvenirs, seashells, pressed flowers, pinecones, local postcards, ticket stubs, the children’s drawings, photos, cookies, and Christmas stuffed animals from the $1 store. Keep the items low-cost or free. Coordinate with your cousins to send the boxes on a certain date. Your kids can collecting and save items throughout the year.

Light a Family Candle

Set a date with your long distance relatives, to light a candle and wish them a Merry Christmas through a phone call.

Wrapping the Presents

One evening before Christmas, my husband and I wrap all the presents in our bedroom. The kids keep busy in the living room for a few hours. After a present is wrapped, it gets set outside the bedroom door. Then, the recipient of the gift is called to come put the present under the tree.

Celebrate the Longest Night of the Year

December 22, make your evening focus on light – candlelight dinner, go outside to stargaze, and make Christmas Luminaries.

Wrapped Book Collection

At the beginning of the Christmas season, have the children wrap each Christmas book individually. Each night, a child can choose one, unwrap it, and have it real aloud. You can build your Christmas book collection by checking garage sales and used bookstores.

Christmas Surprise

Choose one day during the Christmas season to surprise the family. The surprise can change from year to year. It could be a Christmas piñata filled with candy and money, ice-skating, a hockey game, a day trip by train, an old-fashioned sleigh ride, or a trip far away.

Unique Decorations

Find a unique decoration that your children will enjoy seeing each Christmas. When I was a child, my family had a plastic gumdrop tree. My sister and I anxiously waited for the day that we got to stick gumdrops on each plastic branch. We also had a brass candle holder decoration. When the small candles were lit, the heat from the flames made the angels spin and chime.

Game Night

Gather as a family to play board games, card games, Mexican train, and Christmas related games.

Lights in the Bedroom

We hang colorful Christmas lights in the kids’ bedrooms. When they are ready to climb into bed, they get to have the lights plugged in while they fall asleep.

Traditions Around the World

Each year, during the Christmas season, choose a different country to learn about. Celebrate that country’s Christmas traditions, holiday food, customs, and stories. You may want to choose countries based on the ancestry in your own family.

Special Reading Night

Plan a special night to gather everyone by the fire or Christmas tree to read something of their choice - The Nativity story, the Night Before Christmas, any other Christmas poem or story, a past Christmas memory, or your child’s Christmas story.

Magical Letters to Santa

After your children write letters and wish lists to Santa, they can put the letters in the fireplace, wood stove, or BBQ. The smoke carries the messages to the North Pole, just like magic.

Snow Day

Many kids have a “snow day” in which schools are closed due to bad weather. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a “snow day” choose another day that kids don’t have to go to school. Plan out the day ahead of time, so you are ready for when “snow day” shows up. You can have hot chocolate and special snacks, make winter themed cupcakes, make a winter craft, watch a new DVD, and play outdoor snow games.

Neighborhood Cookie Party

This is an opportunity to socialize, play, and sample a variety of cookies. Ask your party guests to bring a few different plates of cookies. They can sample different cookies at the party and divide up the leftovers to take home to their families.

Cold Night BBQ

This tradition wasn’t planned, but now my husband gets to BBQ chicken shish kabobs on one of the coldest nights in December. It’s so much fun for the kids knowing that they are the only family outside standing around a BBQ.

Open House Christmas Party

You can have an Open House Party anytime during the Christmas season. Some families have one Christmas afternoon. Individuals, who would normally have a lonely Christmas day, now have a place to go for Christmas. Invite your guests to drop by anytime during the afternoon or evening. You can keep it simple with desserts and hot drinks. Or, you an offer ham and cheese cubes, salads, and finger foods.

Christmas Time Reading Incentive

This is an idea to keep children reading during the month of December. Make a large paper Christmas tree and hang it on a wall. The children can make paper ornaments for it. You may require that your child read a chapter or for 20 minutes in order to earn an ornament. Then, he can print his name and the name of the book on an ornament and tape it to the tree.

Christmas Piñata

There are snowman, Santa, reindeer, and wreath piñatas sold at Christmas time. You can fill one with candy, coins, homemade coupons, Christmas stickers, and trinkets.

Hot Water Bottles and a Story

My husband bought each child a red, flannel covered hot water bottle from the $1 store. We fill them with hot water, pile onto one of the beds, and read from a Christmas storybook. We take turns with whose bed we use for story time. Even if it isn’t cold, it is still fun using the hot water bottles.

Christmas Journal or Scrapbook

Keep an ongoing journal or scrapbook so that you can record everything about the Christmas season. You may want to write down where you were living that year, what the Christmas tree looked like, the family traditions that you observed, what special activities you did as a family, what guests came to your home, special gifts given or received, photographs, and memorable stories.

Dance in the Snow

At the first sign of the season’s snow, take the family outside to dance in the falling snowflakes. When you return back to the house, call the grandparents to tell them that it is snowing. Hot chocolate and cookies would be nice, too.

Every Night is Family Night

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, every night can be Family Night. It can take anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes a night. Light a special candle and choose an activity - talk about past Christmas memories, read Christmas stories, discuss the real meaning of Christmas, sing Christmas carols, play a game.

Nightly Read-a-loud

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, read a Christmas story every day. You can borrow Christmas books from the library.

Advent Jar

Fill a decorated jar with small strips of paper. On each strip is a suggestion for the whole family to do which encourages focusing on each other rather than just the gift giving of Christmas. Each night for the 4 weeks before Christmas pull a strip of paper out and do what it says - say a prayer for the orphans, sing your favorite Christmas carol, say thank you to a person at the table for something they've done for you that day, etc.

Christmas Pillow Cases

Make special Christmas pillowcases that can be used for the Christmas season. The kids will want to start using them the day after Thanksgiving. You can use a regular pillowcase to figure out how much fabric to use.

Start the Christmas Season

The day after Thanksgiving starts the Christmas season for a lot of families. You can make this day really special by decorating the tree, playing Christmas music for the first time all year, and having a finger food picnic at the base of the decorated tree.

Thankful Chain

Starting on Thanksgiving, have the family think of things that they are thankful for. Each one needs to be written on a strip of colored paper and made into a chain. You can place the chain on a Christmas tree or across a doorway. Continue adding “thankful links” to the chain through out the entire season.

Christmas Plate

Every night, for dinner, one family member gets to use the plate. I give a reason why or I say something nice about the person. I keep it fair and make sure that each person gets to use the plate equal times during the season.

Visit From Santa's Elf

Create a fictitious elf that visits your home the day after Thanksgiving. When the kids awake, they will find a letter from the elf, an advent calendar, and a special Holiday gift – like a Christmas DVD or Gingerbread Kit.