If you’re looking for some holiday traditions to try on for size, here are some of the things we’ve incorporated over the years.
1. Goto a Christmas Eve church service as a family.
2. Pop popcorn. Get a needle and thread. Create homemade popcorn garland to put on the tree. It looks like this.
3. Bake cookies. With the kids. With the grown ups. Sneak the cookie batter. Decorate the cookies.
4. Watch the Chosen Christmas special.
5. Check out the Christmas lights. Every Christmas Eve we load up the cars and take the family to see the best and brightest around town. In our city, the best landing spot is duck pond by the hospital.
6. Go to the neighbors and sing Christmas carols. In 2020, bring your mask and keep your distance. OR, Join a parranda. It’s a lot like Christmas carol-house crashing, but it’s Puerto Rican, it involves a lot of makeshift rhythm instruments, and the crashed families have to feed you. Oh yeah, wear your mask.
7. Create a family Christmas scavenger hunt.
8. Decorate gingerbread houses.
9. Watch Home Alone. Or Elf.
10. Open a present on Christmas Eve.
11. Invite everybody including kids to put little special items in the stockings. Consider notes of love and encouragement.
12. Read the original Christmas story together. (Luke 2:1-21)
13. Bake Jesus a birthday cake. Sing happy birthday.
14. Choose a fruit of the Spirit for everybody to focus on all day long. Let the kids choose, and make this fruit part of your gift to Jesus. (Your choices are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)
15. Make a dessert you have never made before. Preferably something chocolate.
16. Make a candy cane milkshake. (Vanilla ice cream, a LOT of vanilla extract, crushed candy canes, a little bit of milk, a few ice cubes, a little extra sugar – and blend)
17. Make homemade thank you cards with the kids on Christmas night.
18. Put somebody (or two or three) in the “hot seat”. Pray for them and take a few minutes to speak words of encouragement. It may become more supernatural than you expected.
19. Take a Christmas walk around your neighborhood after the big meal. You need your steps.
20. Download the Dwell app. Give somebody the gift of the Dwell app.
21. Zoom or facetime somebody(ies) that is at home alone on Christmas. Bring the joy factor and lots of words of affirmation.
22. Make my favorite breakfast on Christmas morning (aka “Eggs a la Goldenrod“).
23. Give an extra Christmas gift to the needy. Ask your family at Christmas dinner – from adults to kids – if they would like pitch in and give a gift to the truly needy. (If you are looking for ideas, I suggest 3: Help rescue a child out of human trafficking. Help displaced orphans around the world. Help local families in need. We donate right here, because we know how this money gets spent. If interested, click “Other” and use the key word RESCUE, ORPHANS, or FAMILIES. Every single penny given goes straight to those in need.)
24. Wear matching pajamas.
25. Give Jesus the first fruit of your Christmas morning. Before the gifts. Before the stockings. Before the meals. Before the hectic. Open the Bible. Take time to pray. And listen. Prepare your soul for this day. It’s amazing how faithful He is to show up, when He is actually invited. But until I connect with God each day, everything else is a distraction. Even Christmas.
I hope your Christmas is wonderful. Yet when I’m honest, I have often gone to bed on Christmas night disappointed. Hoping for something more that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Always because I neglected Jesus. I made no room. I didn’t need more presents or a better meal or less family drama. I just needed Him. He is the secret.
What you really want for Christmas is the presence of God.
It’s not too late for this holiday to truly be a holy-day. There is no joy like the joy of a room where Jesus is present. There is no despair dark enough to overcome the light of even the faintest traces of His kingdom. And there is no peace like the peace of a place where room has been made for King Jesus.
Let every heart prepare Him room.