Teaching Christmas Joy to Children

Teaching Children about the joy of giving this Christmas season

As my kids get older, I’ve wanted to find some creative ways to help teach them Christmas joy, rather than just the idea of receiving gifts on Christmas Day.

In our family, we focus Christmas Day itself on the birth of Jesus and not the visit of St. Nick, but Advent offers such a wonderful time to make preparation for this joyful celebration, and this year I wanted to find ways to help my kids celebrate it on their own levels.

Many of our friends do the “Elf on the Shelf” and I think it is a fun idea for the kids to find the elf each day, but since we don’t really focus on Santa, it wasn’t a good fit for us. I mentioned on facebook that I wanted to find a way to do an act of service or random act of kindness each day with the kids, and you guys gave me some wonderful ideas!

Several of you also told me about the Christmas Angel, which we decided to try as well. At first, I was just using a small angel figurine from my own childhood, but the Christmas Angel (who we’ve named Gloria) has been a fun addition.

Our Advent Plan:

Each day of Advent (we started a couple days late…) the Christmas Angel does a random act of kindness herself (picks up a toy that was left out overnight, gives the kids a piece of homemade chocolate, etc) and holds a note with a suggestion for our kind act for the day. (The doll actually comes with glitter to write the message in, which is a great idea, but I learned long ago that glitter and my children are a very messy combination!)

So far, some of our fun Advent kind acts have been:

  • Making gifts for the UPS man, postman, etc
  • Making “I love you” cards for grandparents
  • Donating savings to different charities
  • Bringing the man ringing the bell at the grocery store a cup of coffee
  • Sending gifts to new moms and babies
  • Making a gift basket for the midwives helping in this pregnancy
  • Paid for the groceries of an older lady checking out in front of us who only had a couple of items
  • Left coupons and dollar bills on the (healthy) isles of the grocery store
  • Given gifts secretly to families in need in the community
  • Given homemade lotion bars or teas to elderly or hospital bound

We are still hoping to do things like visit a nursing home, take small gifts to emergency workers, volunteer at local charities, etc.

25 days of messages for christmas

I found the picture above with ideas for each day, and it has been fun to think of our own too. This blog also has some great ideas each day for random acts of kindness with the angel!

I know several of you mentioned doing something similar, and I’d love to hear how it is going for you!

Have you ever done anything like this with your kids? Any other ideas to help encourage participation in the Holiday season? Please share below!

We decided to focus on family time, homemade gift ideas and Christmas Joy this year with our children instead of big gifts.

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Reader Comments

  1. I love your name for the angel! Every year, without fail, my Dad jokes that his favorite angel growing up was Hark… “Hark, the herald angel sings!” Rahrahrah, he is the funniest guy he knows. 🙂

    • I got a good laugh out of that one! Thank you! hahahaha

      • That is so funny! My dad always says “This song is so discriminatory…why do only the angels named Harold get to sing?” har har har, dad. Another unrelated one he loves to whip out around Christmas time is–“Why does everyone forget about the tenth reindeer? Olive, the other reindeer!” (and then he starts singing “Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names….”) He, too, is the funniest guy he knows.

  2. While this is an enchanting article and I love your blog…perhaps a mention or acknowledgement to Newtown would be appropriate…no?

    • This was prewritten and scheduled before that news broke… my heart breaks for them! Absolutely horrible… many thoughts and prayers for everyone involved…

  3. thank you for this article! I’ve been looking for something like this for my kiddos!

  4. I’m so glad you wrote this post! We do an Advent calendar (a sweet little wooden cabinet with doors for 25 days where I store the messages) with a similar focus on service. Here are some of our favorite activities:

    Write a letter to a friend who moved away. Have friends over for a holiday baking party. Send holiday card to member of armed services. Donate Heifer International animal to family in need. Make Christmas crafts for teachers. Make backpacks for people who are homeless and deliver them. Take cards and gifts (like hand lotion) to elderly people at an assisted care facility.

  5. Our family also focuses on Christ during Christmas and we do not do Santa. We have caught a lot of flack from this over the years from friends and family alike. I’m so glad to see that others feel the same way. I love your ideas! We have recently had our first child (he is 7 months old) and I am already trying to find ways to instill giving and selflessness during the Advent season. We have our Advent wreath and Advent calendar with scripture reading each day. I am also planning on adopting a child through World Vision that has my son’s exact birth date so that as he grows, he can learn about someone else just like him growing up in a very different life situation. Perhaps he can even write to him as he grows. Prior to Christmas, we also participate in the Shoebox program through Samaritan’s Purse.

  6. Great that you focus on the birth of Jesus rather than “Santa”. We do the same. I enjoy your web site very much. Read your post on why canola oil is bad for you, and glad I did. I am puzzled about your articles on grains though. Even bread made from sprouted whole wheat is bad for you? How about the Lord’s prayer…”give us this day our daily…bread!”. Ancient civilizations used grains…

  7. I love this! My kids are 3, 2, and 1, and I didn’t want to do elf on the shelf because we don’t focus on Santa either. Now, I have some great ideas for next year. We also only do 3 gifts per child, and explain to them that Jesus received 3 gifts from the wise men. I got the idea from a friend and really liked that even at “gift time” the focus could be on Jesus.

    • I love this idea and plan to do use it this year. Thank you so much.

  8. It is encouraging to know other families don’t focus on Santa either. We do 12 days of Christmas. Our kids get one simple gift each day up until 3 Kings Day. Then they get a nicer gift on Jan 6. It’s pretty unpopular with everyone but it works for our focus to be on Christ not Santa.

  9. I was wondering if you have a list version (word or pdf)? Thanks so much.

  10. We don’t do Santa either! Would much rather focus our hearts and minds on the real reason for celebrating Christmas–the birth of our Savior! I have a 2 year old and I am doing Truth in the Tinsel with her this year. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make the crafts with her and focusing on the coordinating Scripture passages that lead up to the birth. I love the Christmas Angel idea though, so maybe we’ll try that next year! Thanks for sharing! (even though I know this post is old) 🙂

  11. We just got our Christmas angel today 🙂
    We are a bit late but I am going to blend her in with the Truth in the Tinsel we are already doing.

  12. I just want to say thank you so much for everything you post on your website. I researched the facts that you put in a couple articles to check the validity of what you were saying and all I can say is thank you for providing your readers with such well thought out research and advice. I was living what I thought to be a healthy lifestyle before reading your articles but your website has truly been such an inspiration. I have made the body lotion, deodorant, and lip chap so far and all have been great successes. I am also celiac so I love your recipes. I just wanted to let you know you are brilliant and thank you so much for posting the knowledge you have on so many different topics. I can tell you are an awesome mommy. God bless!

  13. Katie,
    I dont get stuck into websites … but your energy is quite outstanding!, I love everything you have written and your enthusiasm is just additive!….

    i have been sitting here for almost two hours reading and researching and i have only said “hello!’ …..

    WOW … ps i had a private message i will try and send you … your welcome to use it if you so choose too xx

    SOOOO much love and appreciation from me and my fella and our wee boy! xxx going to have a search to see if you have any fertility boosting tips … we are hoping for another lil one to join our family , i am now 43 years old xxx but 23 in my mind !!!

  14. I am just now expecting my first but this book along with the included sparkle box would make a great tradition. I also love the angel idea instead of the elf on the shelf.

  15. I love to celebrate Christmas. Every year, I plan to do something different for kids. I like to hear the voice of Christmas song.