12 Ways to Have a Christ-Centered Christmas

12 ways to have a Christ-centered ChristmasI have been looking on Pinterest for Christmas ideas.

This can be a very good and productive endeavor.

Or it can make me want to hide under my bed until December 26th.

There’s the Elf on the Shelf and the daily antics, there’s the beautiful decorations, there’s the gorgeous outdoor light displays, there’s the delicious recipes, there’s the crafty, homemade gift ideas…

It’s all so amazing to me and makes me want to be a better person, but at the end of the day I mostly just pin stuff and think about it for awhile and then decide that throwing some Christmas lights over the mountain of laundry piled on the dining room table is festive enough.

 Our elf hasn’t even come to visit yet because I am paralyzed by the thought of being committed to moving him creatively every. single. night (even though I have a post HERE featuring 24 super easy and fun ideas).

But when you think about it, what do you remember most about Christmas when you were little?

It probably wasn’t the 15,000 Christmas cards your mom wrote or the glamorously wrapped presents under the tree or the Pinterest-perfect crafts or the massive Christmas party with 200 homemade appetizers.

It was the smaller things.

The simple things.

I remember cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning (and they were from the can).

I remember opening my stocking.

I remember that Santa ate all the cookies we had left out for him.

I remember jumping on my parents’ bed at 6 in the morning and then that year my older brother did bugle calls on his trumpet at 5 (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad).

I remember my dad praying before we opened our gifts.

I remember the way the church glowed at the candlelit service on Christmas Eve as we sang Silent Night and raised our candles in reverent worship.

The simple things.

This year I’m trying to let go of all the ‘Pinterest Pressure’ and have decided to narrow my focus for Christmas and our family to 2 things -

1. Do things that celebrate Jesus.

2. Do things that share His love.

Our Elf on the Shelf might not make it out this year if I’m not feeling it.  We might not make it to every single party.  I might not make homemade ornaments for the family.  The adorable Christmas party favors I want to make for all the kids in my boys’ classes will probably never happen.  Happy Buddy might not get the chocolate advent calendar because I can’t find them anywhere – lol.

And that’s ok.

But here are 12 simple things that fall under the umbrella of my focus for this magical season that our little family is hoping to do in the coming days…

Happy Birthday Jesus Cake and Celebration

Birthday boy gets a special cake and small party every year at our house.  My favorite part is when we sing to Him.  HERE is a super neat birthday cake recipe we use that is not only easy to make, but also shares the Gospel.  And it is delicious.

Make Dinner for Our Pastor’s Family

I love our pastor and his family.  His wife was hugely instrumental in my survival of the Happy Baby’s birth and the journey we have been on with his health.  She texted me Bible verses every single morning during his hospitalization and she cried with me more than once.  They are true warriors of the faith and spend so much time serving our congregation.  December brings a lot of extra events and responsibilities and needs in their world so I like to help by giving them a night off from the necessary burden of feeding 5 people.  I think I will make THIS recipe and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Play With Our Nativity

My mom bought us the Fisher Price Nativity set a few years ago and it is my favorite Christmas toy.  This year I bought the Melissa and Doug one for my classroom and I love that one just as much.  I make a point to sit with my kids and play with the nativity with them.  It brings around some sweet and thoughtful conversation about Jesus.  We also like to play some of THESE nativity games.

Attend Christmas Eve Services

I cannot think of anything more precious than the worshipful, joyous, holy, reverent atmosphere of a candlelit Christmas Eve service.  I like to invite a few neighbors and unchurched friends to join us.  O come, let us adore Him. <3

Sing Christmas Carols With and Over My Kids

As soon as Thanksgiving dinner has ended I start breaking out my Christmas CDs.  I especially love Hillsong’s We Have a Savior album.  I also love climbing into bed with my boys, holding them close and singing Silent Night over their darling hearts as they drift off to sleep.  Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics of some of the carols out there?  AMAZING.  O Holy Night slays me.  These songs carry a rich heritage of our faith.  I want to surround my kids with these truths all December long.

Pass Out Candy Canes With the Candy Cane Gospel

Christmas naturally lends itself to opportunities to share the Good News.  I like to use THIS FREE Printable tag, attach it to candy canes and drop them off with people we come across throughout the day.  The bank teller, the grocery store cashier, a neighbor’s mailbox, teachers, Starbucks barista, etc.

Remember the Hubs

I think it’s easy to get so focused on buying gifts and making things magical for our children that we forget the men in our lives.  And if you really want to honor Jesus, then pay careful attention to your precious marriage.  I try really hard to get my husband a present for Christmas that will really bless him.  I also like to use THESE FREE Printable Christmas Love Notes as silly reminders throughout the month that I love him.  But the thing that I think blesses my husband the most in this season is when I don’t spend a lot of money, don’t walk around a giant stress ball, and I make an effort to not put a lot of extra expectations on him.  Like whatever gift he gets me, I will love it.  Even if it’s a Dust Buster.

Stick to 3 Gifts

If it’s good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for my kids!  We give our boys 3 gifts each – like the Wise Men brought Christ.  It helps us stick to a budget and it is another reminder of the purpose behind our present sharing.

Pray Around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Morning

I wrote about this sweet tradition HERE.  It made a big impact on me growing up and I have been carrying on this tradition in my own home ever since.  Joining hands on Christmas morning and giving thanks as a family to the One who made the whole celebration possible in the first place is exactly where God wants our hearts to be.

Meet a Need

Our church participates in a toy drive for a local non-profit organization committed to providing homes and resources for kids in crisis situations.  Last Sunday the Happy Buddy picked a card off a tree in the Fellowship Hall that said a little boy’s age and a toy he would like.  We will go to Target together to pick it out.  I want my boys to find the true joy of Christmas in the giving rather than in the getting.

Read the Christmas Story (over and over and over again)

We will take the time to really dig into the story of Jesus’ birth this month.  We do this in a variety of ways.  We read it from the Bible and in different children’s Bibles.  We use THESE FREE Printable Advent Scripture Cards and THESE FREE Printable Nativity Story Cards.  I also have a bunch of Christ-centered Christmas books (see HERE) that we read before bed each night.  Anything to capture their imaginations point our hearts to the true Hero of the season.

 Being Still

The hustle and bustle and ‘noise’ of Christmas can interfere with our ability to truly experience the gift of His presence.  I recently became so tangled up in material possessions and Christmas gifts that I didn’t allow room for my Savior.  Sound familiar?  Making room for the Savior involves choosing to not be swept up in the ideals our world presents as necessary and finding the peace He offers in the reality.

Last week the Happy Buddy mentioned to me that all he wanted for Christmas was a football helmet…

And to hold baby Jesus.

:-)

I think he is on to something.

So crawl out from under the bed of busy and climb into the manger next to that precious Child Who this season is all about.

And that is better than anything Pinterest has to offer.

- Julie

Simple Paper Baby Jesus Craft

simple paper baby Jesus craft at happyhomefairy.comI was telling my 2-year-olds about Jesus’ birth and how he wasn’t born in a super sanitized hospital or put in a nice, cozy, adorably-oufitted crib like they were.

We talked about the manger and how it must have been not so clean and probably a little stinky from all the animals that used it.

But that is exactly where God wanted His Son to start His life on earth with us.  God was writing a story of His love beyond what our human eyes and noses and minds could see or smell or understand.

Because in a way the manger is a picture of our hearts – not so clean and a little stinky.

Ok, a LOT stinky.

Then God breaks through in all His perfection and glory and comes as a tiny babe to make His bed there – right there in our hearts.

And something that began as unlovely and imperfect and smelly is transformed by the presence of Jesus Christ into something absolutely beautiful.

baby jesus craft 1baby jesus craft 2baby jesus craft 3baby jesus craft 4baby jesus craft 5

So as you do this simple craft with your kids, help them to see the bigger picture of our Lord’s coming.

Help them learn how to prepare a place for their Savior in the manger of their hearts.baby jesus craft 6

Happy Simple Paper Baby Jesus Craft-ing! :-)

*You can find my other easy and adorable Baby Jesus Craft HERE.*

The Happy Birthday Jesus Cake

happy birthday jesus cake at happyhomefairy.com

One of my favorite traditions that I have enjoyed since becoming a part of the Happy Hubby’s family is the annual Happy Birthday Jesus Cake.

I actually get to be the one who makes it every year!

You can see our birthday cake from last year and the year before HERE.

jesus cakeBut for 2012, I found this fabulous cake that is going to change the face of Happy Birthday Jesus Cakes as we know it.

This cake is not only super yummy, but also it SHARES THE GOSPEL.

Each color of those beautiful layers symbolizes something in the story of our Savior.

jesus cake 2jesus cake 1The Happy Buddy couldn’t wait to dig in to his slice.

And while he was chowing I couldn’t help but feel like my little man was filling up on something a little bit more than red dye and high fructose corn syrup. :-)

In the song she sang in Luke 1, Mary praises God with these words, “He has filled the hungry with good things.”

Yes, that is the Gospel, indeed.

I can’t think of anything more delicious this Christmas!

Want to make your own layered Gospel-presenting Happy Birthday Jesus Cake?

Find the how-to as well as the meanings behind each layer over at Squidoo.

Don’t forget to sing to the Birthday Boy!

Merry Happy Birthday Jesus Cake-ing! :-)

Easy Baby Jesus Craft – FREE Printable!

Last year I co-helped with the Happy Buddy’s PreK-2 class Christmas party.

We wanted to send something cute home with the kids – a small party favor that reminded them Who Christmas is really about.

After some inspiration from THIS POST, we set about making these adorable Baby Jesus Crafts.

Materials -

Brown lunch bag (you could also use that squiggly gift bag filler stuff if you wish – I had lunch bags on hand.  Free is always better in this Happy Home!) :-)

Scissors

Piece of toilet paper (or white felt, white crepe paper, etc.)

Ziploc baggie

Small wooden spoon (I bought a package of them at Michael’s)

Double-sided tape

Pen

Crayons

FREE Printable Scripture Card (download at end of post!)

Directions -

Step 1 – Cut pieces of the brown lunch bag.  This will be the ‘hay.’

Step 2 – Place the ‘hay’ in the Ziploc baggie.

Step 3 – Draw a face on the wooden spoon with the pen and crayons.

Step 4 – Take a piece of toilet paper and wrap it around the wooden spoon.  Secure with a piece of tape.

Step 5 – Nestle Jesus in the little baggie/manger.

Step 6 – Add the FREE Printable Scripture Card.  You can staple this to the front of the bag or slip it inside the bag.

Make a whole bunch and hand out to friends!

This would also be a great activity to do with your Sunday School class or for a Happy Birthday Jesus Party.

Click Image for Printable

Click HERE for the FREE Printable Scripture Card to include with the Baby Jesus.

I hope you like this craft!  What a sweet and  simple way to honor that little babe who changed the world.

Happy Easy Baby Jesus Craft-ing! :-)

Happy Birthday Jesus Party

The first Christmas I got to spend with the Happy Hubby’s family was so special!

They introduced me to a super fun idea of baking a special birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and then having everyone get their saliva all over the cake blow out the candles. :-)

Here’s the Happy Buddy and me with the whole gang of nieces and nephew for the Happy Birthday Jesus Cake last Christmas.

This year I decided to kick it up a notch.

This year I decided to throw a whole Happy Birthday Jesus PARTY for the Happy Buddy and 2 of his little friends from church.

First, we made our cake!

I think the Happy Buddy has a future as a cake decorator.

His additions were pure genius.He’s so creative that decorating the cake was not enough.We put together a little tray of snacks.We made sure everyone would have access to playing with our Fisher Price Nativity set!A banner was hung in honor of the Birthday Boy.When our friends arrived, we did a special craft using some Nativity Stickers that I bought from here.Soon it was time to sing and cut the cake!Do you love how I am laughing about something and completely oblivious to the fact that the Happy Buddy is reaching for the MATCHES?!?!YUM!Can we celebrate Jesus’ birthday every day??? :-)After all that sugar, the Happy Buddy and his friends went bananas with the couch cushions.

And there were party favors, too!

Everyone went home with some special Nativity Window Clings that I found at Walmart.As well as a Nativity Balloon that we found at Publix!

It was a super special morning with all the focus on the Reason for the Season.

Here’s a video clip of my favorite part…

Merry Happy Birthday Jesus Party-ing! :-)