Christmas is a great time to celebrate Jesus, to explore the story of Jesus’ birth, to pause and pray and to bless others. However, it is also a very busy time, so we need to be intentional and make plans to make it a faith-infused celebration.
Of course, there’s the GodVenture Sticker Advent Calendar Posters – a massive A1 poster where the stickers tell the story, and here’s 10 things you can do with the Bible story book which comes with each calendar. But here’s another list of ways you can explore, pause and bless others this Christmas.
Why not chat as a family about what you enjoy doing at Christmas, and which of these three you do best (explore, pause and bless), then look at this list to find one or two new things to do to ‘boost’ the area you’d like to do more in.
Fill 24 pockets with a section of the Christmas story and a chocolate coin. You could make your own using numbered envelopes glued onto a ribbon or purchase this GodVenture Advent Pocket Bunting. And even the job of cutting the story into 25 pieces is done for you in these Christmas Story Cards.
Buy one or make your own by adding numbers with transfers or modelling wax then light it once a day as a moment to pause and thank God for good things. Here’s some ideas for prayers and here’s a free download to help you thank God in 25 different ways
Read the whole Christmas story from the Bible, maybe even in one sitting. You could do some colouring while you listen. The Bible text is in The Christmas Bible Storybook which comes with the GodVenture Sticker Advent Calendar or if you cut and paste these references into biblegateway.com you could listen to an audio version (Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-21; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:39-40).
4 Lego Nativity
Create a nativity scene out of Lego (or Duplo or wooden blocks or Stickle Bricks). Look at the story in the Bible and choose which characters and structures to build.
5 Christmas Card Prayer Bingo
Create a sheet with 8+ images and/or words which appear on Christmas cards e.g. manger, robin, Christmas trees. Assign each image a prayer, which you will pray for people who send you a card with that image on.
6 24 Books
Buy or borrow 24 books (preferably Christmas ones) then unwrap and read one a day. Older children may prefer a chapter book such as the 24 chaptered The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. More ideas on books you could get here.
7 Family Play
Read the Christmas story with each family member speaking the words of one character. You could make this into a play using the Bible text. (The Bible text is in The Christmas Bible Storybook which comes with the GodVenture Sticker Advent Calendar) or use this free family play which comes in A Christmas Family GodVenture activity sticker book, and which is designed to work with any number of participants.
Leave one side off a gingerbread house to make a stable, and use the chimney pieces to make a manger. Add people and eat! The IKEA gingerbread house works well! See more here
9 Nativity Photobook
Divide the Christmas story into four or more sections then create a picture for each section. You could dress up and pose, use a nativity set or create pictures using felt or wooden blocks, natural materials or whatever you choose! FreePrints print 20-page photobooks for £5.99 using a phone app.
10 Angel Wrapping Paper
Use an angel-shaped cookie cutter to print paint over a large sheet of paper. You could also make Christmas cards and gift tags in the same way. Chat about what the angels do and say in the story. What part do they play in the story? What would the story be like without them?
Create a picture using washi tape on paper, paint over it then when the paint is completely dry, remove the tape. For a more sophisticated piece, use artist’s mask on canvas boards to paint pictures or Bible lettering of Bible words or sentences which speak to you. (We’re planning to do four canvases with these words on each: Wonderful Counsellor; Mighty God; Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace.) We’ll be doing this at the GodVenture Advent Party on November 18th.
Dress up as the characters from the Christmas story and chat about why you’ve chosen each character and what you think they may have been like. What part do they play in the story? Could we leave them out and still have all the story we need? You could make tunics out of pillowcases and headdresses with tea towels and a ring of elastic. Get your whole family to dress up and take a photo – perfect for Christmas cards!
13 Peg Doll Nativity
Make a nativity set using peg dolls, wrapping each in a piece of cloth attached with loom bands. Add two dots for eyes and use them to play out the Christmas story. You can get peg dolls here. Alternatively, buy a nativity set you can play with.
14 Clay Ornament Blessings
Make clay ornaments with words of blessing on to give to people as ornaments. You could write or stamp words that describe blessings, which you pray God will give them, such as courage, peace, joy, strength. You could buy air dry clay or make ornament clay with a recipe from The Imagination Tree. Which blessings do you see in the Christmas story?
Cut simple people shapes out of felt and use them on a felt backdrop to create the nativity story. You could add a green hill shape on the back Simple people shapes could be cut out using a gingerbread man cutter as a template to draw around then add simple extras, such as hair or headdresses, belts, tunics and cloaks. You can see more and download a free template here.
16 Angel Bakes
Bake jam tarts or cookies using an angel-shaped cutter and give them to a friend, neighbour or a delivery person. If appropriate, offer to pray for them, including a prayer that God will bring them good news, just like the angels brought good news at the first Christmas.
17 Christmas Puppets
Make simple puppets then use them to re-tell the Christmas story. You could even film it and share it with friends and family. Younger children may enjoy simple felt finger puppets or people created from the fingers of gloves, decorated with eyes, hair or a headdress and belt. Alternatively, you could print pictures of the characters and glue lolly sticks on the back. Set up a cloth across a chair or table to be the theatre and share the story together.
18 Jesus Rocks
Use black Sharpie on a white stone and glue it into an upside down shell or paint stones white then add a beige circle face at one end. Use Sharpies to draw eyes, nose and mouth on the face and lines to make the face look ‘wrapped’ in white cloth. Write the tag #JesusRocks on the back then hide the rock for someone to find it. You could add hay under it and a little note suggesting people either re-hide it for someone else to find or take it home and look after it.
19 Reverse Advent Calendar
Put something usual or festive aside each day until you have 24 items then give them to your local food bank.
20 Jesus Birthday Cake
Make a birthday cake for Jesus. This could be done at any time, but many families like to do this on Christmas Eve. What will you put on yours?
21 Names of Jesus Tree Decorations
Re-read the Christmas story, looking out for things said about Jesus (usually by angels) then create Christmas tree ornaments with words or symbols representing who Jesus is. Make your ornaments out of Fimo, Shrinkits, letter beads on pipe cleaners, or whatever you choose! You could take inspiration from Isaiah 9:6.
22 Story Treasure Hunt
Write or draw the Christmas story onto a series of cards, hide them, find them, then put them in the right order to re-tell the story together. This could also be done with clues using pictures printed from the internet. You could use these Christmas Story Cards where all the hard work is already done.
Create a throng of angels like concertina paper people then decorate them. You might do this with glitter, shiny foil or similar, or with words which the angels say in the story. As you create, you could chat about what the angels do in the Christmas story. Use the angel throng to decorate your house. For really long strips, you could use wrapping paper!
24 Different Bible Story
Read the Christmas story from different versions of the Bible, and play spot the difference. This works best if you take the story in sections, for example, the angel comes to Mary, the angel and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men. Use Bibles in your house or BibleGateway to find different versions. Which version do you like best? Why? Younger children could compare different children’s Bible versions such as the Children of God Storybook Bible (at time of writing, currently at half price) or The Big Bible Storybook for younger children. You could also look at re-writes of the story such as in The Book of God or Oriel’s Diary.
25 Wreath Prayers
Create a traditional candle wreath with four candles and one in the middle. Light one in the first week of Advent and say prayers. Light two candles in the second week, and so on. Light the middle one on Christmas Day. When you light your candles, you could read a Bible passage about light or pray light themed prayers. Here are some ideas.
26 Lolly Stick Stable
Glue 5 lolly sticks together to create a pointed roof on a house, then glue a piece of paper in the frame you have created. When the glue is dry, draw or paint a picture of the Holy Family, including any additional characters you feel appropriate. You could make a giant version using sticks, creating a centre piece of Christmas art for your home.
27 Research St Nicholas
Explore the story and traditions around Saint Nicholas using books and websites. Chat about which of your traditions remind you of his story. Are there any new traditions you’d like to adopt?
Search online for nativity art, and look at how the same stories have been depicted differently by different artists. Search for classics and contemporary pieces. You might like to look for pictures of the angel visiting Mary, the angels and the shepherds, the shepherds visiting Jesus and the wise men arriving. Which picture do you like best? How does it speak to you? Which one helps you see the story from a different perspective? What would you create to express how you feel about this story.
29 Satsuma Prayers
Peel a satsuma or other segmented fruit. Take it in turns to take one segment and pray for God to bless someone you know, perhaps mentioning something specific, then eat the segment and pass the fruit.
30 Colouring Meditation
Download some beautiful nativity colouring sheets and spend time together colouring and listening to Christmas worship music or the Christmas story from an audio Bible and meditating on the wonder of the story and what it means for you.