5 Ways to Prepare Your Children’s Hearts for Christmas

5 Ways to Prepare Your Children’s Hearts for Christmas

It can be tricky as adults to keep the true meaning of Christmas close to our hearts. It’s all too easy to fall prey to the hustle and bustles of online sales, our to-buy and to-cook lists, and the overwhelming traffic surrounding our favorite stores. Grumpiness sets in, and before we know it, we’re modeling the Grinch more than we’re modeling Christ! 

But I believe children have it even harder this time of year. They might not be dealing with crowded shops or fighting over the last turkey in the grocery aisle, but they’re just as swept away in the glitz and glamor of toy commercials, towering store displays, and the line to sit on Santa’s lap to tell him what they want. They’re not fighting grumpiness—they’re battling greed. 

I think there’s nothing the enemy camp loves more than to distract us from Christ on Christmas. Instead of focusing on a baby in a manger, our gazes are drawn to the packages under the tree. Instead of whispering Advent, we’re shouting More! Instead of pondering these things in our hearts, we’re calculating our budgets. 

As parents, it’s our duty to not only keep our focus, but help our kids fight—and win—the war for their hearts during the holidays. 

Here are 5 ways to help prepare your children’s hearts for Christmas. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash/S B Vonlanthen

  • 1. Create holiday traditions.

    1. Create holiday traditions.

    Keeping family traditions at Christmas can help keep the “gimmies” at bay by easing the focus away from material objects, and toward togetherness. Kids love presents and candy and treats, but they also love hanging out with Mom and Dad and doing special things they don’t normally get to during the year. 

    My family has a tradition of laying under the newly decorated Christmas tree the night we put it up. We peer through the branches and laugh at how silly the ornaments look upside down and try to find our favorite ones through the blur of twinkle lights. Another tradition that’s a favorite is driving around and looking at Christmas lights. We bundle up with blankets and the occasional cup of hot chocolate and spend an hour touring neighborhoods and admiring their decorations. Your family’s traditions might look different, but the important thing is to honor your family, and thus honor Christ, through them. Find a tradition that focuses on the sentimental elements of Christmas rather than the material and make them a big deal in your home. Your children will look forward to that quality time together just as much, if not more, than the presents that are coming later. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

  • 2. Walk through Advent together.

    2. Walk through Advent together.

    Walking through the Christmas story in the weeks leading up to Christmas is a powerful way to remind your children about the hope of the Gospel. Advent—He has come, and He is coming. Our focus shifts away from the material pleasures of the world and onto the miracle of Christ’s birth when we do this. There are multiple Advent resources you can use as a guide, along with Advent calendars that count down to the big day. Many of these resources are even free to print and use in your home! 

    Here’s a few to consider: 

    If you can’t find a resource you like, simply open the book of Luke and read several verses each night until you get to the birth of Christ. Plant the Scriptures in your children and watch for the harvest. You’re sowing seeds that won’t return void. 

    But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19 NKJV)

    Photo Credit: Unsplash

  • 3. Have fun.

    3. Have fun.

    Helping your children have the right heart posture at Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding the secular elements of the holidays, but rather, showing them the difference. So do the fun stuff! See Santa if you want to. Buy presents. Stuff stockings. Decorate your tree and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and drink hot chocolate. But when you do so, try to work into the conversation how apart from Christ and the hope of the Gospel, celebrating falls flat. Without Christ, we’re just running from one activity to another.

    But with Christ and with His peace and joy filling our hearts, everything is shinier. Brighter. And hopeful. Help your kids see and understand the difference between watching Home Alone and participating in a candlelight service at church. Help them recognize the difference between slurping candy canes and taking communion. Show them the difference between “Jingle Bells” and “O Holy Night”. With older children, you can even take it a step further and help them see ways they can share that realization with their friends and peers.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images/beavera

  • 4. Bring the Christmas story to life.

    4. Bring the Christmas story to life.

    Most people know the Christmas story, even if they’re not believers. Kids aren’t oblivious to it, either. They’ve absorbed it somewhere along the way, and while they might not remember every detail, most of them probably know the gist and could possibly even recite verses if they’ve grown up in Sunday School. That’s good, but as a family, it’s important to bring the Christmas story to life. Don’t just read it and shut the Bible. Mediate on it. Ponder over the details and discuss with your kids the things that jump out at them. Ask them questions and let them ask questions of you, no matter how silly or irrelevant they might seem. Get them excited to dive into the Scriptures. 

    One way to bring the story to life in a way kids can understand is by pointing out the difference between the culture of then and now. One example is how Mary was a younger teenager when she received the message from the angel. Another example, if age appropriate, could be how adultery and divorce was much rarer then than it is today, and how Joseph showed such grace by trusting God and not casting Mary aside when he heard the news of her pregnancy. You could discuss how the Lord spoke to people in dreams, how big of a miracle it was that God put a decree for a census in the king’s heart that forced Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem, just the way it was prophesized, and so on. There are many vivid details you can dive into as a family in the Christmas story that will leave your children curious for more. 

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

  • 5. Tell how the Giver became a gift.

    5. Tell how the Giver became a gift.

    One of the most beautiful parts of Christmas is realizing how the Giver became a Gift. Christ came for us, to be sinless and die in our place and rise again so we could be made righteous and be with God forever. That’s the Gospel. Our children need to know how it’s much more important—and beneficial—to focus on the Creator rather than on the stuff of creation that we give each other each year. After all, God is the ultimate Gift Giver. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV)

    So how can we give gifts that point people to their Creator? For some, that might mean purchasing a Bible for a friend without one. It might mean giving books on Christian living or providing a gift card to a family in need. Whatever you chose to give this year, involve your kids. Whether it’s donating to a charity or simply meeting a tangible need in your church community, let your kids play a role. Show them that giving is fun. There’s been several years where we had the kids sneakily tape candy canes to our neighbor’s doors with a little Merry Christmas note. Other times, we bought small, generic gift cards to places like Target and Starbucks, and gave them to our kids to hand out as the Holy Spirit led them. It was fun watching them be bold and give the cards to strangers they met in stores, looking to see who needed a blessing that day. Other times they gave to a kid at school who was having a tough time. 

    Look for ways to be a Christmas blessing, teach your children to do the same—and share the gift of the Gospel in both word and deed.  

    In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35 ESV)

    Photo Credit: Unsplash

    Betsy_headshotBetsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two total-opposite young daughters, a vast collection of novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she’s not sweating it out at Camp Gladiator or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with Revell, Tacos for Two, coming October 2021. You can visit Betsy at http://www.betsystamant.com.