Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of the year. I love celebrating the birth and life of my Savior, Jesus Christ with my family and friends. But, with Christmas getting more and more commercialized, it gets increasingly difficult to keep the focus on Him. In our home, we've developed some simple Christmas traditions that allow us to focus on Jesus Christ. Today I'm sharing two of them, so you get double the ideas!
Would you believe that we have three Christmas trees this year? Our house isn't huge, but every time we upgrade our tree, we keep the old one to decorate another room in our house. Our favorite tree is not the fanciest. In fact it's pretty simple. It doesn't stand in our mostly unused front room (where the "Santa" tree lives). Instead, it lives in our family room--right where we spend most of our time.
The decorations are simple--beaded candy canes made by the girls when they were little, a few plastic bulbs, and our extra special ornaments.
Decorate the tree with images from the life of Jesus Christ
For the last three years, we've been heading to our local bookstore in December. Each girl gets to pick one picture of Jesus Christ to add to our special tree. We mount it on a piece of card stock wrapped with simple paper, and add a ribbon for hanging. These beautiful images can be found at Deseret Book and Seagull Book. If you don't have one of those stores in your area, here are links to their online stores. (I do not receive anything for recommending their stores. I'm simply sharing something that I love.)
Deseret Book prints (scroll through to find the 3x5, and 4x6 sizes)
Seagull Book home decor section (you'll have to do a little more page turning to find them here, but they are there!)
Another trick to finding artwork is to cut up calendars or scan and shrink images you already own. (Print them on matte photo paper to give them a more professional look.) This beautiful image (below) comes from lds.org.
These are my favorite artists that paint the life of the Savior (I particularly like the images of Him with children): Greg Olsen, Simon Dewey, Liz Lemon Swindle, and Del Parson. Right now we have the front of the tree covered, but with all of those great artists, we'll have no problem filling the whole thing!
I just have one piece of advice: If you buy a special roll of wrapping paper to use for this project every year, don't let your hubby get a hold of it and use it to wrap presents! I think I have enough left for one more picture, and then I'll have to find something else.
Our next tradition is a little more labor intensive--in a good way!
Fill the Manger for Baby Jesus Service Tradition
Okay--don't laugh. I know that's a Moses basket--not a manger--and that's crumpled paper--not straw, but we use what we have!
This Christmas tradition is really fun. The object is to fill the manger with straw in time for Christmas. The family tries to make Jesus's bed super soft and comfortable by Christmas morning. How do we do it? By serving others and each other.
Every Sunday, we put all of our names in a hat. We draw names to see who we get to serve all week long. Every time we do something special for our secret person, we get to add a piece of straw to the manger. (Since our "manger" is so big, and our "straw" is so small, we add two or three pieces for every act of service we do.)
So that our manger gets extra full, I let the kids add straw any time they do something nice for anyone--not just their secret person. They focus on the one person, but once you start serving one person, you tend to start serving others as well!
On Christmas morning, before presents are open, we place the baby Jesus (a doll) into the soft bed that we have created for him, and take a moment to remember the real reason that we are celebrating. By serving others, we give gifts to Jesus all month long.
What are your best traditions for keeping Jesus in the holiday? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by today! Check out more of my ideas below. (Images are linked.)