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A Different Kind of Christmas

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Are you looking to have a radically different Christmas this year? Are you tired of the materialism that saturates this holiday? If so, we have some suggestions for you that will make a lasting impression as well as family memories.

With your mailbox stuffed full of catalogs and commercials blaring from your radio and T.V., the materialism of the season can seem overwhelming.  We proceed at an alarming pace through the holiday season, occupied with things like shopping, baking, driving, and party-attending.  Then in a flurry of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes it is over and we either feel relieved or disappointed.

Is there anything we can do to have a different ending to our Christmas season?  Yes.  This year, we can take a different approach to Christmas.  Here are some ideas:

Say “so long” to wish lists. Eliminate the “what do you want for Christmas?” question from your vocabulary.  For family members who need ideas, provide a list of things you think your children would like.  To go along with this idea, recycle every catalog promptly as it arrives.

Give few individual gifts. Your tree doesn’t need to be completely bare underneath.  Wrap up a few family gifts like a new globe, family games, some puzzles and some new movies.

Play 25 days of “If Jesus hadn’t come . . .” We have a wonderful advent calendar similar to this one here.  Every day, we attach one character from the nativity scene and finish the phrase, “if Jesus hadn’t come to earth . . .”  Then, on Christmas day, Jesus is placed in the manger and we can thank God for all the blessings we have because He DID come.

Re-evaluate the symbols of Christmas.  You can use this free printable from Ministry to Children’s website to walk your family through the various iconic symbols of Christmas but with a Christian perspective.  You can add your own crafts or activities related to each symbol.

Shopping to give thanks. Use your holiday shopping trips to address concepts such as needs versus wants and the abundance of blessings you have already been given.   Thanksgiving may be over, but our thankfulness doesn’t have to be. You can also use the time to shop for others in need such as Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree or local food banks and shelters.

Have some family fun on Christmas morning.  Plan to make it a morning to remember.  Include things like:

  • a puzzle race (separate the family into two teams with the same dollar store puzzle; the first team to complete the puzzle wins!)
  • a Christmas morning movie complete with popcorn (The Muppet’s Christmas Carol and Veggie Tales’ St. Nicholas:  A Story of Joyful Giving are some great choices)
  • a marshmallow snowman eating contest (use large and small marshmallows and toothpicks to make your snowmen)
  • a candy cane hunt
  • a delicious breakfast
  • a reading of the Christmas story (if you have some aspiring actors, encourage them to act out the scene)

Instead of trying to squeeze Jesus into your season, allow Him to be your focus.  These are just some small things your family can do to adjust your vision this year.  What else can you with your family to make the Light of the world shine bright at Christmas time?  May He shine brightly for all to see this year!

About the author

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in children and families. CfP is the place she combines some of her very favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She loves encouraging parents to build their families upon Jesus, the one true Cornerstone. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring children.


  • Glad to see your link on ministry-to-children. Another resource in my ministry for children.
    Your Xmas morning ideas will be useful in our children ministry Christmas party Dec 18th.

    And all from a Christian social worker ( I am as well).

    • Thanks Chanda. Glad you stopped by. Ministry-to-children is a fabulous site for parents and children’s ministry workers. It’s nice to know of other Christian social workers ;). In my part of the country (New England) there seem to be very few of us.

      Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas,

  • The Story of Giving may be a great prelude to preparing foods and treats for giving to others on Christmas Eve. I like to focus on needs of others and agencies like Samaritan’s Purse and Angel Tree provide shopping opportunities to give away because God gave first.

  • I enjoyed reading this….great ideas. We all get trapped into the materialism of the season. The only thing I can’t give up is warm socks and books, however. I loved your Advent idea…it may help our kids “get it” more than any homily. Thank you.

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