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Is it Time for a Radical Christmas?

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.

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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.

Tired of the commercialism? Want a different ending to your Christmas season? Maybe you are ready for a radical Christmas. If so, here are some ideas:

Say “so long” to wish lists that focus on gift getting. Eliminate the “what do you want for Christmas?” question from your vocabulary. This is not the year for getting, it’s the year for giving. It’s a radical Christmas. If you have family members who just can’t get on board, give them one or two ideas for your children and explain what you are trying to accomplish this year. To go along with this idea, recycle every catalog promptly as it arrives.

Focus on giving. Shift your kids’ focus from themselves to others. The gifts they give don’t have to be expensive or even purchased. What is Grandma’s favorite food? Make it together and hand deliver with a homemade card. Use this time to teach your children to really study and know the people in their lives so they can bless them with kindness that is the perfect size.

Play 25 days of “If Jesus hadn’t come . . .” A nativity scene advent calendar is a wonderful option to track the days before Christmas. Every day, you can 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 thank God for all the blessings you 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 with a thankful heart. Use your holiday shopping trips to teach your kids 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.

Give few individual gifts to your kids. Your tree doesn’t need to be completely bare Christmas morning. But focus on the whole not the parts. Wrap up a few family gifts like a new globe, family games, some puzzles and some new movies.

Have some family fun on Christmas morning. Plan to make it a morning to remember. Build anticipation and excitement as the day approaches. 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)
  • A scavenger hunt to find the missing baby Jesus for your nativity set.

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 have a radical Christmas this season.

May He shine brightly for all to see this year!

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.


  • 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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