This post was most recently updated on January 13th, 2022
Our family has a lot of Christmas traditions and activities we really enjoy. So I had a hard time deciding which should be our ‘First Day of Christmas’ activity. But nothing beats gathering as a family and talking about the reason we celebrate Christmas.
In this post, I am highlighting a Christmas story you can read as a family, a simple nativity script, a service calendar that can inspire you throughout the month, and a fun tradition for collecting money to give to someone in need (with a giveaway). I hope you will sit down together and enjoy discussing what you can do as a family. These items are also give-able. Print the nativity script, a Christmas message or poem, and a service calendar to share with others. Or create flannel-board nativity characters. You can also create as many Christmas Jars as you like; they make great gifts!
First Day of Christmas story
Set the stage with a simple rendition of the Christmas story. You can find it in the scriptures (Luke 2:1-20). You can even add flannel board characters (images found here). Children love having something to look at or interact with as you share the story, and it’s easy to print out figures on cardstock and add a flannel backing. You might also enjoy this Christmas Poem Printable.
I personally collect nativities — scenes with at least the baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I have nearly 100 of them! This first day of Christmas is a good time to set out your nativity as well. You might want to have one that cannot be broken, so that young children can play with it.
Another way for children to better understand the story of Christmas is to do a re-enactment. There are many nativity play scripts available online, but I found one I really like for younger children. Seriously, my grandchildren love doing a nativity play! We pull out our fabric scraps and miscellaneous costumes for them to wear. A headscarf with a string tied around the head works for a shepherd, or butterfly wings can work in a pinch for the angel! Mary can be wrapped in blue fabric, and Joseph can wear a bathrobe. A baby doll works for the infant Jesus. Assign Mom or Dad (or grandparent) to narrate the story while the kids do the actions.
Visit an Outdoor Nativity
With older children, perhaps visiting an outdoor nativity would be meaningful. Many churches and temples display life-size nativities. My favorite one happens to be at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. We have several in San Diego, where I live, too.
Introduce a Service Calendar
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has created a wonderful service calendar with simple ideas for reaching out and blessing the lives of others. It’s called Light The World. Most of the suggestions on the calendar are simple acts of kindness that you can easily do with your family. For example, ‘Smile at everyone you greet today’, ‘Call your parents right now and tell them how much you love them’, or ‘Ask God how you can be an answer to someone else’s prayer’.
You can even sign up for daily text notifications to remind you to connect with others in a meaningful way. This is something your teenagers might really relate to. Here’s an example of a text notification you might receive:
Another thing I like about the Light The World campaign is that a lot of people post pictures of the ways they follow the daily promptings and use the hashtag #LightTheWorld on Facebook and Instagram. It’s inspiring to follow those hashtags and see what others are doing, too.
Start a Christmas Jar Tradition
Ever heard of a Christmas Jar? Our family has been creating a Christmas Jar for decades, and the inspiration behind it comes from a book titled, Christmas Jars. In the book, a woman receives the anonymous gift of a glass jar filled with coins and small bills outside her apartment door. It comes at a time when she is particularly down, and it lifts her spirits considerably. It also inspires her to do the same for others.
After reading this book with our family, we decided to get an empty canning jar and fill it with all of our loose change for a year, then give it to someone who might need to know they were thought of at Christmastime. You don’t have to collect change for a year, though. You could start your Christmas Jar right now, and still have something of worth to give to another by Christmas Day.
All you need for a Christmas Jar is an empty jar, preferably one that allows you to see the contents. I also added a coin slot lid I purchased at a craft fair, but you can find them here. I chose to add a “Christmas Jar” label to my Christmas Jars. Sometimes I have even given the book along with the jar so the recipient would better understand why they were receiving it.
So Here’s the Giveaway!
I own a vinyl cutting business, but I’m always creating things for my own home decor and projects. It occured to me that maybe you’d like to create your own ‘Christmas Jar’ as well, so I’m giving away 25 of my Christmas Jar labels. All you have to do is comment below that you’d like to have one. I’ll contact you with the email address you use to comment, to get your mailing address and mail it to you right away! (I’ll send free labels to the first 25 people who request them; only one per person.) *Additional labels can be ordered at my Facebook page
Summary of First Day of Christmas ideas
- Spend time with your family planning what you want to do to make Christmas more meaningful
- Read the Christmas Story or Christmas poem, or even re-enact the Christmas Story; make flannel-board characters or use nativity figures that children can interact with.
- Visit a life-size or living nativity near you
- Download the Light the World service calendar and use it to inspire you
- Start a Christmas Jar tradition
- Share any of these ideas with another family
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