Every year it seems like the Christmas promotion comes earlier and earlier. No sooner does the school year start before you begin to see the telltale signs of Christmas—holiday ads, Christmas music in stores and holiday displays.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of planning your club’s holiday events, it’s important to make sure kids understand the reason why we celebrate Christmas—Christ’s birth—while also understanding what it means and how it applies to their lives.
God Is With Us
We may object to the commercialism of Christmas but we can counter it by teaching kids what gift giving is all about. Gift giving at Christmas was never intended to satisfy every electronic, toy or candy fantasy that kids have but to represent God’s gift to us at Christmas—Jesus Christ.
Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 and then read Isaiah 7:14 to kids. Explain that the word “Immanuel” means “God with us.” Jesus is God who came to earth at Christmas as a tiny baby, grew up and lived among us.
Ask kids that since it’s popular to give gifts at Christmas, did they know they could give a gift to Jesus? Tell kids about the plan of salvation. The introduction in all the leader planbooks has great tips for doing this. Let them know that the best gift they can give Jesus is themselves. Jesus loves kids so much that He came to earth, lived among people and died for them. Because of Jesus, we can have a real relationship with the Creator of the universe!
Hands-on Holiday Activities
Kids learn in different ways. Some learn best by hearing Bible stories, others learn with visual cues and still others by doing something active to demonstrate the truths of the Bible. Once you finish explaining the Christmas story, plan activities that will make the message of Christmas real. Try these ideas:
Club members can act out the events of the Christmas story while a leader reads it out loud from the Bible. Assign parts and allow several minutes for club members to discuss their role with other related characters. For example, the shepherds decide together how they will respond to the angels on the night of Jesus’ birth.
Have the kids in your club group bless each other with the gift of encouraging words. Take out sheets of red and green paper, one for each child in your group, and write their name at the top. Consider writing a statement underneath like, “[Name] is a blessing to our Pioneer Clubs group because….” Lay the sheets out on a side table or pass them around on clipboards and have the kids write something encouraging about the child named on the sheet. Allow kids the option of signing their name or not under their statement. Younger children can draw pictures of what they’d like to say and sign their names underneath. Put the sheets in an envelope and mail to each child as a Christmas letter or send them home at the end of your holiday club event.
Nativity “Snow Jars”
Make nativity snow jars using baby food or other small jars. Glue small nativity plastic figures (found at craft stores) onto the lids with a waterproof sealant or glue. When dry, fill the jar with water almost to the top and add some glitter. Close the lids and turn the jars upside down. Add sealant or glue around the rim to be sure it’s completely waterproof. Talk about the Nativity and the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.
Christmas is a great time to teach kids about service to others. At this time of the year when Christmas ads and commercials say that Christmas is all about “getting,” remind kids that it’s also about “giving.” Retell the story of the Magi and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Remind kids that God’s graciousness to us by sending Jesus can inspire us to give to others. Consider a service project that you can do together.
Partner with your church’s food pantry or other local food ministries to pack food boxes or have kids donate food items.
Helping Other Kids
Kids often relate to a service opportunity when the people they are helping are kids like themselves. Partner with local ministries that bring Christmas joy to kids struggling with various illnesses like cancer. Often these ministries pack special Christmas boxes to pass out. Kids can write cards, color cards and help pack the boxes.
Discuss all the animals that were present at the manger scene when Jesus was born. Have kids donate items to the local animal shelter.