Keeping Christ in Christmas

Our family’s tradition is to attend church services on Christmas Eve.  Last year, one of my adult children was home for the holidays.  Our Christmas Eve sermon was perfectly fine, but I had to smile when she bemoaned not hearing the traditional story of Jesus’s birth included.  It was her way of keeping Christ in Christmas, and she missed it.

keeping Christ in Christmas- nativity scene with blurred Christmas tree background

What does keeping Christ in Christmas mean?  We hear this statement and may think, “Of course we want to keep Christ in Christmas!”   But it has become a bigger issue in our society more recently to keep Christ out of Christmas.

The “new” edicts of saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, having “holiday trees” instead of Christmas trees, and seeing Christmas written as “Xmas” are becoming too commonplace.  Who knew we would have to work harder to keep the Christ in Christmas?

But there is only one “reason for the season”, and that is celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:11

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (NKJV)

That long-ago event is central to the lives of over 2 billion Christians living around the world.  Jesus is our Savior, and there are a lot of us who celebrate His birth as our greatest gift! “Keeping Christ in Christmas” is a way of making Jesus an even greater focus in our celebrations and showing the world our beliefs.  The world is hurting, and now, more than ever, it needs to hear the message of hope that comes with celebrating Immanuel- God with us!

The Christmas Spirit

Genuine Christmas spirit isn’t something we get from watching our favorite Christmas movies or putting up our decorations.   The Christmas spirit is something we already have– a spirit of giving, hope, and love that is in our hearts all year long, but celebrated especially in the Christmas season. 

All the things we love about celebrating the season come from a place of great joy- that God loved us so much He sent us His only Son.

We can keep Christ in Christmas while we participate in the experiences we love. Exchanging gifts, putting up decorations, Christmas music, family time, cookies, and Christmas trees can be done with a focus on Christ.

We celebrate with great joy and expectation because we have connected it with the true “reason for the season.” Keeping our focus on Jesus keeps these celebration activities meaningful.

How to Keep Christ in Christmas 

Keeping Christ in Christmas involves making it a daily focus.  It can be as simple as adding His character traits of love, joy, patience, kindness, etc. to our daily interactions.  Pick one per day and have your family work on showing it to each other.

Begin brainstorming by asking your family what traditions mean the most to them.  Ask them for ideas on keeping Christ at the forefront of their favorite Christmas activities.

Read through the Christian Christmas ideas below and make a “Family Bucket List” of ways to focus even more on Jesus.  You may find new traditions that your family loves, and pass on to their families!

Keeping Christ in Christmas Ideas 

1) Observe Advent 

The season of Advent encompasses the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and lasts 40 days. It is a time of preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Observing Advent keeps our hearts drawn towards God when there are so many things trying to pull us away.

•Our family had an Advent wreath, and it was quite popular because it involved taking turns lighting candles (never allowed on a normal day!)  There was a devotional reading each Sunday that we discussed in a family age-appropriate way.

•There are also daily Advent calendars and devotionals widely available to guide you through the season.

•Related Post: Advent: Season of Waiting (with free printable devotional questions)

2) Honor Jesus’ Birth with a Birthday Party and Cake-

Baking together is a fun way to spend family time, and this activity helps little ones understand the true meaning of Christmas.  Plan your party together- you can include singing “Happy Birthday”, reading the story of Jesus’ birth, having birthday balloons and other decorations, and making birthday cards for Jesus that you can put on your Christmas tree.

3) Use a Nativity Scene

•We had a plastic version set up in our family room for everyday play and a fancy ceramic one that had a separate Baby Jesus. Use them to have discussions on the Christmas story, or as props to act it out.

•I have heard of leaving the manger empty until Christmas Day, which brings extra anticipation for celebrating.  You can also gift wrap the Baby Jesus and make it the first gift opened on Christmas.

4) Read the Christmas Bible Story-

•Set aside a special time to read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 or Matthew 1:18- 2:12. Take turns reading aloud and discuss it together.

After reading the story, you can make it interactive by finding Nazareth and Bethlehem on a map in your Bible.

•My husband’s parents always enjoyed having the grandchildren put on an impromptu play to reenact the story.  Costumes were makeshift, and we let them tell the story!

•My Dad read us the Christmas Story from the Bible every year on Christmas Eve.  We always gathered in “the boy’s room”; it was the only time we all sat together while he read to us. It made for a very special memory!

•Here’s an amazing compilation of books, movies, YouTube videos, and audio versions to help tell the Christmas Story to children of all ages!

Keeping Christ in Christmas- graphic of Mary and Joseph kneeling; Mary holding baby Jesus, Joseph holding shepherd crook

5) Reflect on the Lyrics of Christmas Carols

What a simple way to keep our thoughts on Jesus in this hectic season! Try matching them with the Bible verses they sing about.  I love to listen to them while I’m decorating, wrapping gifts, and baking cookies and goodies.

6)  Discuss the Symbolism of the Candy Cane

It’s not just a tasty Christmas time treat, but also has a symbolic meaning.  It is in the shape of a Shepherd’s crook which can begin a discussion of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Turned upside down, it looks like the letter “J”- for Jesus.

The white can represent the purity of Jesus and His virgin birth, while the red stripe represents God’s love.
Here’s more information: What Does the Candy Cane represent?

7) Make Gift Giving Meaningful-

•Emphasize the greatest gift of Jesus and talk about ways to show His love to others.

•Suggest pooling money as a family to buy toys for needy families in your community.

•We gave a donation to World Vision for a few years in honor of our children’s teachers at Christmas. Give to your family’s favorite charity or brainstorm new ones!

•Ask your church office about adopting a family in need.

•Do you know a neighbor or elderly friend who could use some yard work done or enjoy some Christmas treats?

•In the spirit of the 3 Wise Men, some families have adopted the practice of having only 3 presents per child. Or, to celebrate Epiphany (January 6th– recalling the wise men arriving to worship Jesus) some have held back 3 gifts to open on that day.

•Encourage homemade drawings or crafts as gifts to send to family members.  They will be treasured!

8)  Lights of Christmas

Light symbolizes Jesus- our Light of the World! Read and discuss Bible verses about Jesus being the Light of the World.  (John 8:12, John 1:5, John 9:5, Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Psalm 27:1.)

•Decorate paper stars to symbolize light and put them on your Christmas tree.

•Walk around your neighborhood (don’t forget the hot chocolate!) and look for lights.   Pray for your neighbors as you pass by their homes and talk about how you can show them the light of Jesus.

•You can do the same as you drive–for many years we drove around looking at Christmas lights after the Christmas Eve church service.  Point out how they remind us to be a light for Jesus and brainstorm ways to make it happen!

9)  Make it a Family Christian Movie Night

Our family loves watching favorite Christmas movies!  Here are some suggestions for some new ones to add to your family’s watch list:

The Shepherd- The Story of the First Christmas by the makers of “The Chosen.” Highly recommend!

10 Christian Movies about the True Meaning of Christmas

And last, but certainly not least…

10) Rest in Him-

There is so much to see and do during the Christmas season.  We can get bogged down in all the details and activities.  Slow down and enjoy connecting with the One we are celebrating by! I hope you have found activities in this list to help you focus on Jesus this Christmas!

Christmas is About Jesus

The story of Jesus is one of truth, unending hope, and amazing love.  No matter what is going on in our world, we celebrate Christmas because it is celebrating the birth of our Savior.  It’s important to be intentional in keeping Christ at the forefront of our Christmas season; there is much to draw our attention away from Him.

The pure joy and happiness that comes from adjusting our focus to Jesus is the best gift of all.  Let all other aspects of the season fall away and worship our Lord and King!

Keeping Christ in Christmas- blurred light background with Norman vincent Peale quote



Here’s another way to keep Christ in your Christmas: free Cellphone wallpaper! Click on the photo below to access my Resource Page, then scroll through until you access the section for Cellphone Wallpapers.

keeping christ in christmas- blurry lights background with 4 cell phone wallpapers shown- outdoor winter scene, large starburst, manger scene, and watercolor poinsettias

All Scripture is from the NIV unless specified otherwise.

Photo Credit: Canva

6 thoughts on “Keeping Christ in Christmas”

  1. Loved this and now with a 3 year old granddaughter I’m definitely wrapping up the Baby Jesus from our nativity scene for her to open! Great idea!
    On a funny note, while I’m reading about keeping my eyes on Christ this Christmas I found myself getting distracted by one of the ads that popped up and thinking “those boots would be a great gift for me”!! Yikes!
    Thanks Ann, enjoy the Advent Season.

  2. Cynthia McCarthy

    Wow, this was jam-packed with great ideas and thoughts about the Christmas season. I love this quote from you: “Genuine Christmas spirit isn’t something we get from watching our favorite Christmas movies or putting up our decorations. The Christmas spirit is something we already have”….such a good reminder when people are so quick to talk about “the Christmas ‘spirit'”
    I will be using many of your practical hints and ideas for helping to keep the “Christ” in Christmas.
    Thanks, Ann!!!!!

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