Wide-eyed wonder. Big laughs. Jumping joy. Those are a few words that come to mind when I think of how preschoolers view the Christmas season. I think we adults could learn from the enthusiasm of our kids. They don’t see the to-do list…they see the many wonderful things to do!
I remember when my daughter Lucy was four. She loved going around the house singing “Jingle Bells” and she invented new words to the song each go around. She ran to the Christmas tree to be the first one to turn on the lights. She pointed at stuffed animals and coloring sets in stores and exclaimed, “Put THAT on my Christmas list!”
When you have young children in the home, the holidays can be chaotic, silly, stressful, and joy-soaked all at once. You want your little one to know the real meaning of Christmas and the greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ.
Here are seven ideas to help you make Christmas meaningful and memorable to your preschooler:
- Go to a little train or carousel in the shopping mall or park. Then add this musical twist. Give your child a bell to ring while she rides. Tell your child that Christ’s coming is worth announcing (like with a bell!). The other holiday riders should find it very festive and smile with approval (if not, just apologize and remember not to bring the bells next time!).
- Take a walk around your neighborhood in search of Christmas lights. It’s fun to bundle up and have an adventure right outside your doorstep. Vote on which house is the best overall, most creative, and personal favorite. Give your preschooler a flashlight for this North Pole adventure (plus the light is great for safety). Talk as you walk about how Jesus is the light of the world and how the light shines through the darkness.
- Make or buy photo ornaments. Put your child’s picture in it and date the back. Any child, especially a preschooler, gets a kick out of seeing his photograph on the tree. Cup your child’s face in your hands and say, “Jesus sees you on our Christmas tree, and He can see you every day, wherever you are!” Add a new photo ornament each year and watch how your children grow, right on your Christmas tree.
- Have a birthday party for Jesus. Invite your family and maybe even a handful of friends. Read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and have the kids act out the different parts. Use scarves and coats to dress as shepherds, Mary and Joseph. A doll or stuffed animal makes a fine baby Jesus. Enjoy a birthday cake for baby Jesus and celebrate His birth, the best birthday of all.
- Make Christmas cards for teachers. Draw Christmas trees, or cut out shapes to make trees, candles or candy canes. Ask your child what she would like to say to her preschool teacher, Sunday School teacher, or special friend. Write down a few sentences and have your child sign the card or color in her name. Have your child deliver the card in person. Make a big deal of your child sharing the love of Jesus through her card and thoughtfulness.
- Create a hot chocolate bar with toppings. Stuck at home one night? Make the most of it with a hot chocolate extravaganza. Use whatever you have on hand for toppings: whipped cream, ice cream, sprinkles, cinnamon, or chocolate chips. This point won’t be lost on your preschooler: Jesus makes life sweet!
- Bake cookies and take them to a nursing home. Your preschooler will love all the attention he or she receives when walking through the halls. Call ahead and ask the activity director if there’s a certain resident that needs cheering up, or if there’s a special event they need goodies for. Tell your preschooler that Jesus came at Christmas to be the Savior for everyone, young and old alike.
As you make special memories with your preschooler, he or she will understand that Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Fill your preschooler’s days with meaningful activities that will reach out to others. When you and your preschooler have something to look forward to that honors Christ, the season will come alive to you and your whole family.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.