From the simple birthday cake with finger smudges around the hay sprinkles, to a whole day affair, our family has gone big and stayed small. Our celebrations have been huge hits and truthfully, our celebrations have bombed. This mother has had to sniffle back her disappointment whilst hiding amidst wrapping paper scraps in her bedroom.
Our family might not have all of our confetti together but we have learned a lot about parties over the years.
If your family is throwing Jesus a party this birthday season, here are a few tips and ideas to make your celebration more fun, more meaningful and ideally, less hiding-among-wrapping-scraps.
Cross Perfection off your list.
Jesus sees our hearts and does not, let me repeat DOES NOT, require perfect nor wishes us stress. He feels honored by our efforts, big or small. So let’s all take a deep breath and shrug off sky-high expectations.
Talk about why.
Spread the vision to your kids. Littles might be hooked from the word party but even teenagers can get on board with a little vision casting.
Make a Wish List.
Our kids know how to get their own birthday wants onto paper so this feels like a great place to start for our Jesus parties. Sit down with your family and jot down some things Jesus loves. If you want to use our Wish List it’s not cheating.
Prep those party gifts.
The gifts may just be the most fun aspect of your party. Looking at Jesus’ Wish List, what might be some gifts your family could give him? Each family member can give their own gift or it can be a family effort. Choose one gift or a dozen. (Keep scrolling for gift ideas.)
Let kids lead.
Our homes are safe places for kids to practice this important skill. Taking the lead in worship, story-telling or telling strangers thank you for donating builds confidence and buy-in.
Only have one and a half yellow balloons? Perfect. No energy to decorate yourself? Let the first-grader take the lead. He will probably be thrilled to decorate a chair for Jesus, make a welcome sign or spread a table cloth. Remember, this is not meant for Instagram.
Don’t forget dessert.
Birthday cakes are great, especially if you have kids who can command an oven. But so are birthday Oreos, birthday ice cream and birthday donuts. Jesus accepts all forms of sugar.
Light a candle.
Want to make any moment feel special to kids? Light birthday candles, tea lights or any candles at all and turn off the lights. Ta-DA!
Speak honoring words.
In our family we have a tradition of going around the table and saying one thing we appreciate about the birthday boy or girl. This can be heartwarming not just for Jesus but for us parents as we get a glimpse of their hearts.
Leave your house.
The years we stayed inside our own four walls weren’t our favorite parties. If you have the energy, I highly recommend being out and about in your community. Why keep the joy to ourselves?
Gift ideas using Jesus’ Wish List:
WORSHIP-Sing and dance, drum and shake, or paint and listen to worship music.
FEEDING PEOPLE- Make a meal for a single mom, invite people into your home for a meal or dessert, take Christmas cookies to your neighbors.
SERVING- Volunteer at your church, ring bells for Salvation Army, wrap gifts for others, create a spa area at home and give each other facials and foot soaks.
LITTLE KIDS- Babysit for a foster family.
FAITH/STORIES- Tell stories about ways that Jesus has been faithful in the past or in this last year.
JUSTICE- Shop for items to donate to refugees, invite those in the margins into your home.
PRAYER/HEALING- Pray for the physical/emotional healing of those you know (Praying for them in person is even better.).
THE WORLD- Wear any and all ethnic clothes you have, gather your African drums and your Australian didgeridoo and honor the beauty found in other cultures. Patronize a local restaurant that serves food from a culture different from your own and leave a generous tip. Put together this world floor puzzle and pray over the different countries.
GENEROUS GIVING- Invite the whole family to give to a project of their choice, perusing websites or old-fashioned gift catalogues. Some of our favorite organizations are Preemptive Love, International Justice Mission, Heifer and World Vision. Chose a family or an organization in your town and give closer to home.
THE LOST- Ask God to show your family who needs to know Jesus hasn’t forgotten them and hand them a plate of cookies. (Note: This can be slightly uncomfortable and you may want to file this gift under SACRIFICE.)
GRATEFULNESS- Go around the circle and tell what you appreciate about Jesus, write notes to your local pastors or public servants thanking them for their service.
SCRIPTURE/STORIES: Read the Christmas story, tell the Christmas story, or reenact the Christmas story. Learn more about the story, like how Mary and Joseph most likely traveled in a caravan to Bethlehem and that Jesus was probably welcomed into the world by many doting women.
REST- Quiet your hearts, maybe even your bodies, and remember that Jesus did all the heavy lifting for us. Breath deeply and relax into the Prince of Peace.
May your Christmas be merry, no matter how you chose to celebrate it!