Hello Mamas (and Papas), are you one of those asking, “how to celebrate Christ-centered Christmas as Catholics with little kids”? Here are 9 ways based on my family’s practices and experience.
How to Celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas as Catholics with Little Kids
Celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas as Catholics is a must and it can be more fun and interesting with small kids. Start by explaining to them that Jesus is the reason for the season, observe and celebrate Advent, and make sure to display a nativity set in your home. Moreover, read them the story of the birth of Jesus, listen to Christ-centered Christmas carols, bake a cake and prepare a birthday party for the birthday celebrant – Jesus. Attend the Christmas mass together, prepare spiritually, and celebrate the other feast days of December. Also, go to Christmas events, prepare the gifts, and do some Christmas crafts with the kids.
1. Explain to them that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Sometimes, as a parent, I think that it’s better to wait until the kids are older to explain to them things. But there are certain things that are better explained to them as early as possible and I believe that Christmas is definitely one of them.
When #1 was old enough to understand, we told him that we celebrate Christmas because it’s the birthday of Jesus Christ. I thought he would just forget about it, but I was wrong.
When I picked him up at school the other day, I asked him questions about what he did at school. Then he told me they were drawing a star for Christmas. I asked him why we celebrate Christmas day and he said: Because it’s the birthday of Jesus. I was so happy that he remembered. It’s really important to “start them young”.
2. Observe and celebrate the Advent season at home.
Observing and celebrating advent at home is really fun for kids because they love lighting the candles and then blowing them off.
I grew up seeing the lighting of the Advent candles every year in the Church, but we don’t have Advent wreath and candles at home. I only started having them after I got married imitating what I see on social media.
As shameful as it is, but I admit that as a cradle Catholic, I just recently learned about the true meaning of Advent, the Advent wreath, the candles, their colors, and other related stuff.
However, it makes me excited to learn more about my Catholic faith because obviously I still have a LOT of things to learn.
I printed a copy of the Blessing and Prayers for Advent Wreath from Catholic Culture. I like it because it has detailed instructions on how to bless the wreath, how and who should light the candles with the corresponding prayers.
Another great addition to the Advent traditions which is super fun for young children is the Advent calendar! We started it last year with #1 and he liked it a lot! This year, his 3-year old brother will have it, too. I am already excited for their reactions!
3. Display a Nativity set in your home.
If putting up Christmas decorations is not possible because of some circumstances, just make sure that the nativity set is up in your home – the most important Christmas decoration in my opinion.
Christmas 2017 was our first Christmas as a family, but unfortunately, I was not able to decorate our home for the season because I was still recovering from my c-section (2 months postpartum) and movement was still limited.
The only Christmas decors we had that year were a Christmas tree and our nativity set – a perfect reminder that it’s ok if we don’t have lavish Christmas decors as long as we have Jesus in our home.
Displaying the nativity story is a great way to help explain to the kids the birth of Christ. Kids love looking at and touching the nativity set and it can also be educational as you teach them the different characters in the set.
Christ-centered Christmas with toddlers is really fun for both kids and parents!
4. Read them the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
It’s the perfect time to get the book about the first Christmas from the bookshelf and read it to the kids along with other Christmas books.
It will surely give a “true spirit of Christmas” vibe in the home.
We have a Jesus is Born book that we bought during our Philippine vacation in 2018 and we are trying to read it to #1 (#2 is not yet interested) every night until Christmas (trying because nights get busy and it’s forgotten most of the time).
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5. Listen to Christ-centered Christmas carols.
This is an idea I got from one of the blogs I read that I want to practice, too. Christmas songs (Christ-centered or not) give a certain “unexplainable Christmas vibe and happiness” to me.
I am from the Philippines and I think we are one of those who celebrate Christmas early (if not the earliest). When the month starts to end with -ber, we start to celebrate Christmas!
So, by 1st of September, radio stations, TV stations, and malls start to play Christmas carols and ads. And I am sure this is one of the things that Filipinos working and living abroad miss the most!
What fun and joy to be listening to Christmas songs and worship music the entire Christmas season! I’ll make sure to download Silent Night, Holy Night, and Feliz Navidad to reminisce the famous Christmas songs of my childhood.
6. Bake a cake for Baby Jesus, the birthday boy.
This is a tradition that I want to start with the kids this year. Though we always had cake during Christmas, I want to emphasize to the kids starting this year that we make and bake (or buy) the cake for Jesus.
I already told #1 about it and he is already excited. He said that it should be a chocolate cake! If you have a simple, yet delicious chocolate cake recipe, please share it in the comments below.
7. Prepare a birthday party for Jesus.
If we bake a cake for Jesus for his birthday, then it goes without saying that we also prepare a birthday party for him.
I want to tell the kids starting this year that the noche buena (that we always do every year) is the birthday party for Jesus, so they’ll get more excited about it and hopefully participate in the preparation, too.
We keep noche buena as simple as possible to avoid us from getting stressed from all the preparations. This year, I’m thinking of trying another recipe from the compilation I made of 36 Easy Kid-Friendly Make-Ahead Meals For Busy Moms. I have already tried several of the recipes that got the approval of the husband and the kids.
It would be a great idea to sing the “happy birthday” song while letting the kids blow the candle on the cake and explaining to them once again the story of Christmas while enjoying the food.
Make sure to plan the food to serve especially if you are hosting or attending several Christmas dinners, so you can gather the ingredients ahead of time.
8. Attend the Christmas Mass together.
Everyone gets busy at Christmas because of all the preparations, but attending Christmas Mass should be on top of the list.
Kids will understand better that Jesus is really the real reason for the season if we don’t skip the Christmas Mass.
Though I am used to attending the midnight Mass since I was a kid, but it’s not possible at the moment since our kids are little. So, we make sure to attend the evening Mass on the 24th or the Christmas morning Mass.
Attending the Christmas Mass is really a must for me in really having a Christ-centered Christmas activities with kids.
Make sure to take some photos with the whole family in the holy family display in the Church for remembrance. And also make sure to take time to enjoy the nativity scene display of your parish.
9. Prepare spiritually.
This is mainly for us parents. We get so busy preparing for Christmas physically (gifts, food, drinks, etc., we should also not forget to prepare spiritually. After all, it’s the real essence of advent – to prepare for the coming of Christ.
The Catholic Church is encouraging us to go to confession at least once a year (during lent), but in a video that I saw recently from Fr. Chris Alar, he explains that their congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MIC) is encouraging us to go to confession at least twice a year (but the more the better) – during lent and advent – since both are preparations for the coming of our Saviour.
10. Celebrate the other feast days of December.
Though Christmas is the most popular feast day of December, but there are still other feast days that we should celebrate as Catholic families.
One that we should not skip is the feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th of December. Another famous feast day close to Christmas is the St. Nicholas day.
11. Go to Christmas events.
Another annual tradition that you can do with all family members is going to Christmas events like Christmas plays, Christmas markets, and more.
Start checking the ones nearby, I am sure there are plenty.
We live in a small village far from the city, but I was surprised to found out that one of the oldest living nativity play is actually in the small village next to ours!
We went last year and it was a great family time for all of us. It was my first time witnessing a live Christmas play where all the scenes are elaborately decorated just like the olden times with the characters in beautiful costumes, just like before.
The kids enjoyed it too, especially our eldest, until we arrived in the scene where devils appeared as adapted from a famous local Christmas story. We had to leave early since #1 was already crying. But we will definitely see the play once again when kids are a bit older.
The next on the list this year is to visit a hospital in Barcelona that is decorated beautifully every Christmas. I’m already excited! We were supposed to go last year, but there were no more tickets available. So, I have to make sure to buy early this year.
12. Prepare the Christmas gifts.
Make sure to buy the gifts for the holiday season ahead of time to avoid stress.
Even if your family is not huge into gift-giving, it’s still a good idea to prepare ahead of time.
Buy the big gifts, special gifts,and even the small gifts in advance taking advantage of big sales like black Friday or cyber Monday to get good deals and save some money.
While preparing the gifts, you can also make it a moment of telling your kids the story of Santa Claus or the wise men, depending on which tradition your family is following.
Here in Spain, it’s the three Kings who bring gifts to the kids and not Santa, so it’s the 3 Kings our kids are excited about.
13. Do some Christmas crafts with the kids.
Even if you are not a crafty Mama like me, you can still have a great time scheduling a Christmas craft day with your kids and do one or two super simple crafts like drying oranges in the oven and making them into garlands afterwards, making printable ornaments, making personalized Christmas cards, or simple nativity crafts.
You can take a look at Pinterest for some inspiration and examples.
Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas as Catholics with Small Kids
No matter how busy we will get in preparation for the special time of year, may we never forget the true meaning of Christmas, Mamas!
As Catholic parents, the greatest gift that we can give to our kids is making sure that they learn the story of Jesus and passing our faith and love for God to them.
And let us always remember that we don’t need to have a lavish or extravagant Christmas celebration. It will always be a wonderful life and the best Christmas as long as God is in our hearts and homes.
Are you almost done with your Christmas preparations Mamas? Do you have more family traditions on how to celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas as Catholics with little children? Do you prefer a Christ-centered Christmas? Please don’t hesitate to share them in the comment section below.
May the Christ Child be ever present in our homes not only during Christmas, but all-year round! A Merry Christ-centered Christmas everyone!