The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the greatest act of love ever known, which leads us to devote an entire season to celebrate it. Unfortunately, the secularization of Christmas means Christ’s arrival on Earth doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
It’s easy for people to overlook something that happened more than 2,000 years ago when they are bogged down with end-of-the-year parties, shopping, and hosting hubbub. Those traditions are fun, but if you really want to experience the joy of Christmas, Christ’s birth must be remembered and observed.
Here are seven easy things you can do to remember and remind others of the reason for the season.
1. Read the Christmas Story
A 2018 Lifeway study found that while two-thirds of Americans said they wanted more Christ in Christmas, most of those respondents were unable to accurately recall the details of the Biblical Christmas story. Overall, only about 22 percent of Americans could narrate the story of Jesus’s birth correctly.
If you are serious about making Christ the center of your Christmas, don’t just read the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke one night of Advent and call it quits. Pore over the words and meditate on them. If you want to deepen your connection to the Christmas story, consider flipping back to the book of Isaiah and counting how many prophecies were fulfilled by Christ’s birth. Bonus points if you share what you learned with your family and friends around a cozy fire!
2. Give Back
God gave the world the best gift when he sent his Son to Earth to die for our sins. What better way to celebrate that than sharing that generous spirit with others.
This year, extend your gift-giving beyond the walls of your home. Make hygiene bags that your local church or food bank can give to people in need, volunteer to serve food at your homeless shelter’s Christmas feast, participate in a toy drive, or, if you live in colder areas, offer to shovel snow off your neighbors’ driveways.
If you don’t want to hand out physical presents, consider giving someone the gift of your time and attention. Christmas can be lonely for many people so spending your time playing with kids at a local foster home or reading to a nursing home resident can make a world of a difference.
3. Go to Church (and Invite Your Friends)
One of the best ways to ensure Jesus stays at the top of your mind during this busy season is to attend church every time there’s a service. By the time of your congregation’s Christmas services, your heart and mind should be full of the true Christmas spirit.
If your church isn’t offering a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, find a friend whose church is. If you can’t make it to church, make plans to host a worship gathering in your home.
4. Listen to Christmas Hymns
Some of my favorites include the choral versions of “O Holy Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Mary, Did You Know?”, and “Messiah.” If you want to hear a live version of your favorite Christmas hymns, call the University of Illinois’s Dial-A-Carol line, and a student will sing whichever song you request. Want to belt out praise yourself? Gather a group to go caroling in your neighborhood or at your local nursing home.
If you began celebrating Christmas early this year, you may already be tired of those popular seasonal hymns. Consider exploring different musical styles and year-round melodies that still celebrate the gift of Jesus. These non-Christmas songs would make great additions to your seasonal playlist.
5. Invest in a Nativity Set
Investing in a hand-crafted nativity is a small and easy way to literally put the image of Christ’s birth at the center of your home for many Christmases to come. Make sure the nativity set is displayed somewhere for everyone to see, like your living room or dining room. If you want to represent the coming of Christ more realistically, set up the nativity scene in stages according to the order of events listed in the Bible.
6. Throw Jesus a Birthday Party
This one is especially popular with kids because it brings to life the reason we celebrate Christmas. It also gives you an opportunity to share the joy of Jesus with the family, friends, and neighbors you invite to partake in festivities.
Make plans to decorate, bake a Christ-themed cake (here’s a yummy chocolate cake recipe to get your party started), explain the hidden Christian meaning behind seasonal symbols such as the candy cane, and read or reenact the Christmas story. Top off your get-together with memorable faith-themed party favors and the reminder that the birth of Christ is worth celebrating all year long!
7. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’
Saying “Merry Christmas” is a great reminder that Christ is the reason we celebrate.
It’s easy to slip into wishing people “happy holidays,” especially since media and other institutions have encouraged Americans to be “more inclusive” of other religions and celebrations occurring in November, December, and January. But what’s more loving and inclusive than God sending his son to die for the sins of the world?