Our Christmas Tree
I posted the above picture on my Facebook timeline and received many questions about the Birthday Bag for Jesus in front of the Christmas tree. At our house, that Birthday Bag is a reminder that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.
A Christmas Party with Purpose
The tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday at Christmas started early in our marriage. Since our anniversary is December 19th (22 years this year!), it’s already a packed month for us, but we knew the Lord was prompting us to throw Jesus a party, and so we did. The first year, we invited a few family and friends and had the kids attending act out the manger scene which we set up in our backyard (you can do that in Southern California in December LOL). We had a birthday cake with candles and gave everyone a party favor that represented the true meaning of Christmas.
The highlight of the party was the Birthday Bag. We made “birthday” cards on the computer and gave everyone a card as they came through the front door. The heading on the card had the date, Happy Birthday Jesus, and “This year I give Jesus….” They were advised to think about what they would like to give Jesus as a gift . . . maybe more of their time, or energy, or money . . . and then write it on the card. Perhaps getting involved in a ministry, or spending more time with family and less time at work would be his or her gift.
They could sign the card or leave it anonymous and place it in the birthday bag. On Christmas Eve, our family read the gifts and prayed that each gift giver would stay true to their intent.
An Annual Event
As the years went by, the party grew larger and larger. People heard about it and wanted to come, and those who had attended in previous years started expecting it each year. It also became an outreach as we invited neighbors and unchurched friends. One year, we had someone offer to take pictures of guests in front of the manger scene and then we gave them a printed picture. Our Birthday Party for Jesus became the highlight of many people’s Christmas season.
We have since moved to a rural area, and while we don’t have the Birthday Party, we do have the Birthday Bag under the tree with the “birthday gift cards” and guests to our home are invited to give Jesus their gifts. We also have a manger scene that our grandkids enjoy acting out the first Christmas, and on Christmas Day, we have cupcakes or a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
Below are some tips for throwing your own Birthday Party for Jesus and setting up a simple manger scene in your home.
Throw A Birthday Party for Jesus!
Keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and invite friends and family to help.
For the manger scene:
- Buy hay at an animal feed store
- Use a barrel, box, large pot, wash basin, basket…for the “bed” and cover it in hay
- Wrap a lifelike baby doll in a baby blanket and place on the hay
- You can add lights or small artificial Christmas trees
- Hang a paper star over the manager
- Put stuffed animal sheep and donkeys around the manger
Let the children act out the manger scene and Christmas story.
- Shepherds and Joseph: Use large bath towels and cloth ties to wrap on their head,
- Wise Men: Drape colorful pieces of material around their heads and adhere with cloth ties.
- Mary: Take an old sheet, cut a hole to go over her head, and cinch at waist with a tie. Drape another piece of sheet over her hair.
- Angel: Again a white sheet works great with gold ties.
- Have enough towels, ties, and pieces of material for every child who wants to participate.
- Have someone read the story from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20 as the children act it out.
- Sing several Christmas carols the children will know.
Here is a short video of my grandchildren acting out the first Christmas. As we started having grandkids, I bought Christmas costumes for them. I highly recommend Little Adventures Nativity Costumes…they’ve lasted well through all my grandkids!
Keep Food simple!
Serve finger foods so you don’t need silverware (use plastic if you do use it). If people want to bring something simply say “Sweet or sour finger food please.” That way you get a variety.
- Can also purchase a 5-6 ft Subway sandwich
- Birthday Paper plates, cups, and napkins
- Punch and hot cider, hot chocolate, and coffee
- Put candles in cupcakes or have a decorated birthday cake
Invitations, Favors and Birthday Cards for Jesus
- Use Birthday invitations or make your own on Christmas stationary, and mail or send out online. Be sure to give your kids a stack to give to their friends.
- I found Christian, inexpensive party favors at Oriental Trading Company or you can check at a party store or Christianbook.com. Be sure the favors relate to the theme of the party. One year we gave everyone a small battery operated “flame” with the theme of the light of the world being born on Christmas.
- For the Birthday Cards to give a gift to Jesus, design them on the computer and then print four to a page on cardstock. Or use Christmas stationary or we’ve even found birthday cards with four to a page and we can print “Happy Birthday Jesus! My gift to you this year is:” and the guests write out their gift to Jesus. Be creative!
- Decorate with birthday balloons and I found a flag to fly in front of our home.
The most important thing about the party is to remember the Guest of Honor. Have a joyous fun time doing everything to the glory of God. Be ready because your guests are going to want you to do this again next year too!
Many people tell me they did similar things when their children were little, but we never grow too old to have a birthday party, right! I would love to hear about your Birthday Party for Jesus or creative ideas for the party. Please share in the comments for everyone to enjoy.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3