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Celebrating Christmas with kids

Free Christmas activities for families to do at home

We all know Christmas is an exciting time of year for kids. Presents, decorations, carols and celebrations – there is so much to enjoy! But with family get togethers, school holidays and parents busy making preparations, it’s helpful to have some family-friendly Christmas activities on hand to keep the kids busy. You may also be looking for some fun and easy ways to teach your kids or grandkids about the real meaning of Christmas.

The Salvos have got you covered this year! Our weekly kids magazine, Kidzone, is full of puzzles, stories, jokes, craft and recipes – perfect for kids aged 5-12. Everything in the Kidzone Christmas issue points children to the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus.

Read on for some fun Christmas activities for the whole family to enjoy, and find out how you can get your copy of The Salvation Army’s Kidzone.

Talking to children about the true meaning of Christmas

The Christmas story is about the birth of baby Jesus – and how his birth shows God’s great love for the world. Out of his love and kindness, God gave the world the gift of Jesus – a gift that gives meaning to our lives and allows us to be friends with God.

You can read the full Christmas message in the Bible, in Matthew chapters 1 and 2, and Luke chapters 1 and 2. But here’s a short Christmas message for kids.

It starts with a woman called Mary, who was told by an angel that she would become the mother of a baby boy called Jesus. Jesus would be the Son of God. Although the news was surprising to Mary, she did not worry about what the future would hold. She trusted that God would look after her.

When the time came for Mary to give birth to Jesus, a census was called. This meant Mary and her husband Joseph had to travel to a town called Bethlehem for counting. Unfortunately, so did lots of other people, and there were no guest rooms available for them. They were however offered shelter in what was probably a barn or stable for animals. There, Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a manger (an animal’s feeding trough).

After Jesus was born, two groups of people – shepherds and Magi – heard the news and came to worship him. They all knew Jesus was a king from Heaven.

A group of shepherds were guarding their flocks of sheep in a nearby field when an angel appeared to them, announcing the birth of Jesus. The shepherds ran to the village and found Mary, Joseph and Jesus. They also worshipped Jesus and then began sharing the good news and praising God for what they had seen.

The other group of people to hear the news was the Magi, sometimes called ‘Wise Men’ or astrologers. They found Jesus because God placed a special star in the sky to guide them. When they reached Jesus, they were overjoyed and worshipped him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Both the shepherds and the Wise Men were excited, happy and joyful about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds also praised God and shared the good news, while the Wise Men gave gifts out of their joy.

Over 2000 years later, we celebrate Christmas in a similar way. We sing Christmas carols such as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing to praise God, we wish family and friends a “Happy Christmas” to share the good news, and we give gifts to others out of our kindness and joy.

Families with young children, we think you will enjoy a short story in Kidzone called “Follow that star” about the Wise Men’s journey, which was guided by a bright light. Kidzone is full of Christmas information, activities and fun for kids. Contact your local Salvos or visit a Salvos Store for your copy this Christmas.

Learn more about the meaning of Christmas

After reading the story about the Wise Men’s travels, you may like to play a fun game with the kids, ‘Pin the present on the wise man’. The Wise Men brought Jesus gifts out of their joy and kindness. They knew he was a king and brought beautiful, expensive treasures and spices of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This free, printable game is a great way to celebrate Christmas with kids and get them thinking and talking about the first Christmas gifts ever given. While you’re there, check out the free colouring sheet of the Three Wise Men.

Play a Christmas game

Easy Christmas crafts and activities for children

When Jesus was born, God decorated the sky with bright angels to announce the news of his birth to the shepherds (see Luke chapter 2, verses eight to 14). Not only was this beautiful, but it connects to one of Jesus’ names, ‘Light of the World’. Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never live in darkness. They will have the light that gives life” (John chapter eight, verse 12, ERV). That means when our lives experience darkness – such as sadness and worries – Jesus brings joy and goodness. We use lights at Christmas time on our trees and houses to remember that Jesus can light up our lives even when bad things happen.

The Salvation Army’s Christmas kids magazine has a great science activity for kids: a candle seesaw experiment. As the kids watch what happens to two lit candles, you can talk about Jesus as the Light of the World.

Children of all ages will also enjoy exploring the idea of light by making a fun decoration for Christmas – a string of balloon party ‘lights’.

This string of balloons may not be able to brighten up the dark night sky in our homes, but they are still a good reminder of the light Jesus brings. Plus, they make a room look festive and ready for a Christmas event for kids!

And while you’re planning your celebrations, we have a great activity for your party – a Christmas pinata.

The great thing about a pinata is that once it bursts open, everyone gets to share the lollies and toys. God’s gift of love and kindness to the world in the form of Jesus is the same. Once Jesus was born, God wanted everyone to know! The angel said to the shepherds: “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Saviour — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem!” (Luke chapter 2, verses 10-11, TLB).

The gift of Jesus may have been wrapped in basic cloth instead of colourful paper, but the joy he brings is greater than all the toys and lollies a pinata could hold. Have fun with the pinata, and when enjoying the treats with everyone, remember how God’s love is also for everyone.

To enjoy all these great activities (and more!) contact your local Salvos or visit a Salvos Store and ask for a copy of Christmas Kidzone. 

Contact us for Kidzone

Celebrating the joy of giving gifts and kindness at Christmas

Christmas is a celebration of all that God gave to us through the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth is a gift of love, kindness, hope, joy, peace and friendship with God. We remember and celebrate this through showing kindness to others – often in the form of gifts.

When wrapping your gifts this year, get the kids involved by personalising some Christmas gift tags. Simply print our template, grab some pencils and get creative. Download Christmas tags

A great way to teach children about the true meaning of Christmas is by showing kindness to others. Our free bookmark page is an affordable and easy way to give a gift and live out the Christmas message with your children.

Kids may like to make them for family members, friends, neighbours, teachers and classmates. But God’s love is for everyone! He showed kindness to the whole world – not just a few people who already knew him. So, you may like to also spread some joy as a family to people who may not receive many gifts or cards at Christmas, or people who work hard all year and would appreciate some kindness (for example shop assistants, the postie or local police).

Simply download our printable bookmark template, get the kids to colour them in, and spread some love and joy at Christmas. Print bookmarks

More ways to entertain the kids at Christmas

Check out the Kidzone magazine website for more exciting ways to entertain the kids at Christmas and throughout the school holidays. Find games, learn to draw guides, colouring in sheets, activities, interviews and more.

Visit Kidzone website

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