It’s so easy in this Keeping up the Jones’ society to get wrapped up in the presents under the Christmas tree. December seems to put everyone on high alert to purchase the latest and greatest in tech and flaunt their presents under the tree photos on social media.
I personally have never been the type to show what was under our tree because it’s not about gifts but the meaning of Christmas is about celebrating Christ. Now, we can totally discuss one of these days how Christ’s birth was not necessarily in December but that’s for another time.
We all know Jesus is the reason for the season in our current culture and I get asked a lot by moms how do I teach my kids about Jesus Christ in a world of toys and tech.
I’ll tell you that our Christmas teaching doesn’t start with church services on Christmas Eve or discussions ab0ut Santa Claus. While we do many things, this one simple tip has been a game-changer for my squad. It’s been a lesson on the Lord my kids will never forget.
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The Giving Manger: A Simple Teacher about the Christmas Season
My family absolutely adores The Giving Manger. Mom, I promise this is going to be one simple family tradition you are going to love.
The concept is so easy, you are going to wonder why this isn’t common practice in every family and how you ever lived without it.
The Giving Manger begins December 1st and the kids have an empty manger they need to fill with straw based on their kindness towards others. It’s the goal for them to fill it before Baby Jesus comes on December 25th.
We found the box set last year at Hobby Lobby and this really helped spread some Christmas cheer this season and really finding some hope in our Savior. This activity gave my kids a new found perspective on what Christmas means for Christians and helped them share what they call the “perfect gift” with others.
The Giving Manger is focused on filling the month with kindness and encourages our children to go out into the world and be God’s hands and feet on this earth.
It’s teaching them to be Christ-like and it has helped us all get out of the mindset that Christmas is about presents.
Instead, helping your kids remember why we celebrate this season by filling The Giving Manger will help them understand what Jesus’ birth really means for Christian families around the world today. It becomes a visual aid and is very hands-on.
This isn’t something they’re talking about but going out and doing. The best part? They come up with their service and acts of kindness on their own. Seeing the manager empty reminds the kids they only have a few days to fill the manger with straw before Jesus arrives.
What Comes in The Giving Manger Kit?
First, you get The Giving Manger book. I love this little story. The book begins on December 1 and that’s when we read it as a family. This book is all about the good news that is Christ and how Jesus’ reason for the season. It also has some great service ideas for the kids in case they need a little help.
A Manger comes in this kit. Naturally, you need a place to put the straw. We put ours on the mantle where it’s visible at all times and serves as a visual cue to practice kindness.
Straw also comes in your kit. You place a piece of straw in the wooden manger after every act of kindness.
Finally, a baby Jesus. I keep our Baby Jesus hidden until Christmas morning. Our kids wake up in the morning and checked to see if Jesus was comfortable before acknowledging the Christmas tree and the presents.
Why I Love The Giving Manger
I love this idea for several reasons.
The Giving Manger kit is simple, which makes it easy to put together and get ready on December 1st. It requires virtually no pre-planning nor does it require any maintenance. Everyone is responsible for themselves and putting their straw inside the manger.
Say goodbye to the Elf on the Shelf. Every Christmas season I see post after post about moms needing ideas for their Elf on the Shelf. They have to get super creative and doesn’t really do anything but serve as Big Brother for Santa.
That doesn’t really teach them anything long-term. I firmly believe in helping my kids establish a faith in their Savior that will help bring them peace throughout their entire life and Christmas is a perfect time to help them do just that.
- The Giving Manger fills their time during the holidays and instead of begging me to buy more stuff, which they already have plenty of, this activity gives them something useful and beneficial to do with their free time as it encourages kids (and even adults!) to serve others in a fun way that brings joy.
It helps my kids remember what Christmas means during the holiday season but also gives them an opportunity to be Christ-like outside of church services on Christmas Eve or Sunday School lessons about Santa Claus.
- The Giving Manger is something we do as a family and the kids talk about what they did to help someone else. This isn’t just an activity or lesson, it becomes part of their daily life and has helped us all get out of the mindset that Christmas is about presents.
- This is also habit-forming and I personally think there’s no better habit to form than one that is focused on God. I’ve heard it takes an average of 21 days to form a new habit.
Thankfully, this Giving Manger activity lasts 24 days so there is a solid chance your kids will form new kindness habits and maybe even rub off on their friend they serve.
I’ve personally seen it with my own littles. We’re a year later and I’m still seeing random acts of kindness and not within the walls of our home but out in the community as well.
I’ve caught my kids raking leaves for elderly friends, cleaning up for one another, putting away each other’s laundry, taking on more responsibility at home, and more. I’m excited to see how the Holy Spirit touches them this Christmas season.
- Finally, this activity is about giving your kids a partner in Jesus. It’s not just about teaching them to be kind but it also gives the opportunity for all of you to pray together and talk with one another as friends who are united by Christ because that can’t happen without kindness.
They learned that with Jesus they can do anything. We have an opportunity to serve others and really show others the love of Jesus Christ through these small acts of kindness. They learned that no matter how old they are, they can serve our mighty God in a way that is special and unique to them while sharing the good news of Christ Jesus with others.
They learned that their good deeds can be a big deal because they can glorify God and possibly give some hope to those in need.
God’s truth says we are to glorify God through our good deeds. When we are truly converted, our actions naturally change. This activity is putting the gospel into action.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5:16
There’s no better time than Christmas for us as parents to teach our kids the importance of being Christ-like. We can do this by helping them see how important it is to serve others, give sacrificially, share their testimonies with friends and family members outside the church walls so they have an opportunity to really serve Jesus.
I personally love how hands-on this activity is to teach the greatest gift comes from Jesus and His atoning sacrifice to give us eternal salvation. There can be nothing better than the peace that comes with faith, trust, and hope in the Lord.
God is so good and this season is the perfect time to celebrate the gift that God has given us in Jesus. This activity serves as a reminder to us all that we should be in constant worship of God’s faith and never forget what the Father has given to us. The Savior is the ultimate gift and it is our job to be in celebration of the eternal life given to us.
The Giving Manger is the perfect way to celebrate Jesus and His birth by spending time learning to be more like Him. I promise you’ll find peace when your Christmas season is focused on service rather than gifts.
Your kids will also find much more happiness in knowing they were serving their God rather than focused on presents.
It’s important we lead by example and teach our kids to be Christ-like this Christmas season.
We spend every evening at dinner time talking about how we each have been able to contribute to the manger and how we glorified God in the process.
It’s a fun way to remind the kids that they are part of something bigger than themselves. It also is a great opportunity to help my kids brainstorm with each other about how they show up in service.
Praise God for his great gift! We can’t wait to see what He has in store this Christmas season with our children through The Giving Manger.
I’d love to hear how you’re teaching your child about God’s truth and His Son this December. Drop a comment below 🙂