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The 12 Gifts of Christmas

8. Inheritance Ornaments

Families can begin an ornament-making tradition to decorate the Christmas trees of future generations.

Stuff: Red chenille wire, red and white tri-shaped pony beads, and resealable plastic bags.

Have each family member make two candy cane ornaments by stringing a white pony bead onto the end of the chenille wire and wrapping the wire around the end of the bead to secure it. Continue to string beads, two white and then two red, onto the wire until it's full. Wrap the wire around the last bead to secure it. Form the beaded wire into a candy cane shape.

Let's Talk: Have parents tell their kids Christmas traditions they've continued from their childhood. Say: These decorations can be the start of a new tradition for your family. Place two of the candy canes on your tree this Christmas. Then find a box at home for each child. Decorate and label each box, "(Child's name's) Christmas Ornaments." Divide the remaining candy canes between the boxes and store them. Each year your family can create new ornaments-enough for your current tree as well as your children's ornament boxes. When your children leave home someday, they can take their boxes of ornaments with them. Then they'll have the same ornaments as the family tree.

9. Good News Garland

Families can spread the good news of Christmas to their neighbors with this simple craft.

Stuff: Plastic cling wrap, red and green ribbon, Christmas invitation, and hard Christmas candy.

Give each family 2 feet of plastic cling wrap. Place candies in a line lengthwise on the cling wrap about one inch apart. Carefully roll the cling wrap around the candies to create a 2-foot candy rope. Tie ribbons on both ends of the rope and between each piece of candy. Family members can share their favorite things about Christmas for each tie. Attach an invitation card to the garland that includes the time, date, and location of your Christmas Eve service.

Let's Talk: Have families imagine and describe what it would be like to celebrate Christmas without knowing about Jesus.

Say: Christmas is a great time to invite your neighbors and friends to church. Use this Good News Garland to extend an invitation to our Christmas Eve service.

10. Christmas Giving Tree

Families can lend a helping hand and be a light in their community this Christmas.

Stuff: White construction paper, yellow construction paper circles, green tempera paint, paper plates, paintbrushes, scissors, roll art paper, and glue.

Pour green paint onto paper plates. Have families paint each others' hands, then press them to white construction paper. As the paint dries, family members can brainstorm how they can be a light for Jesus in their communities or neighborhoods during the holidays. When the prints are dry, cut out each person's handprint and arrange and glue all the prints on the roll paper to form one giant tree shape.

Let's Talk: Ask families to share their ideas for being a light in their communities.

Say: This tree represents the hands of our church family. Hold up the yellow circles. During the holiday season you can light our community with the ideas you shared. When a family member does something to be a light for Jesus in the community, please write it on one of these "Christmas lights," then attach it to our tree. This tree will be a visual reminder of how our families are impacting the community for Jesus this holiday season.

11. Naming God

Give families a new idea for decorating a second tree in their home that represents the names of God. Families can make their first ornament at your holiday celebration. Provide them with ideas to create and collect more ornaments at home.

Stuff: 6-inch wooden dowels, linen fabric, permanent markers, fabric glue, yarn, and photocopies of the Names of God reference sheet.

Have family members create an ornament for the name of God, Jehovah Nissi, which means "the Lord is my banner." Fold one end of the cloth piece over the dowel and secure it with glue. Tie yarn at each end of the dowel for a hanger. Write "Jehovah Nissi: The Lord Is My Banner" at the top of the banner, then have each family member draw a symbol that represents God, such as a rock or a shepherd.

Let's Talk: Say: The names of God in the Bible reveal God's character. Take home this sheet to create more symbols that'll remind your family of how great our God is.

Names of God

El Roi: The God Who Sees

Decoration: A mirror. Add family members' names to the mirror to remind them that God is always watching and protecting them.

El Elyon: God Most High

Decoration: Dollhouse chairs (sold at local craft or hobby stores) painted gold to remind your family that God is King of the universe.

El Adonai: Master

Decoration: Go to the hardware store as a family and pick out a master key and remember that God holds the key to our hearts.

El Shaddai: God Almighty and Source of Comfort

Decoration: Have each family member make a small pillow. Remember that as our pillows bring us rest and comfort when we sleep, God always comforts us.

El Olam: Everlasting and Eternal God

Decoration: A soft pouch with a rock enclosed to remember that God is our solid foundation.

Jehovah: Never-Changing, Self-Existent One

Decoration: Glue blocks together that spell "I AM" and remember that God's love is so big it has no beginning and no end.

Jehovah Rapha: God Who Heals

Decoration: Write the name of each family member on a bandage and tie them together with ribbon.

12. Sweet Angels

A host of heavenly angels can remind families to spread the good news of Jesus' birth.

Stuff: Paper plates, plastic knives, sugar ice cream cones, small pretzels, Life Savers candies, doughnut holes, star-shaped sprinkles, and vanilla frosting.

Have each family member make a sweet angel by placing a sugar cone upside down on a plate and pressing a doughnut hole onto the tip. Cover the cone and doughnut hole with frosting. Frost and press the two pretzels to the cone for the angel's wings. Use a Life Savers candy for the halo and sprinkles to decorate the body.

Let's Talk: Ask: How can we share the good news of Christmas with other people? Do you think the Christmas story is important to share? Why or why not?

Say: God sent a large group of angels to shout the wonderful news of Jesus' birth. Use these sweet angels as a Christmas centerpiece to remind your family to share the good news of Christmas.

The combined creative talents of Patty Anderson, Courtney Branson, Kristy Coughlin, Kami Gilmour, Joanne Reho, and RoseAnne Sather contributed to this article.



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