The Christmas season is right around the corner, and sometimes it can be hard to help children remember the real reason for the season when candy, snowmen, and presents call them. Even some well-meaning and fun Christmas traditions can distract from the true meaning of Christmas.
That’s exactly what Christine Stevens Mower’s daughter worried about when her children wanted to do Elf on the Shelf. In an attempt to help her daughter, Christine began brainstorming and came up with the idea of using a little lamb and service as an alternative. A stuffed animal that comes with a book to tell its story, the Little Lamb comes from Bethlehem and was there the night Jesus was born. He tells children, “I want to help you feel the spirit of that first Christmas night all through the season. When you see me, you can remember some of the important things you know about Jesus.”
Mower shares,“Little Lamb from Bethlehem is different. Even though it also brings a lot of excitement and fun, the excitement and fun stem from a different source. It stems from the positive activities with our families that bring the spirit of love and Christ into our homes.” Now her grandchildren look forward to spending December doing different activities with Little Lamb, Mower says, and some of the older grandchildren even help plan the activities they will do each day with their stuffed lamb.
Note: Little Lamb can be personal to your family—the Mower family named their lamb Thaddeus, but your family can choose a name unique to you. Adopt and name your little lamb on the Little Lamb from Bethlehem website.
Here are some ideas to help bring the spirit of Christ into your home this holiday season with your own Little Lamb from Bethlehem:
1. Participate in 25 days of service.
#LighttheWorld might have been the 2016 theme for the Church’s worldwide Christmas celebration last year, but you can still use the format to serve others during Christmas time and bring the Spirit of Christ into your home. Bring the Little Lamb on the service activity or have him to suggest service ideas to your family. Click here to view more information about #LighttheWorld.
2. Create little candy bundles to leave for random people.
Have Little Lamb teach your children how to make treat bags using a plastic bag, some paper, and candy. Include a message of the Savior’s birth on the paper and encourage the children to give the treat bags to others discretely. You could leave them on a co-worker's desk or classmate’s cubby, on someone’s car or on a neighbor’s doorstep. Find an already-made, ready-to-print tag on brightlystreet.com.
3. Read Little Lamb from Bethlehem with someone outside of your family.
During this cheerful time of the year, it can be hard to remember or find time to visit the people who need extra love and care. Visiting someone who lives far away from relatives, is elderly, or hasn’t been to church in a while and reading Little Lamb from Bethlehem with them and your children is a great way to share the spirit of Christ with others.
4. Have the Little Lamb ask to read scriptures with the children.
Sometimes it’s hard to encourage children to read scriptures. Life often gets busy and children sometimes struggle to want to sit and read the scriptures. Leaving a note from Little Lamb that says, “Won’t you read the scriptures and learn with me?” can encourage them to read and have a greater desire to learn from the scriptures.
5. Participate in a nativity reenactment.
Whether you participate in a ward nativity during the Christmas party or have a personal nativity reenactment with your family, including Little Lamb of Bethlehem, will be a sweet experience. The lamb can act as either a narrator or a participant as an animal in the stable.
6. Read about Christ’s visit to the Americas in the Book of Mormon.
Little Lamb from Bethlehem focuses on the Savior’s birth in the Mesopotamian area, but he could also easily share the account of the Savior’s birth in the Americas. Reading about the Savior’s birth you can discuss the significance of the signs and the wonder those in the Americas experienced prior to the Savior’s birth.
7. Leave treats on people’s door handles.
Take Little Lamb along with you as you leave messages and treats on someone’s door handle with a message about the Savior and His birth. Your children will love the challenge of giving anonymously and trying to prevent the receiver from knowing. Find an already-made, ready-to-print door decorator on brightlystreet.com.
8. Write notes to Jesus.
Create a stocking for Jesus to hang in your home and have the children write notes to Jesus during the month. Write the first note from Little Lamb, telling the children about the stocking and giving some examples of what they can write to Jesus about.
9. Go grocery shopping and donate the food to a family in need or a local food bank.
We may not be aware of it, but all around us, there are people in need of food. Go grocery shopping with your family and donate it to your local food bank or to a family in need. Little Lamb knows that Jesus fed the hungry, and through this service opportunity your children can learn that, too.
10. Write a thank you note.
A thank you note can mean a lot to the receiver, especially during this busy time of the year. Write a thank you note to someone and deliver it to them. Through thank-you notes, children can learn the spirit of gratitude and thankfulness as well as how to express that gratitude.
11. Make some treats to deliver to a neighbor.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is serve those around us. A simple way to brighten someone’s day is to take a treat to someone in the neighborhood who might need some extra cheer in their life. By signing the card “from the Little Lamb” instead of with your family’s name, children can learn the power and importance of anonymous giving.
12. Shop for gifts for a child or family in need.
Not every family is able to buy gifts, or even the basic necessities, for their family members. Select a family or child in need and have Little Lamb help your children pick out presents to give. Then deliver them all together with Little Lamb to the family in need.
13. Visit with residents in a nursing home.
Residents in nursing homes during this time of the year can feel particularly lonely, so spending time with them will surely help them feel the cheer of the Christmas season. Ask them about themselves and read Little Lamb from Bethlehem with them to show Christ’s love and remind them of His birth.
14. Read the story of the Good Samaritan and do something to serve a friend or family member.
Read the story of the Good Samaritan and have Little Lamb explain the importance of helping everyone, even those who may appear to be different. Then have Little Lamb ask the children to think of a family member or friend who they can serve who might need extra love.
15. Write a loving note to a family member and leave it somewhere for them to find with Little Lamb.
The holidays can sometimes be a busy time of the year. Write a note to a family member and leave it with Little Lamb for them to find. A word of encouragement or comfort can go a long way in helping someone going through a hard time.
16. Go caroling with your family and bring Little Lamb.
A great way to bring the spirit of Christmas cheer, and Christ, is to sing loud for all to hear. Bring Little Lamb caroling with your family and you will surely be able to feel the Spirit of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas as your family sings songs about His birth.
17. Create or participate in a kindness calendar.
A kindness calendar is a great way to get your children in the habit of serving others on a daily basis. Have Little Lamb announce the theme of service every morning so children can be thinking about their service all day long. You can find printable calendars on inkhappi.com.
18. Create a Little Lamb photo album.
Don’t forget to document all the acts of service your family performs with Little Lamb! It will be fun to look back on the previous year’s activities while creating new memories to add to the album.
The Little Lamb from Bethlehem tells the story of Jesus's miraculous birth from the perspective of one of the lambs in the stable on that sacred night. The lamb loved baby Jesus, and as they both grew, the lamb promised to share Christ's story with everyone. Now the Little Lamb can teach your family about the Savior's life and share ways to follow His example and serve others throughout the Christmas season. Make Christmas more meaningful as you use this little plush lamb to learn of the Savior, serve others, and celebrate the true spirit of the season with this new Christ-centered tradition!