Gift Ideas for the Christmas Spirit
The guiding rule for choosing gifts is that they must focus on the Savior. They can be directly linked to Christmas and the birth of Christ, or they can simply be Christ-centered. These presents do not have to cost very much money and can be homemade. If you plan ahead, you can take advantage of after-Christmas and other clearance sales.
Choosing items that have several pieces allows you to give the gift one piece at a time over a period of several days. When my children were small, I made sure that the Christmas Spirit had enough things so that he could come at least three or four times during the month of December.
- Nativities. These can be decorative nativities, toys, or homemade wooden ones (which, in our ward, we have made in Enrichment Meeting).
- Advent calendar. Choose one that focuses on Christ's birth. My favorite is sold by Story Time Felts (storytimefelts.com). It features Mary and Joseph traveling by donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each day, the children move Mary and Joseph down the path. When they reach Bethlehem, a nativity scene is set up in a stable.
- Flannel board story about Christ's birth. Purchase them from the Distribution Center; cut them out and glue small pieces of flannel on the back of each piece. Boards can be made from a large square cut from a cardboard box and covered with flannel. These are more inexpensive than Story Time Felts' materials.
- Quiet books to use during sacrament meeting. Insert pictures of Jesus and scripture stories in plastic sheet protectors and snap them into a three-ring binder. Pictures can be purchased inexpensively from the Distribution Center. Begin with giving the binder and then provide the pictures one by one. Or, if you are more creative, you can make a cloth quiet book.
- Christmas ornaments. Choose ornaments that feature the symbols of Christmas or the nativity story. Again, ornaments can be purchased or homemade.
- Books. Choose from a wide variety including the Scripture Readers sold at the Distribution Center. Board books, picture books, and doctrinal books are also great. As my children got older, I gave them books written by general authorities about the Savior.
- Scripture Scouts CDs. These delightful CDs feature children and a dog who act out scripture stories and sing songs about the gospel principles they are learning. There are five sets in the series, featuring the Book of Mormon, the New Testament, the Old Testament, the Articles of Faith, and the Proclamation on the Family. They can be purchased at Deseret Book.
- Religious videos or DVDs. I purchase most of my religious DVDs from the Distribution Center. They are inexpensive and, most importantly, doctrinally correct.
- Religious music. CDs, hymn books, the primary songbook, or sheet music. Be sure to buy some by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
- Inspirational Christmas stories recorded on tape or CD. If you can't afford to buy professional recordings, then purchase your own blank cassette tapes. Then talk to a friend (whose voice your children won't recognize) and see if she will read and record a story for you to give to your children; reciprocate, and do it for her, too.
- Framed picture of Christ. Purchase pictures from the Distribution Center or you can even cut them out from old issues of the Ensign, New Era, or Friend. Frames do not have to be expensive - many suitable frames can be found at the dollar store. And remember - it can be at any stage in life; maybe one of the nativity with help them think of Christmas, or maybe one of him as a youth will help remind them they can be an example even at their age.
- Framed scripture verse. Choose one that is meaningful to you or your child. You don't have to do calligraphy or anything fancy; you can simply choose a pretty font and print it out on a computer.
- Christmas poetry, sayings, or quotations. These can be framed or put in a binder. I framed one poem that explained the meaning of common Christmas symbols - the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook, the color red reminds us of Christ's atoning blood while green symbolizes eternal life, and so forth.
- Stickers. Craft and scrapbook stores sell many stickers that feature the nativity. You can provide your kids with colored paper, and they can make their own scenes.
- Coloring books. You can also add a new box of crayons for each child; crayons cost just a few cents a box during the summer back-to-school sales.
- Chocolates shaped like figures from the nativity - Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the animals, and so forth. These handmade candies are simply melted dipping chocolate that is poured into molds; they are inexpensive and extremely easy to make. Give the chocolates one-by-one, or you can just give the molds and the unformed dipping chocolate to the children and help them make the candy themselves. Chocolate molds can be purchased from culinary stores and, sometimes, Wal-Mart. My favorite store is Gygi Culinary Solutions, based in Salt Lake City (gygi.com; click on "Food and Candy" and then on "Candy Molds").
- Cookie cutters. One year I found some of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus cutters. If you can't find "Christmas" cookie cutters, search for animal shapes, hearts (to symbolize Christ's love for us), stars, and so forth. Plan an afternoon with your children so you can make sugar or gingerbread cookies using these cookie cutters, and then share some of them with your neighbors.
Messages from The Christmas Spirit One year, when the Christmas Spirit gave a nativity to the children, I included these letters with each piece. Each note addressed the children and was signed, "Love, the Christmas Spirit." Each subheading indicates the nativity piece given with the letter.
Stable I am the Christmas Spirit. I am here to help you remember the real reason for Christmas. I will be bringing you small gifts from time to time during December to help you remember Jesus and the celebration of His birthday. I hope you like them!
Sometimes I will ask you to do something. You will not have to do it as soon as you get my letter. Usually the best time to follow my instructions is after your schoolwork and chores are done. Wait for the time that your mom or dad says is best.
This is your first gift. Do you know why Jesus was born in a stable? Hint: Look in Luke 2:4-7. Can you guess what gift you might get next?
Shepherd Here I am again! Do you know why we have candy canes at Christmas? What are they supposed to remind us of? Here's a hint: Look at the shape of the shepherd's crook (the staff). How is it shaped?
First Wise Man (given with a clipart of the three wisemen) These men are very wise. That is why we call them the Wise Men. What made them so wise? I think it's because they read the scriptures, believed in Jesus, and tried to do what was right. What do you think?
What can you do so that you will grow up and be wise men and women, too? You won't go on a journey to see baby Jesus, but maybe you'll be there when he comes again someday!
Second Wise Man These wise men lived two thousand years ago. Did you know that there are wise men and women who live now? They are not the kind that go on journeys to find baby Jesus. They are wise because they know a lot about Jesus. They love Jesus so much that they obey Him. They also teach you about Jesus.
Who do you think these wise people are? What are their names? Here's a hint: Think of some of your church leaders and of your parents. They are all wise men and women. If you follow their teachings, you will become wise men and women, too!
Third Wise Man Hi! It's me again! Was Jesus still in the stable when the Wise Men came to see Him? Look in Matthew 2 to find out. How old do you think Jesus was when they arrived? Why do you think it took the Wise Men so long to get there?
Do you think it took a lot of faith for the Wise Men to see a star and then to travel for two whole years before they were able to see Jesus? I think it did. I think you can have that kind of faith, too!
Angel After Jesus was born, a lot of angels came to see the shepherds. What did they say to the shepherds? Look in Luke 2:8-14.
Do angels really have wings like the one on this figure? Why do people sometimes show angels with wings? What do the wings symbolize?
Who are angels? Look in the Bible's Topical Guide under "Angels" and ask your mom and dad to read it to you.
Listen to the song "Circles of Angels" on your Book of Mormon Scripture Scouts tape, and then sing along with it.
Donkey Hi! Are you having fun? I hope you like my visits.
Why do you think I am giving you a donkey? Who rode the donkey? Why was she a special woman? Listen to the first tape from the New Testament Scripture Scouts and sing the donkey song.
Manger Jesus's birthday celebration is getting closer! Are you getting excited? We celebrate Jesus's birthday on December 25th, but this is not His real birthday. Do you know when He was really born? Here's a hint: It's the same time that the baby lambs are born. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was also organized in 1830 on the real anniversary of Jesus's birth.
Can you think of something that you can give to Jesus this Christmas? You won't be able to wrap it in wrapping paper. Ask your mom and dad to help you think of something.
Joseph This is a very special man. Heavenly Father trusted him to watch over Mary and to raise Jesus. He was a carpenter. What was his name?
How did he find out that Mary was going to be the mother of the Son of God? Look in Matthew 1:18-24.
I love you! I am glad that you are trying hard to be good followers of Jesus.
Mary This person was the mother of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God the Father. She must have been a very special woman!
Look in your New Testament Reader and read the story of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus with your mom and dad. Tell your mom and dad about your favorite part of the story, then draw a picture of it.
Your next gift will be your last one! I'll bet you can guess what it will be!
Jesus Jesus loves you very much. He came to earth so that He could be our Savior. What does this mean?
Jesus came so that He could die and be resurrected. Because Jesus was resurrected, you will be resurrected, too! Jesus also paid for our sins so that we can repent when we make mistakes. Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all. His atonement made it possible for us to be pure and clean so that we can return to live with Heavenly Father again. What can you do to say thank you to Him?