If you haven't thought of ideas to participate in the Church's 2017 #LighttheWorld initiative, you're not too late. This 25-days-of-service campaign doesn't officially start until this Friday, December 1.
What is #LighttheWorld, exactly? It's encouragement to share the light of Christ through service during the Christmas season. There are a variety of resources available to help you stay Christ-centered and think of creative ways to serve throughout the month of December. We've compiled some of the best resources, as well as a few ideas of how you might use them with your family.
1. #LighttheWorld Daily Videos
The Church has released a video for each day leading up to Christmas, starting December 1. Each video revolves around a scriptural theme for the day. Day one, for example, is "Freely ye have received, freely give," from Matthew 10:8. The videos are brief and inspiring, and on mormon.org are ideas following each video for service activities you could try in order to apply the scripture yourself.
How can I use these videos with my family?
- Use meal times (or another time when your family is likely to be together) to show the video to your family and discuss service ideas together. If you watch and discuss at breakfast, then you'll have the whole day to think and act on your ideas.
- Take turns sharing the videos on social media.
- Make your own #LighttheWorld video for family home evening.
2. #LighttheWorld Scripture Advent Calendar
You can download a #LighttheWorld advent calendar from mormon.org. The calendar shows the scriptural themes for each day of the #LighttheWorld service campaign.
How can I use this advent calendar with my family?
- Print and post the calendar in a prominent place in your home to remind your family to share the love of Christ.
- Read each scripture together as a family and discuss ways to apply it during the day. You could use Christmas stickers to mark your progress on the calendar or have kids take turns illustrating each square.
- Cut on the calendar gridlines and drop the scripture-of-the-day in your child's lunch bag.
- Have a friendly contest creating picture quotes or memes using the scriptures, and share them on social media.
3. Little Lamb from Bethlehem
The Little Lamb from Bethlehem is a cuddly, stuffed-animal lamb from Deseret Book that comes with a storybook about Christ's birth and ideas for sharing the true spirit of Christmas during the holidays. This is a great way to motivate little kids to focus on service and Jesus Christ. There are also tons of videos and ideas online about how to use the Little Lamb to teach kids about Christ and inspire them to serve.
How can I use Little Lamb with my family?
- Let children who perform a nice act of service that day put Little Lamb in their bedroom or take it to school to show to friends.
- Use the ideas from the book or online, or make your own to use the lamb to symbolize service.
- Have Little Lamb "deliver" a note to your family each day with a new act of service you can all do together.
- Have the Little Lamb help "deliver" or read the Church's featured scripture for the day from the Church's advent calendar.
- After reading the Little Lamb from Bethlehem story, read the scriptural story of Christ's birth with your family.
5. A Christ-Centered Christmas
This book by Emily Belle Freedman offers seven holiday traditions to help bring you and your family closer to Christ. Each tradition is inspired by the nativity, and the activities are simple, not elaborate, in order to take you away from the frenzy of the holidays instead of adding to it.
How can I use this book with my family?
- Read it on your own or with your spouse to get ideas for new Christ-centered Christmas traditions you can start with your family
- Read the book with your family (or listen to the audio version in the car or while wrapping presents) and let everybody decide which new traditions they'd like to try
- Use it as inspiration to tweak your own family traditions to be more Christ-centered or to find ways to tie the Savior to activities you already do
6. Straw for the Manger
This 2010 article from the Friend illustrates a great idea for encouraging anonymous service and linking it back to Christ and the true spirit of Christmas. The idea is to set up a simple manger where your family can add a piece of straw for every act of service they perform throughout the month. The more straw accumulates in the manger, the more your family will provide a comfortable place for the Christ child to rest.
How can I use this idea with my family?
During a family home evening or another occasion, present your family with an empty manger. Tell them that on Christmas you'll be placing a baby Jesus doll in the manger. Explain, however, that you don't want to place the baby in an empty manger—it would be hard and uncomfortable. Instead, each member of the family can fill the manger with straw, one act of service at a time. One act of service=one strand of straw.
- Instead of straw, you could use yellow pieces of paper cut into thick strips, strands of yarn, or cotton balls.
- Broaden your criteria of service to include things such as giving compliments, not whining, doing chores without being asked, reading scriptures, or any other goal your family would like to work on.
- Use your straw-filled manger to act out the Nativity on Christmas Eve.
7. The Twelve Hats of Christmas
This new book from LDS artists Brett Oliver Parson and Holly Parson Nielson relates the journey of T.W. Elf as he sets out to give 12 hats to Santa for his birthday. Along the way, however, he ends up giving the hats away as he discovers those who need them more.
Created by brother and sister, Brett Oliver Parson and Holly Parson Nielsen, Brett shared one of his earliest memories of his mother, Kathryn, reading books to her young children. He remembered having a conscious epiphany that he would one day create books with his sister, Holly, not then knowing whether he could write or she could illustrate, but that one day it would just happen.
These siblings come from a long line of LDS artists. Their father, Leon Parson, is one of top wildlife artists in the world, though most of the past decade he has focused his talents on painting murals for temples such as the Rexburg Idaho, Calgary Alberta, and Rome Italy temples.
He also has painted 11 portraits of the 12 apostles currently displayed in the LDS Conference Center.
Leon Parson's artwork
Their uncle, Del Parson, is most known for his red-robed Christ and hundreds of Christ-centered artwork.
Del Parson's artwork
The Twelve Hats of Christmas inspires families to give and share deeds of kindness throughout the Christmas Season.
Within the first few pages, you’ll discover a wondrous North Pole full of elves, polar bears, snowmen, reindeer, gingerbread men, and lots and lots of hats! You also meet the main character T.W. Elf, a Hat Elf, who wants to give Santa 11 of his very best hats for his birthday, which happens to be on Christmas Eve. His adventure begins as soon as he steps outside and finds a snowman without a hat. Throughout the book, he continues to find those in need and wants to share what he has with them.
How can I use this book with my family?
- The book is divided into 12 sections, each featuring 12 acts of service by the main character. Read one section each of the 12 days before Christmas, and encourage your kids to follow T.W. Elf in finding someone to serve, even if it's inconvenient.
- Use the book as a discussion starter about how although giving presents at Christmas time is good, serving others and helping those in need is really what's important.
- Use the book to discuss how Santa is a symbol for Christ. Point out ways that Santa can remind us of Christ, such as how they share birthdays, are both giving and kind, love children, give gifts to all mankind, etc.