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  Children's Ministry Today    

Today's Featured Article

10 Free and Low-Cost Ways to Give Kids the Best Christmas Ever
                    By: Norma Schmidt


A fantastic Christmas doesn’t have to mean big bills in January.

The real magic of Christmas – the stuff that makes kids’ eyes light up, gives them a warm glow inside, and creates delicious memories – costs little or nothing.

Here are ten ideas for free and low-cost “magic” the kids will love:

1. Sing Christmas carols with your kids while cooking and cleaning together, while wrapping gifts, or just before tuck-in time.

2. As a special treat during December, serve hot chocolate milk with a candy-cane stirrer. While your child sips and stirs, read aloud a favorite holiday book. Or, if the Nativity story is part of your family’s celebration, point out that the candy cane is shaped like a shepherd’s crook. Then read or tell the story of the angel who appeared to shepherds watching their flock at night.

3. Take a plate of home-made cookies to a homeless shelter or to people who work at night, such as firefighters or hospital emergency staff. If you’re celebrating the birth of Jesus, also put a bit of food outside for animals on Christmas Eve night to honor the animals at the manger -– an old Slovak custom.

4. Give each family member 10 strips of paper in holiday colors. Let everyone write or draw something they're thankful for on each strip. Link the strips into a chain and hang as a decoration.

5. Make thank-you cards for each other, sharing what you appreciate about each member of the family. Open them on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

6. Make paper snowflakes and display them in a window. Here’s how: Trace and cut out a circle from white paper (the flat end of a coffee can or oatmeal box is a nice size for tracing). Fold your circle in half. Next, fold your half into thirds, so that you’re left with a shape that resembles 1/6 of a pie. Now, snip out bits of paper here and there and unfold your masterpiece.

7. Make a simple paper-chain Advent calendar. Cut 25 strips of paper, and number them 1-25. Link the strips to form a chain. With yarn, string or ribbon, hang your chain in the middle of a doorway with link #1 at the bottom. Each day starting December 1, let the kids remove the bottom link of the chain.

8. Go to your local library and check out children’s books about the holidays. Put the books in a special box or basket in your family room or living room.

9. Have a holiday family movie night at home. Get a holiday movie from your library or video rental shop and watch it together. Include bowls of popcorn if your kids are past the age where popcorn presents a choke-hazard.

10. Avoid post-Christmas let-down by planning an outing or special family activity each day until the kids go back to school.

A PURE KID-STUFF BONUS TIP: After dark, turn on your Christmas tree lights and turn off all other lights in the room, including the star or other “topper” on your tree. Now lie back on the floor with your kids and notice the cool shadows on your ceiling.

(c) Norma Schmidt, LLC

Norma Schmidt is a parent of two and a former Lutheran minister. Her career includes serving as a pastor, campus minister and cancer center chaplain. She has also worked with children with disabilities. Norma offers workshops on parenting and on living with serious illness. Her writing has appeared in "Coping With Cancer" magazine. She is a former co-host of the "Inspired Survivor" Internet radio program for people with cancer. Download the free report "55 Free and Low-Cost Ways to Have the Best Holiday Season Ever" and look through her other articles by going to http://www.ParentCafeOnline.com

Web www.childrensministry.org





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