Christmas trees are fun! They are also an excellent springboard for meaningful conversations and activities with children in your church or home. Here are 10 fun ways you can use Christmas trees to enjoy Jesus with kids. For dozens more Christmas and Advent ideas for kids, check out our FREE download, Enjoying Advent!, it’s got 50 Advent activities to help families celebrate Christmas in meaningful ways!
1. Christmas Tree Conversations
First things first. I want my kids to know WHY we have a Christmas tree in our house. (Ours is technically a houseplant that we decorate for this special occasion so it’s always in the house, but I still want them to know why we bedazzle this potted pine every December…and tend to leave it that way until…..um….mid April.) Most kids have no clue why we decorate Christmas trees to celebrate the birth if Christ. In fact, many adults don’t know either and there is a lot of misinformation floating around on the internet about it. (Read my run-on paragraph at the bottom of this article for more info about that.) Here’s some of the reasons I would give my own kids about why we have a Christmas tree.
Why do we have a Christmas tree?
It’s an evergreen which means it’s green all year long. This sort of reminds us of the eternal life Jesus gives us when we believe in Him. (Hey look! An opportunity to talk with kids about the Gospel!)
The tree can also remind us of the cross where Jesus died for our sins. That cross was made from a tree. (1 Peter 2:24….Look at that! Your Christmas tree is a Gospel object lesson waiting to happen!)
We use balloons and streamers to decorate our house for your birthdays. Having a Christmas tree is an extra special way to celebrate the birth of the most extra special baby ever. When Jesus was born, God even put a new bright light in the sky to celebrate! We can’t do anything quite that epic, but we can light up a Christmas tree. (and the withered rose bushes out front, and the kitchen ceiling, and the bedroom window…we like putting shiny lights on things around here!)
In the Bible, evergreen trees like cedars were sometimes used as reminders of God’s strength and goodness. (Check out the specific verses in my run-on paragraph at the end of this article.) There’s nothing magical about this tree, but it reminds us of something better than magic–the wise and powerful God of the universe who imagined and created every plant on earth!
According to legend, some people long ago once worshiped at a huge oak tree dedicated to Thor, the made up god of thunder. But a Christian monk named Boniface (bon-ih-fuss) chopped it down to prove Thor was a false god. When an evergreen tree grew up in place of the oak, Boniface told the people they could use it as a reminder of Jesus, the true God who lives. We don’t know for sure if this story is true, but it might be another reason some Christians began using evergreen trees to celebrate Christmas. (You can easily find more about this story on Google.)
It’s shiny, pretty, and fun! God gave us an incredible ability to enjoy beautiful things and we can use beautiful things to celebrate how awesome he is. He’s way more beautiful and awesome than any decorations we could possibly imagine!
2. Christmas Tree Advent Calendar
Many folks put up their tree right after Thanksgiving which makes it the perfect way to prepare to celebrate Advent! You can use Google to find LOTS of advent ornament ideas. I printed the Jesus Storybook Bible advent decorations and taped wire hooks to each one to hang it on our tree. Every night, we read a portion from the Jesus Storybook Bible together and then my kiddos have to find the ornament with the picture that matches the story in our book. They can’t wait to do this every night! This year, my kids have also enjoyed some of the printable ornament crafts from the Enjoying Advent! activity guide. Kid-friendly Christmas tree ornaments are lots of fun!
3. Christmas Tree Memory Verse
Choose a memory verse related to God’s promise to send a Savior (Luke 2:11, 1 John 4:14, 1 John 4:10.) Write/print the verse on a note card and hide it somewhere in the Christmas tree every day. Let the kids find it and then say the verse together in fun ways depending on where the card was located in the tree. If it was hidden LOW in the tree, say the verse together in a LOW voice. If it was hidden HIGH in the tree, say the verse in a HIGH voice. If it was in the MIDDLE of the tree, say the verse in a MIDDLE voice.
4. Christmas Tree Colors
Your Christmas tree probably has lots of colorful lights and decorations on it. Let the kids take turns choosing a color of something on the tree and then naming something they are thankful for that is also that color. You can even make it more interactive by having everyone go find something of that color in the house to say “Thank You!” to God for.
5. Christmas Tree Camp Out
When I was a kid I enjoyed spending the night next to the Christmas tree. Let your kids help you set up “camp” on your living room floor. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll totally “cheat” by dragging a comfy mattress to the “campsite” for yourself. I’m all about roughing it, but memory foam is pretty much a non-negotiable for me.) Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and focus on the shepherds who were camping out in the fields when angels brought the news of Christ’s birth. Imagine you are those shepherds as you fall asleep next to the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.
6. Thank You for Trees
Point at the Christmas tree and ask the kids how many other kinds of trees they can name. Work together to list the different ways we use the trees God has made and say “Thank you!” to God for making trees. We use trees to grow food, build our homes, and even to make wood shavings as bedding for our pet Guinea Pigs! We should thank God for trees! You can even ask them what kind of trees they think Jesus saw when He was a kid here on earth. Use your phone or computer to show pictures of trees mentioned in the Bible. (Cedar, myrtle, acacia, olive, fig, pomegranate, oak, et.) Activities like this can strengthen a child’s comprehension that Jesus is a real person who really came and lived in a real place on earth at a real time in history.
7. Christmas Tree Questions
Write/print questions related to the Christmas story on small strips of paper and hide them in the Christmas tree ahead of time. Let kids take turns finding a question in the tree and answering it. You can even write points on them to make it a game! For free printable game pieces, check out the “Present Points” in our 10 Quick & Easy Bible Games for Kids download or the Christmas Pictionary game from our free Enjoying Advent! activity guide.
8. Christmas Tree Offering
Start a tradition of having your kids save up coins for a missions project and as Christmas approaches you can print a picture of a Christmas tree and let your kids tape coins to it as decorations. They can give the finished trees to your church or a ministry as their Christmas offering. Here’s a video of my adorable kids enjoying this activity to give you a better idea of how it works.
9. Christmas Tree Hide and Seek
In the days leading up to Christmas, hide a different character from your nativity set in the tree every day. Have the kids search and find it and then let them tell you what they know about that character. Use the Bible to read a few verses about who that person is and how they fit into the Christmas story.
10. Christmas Tree Carols
Gather around the tree in the good old fashioned way and sing Christmas carols together. Or just sing your favorite songs about Jesus, they don’t have to be Christmas songs. Our toddler constantly requests “Apple In My Eye” which isn’t a Christmas song at all, but we sing it A LOT. I usually just use my phone to play our favorite Christmas songs from YouTube while we sing along. (In our house, this is also typically accompanied by all 3 daughters putting on princess dresses and twirling around the room which causes colossal Christmas carol cuteness!)
How do you use Christmas trees to celebrate the birth of Christ? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments. Also, while I still have your attention, I’d like to say a few words about paganism. (Cause of course, that’s a thrilling way to end any blog post. Right?)
A Run-On Paragraph about Pagan Practices
I’ve heard people claim that Christmas trees originated in bloody paganism and should therefore be avoided by Christians. Since I’m recommending a bunch of Christmas tree themed activities to help you enjoy Jesus with kids, I figured I should probably at least mention that I’m aware of such claims. I have researched them and concluded that they lack credible evidence.
There are some vague connections between evergreen trees and pagan rituals. (and with the plethora of pagan rituals that have been practiced throughout history by fallen men who will worship literally anything and everything it’s almost impossible to find anything that hasn’t been connected to some form of false worship at one point or another.) But claims that Christmas trees are a holdover from ritualistic idol worship aren’t clearly rooted (get it!? Trees…roots…😉) in historical fact.
Most articles claiming that Christmas trees originated from pagan practices ignore the fact that evergreen trees have been symbols of God’s favor and power (Numbers 24:6, Isaiah 55:13) and have been intentionally valued, (2 Chronicles 9:27) used for building (1 Kings 6:15), and decorating (Isaiah 60:13, Isaiah 41:19) since Old Testament times. Obviously, these weren’t bona fide “Christmas trees”, (because Christmas hadn’t happened yet) but Scripture clearly records God’s people using and referring to evergreen trees in their worship and praise of Him. So it seems like a bit of a stretch to claim that the connection between evergreen trees and worship originated as a pagan practice. Could it be that any such pagan practices were actually developed as a mockery or twisted imitation of true worship? I don’t know. Much greater minds than my own have hashed this out already so I’ll direct you to them. I recommend THIS ARTICLE by Answers in Genesis THIS ARTICLE by a guy who has written for the Gospel Coalition for a much more detailed study of the topic.
However you choose to celebrate, tree or no tree, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!