It’s time to unpack the boxes of Christmas decorations. Amid the jumble of ornaments, I see something I look for every year. Nestled among the Christmas stockings is a book with a shiny Christmas tree on its cover. We inherited it from my husband’s family and inside, old-fashioned pictures illustrate Christmas carols. But the reason I search for this book is because we store special treasures in it.
Ignoring the clutter of boxes, I turn the book’s pages to find two paper angels my children made as kindergarteners. The angels’ colored-paper robes have faded, and one angel looks like one of our dogs chewed a corner. The halos and wings are a little bent and ragged, but their faces look as bright and unique as ever. One child chose orange crayon for the angel’s face, even the eyes, while the other penciled in a mouth, nose, and four eyes. More art treasures throughout the book make me smile.
We all treasure such things because we can picture our children as they made them—heads bent, chubby fingers clutching pencils and crayons. Maybe their tongue poked out as they struggled to cut out a star. We remember how their faces lit up when we hung their beautiful creations on the tree and talked about how the angels appeared to the shepherds, and the star led the wisemen to Jesus.
Art from our children’s hearts to treasure or send as gifts is so important, but Christmas to-do lists are long. Completing everything seems as impossible as unraveling a tangle of Christmas lights. Where do we find time to help our children make these treasures that invite Jesus in?
The secret lies in God’s Word. God knows we are busy, but He urges us to remember what’s most important—passing our faith on to our children. And He gives us a strategy:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV
Think about your to-do list. You probably need to buy and wrap presents and decorate the tree. Maybe you want to send cards. Children can help with these, and family will love their childish touch. The following art projects are simple, and with less time than it takes to go to the store, provide cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, and a few gifts, too. Best of all, these projects invite Jesus to join our holiday activities.
Are you traveling? Pack up these art supplies or ask grandparents to have them ready for your visit. They’ll love making art with their grandchildren.
Christmas Creativity to Invite Jesus In:
Fun and Festive Candle Holder
- Clean and remove the label from a jelly jar.
- Cover its outside with watered-down glue.
- Stick red and green tissue paper squares all over the outside of the jar.
- Overlap these, but some open spaces are fine.
- Paint a final layer of glue over the tissue squares and allow to dry.
- Add ribbon and a sprig of holly around the top of the jar to display or give as a gift.
Invite Jesus in:
Pop in a tea light and read Luke 2:29-32 and John 8:12 that tell us Jesus is the Light of the World.
Pray and thank God for sending Jesus to be the Light that reveals God’s love for us.
Easy Printed Stars and Trees for Wrapping Paper and Cards (the amount of wrapping paper and cards your children turn out is only limited by how much paper you have!)
- Cut simple star and Christmas tree shapes out of sponges.
- Spread yellow and green tempera paint on paper plates.
- Have children stamp stars and trees all over large and small pieces of paper.
- When dry children may add colored ornaments to the trees with Q-tips dipped in paint.
Invite Jesus in:
Read Matthew 2:1-12, the story of the wisemen who followed the star to worship Jesus.
Tell how the evergreen tree has long been a symbol of everlasting life and a part of Christmas celebrations in Germany. Queen Victoria helped bring the tradition to England. Martin Luther, who loved Christmas, once saw stars shining through the branches of an evergreen tree and said it reminded him of the star that led the wisemen to Jesus. Luther is said to have added candles to the family tree for this reason.
As you and your children turn some of the stamped stars and trees into cards, read Luke 3:1-6 about how John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus as a messenger to prepare people’s hearts to receive the Messiah.
Pray and ask the Lord to help us be reminded by our Christmas tree of the everlasting life we receive when we follow the star to kneel before Jesus, our Savior. Pray that our cards and wrapping paper will be messengers of the same Good News about Jesus.
Enjoy Making Colorful Gift Tags
- Use masking tape to attach a piece of paper (cardstock is best) to the bottom of a shallow box.
- Dip marbles in red or green paint and roll around in the box to make designs on the paper. Sprinkle glitter while the paint is still wet.
- When dry cut out bells and trees and stars to use as gift tags.
Invite Jesus in:
When we give gifts at Christmas, we’re reminded of the gifts the wisemen gave to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). Most of all, it reminds us that God gave us the most wonderful gift of all—His one and only Son, Jesus, who came to give us eternal life (John 3:16).
Pray and thank God for giving us His greatest treasure—His Son so we can be part of His family forever!
Our holiday to-do lists often keep us rushing around the house to clean and bake or charging off to stores for last minute gifts or supplies. Amid this hustle and bustle art provides an island of calm and refreshment for frazzled families. Art relaxes children and gives you and them the peace and quiet we all need when things get hectic.
But art provides much more: something about making art together encourages talk and laughter and confidences to flow along with the paint. It can throw open the door to your child’s heart, inviting Jesus to enter in. And isn’t that what we all desire this Christmas?
A Creative Christmas: Family Art to Invite Jesus In by Kathy O’Neill #Christmas2021 #Crafts #FamilyTweet
Kathy O’Neill is an art teacher who helps children make angels and other art treasures all year round. You can find many art projects on her blog and in her newsletter. Kathy enjoys walking on the beach, spending time with her family, which includes 6 grandchildren, and trying to outwit the herding instincts of her rescue corgi. As a teacher, writer, and speaker, she engages children’s and adult’s hearts and hands to discover God and their own creativity through art, history, and nature. Kathy has taught all ages in Christian schools, as well as church and homeschooling groups. She has written for The Quiet Hour, Light from the Word, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Highlights, and Appleseeds.
(Photos courtesy of Kathy O’Neill)