By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning nonprofit content writer, website publisher, and author of 9 books.
The Un-Santa Book was inspired by my children.
When my husband and I became parents, noticed that plenty of people talked with our children about Christmas.
I didn't mind people talking with my kids, yet I felt the need to be purposeful about the holiday. Couldn't Christmas be fun … and meaningful at the same time? I wanted to instill in my children the truths about Jesus, not just Santa.
So as our Decembers became filled with gift-making, decorations, crafts, games, and activities, I found ways to connect the dots to Jesus. With our children, we cut and decorated a tabletop creche from craft foam and talked about all the characters in the Christmas story. We created ceramic trivet gifts for their grandparents as we talked about building our lives on the Rock. We made cornflake Christmas wreath treats and talked about how a wreath – a circle – symbolizes God’s never-ending love.
Friends became curious and asked me for a list of ideas, which I scribbled onto paper scraps and passed along. Eventually, I organized those ideas into what is now The Un-Santa Book. Soon, our church’s children’s ministry leader used the book as a resource in sponsoring an outreach event to our community.
Since then, The Un-Santa Book has been used by families, teachers, and homeschoolers all over the world to learn about Jesus and celebrate Christmas in fun and meaningful ways together.
The book is divided into sections, each with complete instructions for individual activities. Each activity has a Bible reference, an overview, a list of materials needed, instructions for preparing for that activity, and instructions that explain how to carry out the activity. And just in case you’re not sure how to explain each activity’s biblical principle to children, instructions also include a way to connect those dots.
The Un-Santa Book also offers instructions for hosting a family Christmas celebration at your church or homeschool consortium.
Whether it’s Crismons for your own tree, Light of the World Luminaries for the walkway to your home, or a Candy Tree for your tabletop, each one has a lesson you can share with children as you make it together.
Votive holders, customized headbands, sachets – children can choose from more than 20 sets of instructions they can make for friends and family members. As you make Spicy Scented Coasters together, for example, children learn about the good-smelling gifts given to Jesus by the magi.
Two dozen craft activities help the Christmas story come alive. You can recycle used greeting cards into Christmas Card Magnets that illustrate Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the stable, shepherds, wise men, and the star.
Relay races, games of skill, and guessing games let children experience a biblical principle hands-on. One favorite is Santa’s Belly, a team game that demonstrates God’s overflowing love as children stuff balloons in a sweatshirt.
Christmas cookies are fun (I should know. I operate The Cookie Elf, an entire website devoted to easy cookie recipes for families) but why not go further? Oranges can explain one of Jesus’s names: children arrange slices on a plate and mix together citrus dip, you can talk about The Bright Morning Star. The book includes fourteen additional simple recipes to help children learn spiritual principles.
Year after year, you can use these different ways to celebrate Christmas at home, church, or in your neighborhood from organizing a caroling party or arranging a live nativity or inviting neighborhood children to make gingerbread houses.
Fourteen object lessons explain truths about gift-giving, angels, prayer, acceptance, worship, and more. You can use these lessons during children’s church or at home with your own family.
The Un-Santa Book
Legacy Press, 2003
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