There is a reason we celebrate holidays; they’re more than just eating, seeing family and getting time off work.
Holidays are created to help us remember.
We remember the grateful Pilgrims, the birth of Christ, and the passing year. But too often, people forget the real reason for the celebration, or have never understood it from the beginning.
Here are some fresh ideas to help you make the most of the upcoming holidays.
1. Send a Thanksgiving card to a friend or neighbor to celebrate the season and explain why you are thankful to have them in your life.
2. Invite a friend or neighbor to join your Thanksgiving meal. You can show the love of Christ in a tangible way and have a meaningful conversation over dinner. Talk about what you’re thankful for...and Whom you’re thanking.
3. For people far away, send the book Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, by Campus Crusade for Christ staff member Barbara Rainey. Available as an audio book or a hardbound coffee-table book, it tells the history of the Pilgrims’ journey, and how faith played a role in almost all their actions. Take the audio book along for the busiest travel day of the year (the day before Thanksgiving). The book includes a CD of hymns like For the Beauty of the Earth.
4. Advent marks the beginning of the church year, and starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The word Advent means “coming,” and it is a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Many churches make Advent devotional books with short passages to read every day, and even non-Christian neighbors might enjoy lighting one candle a week on your Advent wreath. Help them see past the symbolism to the reality of Christ in your life.
5. You’re almost guaranteed to be standing in line during December. Meet the people in front of you. Talk about the season of hope instead of complaining about the crowds.
St. Nicholas Day
6. Most people have no idea about how the real story of St. Nicholas became the legend of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was a revered Christian who live in the third century. He was known to be a gift-giver and a protector of children. Today, St. Nicholas is celebrated heavily in Europe. Children put their stockings out the night before to be filled with small goodies that they will share. Honor this tradition by bringing a treat to share for your office and spread the gift of generosity and compassion. Ask the Lord to give you creative opportunities to talk about St. Nicholas when people talk about Santa. Ask questions like, "Do you know the story behind the real St. Nick?"
Pearl Harbor Day
7. An often-forgotten holiday is Pearl Harbor Day, remembering the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the United States’ involvement in World War II. Some people may respond to this holiday with more emotion than to Christmas. But do your patriotic friends know the story of Mitsuo Fuchida, the lead Japanese bomber into Pearl Harbor, who later in life became a Christian and spent time traveling and teaching about peace and forgiveness? His story could lead to some interesting conversations.
8. Send Christmas cards. When Mary Jane Morgan became a Christian in 1962, she began inserting a gospel tract like the Four Spiritual Laws into her Christmas cards. “They just had pretty cards back then,” she says, “but nothing with the gospel. So I just put the gospel in.” As a child, Mary Jane’s neighbor Patti Hallberg remembers talking to her mother about the gospel because of the tract Mary Jane had sent. As you send cards, pray for the people as you sign the cards. Pray also for the people you get cards from.
9. Send a CD Greeting Card from Our Daily Bread, My Prayer for You at Christmas, which features a 5 day daily devotional as well as 5 traditional Christmas songs.
10. Give out "JESUS" DVDs. Based on the Gospel of Luke, the "JESUS" film tells the story of Christ from His birth to death and resurrection. Give it out in a fruit basket, with cookies and hot cocoa mix, or by itself.
11. Take inspiration from the Christmas Gathering Manual by Joyce Bademan who shows you how to have an evangelistic Christmas gathering.
12. Invite everyone to church with you. People are most open to attending church during Christmas and Easter, so invite everyone you know. Also invite them to special church programs like a children’s pageant, live Nativity scene, or Christmas cantata. Engage them in conversation afterward. Ask questions like: “Did your family have any religious traditions during the holidays?”, “Where do you see yourself on your spiritual journey?” and “Would you like to know God personally?”
13. Invite the neighborhood children over for a birthday party for Jesus. Have a cake, play birthday and Christmas games (like Pin the Tail on Mary’s Donkey), tell the story of Jesus’ birth, and talk about His life.
14. Volunteer. You never know whom you might meet. Ring the bell for the Salvation Army, play Santa Claus, or serve in a soup kitchen. Visit prisons, hospitals or nursing homes. Talk about the reason for the season.
15. Go caroling. Invite neighbors, friends and co-workers to join you. Even invite the people who hear you singing to join your group. Talk about the meaning of the songs between houses.
16. “What God Wants for Christmas,” an outreach tool from FamilyLife, tells the story of Jesus’ birth through a book and 7 gift boxes. Six boxes contain hand-painted figures for kids to place in the pop-up manger scene; the last box contains a mirror to reveal what God really wants for Christmas: you!
17. Do something nice for a neighbor. Shovel someone’s sidewalk or offer to help put up Christmas lights. It’s not just about giving gifts; it’s about giving of ourselves.
18. “Without Hanukkah, there wouldn’t be Christmas,” says Campus Crusade staff member Laura Fels. She uses resources from Chosen People Ministries, a Christian outreach to Jewish people. Find out the history of Hanukkah and talk with your Jewish friends about it.
19. New year, new start, new life in Christ. The new year offers a bridge to talking about starting fresh with God, and how we have that opportunity every day. Use the occasion to talk about what a new start with God looks like.
20. As everyone makes resolutions, talk about why people want to change, and how change really happens. Offer to start a Bible study or prayer group.