Suggestions for a CHRIST-CENTERED CHRISTMAS
I BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS:
Invite dinner guests with musical ability to bring their musical instruments
Have family members set DVR to pre-record Football Games; pre-record or purchase/rent CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, or other cartoons, or CHRISTMAS MOVIES. These will be handy for intervals such as between main meal and desert or as alternate After Meal Activities.
Community Games to Have on Hand: Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube (See item VIII below)
POST-ITS with #s on them, coordinated to # of guests. Separate #s for Adults and # for Children. Have each guest take a #. (Children’s # on one color post-it; adults, another)
Display and have available a Bible & Children’s Bible opened to Luke, Chapter 2.
A Book(s) or Copy of Clement C. Moore’s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and the poem/song THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Have these available for After Dinner Activity. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/visit-st-nicholas
Christmas Carol Music Books or Song Sheet or PowerPoint copies displayable on TV (If your TV & computer are integrated, have the “tech” in the family work on this in the weeks prior to Christmas. Otherwise, make copies of Song Sheets or just the lyrics.)
I CHRISTMAS EVE (or Morning) – Replace the colored Advent Candles from your Advent Wreathe with White Candles, and add a fifth White Candle at the center of the Wreathe.
Prayers for the Occasion available in Catholic Book of Blessings and online at
II CHRISTMAS MORNING: A Short Prayer before Opening Gifts: “Thank you God for the Gift of Christ in our lives. May the beauty of his birth bring new life to our faith and help us to appreciate all life, all children throughout the world. Thank you for the gifts before us. Fill us with Gratitude for you and for one another. Keep us young at heart. Amen.” If children are present and not too anxious, invite the family to sing an Inspirational Christmas Carol such as “God Bless Ye, Merry Gentleman” before opening gifts. If no children are present, read Luke 2: 1- 21 and Matthew 2: 1-13 before opening gifts.
III CHRISTMAS DINNER PRAYER: Once everyone is seated, invite each person to say in ONE WORD, what they are feeling—with 2 qualifications: 1. NO EXPLANATIONS AS TO WHY they feel this way (you’ll give them examples below) 2. NO ONE MAY COMMENT or on another person’s feelings. There are no “right or wrongs” feelings. Therefore, comments like “How can you feel that on this day of all days?” are forbidden! God loves us and understands all our feelings whatever they may be. It’s Important that you give example that include a full spectrum of feelings: “happy,” “sad,” “worried,” “thankful,” “frustrated,” “loving,” “frustrated,” “hungry,” “pleased,” “anxious,” “grieving,” “peaceful.” ALSO: GUESTS MUST BE FREE “TO PASS.” After each person states his or her feeling Start Grace with these words (Read/ Pray SLOWLY): “Dear God, Here We Are–Our family and friends–and these are the feelings we bring to this Christmas Day. Helps us understand the beautiful way You accept each us as we are. Make us confident in your love so that we may be at peace and feel your presence among us. Help us to make the most of this meal, this day, and our time together.” Then invite everyone to join in the Traditional Grace before Meals, OR if your company is of mixed religions, substitute the Christian Grace with this: “Blessed are YOU, Source of Life, God known by so many names, help us to experience Joy this Christmas Day and lead all peoples on to the pathway of peace. Bless all our family and guests. Bless our Meal and our Conversation. Amen.”
IV FIRST COURSE ACTIVITY (soup/salad), and /or Hors D’oeuvres:
Ask: What do you remember about the First Christmas Story? Include both the Biblical, Legend and Folk tales if you wish. Begin with the children by number, then adults by number. Everyone gets “help” sharing the Christmas Story as needed.
Conclude this segment by having someone Read Luke 2: 1- 21 and Matthew 2: 1-13
V MAIN COURSE:
ASK: What event or circumstance are most significant for me about Jesus’ story today?
Invite each Guest to share his or her memories of the best Christmas that they have ever experienced and why it is an important memory for him or her. TRY TO KEEP THE MEAL AS LEASURELY AND UN-RUSHED AS POSSILBE.
Any Similarities between Jesus’ story and the Christmas memories shared?
VI AFTER MEAL BREAK ACTIVITY: Share Birth Stories during walks & pre-dessert clean ups:
Postpone desert. Give everyone a break to sustain a slower, un-rushed pace to the day. Encourage guests to go for a walk outdoors if possible. If it’s too cold or raining, then engage everyone in a Pre-Desert Clean UP tidying up the kitchen and the table prior to serving dessert.
During the break, have all guests recall the story of the day each of them was born. Allow time for the elders to inform youngsters if they haven’t already. For those who don’t know their story, have them imagine what it would have been like. Everyone will be invited to share his or her birth story during desert.
VII DURING AND AFTER DESERT:
Once everyone is served, invite each guest to share his or her birth story
After each person shares (or an adult tells each child) Bless each person’s birth story by saying “As the Angels Sang for Jesus, the Angels Sang for you, too! Everyone’s part of the story! Everyone’s part of God’s plan!”
Invite Spontaneous Prayer: “For Whom and for What Shall We Pray for this Christmas Day?”
After all the stories have been told, and prayers are concluded, invite everyone to sing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” Why? Because we are all part of Christ’s Story—a bigger story beyond the world’s measures of success and failure. Life and Grace and Hope are the Eternal Gifts for everyone.
VIII AFTER DINNER ACTIVITY: Have everyone participate in Clean-Up:
OR, if space limitations in the kitchen, create Two Teams: The Kitchen Team verses those who go for walks and/or play in the living room. Try to have each team mixed with all ages, both men/woman/boys/girls if possible. Spend the clean-up /walking time memorizing THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS OR THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS or LUKE 2: 1-20. Afterwards, gather together and see which Team remembers the most. NOTE: The Purpose of the Game: Poetry opens us up to the spiritual and to appreciation of ritual: memory, context and associations.
IX AFTER DINNER & CLEAN-UP:
Together recall ALL the Verses of 12 Days of Christmas OR of The Night Before Christmas OR Luke 2: 1-20.
Share the story and / or song together. Which Team Wins?
Share the history of the Poems: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Visit_from_St._Nicholas
Recall and share the story of any Christmas Carol (or a person’s memorable experience of it)
Read one of the many stories and legends about Saint Nicholas
- I’ve enjoyed THE BAKER’S DOZEN story of Saint Nicholas:
X MORE AFTER DINNER ACTIVITIVITES
Gather ‘round a piano and Sing Carols Together
Have Christmas CDs (Vocalists/ Choirs) and have people sing-a-long.
Karaoke Christmas Songs
Conclude with Christmas Caroling in the Neighborhood
XI CHRISTMAS FAREWELL BLESSINGS:
Before Farewells or before the first person must leave:
BLESS EACH GUEST individually or collectively: “May the Spirit of Christmas remain in your heart—the joy of life, the gift of family, and angels singing your song as you continue to compose it all the days of your life. May your song(s) give God glory!”
INVITE ALL TO SING “WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS”
PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME with OPTIONAL CHARITABLE COMPONENT TO CHRISTMAS: INVTIE GUESTS TO BRING A SINGLE $ 1. BILL for each member of his or her family or party to participated in a PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME. Designate a charity and let them know what the dollars are for in advance OR have everyone vote on one of two or three choices before Grace (E.G, Catholic Charities for Puerto Rico Relief or Catholic Relief Services or Unicef.) Have some extra $1. bills around for those who forget.). The FIRST TIME anyone forgets to say Please” or “Thank You,” from the beginning of the Meal (after Grace) to end of dinner (i.e. “please pass the potatoes; thank you), he or she gets a WARNING. The SECOND TIME he or she must surrender their dollar into a basket. Proceeds go to the previously announced charity. At the end of the day, people may contribute the Remaining Dollars or additional $ if they wish to the cause.
Catholic Book of Household Blessings
To Dance with God by Gertrude Mueller Nelson features Great Ideas for Family Rituals & Prayers for Feast Days and Holidays throughout the Year
THE BAKER’S DOZEN story of Saint Nicholas by Aaron Shepherd
Blessing of Advent Wreathe and Christmas Manger
Advent Prayers and Rituals:
Here’s a fascinating article on THE CHERRY TREE CAROL:
Suggestions prepared by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP December 2017