This week, I posted the above picture on my Facebook timeline and received many questions about the Birthday Bag for Jesus in front of the Christmas tree. At our house, that Birthday Bag is a reminder that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.
This tradition started early in our marriage when we decided to throw a birthday party for Jesus. Since our anniversary is December 19th, it’s already a packed month for us, but we knew the Lord was prompting us to throw Him a party, and so we did. The first year, we invited a few family and friends and had the kids attending act out the manger scene. We had a birthday cake with candles and gave everyone a party favor that represented the true meaning of Christmas.
The highlight of the party was the Birthday Bag. We made “birthday” postcards on the computer and gave everyone a card as they came through the front door. The heading on the card had the date and “This year I give Jesus….” Guests were advised to think about what gift they would like to give Jesus . . . maybe more of their time, or energy, or money . . . and then write it on the card. Perhaps getting involved in a ministry, or spending more time with family and less time at work would be his or her gift.
They could sign the card or leave it anonymous and place it in the bag. On Christmas Eve, our family read the gifts and prayed that each gift giver would stay true to their intent.
As the years went by, the party grew larger and larger. People heard about it and wanted to come and those who had attended started expecting it each year. It also became an outreach as we invited neighbors and unchurched friends. One year, we had someone taking pictures of guests in front of the manger scene and then we gave them a printed picture. Our Birthday Party for Jesus became the highlight of many people’s Christmas season.
We have since moved to a rural area, and while we don’t have the Birthday Party per se, we do have the Birthday Bag under the tree and guests to our home are invited to give Jesus their gifts. We also have a manger scene that our grandkids enjoy. If you would like to see them acting out the manger story as I read from the Children’s Bible, we have it on You Tube.
A Birthday Party for Jesus!
Keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and invite friends and family to help.
For the manger scene:
- Buy hay at an animal feed store
- Use a barrel, box, large pot, wash basin, big trash bag…for the “bed” and cover it in hay
- Wrap a lifelike baby doll in a baby blanket and place on the hay
- You can add lights or small artificial Christmas trees
- Hang a paper star over the manager
- Put stuffed sheep and donkeys around the mange
- Let the children act out the manger scene and Christmas story.
- Shepherds and Joseph: Use large bath towels and cloth ties to wrap on their head,
- Wise Men: Drape colorful pieces of material around their heads and adhere with cloth ties.
- Mary: Take an old sheet, cut a hole to go over her head, and cinch at waist with a tie. Drape another piece of sheet over her hair.
- Angel: Again a white sheet works great with gold ties.
- The point is to keep it simple and have enough towels, ties, and pieces of material for every child who wants to participate.
- Have someone read the story from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20 as the children act it out. If you have a Children’s Bible, read the story from it.
- Sing several Christmas carols the children will know.
Keep Food Simple!
Serve finger foods so you don’t need silverware (use plastic if you do use it). If people want to bring something simply say “Sweet or sour finger food please.” That way you get a variety.
- Paper plates, cups, and napkins
- Punch and hot cider, chocolate and coffee.
- Put candles in cupcakes
Invitations, Favors and Birthday Cards for Jesus
Use Birthday invitations, make your own on Christmas stationary, or send out online. Be sure to give your kids a stack to give to their friends.
I found Christian, inexpensive party favors at Oriental Trading Company or you can check at a party store or Christianbook.com. Be sure the favors relate to the theme of the party. One year we gave everyone a small battery operated “flame” with the theme of the light of the world being born on Christmas.
For the Birthday Cards we designed them on the computer and then printed four to a page on cardstock. Or you could use Christmas stationary.
The most important thing about the party is to remember the Guest of Honor. Have a joyous fun time doing everything to the glory of God. Be ready because your guests are going to want you to do this again next year too!
We would love to hear about your Birthday Party for Jesus or creative ideas for the party. Please share in the comments for everyone to enjoy.
Janet Thompson is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries, a TMI Mentor Mom, a speaker, and the author of 17 books. Visit Janet at her website.
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