Dreaming of a stress-free Christmas? Read on for a simple and fun way to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas with gifts, activities, and a meaningful family discussion!
The Twelve Days of Christmas: Twelve Gifts and Twelve Activities
In the bustle of Christmas, sometimes it is good to plan for simplicity.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to be purposeful about protecting our family time together during Christmas while keeping the holidays peaceful, restful, and manageable, so I came up with a simple plan: each night of the twelve days of Christmas, we would open small gift featuring one family activity. We also read the nativity story from Luke 2 each night, and the children had easily memorized it by the end of the season.
- On the first night, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It is a rare treat to find a pop culture icon that concludes with the reading of the nativity story from Luke 2!
- On the second night, we enjoyed gourmet hot chocolate in snowman mugs around the fire.
- On the third night, we made Christmas ornaments together and decorated the tree.
- On the fourth night, we set the table before dinner with special Christmas place mats.
- On the fifth night, we ate Chex Mix and played a game together.
- On the sixth night, we worked on a book of Christmas puzzles together.
- On the seventh night, we went out for dinner using a gift card and then drove around looking at Christmas lights.
- On the eighth night, we indulged in a box of chocolates ordered from our favorite candy store in Los Angeles.
- On the ninth night, we read The Legend of the Candy Cane around the fire.
- On the tenth night, we solved a jigsaw puzzle that truly required the whole family’s help.
- On the eleventh night, we unwrapped sheet music, and I played the piano while we sang carols together.
- On the twelfth night, we took a new tin of metal cookie cutters to Nana’s house to bake, ice, and decorate sugar cookies. My family especially enjoyed this activity!
The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Family Discussion
We also studied the reputed Christian symbolism of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. Some claim that persecuted Catholics used the song as a code to instruct their children in doctrine, but others claim that this is an urban legend. Either way, our family enjoyed discussing the meaning of each night, an exercise that reinforced the important tenets of our faith.
- The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ.
- The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.
- The three French hens stand for faith, hope, and love.
- The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
- The five gold rings recall the Torah (Law), the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
- The seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
- The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
- The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5).
- The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
- The eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
- Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
And, of course, the “true love” mentioned in the song is none other than God himself giving thes
The activities I’d planned for Christmas were simple, but the children eagerly looked forward to each night. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with planning; simple gifts, activities, and discussions can create a lasting memory for your whole family. I pray that you and yours think of creative ways to celebrate the holidays!
“Simple Celebrations: The Twelve Days of Christmas” was originally written by Jennifer Courtney in 2011 and updated in 2014.
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