Every December I have a huge list of things I want to do to make the Christmas season special. Most of them take time or money. With only two weeks to go before Christmas, I found myself starting to rationalize I won’t be able to do many of those this year. The calendar and budget are stretched pretty tight, and I tried to explain to my kids that I may not be putting up the Christmas lights. Hearing their dismay, I realized that I would be spending this sub-freezing Saturday afternoon outside on an extension ladder–and that I would be better off for it.
This experience made me realize that what we need to help spread Christmas joy this year is a good old-fashioned contest, a little capitalist incentive to keep Christmas from becoming too commercialized. The Great, Christ-Like Christmas Contest is designed for people who are short on money and time but need a boost of the Christmas spirit.
There are three ways to win:
- Total Points Champion. Give yourself the points you score each time you do one of the following activities, We’re on the honors system here.
- Best Experience Champion. Share your own story of something unusual you did to share the love of Jesus leading up to Christmas this year.
- Completely Random Participant. Do at least one of these things and write what you did below, and you may be selected from a random draw as a winner.
Winners will receive my new book from InterVarsity Press, The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty, as well as a $10 Starbucks gift card for a good cup of joe to go with it.
- Put some candles together on your kitchen table as a makeshift advent wreath and light them while you have dinner together as a family (2 points for each meal).
- Print lyrics to Christmas carols and sing the second and third verses while you do chores around the house (2 points for each new verse you learn).
- Wear a Santa’s hat when you run errands. (Add 10 points if you put one on your dog and go for a walk in a public place.)
- Hand-write a letter to someone you love as a Christmas gift this year—thanks to Michael Brennan for this idea. (5 points for each letter)
- Have a friend over who you don’t see enough for hot cocoa, eggnog and Christmas cookies.
- Bake something in your oven (and the inexpensive frozen dough from the grocery story counts as home-made) and hand-deliver it to your neighbors on Christmas morning—thanks to the Hughlett family for doing this in our neighborhood each year; we miss you guys! (5 points for each home.)
- Read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. (Add 20 points if you read it aloud to children.)
- Take someone out to coffee who didn’t vote like you and ask them about some of their favorite Christmas memories as a child.
- Have your neighbors over for Game Night and play your favorite board game(s) while listening to Christmas music.
- Read one of the books of the Gospel.
- Write a Christmas card with one story about God’s love shown in your life last year. (Add 5 points if you include a picture. Subtract 5 if your card does not say “Christmas” in it.)
- Have friends over to string popcorn for the Christmas tree. This is one of the very best Christmas memories I have from 40 years ago—thanks Mom and Mrs. Hofmann!
- Go Christmas caroling with your neighbors, family and friends.
- Stop by an assisted living facility and visit with somebody. (Add 5 points if you bring a small gift or some candy and add 10 points if you sing with them or for them.)
In the history of the world, nobody cared more about relationships than Jesus Christ. What he did, how he lived, and what he taught us about the kingdom of God changed the history of the world, and continues to transform hearts and lives like mine. Let’s have a little fun as we live a little bit more like him this Christmas season.
Feel free to add your own activities for points, but they must be included in the Comments below to get credit. Simply post your point total between December 26 and December 31 with a brief explanation of how you did it to be included in the contest. Remember, there will be one winner for “Total Points,” one winner for “Best Experience,” and one winner drawn randomly from all final entries.