What will they remember
this holiday season?
by Allison Hottinger and
When they grow up, we want our kids to remember that we made
Christmas about Jesus. With many distractions and mixed messages
around the holiday, it’s easy to get swept up in getting the right
tree or making sure the gifts are purchased.
This year we want to keep the most important things top of mind.
This year we want to shift the focus of Christmas back to giving.
As parents, there are a few things we can remember to help us shift
the focus of Christmas in our hearts.
1. They won’t remember the gift
Do you remember that your dad gave you a bike on Christmas day or do
you remember that he taught you how to ride it?
When we show someone kindness or someone shows us kindness, it builds
a lasting memory that we often want to bottle up and never forget.
They might be focused on gifts right now, but in 10 years they will
remember the memories you made together, especially memories made
while serving others.
Focus on the memories to be made instead of making sure you get the
2. Santa fades… Jesus remains.
We want their relationship with Jesus to grow more each Christmas. We
want the miracle of His birth to be ingrained as an exciting birthday
celebration. We want them to understand that because we have received
so much, we give freely to others.
Christmas traditions are wonderful, and we definitely don’t want to
skimp on the Figgy Pudding, but at the end of it all, we want them to
remember Jesus was the center of Christmas.
Let’s do our best to create excitement around Jesus and let
everything else take a backseat.
3. Giving in small, simple ways makes huge waves
There are so many opportunities to give each day, but as the hustle
and bustle begins, we see less of the opportunities each day and pass
by people who may be put in our path for such a moment as this.
The moment the shopping mall cashier tells you that it will be a
difficult Christmas because of the loss of her father.. and you get
the opportunity to pray with her, will change lives. Including yours.
The gifts we give back this season don’t have to be impressive. They
don’t have to make a splash. Small giving makes huge waves in our
homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
4. Switch “What can I get?” to “What can I give?”
What if there was something you could do to tune their hearts to give
to others this Christmas? Well there is. The Giving Manger
makes it easy and fun to put giving and Jesus back into the season
and shift the focus from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?”
And it’s so simple. Read the book as a family to explain the
tradition. Then you put the sweet little manger on a table for
the whole family to see (make it an easy spot for even the littlest
As each member of the family does an act of service for someone—maybe
it’s “Put your brothers shoes away” or “Grab a poinsettia, ring the
doorbell, and run!” —they add a piece of straw to the manger. You
should see the kids get excited about it! They look for ways to serve
on their own and end up telling you, “Mom, that was so nice, go put
straw in the manger!”
On Christmas Day, the baby Jesus is brought out, and you get to watch
as they excitedly place him in the manger that’s full of service and
We want to raise kids who are intentional about giving, love people,
and celebrate the gift of Jesus during Christmas.
5. Make service lists instead of wish lists
You can’t control all that will influence them this season, but you
can direct the influence in your own home and encourage giving in
your home, neighborhood, and community. Be their guide and give them
ideas regularly of how they might service each other.
Here’s a few of our favorite ideas:
- Clean up a mess you didn’t make
- Grab a poinsettia, ring the doorbell, and run!
- Check on an elderly neighbor
- Mail a letter to someone telling them your favorite
memory with them
When you celebrate small acts of service it changes the attitude of
everyone around. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being your favorite
highlights from the holiday season.
Experience the true meaning of Christmas this year with
The Giving Manger — a faith-based interactive family tradition that
encourages acts of kindness, focuses on the joy of giving, and honors
the real reason for Christmas: Jesus’ birth.
Each Giving Manger Box Set contains a hardcover picture book, a wooden
manger, a bundle of straw, and a sturdy Baby Jesus figure — everything
your family needs to start the tradition in your own home.
How It Works
The included picture book, The Giving Manger, will
help your family understand the tradition and get children excited
about participating. Once you have read the story, place the empty
manger in a prominent spot in your home. In the days leading up to
Christmas, family members can place a piece of straw in the manger each
time they perform a kind deed or act of service. Filling the manger
will become a fun, interactive project for your family, prompting even
young children to look for ways to love and serve others.
As your family works together to fill the manger with straw, your
hearts and home will fill with the joy and contentment that comes not
from wish lists and getting, but from giving and loving others. On
Christmas Day, your family can place the Baby Jesus in the manger — now
full of the straw that represents the acts of love and service done in
honor of Jesus’ birth.
Each Box Set Includes:
- The Giving Manger Picture Book: a heartwarming
story with beautiful cut-paper illustrations that presents the
tradition and will get kids excited about participating
- Wooden Manger: to be
placed in a visible spot in the home, waiting to be filled
- Bundle of Straw: pieces of
straw to be placed in the manger after each act of service
- Baby Jesus: to be
placed in the manger on Christmas day
item in the box is built to last so your family can keep the tradition
going year after year.
Allison Hottinger and Lisa Kalberer are
sisters who are passionate about giving back. As they began to raise
their own families, they realized that the true meaning of Christmas
and the spirit of giving was getting lost in the hustle and bustle of
the season. They put pen to paper, wood to the saw, and clay in their
hands to create the book, manger, and Baby Jesus that make up The
Giving Manger–a complete tradition to help families focus
on the real meaning of Christmas. They hope that The
Giving Manger can spread kindness and promote service as
families come together and shift the focus of Christmas from getting
to giving. Allison lives in Ladera Ranch, California, and Lisa lives
in Austin, Texas.
Learn more at www.thegivingmanger.com
and on Facebook (@thegivingmanger) and