I saw my friend Kelle doing this with her kids years ago, before J was ever born. I logged the idea away in my head for the future and was excited this year to include it in our own family’s Christmas traditions.
What you need: A manger (the actual manger was most likely a stone troft, but we’re just using a basket); a baby doll to represent Jesus, and something to represent hay (rafia, shredded paper, cotton balls,…)
The goal is to create a soft manger by the time baby Jesus is born. They do this by adding hay to the manger each time they do a good deed. I’ve incorporated this activity with our memory verse, Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” J gets to add hay into the manger whenever he shines his light. It took a few days for the concept to grab hold, but it has. J now takes note whenever he sees others shine their light too. This makes for the perfect opportunity to put in practice the second half of the verse and praise God for that person’s light.
In most cases, I’ve seen baby Jesus held from the manger until Christmas morning. This year, I actually have our baby lying in the manger daily. It just helps my 2 year old grasp the purpose of the manger that much more. It’s also kinda nice to see our baby Jesus included under the tree, next to all our wrapped packages. I like that it’s a simple visual that keeps the purpose of Christmas in the forefront of minds.
Age attempted: 32 months