How to Help Teenagers Focus on Christ During the Holidays


Welcome to our special series, “Keeping Christ at the Center of Your Holidays.”

Over the next few weeks, you get to enjoy the wonderful words of my amazing friends as they share with you creative and practical ways you can keep Christ in the middle of all of your celebrations.

Our prayer is that you will come to know Him, worship Him, enjoy Him, celebrate Him, and share Him with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. People all around us need to know the love of Jesus.

May we all be bright “lights” this year – sharing hope with those who need it most!


My son has a birthday that’s close to Christmas, and at one time, this resulted in some confusion.

We can use the holidays as an opportunity to be a light in the world for Jesus and we can lead our kids, through our example, in what this looks like. Here are some practical and useful ways to help your teenagers to focus more on Christ during these holidays.

When he was close to three, my little guy told me that Christmas was all about his birthday!

I’d been trying to make much of Jesus during the holidays, and in an effort to keep my explanation simple, I’d told him that Christmas was about Jesus’s Birthday.  

The confusion arose because we were also making a big deal about my son’s upcoming birthday.

I changed my vocabulary, to avoid further confusion, and continued my efforts to make much of Jesus (and my son’s birthday) during the holidays.

That story has stayed with me–not just because it’s funny–but also because I was able to take from it a deeper idea, which has challenged me in my parenting and how I approached the holidays over the years.

Making much of Jesus over Christmas isn’t only about commemorating our Lord’s birth.

Making much of Jesus is about following His example and living in a way that brings glory to God. Click To Tweet

As Christians, this what we are called to year-round, but the holidays are a special time of year, where people are often particularly sensitive to the things of God.  

We can use the holidays as an opportunity to be a light in the world for Jesus and we can lead our kids, through our example, in what this looks like.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

We can use the holidays as an opportunity to be a light in the world for Jesus and we can lead our kids, through our example, in what this looks like. Here are some practical and useful ways to help your teenagers to focus more on Christ during these holidays.

My son will be thirteen this Christmas, and my daughter will be seventeen, so I’ve been thinking about what it means to make much of Jesus during the holidays with teens.

My husband and I have tried to be intentional in making much of Jesus at Christmas since our kids were young, and some traditions will stay the same- but as anyone with teens knows, a different approach and some new tools are needed as kids get older.

In no particular order, here are a few of my thoughts that are specific to teens…

1] Keep the peace.

With teens, you can require participation in certain family activities and traditions, but it’s wise to choose carefully and sparingly, being sensitive to the idea of their growing independence. At my house, the non-negotiable is attendance at a Christmas Eve service.

Other activities, my kids sometimes choose to opt out of, and I don’t make a big deal of it. Yet, I want to send a clear message to my kids, that in our family, we honor God by going to church.

The point here is not whether you attend a Christmas Eve service. The point is that you determine what activities are most important. This way, you can keep the peace and exercise your authority when it really counts.

2] Consider, how does your Christmas look different from a non-believer’s Christmas?

I want my teens to know that Christmas is about something deeper for Christians. And I want them to have some traditions to hold onto, which celebrate that difference, as part of their foundation of faith.

This is why I love to incorporate Advent readings and candles into mealtimes. You can do this in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s an intentional way to bring the focus of the holidays onto Jesus.

John Piper has a free e-book available, of daily Advent readings, called Good News of Great Joy, available here. This is a great resource that can be used with teens and adults for self-study or read aloud.

3] Following Jesus’s example means that we give sacrificially, as He did.

A tradition I love is giving to the angel tree.

Maybe you have something similar where you live?

It’s a tree with tags on it, representing children who have a parent who’s incarcerated. The tag will tell the gender and age of the child. We have always taken a tag for a boy and a girl, the same ages as our kids, and let our kids pick out the presents.

What I’ve noticed, though, is that the tags for the little kids always get taken first. I understand-those toys are fun to buy. The tags for the teens are often the last ones left on the tree. Take your teen with you and let them pick out something for another teen in need. They’ll know what other teens want.

*Inviting people over, who don’t have a place to go for Christmas, and including them in your family celebrations, is another way to show teens how to live like Jesus.

*Encouraging teens to pay for gifts, with money that they earned themselves, also teaches the sacrificial aspect of giving.

*Finally, I love giving good gifts to my teens. I want to make sure to emphasize the following when I do….

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 (ESV)

My son no longer believes that Christmas is all about his birthday–he hasn’t for a long time.  

I pray that both of my teens know that Christmas is about more than the day Jesus was born.  I pray that these tips will help you, too, as you seek to make much of Jesus with your teens during the holidays.

Christmas is not just about Jesus’s birth.

It’s also about His life.

As Christians, we’re called to more, more than just being happy that Jesus was born.

We’re called to be like Jesus, to bring glory to the Father, and to be a light in the world. Click To Tweet

Christmas is a perfect time to help our teens remember this.


Thank you, Dawn, for such a great post about how to help our teens to make a bigger deal out of Jesus this year. Your practical suggestions are sure to help many moms and dads to better plan and prepare for the holidays.

We really appreciate you sharing with us today!


Dawn Klinge:

Dawn Klinge is the author of Look To Jesus: How to Let Go of Worry and Trust God. She We can use the holidays as an opportunity to be a light in the world for Jesus and we can lead our kids, through our example, in what this looks like. Here are some practical and useful ways to help your teenagers to focus more on Christ during these holidays.writes about Christian faith regularly at Above the Waves, drawing on her experience as wife and mom to two. She holds a degree in education from the University of Idaho. A pastor’s kid and a church girl her entire life, she’s still trying to figure out what it looks like to put her trust in Jesus. Dawn and her husband, Derek, live near Seattle, Washington. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram


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Blessed wife of Randy for over 25 years, mom to two great college students, blogger, women's ministry coach, speaker and author who is amazed by God's grace-

4 thoughts on “How to Help Teenagers Focus on Christ During the Holidays

  1. Thanks for the great thoughts here, Dawn! I’m semi-new to the teen years and feeling a little off balance because of the changes I am seeing in my 14 and 11-year-olds in the way they look at Christmas this year. I especially love the idea of determining what is most important – the non-negotiables like Christmas Eve Service- and not making mountains out of the other things.

    Hugs to you both!
    Lori

    1. Amen, Lori!
      Dawn has shared some very wise words here!
      Praying that we will all be wise as we point our kids toward Jesus this Christmas.
      Thanks for stopping by to leave a good word~
      Blessings,
      Melanie

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I’ve enjoyed reading this whole series and feel honored to be a part of it.

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