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12 Strategies for the 12 Days of Christmas

This Advent season has been full: full of planning, full of preparing, full of hoping. However, I’ve made a concerted effort to keep “Christmas” at bay. It’s not that I’m a grinch, no, quite the contrary. Our annual Christmas letter was sent out, we’ve been faithfully praying the Christmas novena, and I’ve been wishing all those helpful store cashiers a “Merry Christmas,” but the focus in our house has been on the anticipation. My plan is to celebrate Christmas and to celebrate it to the fullest (all 12 days of it) when it actually arrives on December 25th.

Here are our 12 strategies for making the most of the 12 Days of Christmas:

  1. Give thanks

    Before you rip into all those colorful packages this Christmas morning, stop and give thanks to God. We keep our baby Jesus statues hidden throughout Advent, so on Christmas morning He emerges and takes up His place in our mangers. This is a good visual for all of us, as we recollect the reason for our joy on this morning.

  2.  Break for all of Christmas 

    While we have taken a few extra days off to accommodate out-of-the-ordinary field trips, we aren’t going to start our Christmas break until Christmas Eve. Then, we’re going to fill up our break with all good things (play dates, movies, field trips, family game night, etc.) We won’t return to schoolwork until January 7th.
  3. Ignite a Christ candle 

    Don’t stuff that Advent wreath away so fast. Instead, leave it on the table and light a white candle in the center as a reminder that Christ’s light came into the world on Christmas.
  4. Keep the lights burning bright

    Continue to turn on your Christmas lights and keep your tree trimmed. 
  5. Pray for 12 intentions

    Our family assigns each of the twelve days to a specific group, family or person. So for example, on December 27th we are going to pray for the intentions of the H family. We will offer God the whole day in thanksgiving and petition for them. We mail each prayer recipient a note along with our annual Christmas letter, but it’s not too late to pray your way through Christmas. You could email your recipients on their day or give them a call to let them know you’re praying for them.
  6. Read books

    I wrap up 12 holiday themed books and place them under the tree on Christmas Eve. Then my younger children take turns choosing a “gift” each of the 12 evenings. After they’ve unwrapped the book, we read it as a family.
  7. Kings journey

    Our three kings spend Advent in a distant land (sitting on a shelf across the room from the creche). On Christmas day we begin their journey toward the star by moving them a little closer to the manger each day. They will finally arrive on Epiphany. 
  8. 12 Days of Christmas symbols

    Learn the song The Twelve Days of Christmas and the Christian meanings behind the symbols. 
  9. Resolve to give yourself more fully to Christ

    While everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions to diet and exercise, commit to a new prayer habit or an hour in adoration each week.
  10. Keep the Holy Day

    January 1st isn’t just the first day of the New Year, it’s a holy day (of obligation) dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Honor your Savior’s Mother by going to Mass. I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year.
  11. Make a kings cake

    Celebrate the feast of the Epiphany with a kings’ cake. I found a yummy recipe online or you can purchase one at your local grocery.
  12. Let them adore

    Seeing that the three kings have only just arrived on Epiphany, we allow them some added time to adore our Lord. We put away all of our Christmas decorations except the creche. The manger typically stays out until mid-January as a reminder that Christ deserves our attention all year long.

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