Before you pack up your Christmas decorations and make way for the New Year, here’s an important question. . .

Did you give Jesus a gift for His birthday?

It’s really easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season… after all, December can be such a stressful time. We decorate, shop, bake, wrap, entertain, and try to preserve meaningful, fun family traditions while trying to keep our heads above the water.

Maybe you can relate.

I hope this simple idea for keeping Christ in Christmas will encourage you today. . . and maybe even become a tradition in your home as it is in ours.

A Letter to Jesus

Like most families, each year our stockings are hung by the fireplace, and filled with fun and practical items on Christmas Eve, and then opened on Christmas morning.


Daniel, John, Laura, Alexis, Kelsey, Heather

But, for us, there’s one addition to this tradition.

Inside each stocking is a Letter to Jesus written annually by each of us and then stored there all year long.

Sometime throughout the Christmas season, when all family members are present (and this gets more difficult as the kids get older) we gather in the den, reach inside our stockings and pull out our stapled stack of letters from previous years. We take a gander at what was written in the previous year’s letter.

Then we write a new letter to Jesus. . . as a way of recording our intentions to serve Him throughout the upcoming year.


To honor Him on His birthday.

We write specific things that we want to be intentional to give to Him for His birthday present.


We consider ways we can give of our time, talents, skills, interests, personality, finances, and possessions.

We think about our walk with Him, ways to bless others, specific ministries the Lord has put on our hearts. . . or simply write that we want to be used by Him and be obedient however He guides.


We consider our personal walk with the Lord and what we would like to see develop in our hearts and habits that would draw us closer to Him – and list things we are intentional to do the next year. This could be praying specifically for certain people, studying a singular book of the Bible or doing a particular character quality study in God’s Word.


As parents, we write the direction we want to lead our home to be Christ-centered, Bible studies or devotions to do, changes we need to make, perhaps listing a child whose heart we want to give to more fully this year.

Some years I’ve recorded specific ways I want to guide each child, and other times I write, “Lord, my heart’s desire is that these children love you and serve you and are about others. Show me specific ways this year to guide them.”


Each person’s letter is uniquely his or hers. Some may use bullet points while others start theirs with “Dear Jesus,  Happy Birthday. This year I want to give you . . .”

Sometimes I list categories and a thought or more under each.

Some letters are short, some list three specific things to give as a gift to Jesus, and other letters are several pages long.


My oldest kids (who are recent graduates and now employed. Hallelujah!) and husband include goals they have for the Lord at their jobs – such as specific people they are praying for or ideas they have for being a blessing and a witness for Christ.


Here are some additional thoughts to consider, although the point is certainly NOT to make this overwhelming:

  • Areas we see our own selfishness or areas we need to die to self
  • Character qualities that need attention such as diligence, initiative, promptness, or humility
  • Fruits of the spirit we are lacking such as joy, kindness, long suffering, patience, or gentleness
  • Wrong thoughts, motives that need to be brought captive such as fear, lust, pride, or jealousy
  • Bitterness or hatred we are holding on to that needs to be released
  • Specific families to become friends with, invest into, or minister to
  • Specific ways to use resources- to give anonymously, to support ministries, to give randomly, to use for Christ- and to use for family (such as a family vacation) or a trip with just you and one child- as a way to spend quality time with that one child you feel is “distant” from you)
  • Listing each family member by name and a way to honor, serve, show love to that person
  • Listing the different activities in which you are involved and ways to honor Christ, serve others, and bear fruits of the spirit at all you do.
  • Specific spiritual goals: personal devotional time, scripture memory, books to read, ways to live out our faith, praying for specific people, what book of the Bible you want to study, a word study you want to do, or reading the Bible through chronologically – basically recording what commitment to put Him first looks like to you this year

When we’ve finished writing our Letter to Jesus, we staple it to the previous years’ letters, fold them, and put in the bottom of our stockings where they remain throughout the years.

This has been our very favorite way to stop, be still, and be intentional about giving our very lives to Jesus as a birthday present to Him.


Onesies were the bomb diggity this year. My husband is not in this photo due to the most comical moment ever when he walked through the house with a onesie that was the wrong size. But, he says Merry Christmas to you as well.

Order your very own Cultivating Christmas Set here!

I’d love to hear your comments and hear ways your family has kept Christ at the center of Christmas. I invite you to LIKE my Facebook page HERE.  And, if you want blog posts delivered directly to you, sign up to receive them via email in the box below.

Rhonda MerryChristmasfromourfamilytoyours ellis

  1. This is awesome! I can’t wait to implement this in our family traditions next year!

  2. Shirley

    I love this tradition. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Amelia

    I find it very hard nowadays to “compete” with Santa Claus in my three little girls’ lives; thank you SO MUCH for this idea!!! I bought a book about Santa talking to Jesus, and an ornament of Santa kneeling in baby Jesus “crib”, praying for Him… I try to teach my girls as much as I can, having them go to Sunday school, and praying at home… This new tradition (to my family) will be very welcoming!!! Even though this Christmas already passed, I will sit down with them, and we can write it for next year’s reading time!!! Thank you, once again!!! God Bless you and your family for spreading His word!!!

    • Glad to hear this is a blessing and an idea you’ll incorporate next year. 🙂

  4. I freakin’ LOVE this. Until this year, my life has been filled with disappointments, failures and such. I have been a believer since 2008 and after almost 7 years of patience and a painful divorce, God has blessed me with a wonderful woman. Perhaps this time next year she’ll be my wife and we can both write Jesus happy bday letters. Thanks for sharing.

    Randy in Tennessee
    Grace Chapel Church

    • Tisha

      I pray it comes to pass for you. May God’s bless you and the beautiful lady in your life…

  5. Oh, how I wished I had found this years ago! Thank you for sharing something so sweet and private with us!
    Sadly, mine will be moving out in a couple of weeks and I wish I had done this. He’s close to the Lord and reads His Word daily, but ya know, I think these letters have had to keep your family closer to the Lord and to each other. God bless you and yours!
    Missionary wife to the bush of Alaska

  6. Melanie Knight

    My Children’s (private) elementary school always has a “Birthday party for Jesus”- they bring one unwrapped gift and put it under the tree in the church and then it is given to a local organization so that underprivileged children will have Christmas presents too. Then they sing a selection of songs ending with
    “Happy Birthday Jesus
    I’m so glad it’s Christmas,
    all the tinsel and lights,
    and the presents are nice
    but the real gift is you,
    Happy Birthday Jesus
    Jesus, I love you”!

    Then they get to eat Birthday cake!

  7. I love this idea. We just talked about the idea of reflection on the previous year and projection of the following year, this morning in church. I love that this is a family activity and it’s there to be intentional and reflective of. Thank you for sharing this. When our families stockings go in the bin this year, they’ll have something extra special in them!

  8. I am a single woman from Greenville, OH with very few immediate family members. Both parents are gone, one brother’s in CA and one about 40 minutes away (Troy) so I thought that this tradition wouldn’t be as meaningful to me just by myself. Then it dawned on me that it doesn’t matter how many of us there are; Jesus came for each person on earth, not just families. Each of us have things to be thankful for AND things in our lives and relationships that we need to change and improve on. Thank you (as well as your family) for this great idea! Have a safe and blessed 2015!

    • Lisa Thomas

      Carol, what an important point you raise. I am sure you are quite a blessing to those around you. God bless you in this upcoming year!

  9. Thank you for this. It has made me realize that we could be intentional with our thoughts.
    Today we also spoke of our goal in life. (FFIC ) I’m not even sure how to put it together. But anyways, I think I will say thank you for the idea.

  10. I noticed that your blog is powered by wordpress but I did not see a follow button for following you in my WordPress Reader. I’d rather follow you that way rather than by email.

  11. Ida Alcantara

    Thank you for sharing. Your idea is AWESOME!! This Christmas my grand child came up to me and said “Nana I have an idea, it’s Christmas and it’s Jesus birthday, so why don’t we buy him a balloon and go out side and sing Happy Birthday to Him and let the balloon go into the heavens where he is!! Then we can go and have birthday cake!! So all my family did exactly that!! We might make that a tradition!!

  12. What a wonderful idea to honor Him and to include Him in our resolutions for the upcoming year. My husband and I are definitely considering implementing this for our children, which will be interesting as our youngest is two on up to 13.

    • Great ages to do this. 🙂 Ask your little one and you write it for him and have him sign his name or color on the letter somewhere for fun memories.

  13. Rachel

    This is a great idea. Thank you for sharing. I plan to start this as a new tradition with my family!

  14. Joan Bentley

    I really enjoyed this and I would enjoy getting your post. We do not have any children at home, but if you have things I could do for my husband, grown up children, and grandchildren I would love to get them through my e-mail. Thank you and Happy New Year.

    • Joan, thanks for reading. I’d love for you to be a part of my email list. 🙂

  15. Darcy

    We do a Jesus Stocking” we have a jar, shoved in a stocking, hahaha, and throughout the year we put our change in it and the week before Christmas we send it to a missionary. What an amazing blessing it is to be able to do this.

  16. Marie

    This is a GREAT idea! One thing we have always done was to start setting up our nativity scene one bit at a time. When I was a kid I would put only Mary and an angel first. then add Joseph. then later start moving shepherds and sheep, the end result being on Christmas morning when the manger itself was added. With my children we told the story of the nativity as each bit was added. Once a child was old enough and knew the story well enough, they got to tell the younger ones all about it.

  17. I like the blue onesie on the left! Unicorn?

    • Sheri, yes indeed, it’s a unicorn. LOL

  18. Secret

    this is truly awesome we did a onesies Christmas this year as well so kool love your ideas of the letter we celebrate Christmas Eve with birthday cake and party favours and singing with the reading the story of Jesus in the barn under lamp lights merry Christmas and happy new year

    • thanks for sharing. 🙂

  19. Cindy

    What a wonderful idea! I’m going to do this w/my family. I have two teenage daughters. But it’s never too late to start. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Mindi Newell

    This really touched my heart. I pray that God blesses you and your family through out the years to come. If you don’t mind throw a prayer up for me and my family.

  21. Christy Stavrou

    would love any advice on how to raise Christian Children to love eachother and Christ.

    • Hi Christy, Be sure to sign up for emails. I do write on parenting quite a bit. 🙂 It certainly takes determination and consistency to teach our kids to love each other and be kind to one another. I have a friend who has trained her kids ahead of time (meaning, before an argument is happening) on what HONOR means. So, when they’re unkind she says, “Honor” to them and they know that means to honor the other by preferring them over themselves. 🙂

  22. Celeste Woodcock

    This is a very good idea for a family tradition. I try to show my 2 boys by example how to live with God in your heart. It’s very difficult but I will not give up. Thank you for sharing.

    • Celeste, keep teaching to their hearts. That how God teaches us. 🙂

  23. Linda

    As a single adult (my kiddo is 27) I am always looking for ways to jumpstart my own personal spirituality. This is a great idea. I also have a jar sitting out to put in important happenings of the year. All kinds of things and as I ring in the new year read through all the slips. It was fun to do yesterday. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for sharing this idea. Happy 2015 to you as you desire to be specifically used by Him this year.

  24. dianne massanelli

    Thanks,for this great inspiration. My,life has fallen short on so many levels and this will be a,great,way to help direct,my path. Bless you

    • Dianne, all of our lives have “fallen short,” but thankfully we can come as we are to the Great Redeemer and choose to pursue Him with all of our hearts. May God bless you in 2015 and give you lots of ideas of ways to use all of you for Him.

  25. I wish I had thought of this back in the 70s and80s. Maybe my 45 year old son and 31 year old son would still be. Going to church and teaching their children the importance of Christmas. Thank you.

  26. Catherine

    what a wonderful tradition. My kids are getting older and the traditions are getting slimmer. As they want to make their own which is ok….but lets not forget the ones from earlier days.

    • You could have a countdown for this new tradition in your home this year…”Okay, in one week, we’re starting a new tradition.. be thinking about how you can give something of yourselves this year to Jesus.” Throw in onesies to make it a fun evening. 🙂

  27. I really love this idea, i have been on a spiritual down for the past year to year and a half for reasons I won’t get into here, but seeing this has made me realize that i need to focus on HIM in the Upcoming year, he has blessed me so much, i always tell people that, and i mean it, i give to others frequently out of my blessings, but i have not been feeding my soul, I have not had a spiritual HIGH in so long. seeing your inspirational way to remember the reason for the season has made me think of the many times i needed to say Thank You Lord, and didn’t, the Many times i need to turn to HIM when something was wrong, and didn’t. I don’t know how I will implement this into our Christmas, because we don’t really do stockings anymore, and Santa gifts have always been small token gifts, but as i think back to Christmas morning, we missed a whole lot of Family traditions this year, because HE hasn’t been in our home for the better part of the year. thank you for your inspiration.

    • Matt, may God richly abound in your hearts and lives in 2015 as you seek to honor Him. Thank you for sharing with us what many could agree with. And, as far as needing stockings – no worries – you can simply write your prayer or thoughts as a gift to Him in a journal or on any piece of paper and decide on a place to keep them throughout the year. Praying for you right now.

    • Tara

      Matt….maybe you could each write your letters, place them in one box, wrap it up in pretty paper with a tag to Jesus from your family and place the box under the tree on Christmas Eve. Then you can sit together on Christmas morning, unwrap the box and read them. Just a thought!

    • Donna S

      Dear Matt,
      Out of all these replies I’ve read, yours has meant the most. Sometimes God seems far away because we aren’t receiving those “awe” moments, & Spiritual Highs we received upon Salvation. The truth is, God has never left your side. He is with you & He will never leave you, because He loves you. That my friend, is Something Big & Better & Beyond Measure!!! Let’s give Him praise & ALL the glory! We are not alone! Thank you Jesus. Thank you, Thank you, my JESUS!

  28. Well it is 12/30 and I thought that I wished I saw this before Christmas. Then I realized we have not put the stockings away. It is not too late. Although my husband went on an assignment. My youngest son and I can still do this in 2014. Then in 2015 when we get our notes out, we’ll include everyone else. Awesome idea.

    • Loved reading this. I believe your situation applies to many, so thank you for sharing. 🙂

  29. Jenna Hurley

    We dont take our Christmas decorations down until new years day, i think we will be sitting down New Years Day and doing just this. What a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  30. Love this Rhonda! What a great tradition! Thank you too for sharing the pics of your family doing this. It gives me (and others I’m sure) hope that intentional parenting can result in kiddos who love and serve Jesus and make Him famous!

  31. Hannah

    Couldn’t help but notice the Anomaly shirt worn by one of your daughters! Praise God!

    • We all love his lyrics. They are incredibly steeped in the Bible!! The daughter wearing that shirt got to meet him and have Lacrae make a short video to her friend going through chemo. It was such a sweet thing for him to do.

  32. Pat

    We make a Christmas wish list each year, and some of us list contributions to good causes. This year I got 2 contributions to our church’s organization that helps needy people in third world countries, etc.; one contribution to Mennonite Disaster Service; and a sheep through Heifer International. I got a few hands on presents too, but these are so much better than wasting a bunch of money on things I will never use.

  33. Anne Hardy

    Great idea! It’s a small world! My friend Sheila Beadle Jacobs posted your page via Janet Glanville in Australia. When I read it and saw that it was yours I let Sheila know that we knew you and your family from FBC. 🙂

    • Hi Anne, small world indeed! Thanks for your encouragement.

    • pam

      Praising God for this great idea. I think we can replace our New Year’s resolutions with writing this Letter to Jesus – writing the ministries and missions we believe the Lord is leading us to do for Him this year

  34. Robin Broadway

    Definitely will be doing this! One of our children is not a beliver but she is right now gonna set goals. Me, one if mine will be that she will become a believer.

    • That’s the best prayer of all. Praying for you as you love well your children. 🙂 May the fruit of the Spirit dwelling in you show such love, especially to your unsaved child.

  35. Tara

    We have a Christmas family tradition that I absolutely LOVE! Every year we gather together with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Day. One family member always brings a decorated sheet cake as part of our dessert display. We all gather around the cake, light a candle and sing happy birthday to Jesus!

    • sweet idea. 🙂 pun intended.

  36. Eleanor R. Hall

    Liked your family tradition. Our children and grandchildren meet at our home on ::
    :Christmas eve after :Christmas eve services for a meal and gifts.

  37. colleen sexton

    Very inspiring! Loved the idea. Hope you don’t mind a copycat.

  38. This is the first year since my oldest daughter was little that we have no children at home and did not bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy birthday. I miss it, but we aren’t supposed to eat many sweets any more and the kids consider themselves too old for this. Looking forward to doing it again someday with grands….

    • Betty, I think this is still an amazing thing for us to do as individuals… think through just what can we give of our lives to Christ on his birthday. 🙂

  39. Tanya

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing this wonderful gift with the rest of us.

  40. JF

    A tradition we started and have been dooing for many years is to have a “Jesus” stocking. Leading up to Christmas everyone places notes in the stocking thanking someone else for something they did (thus showing Jesus). Then on Christmas Eve or morning we divide up the thank-you’s and read them out loud.

    • Thank you for sharing your idea with us. I can just picture the big smiles on the faces when they are thanked. 🙂

  41. Carolann Nelson

    I love this! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  42. Love your ideas thank you for shareing with us

  43. Mina

    Praise God for your spirit and idea. I love it and I have a big busy family that I want us all to know and serve the Lord. I have been trying to get them all to focus on the Lord more, this maybe the way. Thank you so much and God Bless and keep your family and you.

    • Mina, it certainly gets harder and harder to have everyone home at the same time as they get older, doesn’t it. We used to do this earlier in December, but due to college schedules and kids living out of town/state now, we have to just do it when we can. I’ll be sad when the day comes that they won’t be all home at one time. 🙂

    • I read your article and your “about” page. May God be praised through your life and the work that you are doing. 🙂

  44. Phuong

    thank Rhonda for sharing, God bless you and your family. I love your ideas, love to learn more from you…

  45. I am going to do this! Love this!

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