In about two weeks, I'm going to have a dozen giggling, hyper kids in my kitchen, and I'll be handing them bowls full of sugar-laden icing. Am I crazy? Probably, but this is one of my girls' favorite Christmas traditions -- our annual cookie party.
When my oldest was 2, I decided it would be fun to have a couple of her friends over to decorate cookies. They had so much fun that we've done it every year since. The first party started with three kids, and over the years it has grown to about a dozen kids. We decorate cookies, play some games and find some simple ways to share the true meaning of Christmas with the kids who attend.
What started as a fun activity with a couple of preschoolers has turned into a full-fledged party with a purpose. My girls choose a charity, and we collect things from the attendees for that charity. One year we collected art supplies for our local children's hospital; another year we collected canned food for a food pantry. The girls get to have a party and hang out with their friends and they learn something about serving others. Every kid goes home with a plate of cookies for themselves and a plate of cookies to share.
To be honest, there are some years I'd like to do away with the cookie party. It's a lot of extra work in the days right before Christmas. But after every party, I see the smiles on the faces of those kids, and I know that it's worth it. I know those kids leave my house knowing that Christmas is about Jesus. They have all experienced joy and friendship in the two hours they're at our house. The cookie party is as much about reaching out to my kids' friends as it is about making my kids happy.
The more often our kids' friends are under our roofs having fun experiences, the more influence we have in their lives. The Bible tells us that God considers children precious and that we are to pour ourselves into their lives. Jesus said, "“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Using creative ideas, like a cookie party or a caroling party, we can draw our kids' friends to Jesus as we teach our own children.
So, gather up some of your kids' friends, make some time in your schedule and bake some cookies. When the day is over you'll be exhausted, but you will have made a difference in the lives of your children and their friends.