5 Festive Activities to Brighten your Holidays!

Updated: Dec 29, 2021


Christmas festivities are in FULL swing now and I am here to share with you my 5 favorite activities to do this time of year! Whether you are a Christmas enthusiast (like me!) or not, these ideas are sure to get you in the holiday spirit!


Caroling

This classic tradition is a wonderful way to bless your neighbors this Christmas. Growing up, I remember how intentional my parents were to meet our neighbors. By inviting them into our lives, we have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with many people! Caroling is a chance to meet your neighbors, maybe for the first time, and share the love of Christ with them through song! I recommend that you choose 4-5 classic Christmas songs that everyone in your group knows the words and tune already.


Here are some of my favorite versions of classic Christmas songs to check out!

  1. Joy to the World – Hillsong Worship

  2. Angels We Have Heard on High – Phil Wickham

  3. O Come All Ye Faithful – Pentatonix

  4. Deck the Halls – Tenth Avenue North

  5. We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby (My family always closes our caroling with this song!)


Bake Gingerbread Cookies

The holidays are usually filled with tons of baking in my house. With multiple parties, house guests, and gift exchanges each year, it is crucial to have an ample supply of sweet treats on hand in December! Below is my favorite Gingerbread cookie recipe:


Ingredients:

  • 5-5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp ginger

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp nutmeg

  • 1 tsp cloves

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/4 cup molasses

  • 2 eggs, beaten

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat until just melted.

  3. Add in sugar, molasses, and eggs. Mix well, remove from heat, and cool slightly.

  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in the center. Mix well into a dough.

  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Refrigerated dough will keep for up to a week.

  6. Preheat oven to 375 F.

  7. Roll out dough onto a floured baking mat to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.

  8. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on a greased cookie sheet, or use parchment paper.

  9. Bake for 6-8 minutes for small/medium sized cookies and 10-12 minutes for larger cookies.

  10. Let the cookies cool completely before frosting them. Store in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

If you make these cookies, let me know how they turn out in the comments below!


See Christmas Lights


Another tradition in my family is to go look at lights around my neighborhood and city. We all pile in our old minivan, cocoa in hand, and admire all the decorations, and of course we are blasting our favorite Christmas songs the whole time! If you don’t live in a neighborhood that does a lot of Christmas lights, there are often parks, zoos, or even neighborhoods that have drive-through light exhibits. I have compiled a list of Christmas lights to see in Columbia below. If you aren’t local to the Midlands, you can find these easily with a quick Google search!

  1. Saluda Shoals Holiday Lights on the River

  2. Riverbanks Zoo Before Christmas Lights

  3. Magnificent Dancing Lights Display (residential: 133 Autumn Oaks Ln, Lexington, SC 29073)

  4. Carolina Lights at the Fairgrounds


Make your own garland

I love making my own Christmas decorations because then they are completely original and making them is half the fun! This DIY dried orange garland is super simple to make and results in a beautiful decoration for your mantle, wall, or tree!


Supplies:

  • Oranges or other citrus fruits such as lemons or grapefruit (I typically use naval oranges and sometimes blood oranges or Cara Cara oranges if I can find them!)

  • Sharp knife

  • Cutting board

  • Parchment paper

  • Cookie sheet

  • Tapestry needle

  • String (I use bakers’ twine)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190⁰ F.

  2. Using the knife, slice your oranges on the cutting board into ¼ inch slices. Make sure that you are cutting perpendicular to the orange sections, so that each slice shows all of the sections of fruit. One medium orange makes approx. 8-10 slices.

  3. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

  4. Arrange your orange slices on the sheet in a single layer and bake for 2-4 hours, flipping the oranges about halfway through. Adjust the bake time based on how quickly the oranges dry out. This can vary by the orange, so be sure to check on them every hour or so to make sure they don’t burn!

  5. Once the oranges have cooled, use the tapestry needle to thread the string through two points at the top of each slice, that way the slices will hang flat. Use however many slices you need for your desired length.

  6. Hang on your mantle, wall, or tree! Have fun incorporating other Christmas elements like cranberries, pinecones, or pine branches!


Read an Advent story or devotional

While all the festive activities are loads of fun, this season is also particularly significant because it is Advent: the anticipation and celebration of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There are hundreds of resources online and in print that provide Scripture, devotionals, and reflections on this season. Below are some of my favorite Advent studies and books.

  1. For the family: Jotham’s Journey. This book is a story of a young boy living during the time of Jesus’ birth. Full of adventure and excitement, this is a great evening activity to do with your kids. Each day’s reading includes a piece of the story and an application section.

  2. For women: She Reads Truth Advent. I love this beautifully designed Advent guide because it focuses on Scripture passages that tell the story of Christ’s birth. There are recipes, crafts, and hymns included as well! If you start the book at the beginning of Advent, you can join the online community of women around the world who are reading it too!

  3. For men: He Reads Truth. I haven’t read this one myself, but I have heard great things! It is set up similarly to the She Reads Truth Advent book and includes historical and cultural background information for deeper understanding of the Christmas story!


I hope you find this list inspiring as you enjoy this season with your friends and family! I want to hear your favorite Christmas traditions! Let me know in the comments below!


Merry Christmas!

Hello!

If you don't recognize my name, that's because I am fairly new around here! My name is Laura, and I am the Marketing Specialist here at Oliver Gospel Mission. My job includes everything from social media to print design, branding plans to press releases, and a lot in between!


One of my favorite parts about my job is that I get to hear people's stories of transformation and write about them. You will see my name pop up on occasion here on the blog as I tell stories of transformation from our guests, volunteers, and donors!