The Best Gift
Introduce the idea of Jesus being a gift from God to us all.
by Gill O'Neill
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To introduce the idea of Jesus being a gift to us all from God.
Preparation and materials
- Have with you (or perhaps under a Christmas tree if there is one in the hall), a small pile of presents. Try to choose a few plain shapes (e.g. a book or box), but also include one or two whose contents can be easily guessed (e.g. a bottle, a teddy bear, a particularly obvious-shaped box of chocolates, like Roses or Toblerone).
- One present needs to be a box containing a small baby doll wrapped in swaddling clothes (or a picture of baby Jesus), together with a cardboard heart shape and a cross or crucifix. Wrap the box and place with the other gifts.
- Have some fun writing labels for the presents (they can be to yourself from fictitious relatives, or to other members of staff). The final box should have a large label which reads, 'To you all, with love'.
- You will also need a long piece of paper with a list of some of your jobs to be done before Christmas. Include on this list:
- Deciding what people would like to receive.
- Going to the bank to withdraw some money.
- Buying presents (list the shops, websites, catalogues, etc.).
- Buying wrapping paper, tags and ribbons.
- Finding the scissors and sticky tape.
- Wrapping up the presents.
- Buying the parcel paper.
- Wrapping up the parcels.
- Going to the post office to buy stamps.
- Posting/delivering the parcels.
- Begin the assembly by telling the children that Advent is a time of getting ready for Christmas, and that you have a list of jobs 'as long as your arm' to be done before Christmas arrives. Ask the children to make some suggestions of things that might be on your list.
Read out your list and tick off the things that you have done and then emphasize the jobs that are to do with buying and sending gifts.
- Now tell the children that as well as enjoying giving presents you also enjoy receiving presents. Explain that you always like to guess what might be in the present before you open it.
Show the children the pile of presents. Ask them if they would mind if you have a look at them together. Hold up the presents (except for the last box) and read the labels. Ask the children to guess what might be in each. Open the presents yourself or ask for volunteers (if the labels are to staff members they might like to open them for you), to see if you were right.
- Ask a few children what present they would most like to receive this Christmas.
- Point out that you have forgotten one present. Pick up the box and look at it, smell it and give it a little shake. Ask them if they can guess what is in it. Give some examples of what it couldn't be, e.g. it can't be a Ferrari, or a set of new saucepans, or a new computer.
Ask a volunteer to come up and open your last present, and to read the label out loud first, before unwrapping it. Once they have removed the wrapping paper get them to describe the contents of the box. Hold up the baby, then the heart and then the cross. Ask what the children think each object represents.
- Tell the children that Christians believe that Jesus was the most important gift from God to all humankind. He loved us so much that Jesus was prepared to give up his life for us. Tell the children that this is why we give gifts at Christmas: to remind each other of God's love for us, and of our love for one another.
Time for reflection
We thank you that at that first Christmas
You gave us Jesus, your only son.
To share the joy of Peace on Earth,
A gift from you, to everyone.
Help us not to forget, Lord,
As we open our presents and play,
The gift of your love you gave to us all
On that first Christmas day.
'The best gift' (Come and Praise, 59)
Publication date: December 2002 (Vol.4 No.12) Published by SPCK, London, UK.