This meaningful Shepherd’s Dinner Christmas tradition will bring the true sprint of the holiday’s into your home and your hearts. Christ is our Good Shepherd. Teach your family about Jesus with this simple lesson and festive dinner.
There are so many fun things to do during Christmas time. I love going to see the lights, watching Christmas movies, singing around the piano, visiting Santa, shopping and wrapping, attending ugly sweater parties, opening advent calendars, and sleeping under the Christmas tree. All of these things make Christmas special and memorable.
Create a new tradition this Christmas. A Shepherd’s Dinner is meaningful and fun.
I wanted to introduce a new tradition to my family this year that I heard about from a good friend of mine. When she first told me about this special night that she plans each December, I got chills. It felt so right. It felt holy.
Sometimes, during all the busy festivities of the Season, I don’t spend enough time teaching my family about Jesus. It is HIS birthday after all! The tradition of a Shepherds Dinner fills this missing piece perfectly. My good friend shared some photos from her yearly Shepherd’s Dinner with us. I hope to add my own pictures to the collection this December as well. I am confident my family will love it as much as her family does. And, yours will too.
Shepherd’s Dinner Setting and Decorations
You can plan your special shepherd’s dinner on Christmas Eve, or, any night close to Christmas. First, lets talk about the setting! The shepherds kept watch over their flock by night. They were of humble means. The shepherds ate their meals under the stars sitting on the ground in the fields.
Serve your dinner on the floor. Spread out some blankets to cover your carpet and lay a few pillows around for resting on. You can string lights across the “sky” or light candles and turn on your Christmas Tree. It should feel cozy and comfortable. In Utah, it is too cold to eat outside. But, if you live somewhere warm, you could plan your dinner outdoors under the real stars. That would be amazing.
If you want to get extra fancy, dress your family up in basic shepherd’s attire. Wrap a towel or fabric square on your child’s head and secure it with a strip of fabric around his or her forehead. Wear robes. There are a lot of fun pictures online of easy shepherd costumes. Or, just put on your Christmas Pajamas and get snuggly together.
Shepherd’s Dinner Christmas Menu
I am not an expert on what actual shepherd’s during the time of Christ ate while they were keeping watch over their flocks. But, it is safe to assume it was basic food that could be packed like a picnic. Does that sound like kid food to you?! My kids love picnics.
Serve flat pita bread. Costco has some amazing pita bread that you can buy and then warm up like a tortilla on the stove. My kids gobble it up with just a little bit of melted butter on the top. Black olives, chopped veggies, and dried fruit are all great additions. You could serve hummus dip with veggies or pita chips. Sliced apples with a cheese tray would also be yummy! Bake fish with a little bit of butter and seasonings and serve it with the pita bread. There are so many fun options. Think finger foods!
Serve the dinner on the floor in the center of your group. You can put it out on wooden trays, or regular plates. Sitting together as a family around a good meal is probably the most cherished traditions of all time.
During your dinner you can start a fun conversation about shepherds. Ask questions like, “Would you like to be a shepherd?” “What do you think the shepherds did for fun?” “What does a sheep sound like?” “How many sheep do you think they had in their fold?” “Would you like sleeping out under the stars?” “Would you dare pet a sheep?” “How do you think their wool feels?”
This conversation should be age appropriate, therefore, silly, and engaging. Let your children talk and imagine. Play and have fun together.
Family Shepherd’s Dinner Lesson about Christ
One of my favorite scriptures from the Book of Mormon states, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” Take a few minutes after your dinner to talk about Jesus Christ. Tell the story of his birth and the purpose of his life.
Start the discussion with the shepherds. The shepherds were keeping watch over their flock by night. They must have been humble because they were the group chosen to hear about the coming of baby Jesus.
Read together from the Bible…
Read the account from the Bible in Luke Chapter 2 Verses 8-20.
The shepherds saw a multitude of heavenly hosts. That means, they saw a big group of angles. There are only a tiny handful of times that more than one angel has come to visit a person or people on earth. The number of angles that sang the night of Jesus’s birth shows how important it was that Christ was born. It was the most special time!
The shepherd’s were men of action. They did what the angels asked them to do. They were not afraid to share the good news they had heard from the heavenly messenger. We can be like the shepherds. How? By doing what God has asked us to do. We can share the good news of the gospel with our friends and neighbors.
They got to see the brand new baby Jesus because they came with haste. They saw the baby in the manger and then shared their testimony with the world.
Think about how their night changed. They started the evening just like usual. Then, a miracle happened! They saw angels. The shepherds heard heavenly choirs sing. They saw the Son of God. It was a night like no other.
Visualize what it was like for the shepherds on that holy night…
Have your family lay on their back and close their eyes. Tell them to picture being there on the night of Jesus’ birth. Have them imagine! Listen to the sheep baaaaa. Feel the cool evening breeze. Smell the dirt and the trees. Watch as the dark sky lights up with a bright glow. Hear the angles sing! Feel how the chorus of angels would you make your heart feel.
Ask the question: But, WHY was Jesus so important?
Why was HIS birth a miracle? Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He is our Redeemer. He came to earth so that we could be saved and live with Heavenly Father again. Jesus watches over us just like the shepherds in the story took care of their sheep. Shepherds, like the one in the Christmas story, loved their sheep. They spent day and night taking care of them. They were always standing guard, ready to defend their animals from harm. Jesus cares about us the same way and loves us unconditionally.
Ask everyone to sit up and look at a picture of Jesus. Read the scripture in John 10:8. Jesus is speaking. He says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Jesus will always take care of us. He already gave his life for us so that we can live forever! We celebrate his birth at Christmas.
Ask your children to say one thing they love about Jesus. Take a moment to bear your own testimony of the divinity of Christ and his singular purpose in your life.
Shepherd’s Dinner Ornament Craft Christmas Tradition
You can take this general idea and make it your own. I thought it would be fun to make a sheep or shepherd themed craft each year. Maybe a fun ornament to hang on the Christmas tree? Make a fluffy puff ball sheep or a pipe cleaner shepherd’s crook. You could hang little pictures of christ on a string and write a simple testimony on the back. Each year, make a new shepherd’s dinner ornament for your tree. You could include angels or the star of Bethlehem as well! Think of how your special Shepherd’s Dinner ornaments will light up the Christmas tree with meaningful memories of Christ.
Are you going to add this tradition to your Christmas lineup? I can’t wait to give it a try. The more we talk about Jesus and the gift He is to our families the stronger our testimonies will grow. We will draw closer to Him and His spirit will be evermore present in our homes and hearts! Merry Christmas.
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