When our kids were little, we started a tradition that I can’t even remember how we got started. You’ve heard of the ‘elf on the shelf’ that seems to be popular this year, well ours is ‘Baby Jesus, not in the manager’!
When we put out our manger scene every year, we do not put baby Jesus is the manger, we hide him somewhere, in the specified room. The person who hides him is the person that found him the previous year. We do this until Christmas Eve and then at midnight, or earlier depending on the ages of your children, the last person to find him gets to put him in the manager.
When we first started, our daughter was only 3 or so. We had hidden the baby in an easy place, so she could find him, and as she ran down the stone entry way, so excited to show us that she had found him, she dropped him and broke him. She was heartbroken that she had ‘broken’ baby Jesus. After that we got a hard plastic set, which had a baby that could be removed from the manager, and have used that one since, adding pieces to it every year. We probably have 50 pieces including animals, wise men, shepherds, and of course the blessed family.
We select one room, so it doesn’t take forever to find him, and gives us all a chance to find and hide him many times. It can get pretty crazy at the end of Christmas Eve, before the clock strikes 12:00. EVERYONE is looking super hard, so they can have the honor of putting the baby in the manager. Our kids are grown, and will still try to find and hide him whenever they are over. I can’t wait for my Grandkids to get old enough that they can join in.
Have fun with this, make up your own rules, and make sure to include young and old alike. But watch out for those who will hide the goat, trying to make you think it’s baby Jesus!!