Question of the week: How do I help single parents celebrate Christmas this year?


I have to think it out


There are those around you who are dreading Christmas and the build-up to it.

It’s easy to lose sight of this when you get caught up in the excitement of the season and the joy of celebrating the birth of our Savior. “Merry Christmas!” exclaim many Christians this time of the year. Just thinking of Christmas can bring warm feelings and memories to the mind and heart.

That’s not the case with many struggling single parents. In your community (and probably inside your church), there are many single-parent families who are barely surviving this Christmas. While a good number are struggling financially, many more are struggling emotionally. Some single parents will merely tolerate the holiday season this year.

For those you encounter who are divorcing or are single parents, the words “Merry Christmas” equate to the words in the second chapter of James: “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed.” Now while that certainly sounds like a reasonable farewell, the text goes on to say that if a person says that to another but does nothing about his physical needs, “what good is it?” (James 2:16). How can a person keep warm and have a full stomach if he has no resources?

For many single parents, the Christmas holidays can become an entire season to be endured, so I ask you: When you say “Merry Christmas,” what good is it if that is all you do? How is that bringing our Savior’s love to the hurting? Is that why Jesus left heaven, came to earth as a humble, little baby, and slept in a straw manger? Just so we could say “Merry Christmas”? Or so we could barely survive the holidays?

As a tiny, little baby with tender skin, He couldn’t have been comfortable in that little manger. Can’t the rest of us withstand a little discomfort today to help each other get through the holidays? More than likely, if you stop to think about people who need support during the holidays, many single parents will come to mind.

In one church, the leaders of a DivorceCare for Kids group helped the children give their single parents Christmas presents. As one young mom left the class, the leader said, “Now put that under your tree, and don’t open it until Christmas.” The mom responded, “Don’t worry. It will probably be the only present under the tree for me.”

Christmas gifts

Perhaps this year, you can help children from divorced homes make two presents, one for each home. If possible, make it something useful that the single parent can use. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Christmas tree ornament
  • A package of special tea, such as strawberry tea or another fruity flavor
  • A Christmas-decorated container full of hot chocolate mix
  • Decorated Ziploc bag of bath soaps (you need to have several soaps available for the children to choose from.)
  • Framed pictures of the children decorated with Christmas artwork

Some single parents will need help providing gifts for their own children. Perhaps these families can be added to an Angel Tree.

Suggest new traditions single parents can adopt in their newly formed families

When my children were in elementary school, a friend gave me a great idea. We used it until my children were grown. Each year for Christmas, I gave them my children their very own two-liter bottle of soda or punch and their very own bag of their favorite chips. They didn’t have to share these items and could take them to their rooms if they wanted. This became an important tradition for my children, and they looked forward to their special treat each year.

Find the single parents who will be alone this Christmas

Another suggestion is to keep your eyes and ears open to find single parents who will spend Christmas Day alone. I have been in this situation, and it is so lonely to be completely by yourself. I couldn’t force myself to ask others if I could spend the day with them. It would have been nice just to know I was invited to spend time with a family in my church.

I hope this will get you started thinking about Christmas for the single-parent families in your church.

What are you doing for the children of divorce and the single parents in your church this year?


This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on

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3 thoughts on “Question of the week: How do I help single parents celebrate Christmas this year?

  1. Unfortunately, Christmas can be so stressful…especially with an “this isn’t how I pictured it” Christmas. Here are a few things we do for our single parent families at Christmas:

    1) We throw a Christmas party for the whole family that is F-U-N! We invite all the single parent families in our church and serve them a lunch right after the service (they are already dressed and are hungry too). We are give each family a gift (this year it’s a chocolate advent calendar) and we play fun games (emcee comes in a plays camp style group games…Christmas style) and then we all go to our churches Christmas pageant.

    2) Our church gives gifts to families in the community in need each year. In our single parent ministry we privately collect names of families and serve them behind the scenes. We don’t want them to be seen as needy to their church family.

    3) At the women’s dine by design banquet, we purchase the table and invite moms that want to go! We also give them an ornament for their tree. It gives them a night out to laugh and be with friends.

    4) The families serve together at the ‘Christmas Store’ that serves the community by giving out Christmas gifts

    5) Our theme this season is “CHERISH” and they are encouraged to find ways to cherish this time together and we challenge them to make NEW traditions as a family!

    6) In our single parent Bible study, we have themes leading up to the season on holiday stress, loneliness, forgiveness, etc. We cover the topics biblically, life application and a counseling perspective. We allow for plenty of process time with each other by asking questions in 3rd person. This is a time that the parents especially need to process with other parents so that they are not isolated…they are needing the encouragement of other believers.

    • Holly, what a wonderful Christmas season you provide for the single parents at your church. Thank you so much for the great ideas. The single parents at your church are blessed.

  2. Pingback: DC4K » Kids & Divorce Christmas Greetings: Compilation of all the Christmas Posts This Season

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