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12 ways to make the most of Christmas

Some of us are natural scrooges. We're wishing the next month or so away! Does your heart sink at the thought of presents to buy, shops to trawl round, food to cook…? Well think again! Christmas is a great opportunity for us as Christians. Instead of getting fed up, here’s 12 ways to make the most of it this year - if we plan now:

[1] Get to know your neighbours. Maybe you’ve been on ‘hello’ terms for years with the people on the street. Why not get them round for mulled wine and mince pies? I bet they’d come!

[2] Give you neighbours an invitation. Knocking on doors? No thanks! But at Christmas, it’s somehow natural: ‘Hello, I’m from no. 39 - we're involved in St Andrew's at Wellfield, and we're inviting people to come at Christmas...'

[3] Bring people to a Christmas service. Many people who don’t come to church love to come at Christmas - but they just want a friend to invite them. Could you be that friend?

[4] Chat to people. If you’re stuck in a shop queue for half an hour, don’t be sour-faced and miserable like everyone else - give the person behind a bit of the Christmas spirit!

[5] Invite people for Christmas day. Why should it be the same closed family group every year? Encourage someone from church by inviting them to join you!

[6] Enjoy the long evenings. They’re not something to moan about - they’re an opportunity to socialise! Don’t sit alone with the telly in December: have people round for food, drinks, games, films …

[7] Give real presents. Instead of indulging in the greedy materialism of our age, give something that counts: a Christian book, an offer of help, a financial gift to a Christian charity.

[8] Visit someone. Christmas can be a lonely time for some. Bring some cheer by taking time out of the busyness for a visit.

[9] Read a good book. Get something off '10 of' that you’ll really enjoy, and have ‘Telly-free evenings’!

[10] Go to the staff parties. Spend time with colleagues … but stand out as different!

[11] Talk about Jesus … not Santa. Traditions can be fun. But don’t blur truth and lies! And show children the true wonder of Christmas, rather than ‘What are you getting…’

[12] Read your bible. Those accounts of Jesus birth in Matthew and Luke take our breath away. Why not read them afresh, and be thrilled all over again with Jesus?