A few years ago a friend posted on Facebook about how she and her son with autism were taking pictures around town with various nativity scenes. They were out looking everywhere for nativities. It was a great bonding time for them as well as a way to keep Jesus in the forefront of the season. Stealing her idea, I turned it into a fun holiday tradition that we affectionately call Going On A Manger Hunt.
We either pack a picnic or go to a special restaurant. Which one we do is dependent on the weather but don’t tell the kids. If it’s especially cold then no go on eating outside. Logan can’t handle the sensory issues of cold and wind. In order to make it successful for everyone, we need to make it successful for him. I recognize his limitations and adapt as necessary.I am aware that our idea of cold when we were in Central Florida and now in Southern Arizona is far different than others who live further north. I don’t want to start off the event with grumpy, cold children. Besides, they will be getting out of the car a ton during our hunt.
After our tummies are full, the manger hunt begins. We hop in the car to begin the great journey to find as many mangers as we can. Christmas music blasts from the car speakers as the hunt begins. Michael usually drives while I have camera duty. We start with places where we know there are nativities already set up. Churches are predominantly good for this. When someone sees one, they yell “Manger alert”. We pull over by the manger where the children hop out so I can take their picture with it. Then they hop back in to the next one.
We keep doing this as we drive around town looking at Christmas lights. We laugh and talk about where we saw them last year while sipping on our drinks, hot chocolate if it’s cold or a soda/sweet tea if it’s not. Michael and I have the route mapped out to see the maximum number of Christmas lights and mangers. A fun idea to make a bathroom stop is to go to a big box store like Target or Kohls. You can use their facilities while also running through the Christmas department to see if you can find any ornaments with nativities or nativities set up in that area. You get nice bathrooms plus you are still on the hunt.
While we find most of the mangers predominantly that night, we will continue to look and take pictures all month long. My favorite part is to come home , print them , then attach them to the back of our front door to remind us of the true reason for the season. Sometimes I will even let the children attach them to their doors instead to make the house more festive. Either way, it is a fun family tradition that keeps us focused on Jesus who is the real reason for the season.
Of course my children are now teenagers or young adults so this makes getting out of the care possible. When Logan was younger and prone to wander or elope, I would never have allowed him out of the car multiple times. Talk about a recipe for disaster. Maybe you have bigs and littles so you need something for all of them. When my great nieces and nephews started joining us , we had to come up with something for them to do as well. Enter Nativity Bingo. I totally cheat for prizes on this one. Remember The Great Pumpkin Tradition from Halloween? I totally divvy up that candy into several prize bags for the “winner” of each Bingo round. You could either call out the Bingo squares or you could have them call it out as soon as they see it. Whatever works for your family. Click the picture to hop over to my store!