CBP: Why did you decide to come out with What God Wants for Christmas?
STEPHANIE: Well, basically we kind of hit a huge nerve, I guess, with Resurrection Eggs. We distributed over a million of those – they’ve been a hot item for over ten years, which is unheard of. Most people have a life span of three years for their product.
And just the connections, you can do it as a family, it’s kid friendly; but there’s nothing really like that out there for Christmas. There’s a lot of stuff that talks about when Christ came and how exciting and we give each other presents, and that’s all there is. What’s the rest of the story? Why did He come? Let’s kind of fast forward and talk about Easter, but really tell what was the purpose for Him coming. That’s What God Wants For Christmas is all about.
So it’s an interactive, kid friendly nativity that includes a very colorful pop-up manger.
CBP: I had to buy two of those actually because the first one that you gave me got used so much, they played with all the time.
STEPHANIE: Or they lose the pieces – the pop-up matches all of the illustrations throughout the booklet. And the booklet includes all kinds of information in the front about how to make it an experience for your family; how to use it in different situations, like if you wanted to do an outreach, if you wanted to have a Christmas party in your home and invite all of your children’s friends, or invite the neighborhood kids over with their parents. And what we found is when we showed this to adults – we’ve done market studies with kids and they responded great to it – when we showed this to buyers from different companies or Christian retailers, they tear up at the end. And to me, it’s like it’s made for children, but yet adults are so impacted by it.
CBP: Well, the message is a moving one.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. And it doesn’t matter – we’re all basically children inside. It’s child-like and that’s what this touches on. But we also have different ways we can use it in the classroom like for Sunday school classes or as an outreach for the poor. There’s a scavenger hunt component to it for older children. Like if you have different age kids – you might have a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old, well, they’re going to experience it very differently. The 4-year-old may want to go through every single box and play with the figures and truck them around in their Fisher Price school bus – you know, they’re playing with it. But the 10-year-old is like, “Well, that’s not really cool.” But the scavenger hunt component, it interacts with them a little differently. And then you can do plays and dramas, there’s other creative ways that they can play with it.
So box number one, you can do it in one sitting like if you want to do it all at once like on Christmas Eve, or they can do it advent style leading up to Christmas. Box number one is Gabriel. It’s all in poetic format and he’s the narrator of the story. You can place Gabriel in the nativity wherever you want to. It corresponds with the verse. And the poem is really neat because it’s kind of that Dr. Seuss – What does God want for Christmas and the surprise is inside and you’ll find that in Box Number 7.
“What God wants for Christmas is to hear a surprise in Box Number 7 it is in disguise, but no peeking! Be patient, for this you must wait, it’s what you offer Him and it’s really great!” That stanza is throughout every character; that kind of building up of anticipation.
So Box Number 2 is Mary. Box Number 3 is Joseph. And what’s great about this too is it talks about what God wanted from them as part of the story, and what they had to give God. Of course, there is baby Jesus – most people are surprised the Box Number 4 is that because they usually end with that. Box Number 5 is the shepherds. Box Number 6 is the wise men. So you’re thinking, “We have all the major figures in here, who’s left?” Box Number 7, “What God wants for Christmas, now here’s the surprise, in Box Number 7 is in disguise, peek in the box for so long you have waited, what God wants is you, the one He created.”
And that stanza I think is great because it’s got immediate response most people have is, “Me you ask? Why is this so? I cannot wrap me and put on a bow. No you cannot, but what you can give are the choices you make in the life that you live.” Then it goes on and explains to them how they can give their life to Christ.
CBP: I’m choking up! It really is so beautiful that it reminds people of the reason that Jesus came.
STEPHANIE: Yeah. And it says, “Pray now and offer your life and your heart. Say, Jesus I need you, I’d like you to start. Forgive me today for the sins I’ve committed so one day in heaven I’ll be permitted. When you pray this decision, the heavens rejoice that you have made worship a part of your life’s choice. God wants you to know Him, so choose every day to love God and thank God and give Him honor.”
CBP: That’s a great reminder for parents; it’s such a hectic time and remember what it’s all about.
STEPHANIE: It’s hard to even read it. Because it’s just so good, it’s so true. The rest of the booklet is just information on how to lead a child to Christ, questions that they may have, but it’s all on a child’s level. So basically we tried to give everything to the parent or the Sunday school teacher or adult that’s leading the children through it.
CBP: What ages do you expect to target it at?
STEPHANIE: I would say three or four and up. We’ve done market research with Kindergarten and First grade and they got it like that.
The thing about this is it makes evangelism easy. Everything is in the back, you don’t need to go buy anything, you don’t have to read up, you don’t have to be a theologian or go to seminary.
CBP: It would be great to use it as a neighborhood evangelistic tool. Do you have supplemental materials on your website that aren’t in the book?
STEPHANIE: The website is WhatGodWantsForChristmas.com, and it will be up like around the first of August. We’ll be shipping this out in September; it will probably be out in the stores right after Thanksgiving.