You’re a nice person and you like to respect the standards and beliefs of all your friends. So now you have a Mormon friend and you can see she belongs to a strict religion, but you’re not sure what the rules are. Christmas is coming and you’re wondering if you can invite her to your Christmas party, give her a gift or ask if she wants to go caroling.
Yes, Mormons celebrate Christmas. Mormon beliefs include accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and so they celebrate His birth. They do a lot of spiritual things to celebrate, but most Mormon families also do the fun stuff associated with the more secular celebration. They’re just asked not to let that part become more important than the spiritual parts.
This means if you’re having a Christmas party, you can invite your Mormon friend. Mormons do go to parties—in fact, most of them are pretty big fans of parties, but they do have a few rules about the kinds of parties they will go to, especially if they’re teenagers. Here are the rules so you’ll know how to prepare:
Mormon teens don’t drink alcohol, use drugs, or smoke. They don’t go to teen parties where people are doing those things, either, especially since it’s illegal, but also because they aren’t comfortable in that environment. If that’s the kind of party you have, don’t invite your Mormon friend because you’ll put her in an awkward position—but you might ask her to show you how to plan a different type of party one day so you can decide if her kind is more fun. You might be surprised.
Mormon teens don’t drink coffee or regular tea. (Herbal teas are okay, as long as there is no real tea in it.) They do drink sodas. Some Mormons choose not to drink sodas with caffeine, so ask your friend if you’re not sure. They can also drink other things, like juice or milk.
Music and Dancing:
Mormon teens are careful about the kinds of music they listen to. They can listen to most of the popular music but they try to avoid music with lyrics that send a bad message or music that stirs up the wrong kinds of feelings.
Your Mormon friend probably has a booklet called For the Strength of Youth. This book explains the moral standards Mormon teenagers try to live up to. You can ask your friend for a copy or read it online.
This booklet will help you figure out what your friend is comfortable with at a party. The booklet talks about music and says:
“Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Don’t listen to music that drives away the Spirit, encourages immorality, glorifies violence, uses foul or offensive language, or promotes Satanism or other evil practices.”
Give some thought to the music you’ll be playing at your party. There are a lot of great songs that meet those standards. Your Mormon friend doesn’t expect you to only play Christian music, but do listen to the words of the songs you are planning to play to see what they’re really saying. Then choose the ones that won’t offend anyone. There are so many choices you won’t have trouble finding moral music that is fun for everyone else. Your friend will probably have some you can borrow, as well.
Mormons are allowed to dance. In fact, most congregations hold regular free dances for their teens and their teenagers’ friends. Before going to them, you have to meet with a church leader for a few minutes and learn the rules. You’ll have to agree to obey them and you’ll get a little card that says you’ve promised to do that. The card lets you into the dances. If you attend a few, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what kind of party Mormons like. Just like everything else, though, there are standards for the dancing your Mormon friend will do. Here’s what For the Strength of Youth says:
“Dancing can be fun and can provide an opportunity to meet new people. However, it too can be misused. When dancing, avoid full body contact with your partner. Do not use positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual behavior. Plan and attend dances where dress, grooming, lighting, lyrics, and music contribute to a wholesome atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord may be present.”
The secret, then, is to imagine God or Jesus at your dance as a chaperone. If you think your friend would still be willing to be there with God in the room, it’s probably okay. After all, Mormons believe the Holy Ghost is always with them as long as they are where the Holy Spirit is comfortable being. If the Holy Ghost flees, they do, too.
And speaking of chaperones…your Mormon teen will expect a chaperone to be present. It’s likely her parents will call your parents to make sure your parents will be monitoring the party.
It really makes a party easier when responsible adults are watching. How many times have you found yourself in an awkward situation at a party and wished there was an adult to stop it so you wouldn’t have to? When a parent is around, kids are not likely to drink, be destructive, or try to put you in an uncomfortable moral situation. You will be free to have fun without worrying that someone will get carried away and ruin everything.
Mormon teens have high moral standards, so they aren’t going to want to go to a party where most people are kissing. They prefer to keep things light—dance, eat, talk, play games…it’s safer and really, it’s more fun. You get to know a lot more people when you don’t pair off in a dark corner all night. The best way to keep that from happening is to have a plan for the evening. Keep things moving along and when people start wandering off on their own, get them back into the mix by announcing a new game or activity.
If you’ve never had the kind of party we’re talking about here, gather up a few Mormon friends, or other kids with high standards, and ask them to teach you how to do it. The planning is more fun in a group and the party will be more fun, too. Your friends can help you co-host it and watch for problems.
Now for the other parts of Christmas:
It’s perfectly okay to give your Mormon friend a Christmas gift, but don’t spend a lot of money on it. A lot of Mormon teens like simple gifts or even gift certificates—not to a store, but for time with you or a service from you. Be creative. Offer to do a little sewing if she can’t sew and you can. Give a book of coupons for help with algebra or a special outing in which you let her choose the activity,
You could even give her a gift certificate that says you will go to church with her three times. She’d rather have that than anything else, and it won’t cost you a dime. (Mormons don’t pass a collection plate, even.) You wouldn’t have to join or commit to anything but a chance to learn more about her beliefs and an important part of her life you might not know too much about.
So, Christmas is coming and your Mormon friend is celebrating with a mixture of hymns, uplifting stories, scripture reading…and parties and gifts. Enjoy the season with her.