Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I finally completed my Advent Calendar. Its been a year in the making... and I know its still a work in progress, but I think it is perfect for our family for this year.

There are so many different ways to make these Advent Calendars and things you can do with them, but the key is the point of them - to help you and your family prepare their hearts for Christmas. I wanted a calendar that focused on Jesus... not just the Nativity story, but the salvation story of this Savior born. The scripture portion of my calendar still needs some work, but its a good start. As far as activities, I tried to do a combination of fun activities and activities that are meaningful and help teach my kids the true meaning of Christmas - giving!

This morning I woke up to several requests on info about my calendar... and I warn you, it is nothing special... quite simple, in fact. There are much more elaborate ones out there with better ideas and more colorful paper, but I know this was perfect for my family for this year. So, here's the info for you to use if you want. Or check out Pinterest for lots more ideas!

This is what mine looks like. I bought this unit last year and finally just decorated it with scrapbook paper. I wish I would have stuck with socks on a string. lol

Inside each box is a scripture and activity. The scriptures are numbered and should correspond with the day. The activities should be based on your families needs that week. In fact, I have a secret envelope taped to the back with the activities, and I will only fill them in a week at a time. I sure don't want to "Make a Gingerbread house" on the same day I have doctor appointments for all three kids after school. That would be a "Read a Christmas Book" kind of day. And if I know a Christmas Parade is taking place on Dec 21, then I will make sure I put "Go to a Christmas Parade" in that box in advance.

For the Scriptures to use on each day, click here.
For the activity ideas, click here.

I also have some other Christmas Resources that may help you this season...
Each year I use a spreadsheet for Christmas. It helps me track each person I buy for. I can set a budget and actually track how much I have spent. Each year I rename the file and change the gifts and possibly the amounts depending on how much we can afford that year.Christmas List and Budget, click here.

Another family tradition is that our children only get 3 gifts from us each year. Other family members buy for them too, but for us, if 3 gifts were good for Jesus, that's good for us! We try to follow the example of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. My sister-in-law shared this with us and you can find the story here.

As a former teacher, I can tell you that the holidays means a lot of lotions or mugs. I try to give Caleb's teachers something practical. For Caleb's homeroom teacher last year and this year I have done Pampered Chef's Celebration Cookie Mix (click here). And I attach a letter that you can find here. For his other teachers I bought a Pampered Chef Ice Cream Scoop and will write "The scoop is in - You're the best teacher in town!" I also like the idea of filling a Pampered Chef Whisk with Hershey Kisses and writing a note that says "We wish you a Merry Kissmas! I have LOTS of these ideas... just call, email or text and I can help you with the largest to smallest gifts on your list.

Lastly, I am doing a cookie exchange this year. I've invited a bunch of friends, and we will all get together for some friends and fun... and of course, cookies! Each person brings 6 dozen of the SAME cookie. Then we all put them out on my table and go around the table making platters of all the different types of cookies. So fun! I found these "rules" on the web if you want to use them too - click here.

My best advice for the season is not to get too caught up in presents, advent calendars, making cookies, or especially Santa. Do whatever the Lord leads you to make sure He is the true reason for the season. That may mean you need to be purposeful about all of this and it may mean you do nothing at all. Pray about what is best for your family and have fun with the best birthday party of the year - Jesus' birthday!

Merry Christmas!!

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