Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for people who love to entertain! Opportunities abound for gatherings, parties, soirees, whatever suits your fancy! So, if you have an entertainer on your gift list, it’s the perfect time to give them a gift that makes entertaining easier and a little more fun. So, I’ve rounded up for you the top-ten must have items for entertaining. At price points ranging from $5-$100 you’re sure to find just the right thing to bring a smile to the hostess extraordinaire in your life. Or maybe you just need to pick up a couple of these things for yourself to get through the holiday season! So, without further ado, let’s check this out -…
Have you ever found yourself tearing up and thanking the Lord for bringing something into your life at just the right time?! That was me earlier this fall. I was crying out to the Lord, desperately trying to find a way to keep my family from succumbing to the power of the Christmas rush. Christ was missing from Christmas. I craved something different, something fresh, something – – – authentic. Christmas was starting to slip into the stores and into the media featuring immaculately set tables, families opening giant flat screen TV’s and scenes of traffic jams and shopping madness. When did this happen?!?!?
As I child in the 80’s, I know you still had to be intentional about keeping the Christ in Christmas but I don’t think any of us could see how much more difficult it would get. It’s been 50 years since A Charlie Brown Christmas hit mainstream network television proclaiming the point of Christmas to be the birth of Jesus not a flock of pastel, aluminum trees. I can still close my eyes and see Linus, clutching his blanket reciting the famous passage from Luke. Now, you’re hard pressed to even find a religious Christmas Carol on a holiday special.
As a parent, it hurts my heart. I want my kids to enjoy the magic of Christmas, we aren’t anti-Santa but, most importantly, I want them to understand the true magnitude of the day not just the materialism. So, that’s where I found myself, trolling the internet, desperate for not just resources but a total overhaul of our approach to Christmas. That’s when God led me to an Advent Conspiracy. The Advent Conspiracy is a total paradigm switch on Christmas. It takes the four weeks leading up to the big day and devotes them to the life changing ideas of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. Wow. Isn’t that what Christmas should all be about?
Advent Conspiracy provides tons of free resources to help you implement the program at home. It starts with a family devotional packet you can use to guide your discussion each week. It’s full of fantastic illustrations and convicting examples that hit the heart of each topic and it’s easy to bring it down to the level of toddlers. As part of their Family Resource Bundle, they also have great printable cards, gift wrap and gift tags that all point to the bigger purpose.
Some of my favorite activities are found under Sunday School in the Church Resources Bundle. There’s a letter with Santa scratched out and Papa God written in its place. Just like a mad lib, you can help your kids fill in the blanks and work through the mental shift of give me more, more, more to being thankful that they have everything they need plus so much more. It also helps them pause and consider the needs of kids who don’t share their good fortune. They also a fantastic worship jar idea where you can fill it with different ways to worship and pull one out throughout the season. And guess what, everything is 100% free. My favorite price tag!
Reprioritizing your Christmas
If you’ve read my previous posts about pre-scheduling your Christmas, Advent Conspiracy is on the same page. They aren’t about turning Christmas into some heavy, pensive season. They want you to have fun, celebrate and make memories with your family. So plan to bake cookies, or look at Christmas lights, or go to a Christmas concert. But they are also going to challenge you to give more of your time and money to those who are less fortunate. Consider things like serving at a food bank or a soup kitchen or spending less on your gifts so you can give the gift of fresh water to a community in another country. A lot of their suggestions are geared for slightly older kids but I think with a little noodling you can bring them down to the toddler level.
Keeping the Story of Christ Always in Mind
Separate from the Advent Conspiracy, we are doing several things to keep the Christmas Story our main focus.
First off, I’ve purchased an inexpensive but realistic plastic nativity. I plan to place this at kid level in my living room. To start, it will only have animals in it (borrowed from our farm set – I’m nothing if not resourceful). I’m going to place Mary and Joseph on one end of the house and the wise men on the other. The shepherds, I’ll put somewhere in the living room, near to the stable.
Similar to “Elf on the Shelf,” these groups will move slowly, a little each night, toward the stable. Mary and Joseph will arrive Christmas eve, Jesus and the shepherds on Christmas day, and the wise men will arrive a few days after Christmas. Each day, there will be a fun, game element to finding where the different groups have moved to during the night but it will give us a new opportunity to talk about the story and what’s happening.
Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. There are other people out there fighting the same battles too. Once you come to terms with the fact that you can’t overhaul Christmas for everyone – even your extended family – and focus just on redirecting the celebration for your own family, you’ll feel a big part of the weight lift off your shoulders. So, try some of these ideas with your own family. If they don’t quite work, try something different next year. The point is to keep trying and to keep bringing it back Jesus. Share some of your tried and true ideas for keeping the Christ in Christmas below!
It’s early November and I have one thing on my mind – Christmas. Not because I can’t wait to turn up the Christmas carols and bust out the tree but because I’m determined to slow down and enjoy Christmas. In this world of holiday parties, Santa sightings and gifts that cost hundreds of dollars, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the holidays. The season becomes a blur of stress and commitments with the only thing to show for it being a credit card bill as long as your arm.
As moms, we’re expected to make Christmas magical for our kids – to make lasting memories and traditions. What if we took that charge seriously? What if we dug into the real things that make this season special and got rid of the fluff. What if we had our Christmas “work” done by December 1 so we could actually focus on the things that matter? It’s not a pipe dream and I’m here to tell you how to do it!…
What if you had a whole extra hour of “me” time in your day? What would you do? Exercise? Read a book without pictures? Take a bath? Spend some quality time with the hubby? Actually call a friend to catch up?
Chances are, as a mom with young kids, you probably feel maxed out and the promise of an extra hour a day sounds like a fairytale. But, here’s the truth, you live in a great time to be a mom! We have washing machines, dishwashers, even Roombas! The household tasks that used to define womanhood have been slashed to a fraction of the time they used to take and more than ever, husbands are pitching in too! So why do we all feel so busy and frantic? I’ll tell you a little secret, you don’t have to feel that way. You have the power to transform the tone of your life and bring back that “me” time. Here are five seemingly small things that are stealing away your “me” time….
In a country that has been recently rocked by several disasters, the news has been full of “neighbor helping neighbor” stories but, in reality, there was a lot more “stranger helping stranger” because Americans don’t know their neighbors anymore. What if a Turquoise Table could change that? Help you learn your neighbors names not just their faces. Would you be able to ask them about their day at work and greet their kids by name?
Kristin Schell had this idea. She longed for greater community in her Austin, TX neighborhood. She felt called by the Lord to serve him and make an impact for his kingdom but, with a household of busy kids, it seemed more like a pipe-dream than a calling from the Lord….
We’ve all been there! A birthday is coming up and the birthday boy or girl announces they want a (insert character here) party. The problem is sometimes that character isn’t overflowing the shelves at Target. So how do you plan a party for an obscure character. Here are my four easy tips that I used to plan a Marie from the Aristocats party for my daughter. Take the mystery out of planning a killer party!
With the Fourth of July looming, we’re taking a break from the camping series to provide you with all you ever needed to know about throwing the ultimate backyard party! There is nothing so fun as an outdoor party and you can really take your party to the next level by following a few simple steps….
Food while camping can really make or break a camping trip. It’s easy to forget components or end up spending way too much time on meals, taking away from the fun time! Here are some tips that have made all the difference for us!
Keep it simple!
My husband and I find great joy in food! Not just eating it, we love tackling tough recipes and making the “best” something. But camping isn’t the time for gourmet cooking or a giant smorgasbord. Keep it simple by sticking to dishes that are familiar and camping friendly. Consider how many dishes it will take to prepare the meal. The fewer the dishes the less time will be spent on clean up later….
Congratulations! You’ve done it! You’ve made the commitment to explore the great outdoors, toddlers in tow, on a camping trip! This is going to be a great experience for your family but there will be some challenges. One of the big challenges is keeping your kiddos entertained. Just like us, modern children are a little too used to TV at the push of a button. Even if you think you’re good about limiting screen time, you may be surprised how “lost” your kids might be in the wilderness. Just like you, they’ll need some time to hone their “unplugged” lifestyle. There are some good, old fashioned activities you can bring to help them be more successful. Remember, to have a nice balance between structured activities and unstructured time. Boredom is actually really good for kids. It forces them to self-entertain and get creative. I like to give these activities out one at a time to encourage the growth of their attention span and rewind from their normally overstimulated life….
Whether you tent camp, tent trailer camp, or full on trailer camp, there are some simple systems you can put in place to make getting on the road as easy as possible without the “shoot, I forgot the . . . .”
I grew up in a family of campers, my mom taught me how to camp, just like her mom taught her. Just like housework, mid-century camping prep fell largely on the women and it still does a lot of the time. I find that figuring out how to feed my family and be prepared for a variety of unfortunate circumstances takes up the bulk of my time getting ready to camp. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a normal family trip. I have a three-pronged approach to camping with ease and, my friends, I’m going to share all the nitty gritty details with you today….