November 29, 2016

My Favorite Christmas Traditions!!

How to keep Christ at the Center of Christmas!

I love Christmas, but sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the overload of commercial products, all the hoopla around what Santa will bring, and feeling like your house has to be decorated perfectly. Remember, Christmas is all about CHRIST! It's about feeling peace in your home, giving from the heart, and enjoying traditions and memories together as a family. Here are some of my favorite things to do with my kiddos each year!

24 Days of Christmas Reading:

Ever since I was a kid I've been collecting Christmas books. I have some that say, "To Kirsten 1986, From Grandma and Grandpa B." I love that my mom saved these for me so that I can still enjoy them today with my kids!! Every year I wrap up our books and put them in a basket for the kids to open one each night! This helps our night routine go faster since the kids are excited to get to reading!

20 Days of Christmas Scripture Countdown & Ornaments:

A couple years ago I wanted an advent calendar that truly reminded me of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. So I opened up my New Testament and marked my very favorites of the story of Jesus' birth and the nativity story. Each day the kids open the bag to find the scripture. We read it and open the tissue paper to find the item to either enjoy, create or decorate our tree!
I'm super bummed because I checked my computer (and my laptop) and couldn't find the document I created to share. So you'll have to type up your own, but here are the scriptures and the corresponding item I use!

Day 1: John 1: 1-5 Jesus is the light of the world (pull out the small Christmas tree and decorate with lights!)
Day 2: Luke 1: 26-32 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to the virgin Mary (angel ornament)
Day 3: Matthew 1:18 An Angel visited Joseph in a dream and told him to marry Mary (2 rings on a string (ornament) AND ring pops!)
Day 4: Matthew 1:21 Jesus shall save his people from their sins (cross ornament)
Day 5: Luke 2:1 There went out a decree that all the world should be taxed (chocolate coins)
Day 6: Luke 2: 4-5 And Joseph went up from Nazareth unto Bethlehem with Mary (plastic donkey toy)
Day 7: Luke 2:6-7 Mary brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger (nativity ornament)
Day 8: Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born.. he shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace (ornament that says Peace)
Day 9: Luke 2: 8-12 And there were shepherds keeping watch on their flocks at night (3 sheep ornaments)
Day 10: Luke 2:13-14 Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will toward men (musical note ornament- listen to Christmas music to fall asleep)
Day 11: Luke 2: 15-16 So the shepherds found Mary & Joseph and the Baby who was lying in a manger (candy canes turned into ornaments)
Day 12: Luke 2: 17-18 And when they had seen Him they made known abroad (jingle bells!! Did you know that the shepherds rang bells to spread the word?)
Day 13: Luke 2:19 Mary pondered these thing in her heart (heart buttons for the kids to make ornaments with OR heart ornament)
Day 14:  Luke 2:20 Shepherds return and praise God (rocks to decorate and put on pillows to remember to pray!)
Day 15: Luke 2: 21 His name was called Jesus (ornament with Jesus' name or Jesus nativity coloring book)
Day 16: Luke 2:24 Offer a sacrifice... in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves (not quite sure- either a service act we do for someone else OR a turtle dove ornament?)
Day 17: Matthew 2:1-2 There came wisemen from the East who have seen the star and come to worship Him (3 wooden game pieces to decorate like wisemen!)
Day 18: Matthew 2: 9-10 The wisemen followed the star in the East and rejoiced with exceeding great joy (JOY ornament)
Day 19: Matthew 2:11 They fell down and worshiped Him and brought Him gifts- gold, frankincese & Myrh (3 little presents)
Day 20: John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life!! (Christmas chocolate or candy- the gospel is so SWEET! Look at our completed Christmas tree pointing to heaven and represents everlasting life!)

A lot of the little pieces are from Michael's. The little animal buttons, sparkly candy canes, wooden pieces) Others I've collected over time. Because I have limited wall space, I have a shoe organizer that I use to put the items in the pockets for each day and I've cut out Christmas decorative paper for each pocket and covered clothespins to make it look pretty :) Below you can see our mini tree that goes in the boys' room and we add an ornament each day!

((This shoe organizer also doubles as a Christmas card holder as well!! Just clip them to the clothespins and you've got yourself a fancy card display! ))

Christmas Pillowcases: 

My grandmother started a great tradition that I love!! She makes my kids special Christmas pillowcases! The pattern is super easy and simple, and they turn out so cute with their trimming and 3 coordinating fabrics. It would be fun to give them on Christmas eve to help the kids sleep well with all the anticipation and excitement... we love to enjoy them all month long!


I've simplified my decor quite a bit over the years. And what always seems to stay, is Nativity scenes! My entire mantle is my Nativity Willow Dolls and Creche that I have collected over the years.

Whether they're magnets, wooden blocks, little people toys, tiny clay figurines, or soft pillows, I LOVE having Nativities throughout the house that the kids are allowed to touch and interact with. I want to make sure my kids know what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate this special holiday. Then on Christmas Eve, we read the story of Christ's birth from the New Testament, and the children dress up as the parts as we listen and sing! It's probably my favorite Christmas tradition of them all!

One of my favorite gifts I made one year is this super easy home made nativity blocks:

I purchased a digital nativity scene, cut out the images, applied modge podge to the blocks and on top of the paper, and found a cute box at the part supply store! I made 10-15 of them for my parents, siblings, cousins, and other family members! It's definitely one of my favorite things to pull out of the Christmas decor boxes!

Service Elves:

I'm pretty sure my Grandmother made up "Elf on the Shelf" 30 years ago! They would have little stuffed elves visit their home, and move around each day as Santa's helper. Instead of making messes and getting into mischief (I have enough mess to clean up from my family, thank you very much!) Our elves come with a special note saying they are service elves. When you do something kind for another member of the family, you can "magically" (secretly) move the elf to that location. (For example, if Tyler makes Jackson's bed, he will move the elf to his brother's bed) Then Jackson can think of something kind to do for someone else and move the elf there. I want my kids to know that WE create the magic of Christmas by serving others and being kind!

A few more favorite Christmasy things:

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