27 Unique Christmas Cards

Perhaps normal people, that don’t have a lot of “spare” time, would opt for making a simple, easy to assembly-line card – making them all the same. (Or buying cards.) But I guess I don’t fit the categories.

When I sit down to create, I like seeing what I can do with what I have. When I sit down to create, I usually also think, “I don’t have any ideas. What am I going to do?” A couple days of “free time” work later, this is what I have. 27 different, unique! Christmas cards. Many of the same elements used here and there, but no card just like another. And just when I think I’m done with a card (or other project), I think of a way I can enhance it, make it better. I also wonder, “What if I tried this?” Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t.

Handmade Christmas Cards ~ from Me & My House


Creativity is something that grows. You have to use it to gain it. It isn’t always brilliant, or jaw-dropping wonderful. I doesn’t have to be. It just has to be a growing expression of your ideas. Sometimes you’ll love it, sometimes not. I found, in doing this many cards at once, that even if I loved a design, I still didn’t make another card exactly like it. I continued to think of ways I could improve it. There were no designs I hated or scrapped. (And I hope that everyone that received these cards enjoyed them and the creativity that went into them.)

More Christmas Cards 2013 ~ from Me & My House

I encourage you to make 2014 a year of creativity. Take time to let ideas flow, to produce whatever you enjoy making. It may be in making up new recipes. It may be in re-decorating your home. It may be in making handmade cards.

Let me know where your creative juices are flowing.


If you’d like to know what the cards are made with:

Card bases are Recollections Cape Cod Collection (blues), Shades of Red (red), Cream, and plain ol’ Georgia Pacific white from Walmart.

Patterned papers are from DCWV Christmas & Winter Stack, (and maybe some from Winter Solstice.)

Embossing folders: Paper Studio Holly, Snowflakes, and Sizzix Textured Poinsettia.

Dies: Sizzex Scallop Squares, and Spellbinders Classic Ovals.

Punches: EK Success circles, scallop circle, journal label, flourish square and scalloped scallop border; Paper Studio star, Martha Stewart Arctic snowflake. We R Memory Keepers Corner Chompers (plain and decorative), and Xacto corner rounder.

Inks: Ranger’s Tim Holtz Distress Inks (various colors). Versa Mark – and “Glitz”, “Snow”, and “Silver” embossing powders from Michael’s, and Zap! heat tool.

Stamps: (clear) Inakinkado “O Holy Night” set, (cling rubber) Stampendous “Nativity Carol” set, Magenta holly and poinsettia, (wood/rubber stamps) Stampendous “Glory to God”, Inkadinkado “O Come Let Us Adore Him”, Stampabilities “Holly Berry Border”, “Glory to God”, “Intricate Snowflake”, “Itty Bitty Blake”, Hand Drawn Holly”, “O Holy Night”.

Darice hemp twine, Celebrate It baker’s twine, and various holiday ribbons from Hobby Lobby and Walmart. Wood stars from Recollections (Michael’s).



25 Free (or Almost) Advent Activities Part 4

This post is a continuation of a series on Advent. These are just some ideas for inspiration. Take what works. You can’t juggle these around as much since 3 of the 4 days are specific to that day. Have a great time helping your children prepare their hearts to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

2013 Nativity ~ from Me & My HouseHere are my last 4 suggestions:

22. Light at the 4th candle, the angle of Love, and either continue to read your Advent devotional, or read John chapter 1. Sing (and learn about) Love Came Down at Christmas, Coventry Carol, or another carol you haven’t read about yet.

23. Go look at Christmas lights and/or go caroling.  Make a choir of angelsor triangle box angels, or crocheted, or printable, or paper cone angels, or any others I may have added to my Pinterest Advent board.

24. Light the white candle. And read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2:1-40. You can also include Matthew chapter 2, in between vs. 38 and 39 of Luke, or save it for tomorrow. Sing Away in a MangerSilent Night (and others. Read the histories of them, if you have time.)

Go to Christmas Eve Communion, if your church has a service.

Add the manger and baby Jesus to your Nativity.

25. You could read Matthew chapter 2 this morning (instead of the evening of the 24th). Sing Joy to the World!, Go Tell it on the Mountains, and others. Rejoice in Jesus our Savior!


What other ideas would you like to add in? Getting family pictures taken? More home decorating? More easy children’s crafts? More baking? Making/preparing and sending Christmas cards? Make gift tags and/or bags? More projects to make for the wildlife?

Remember, other ideas have been posted on my Pinterest Advent board, and several Christmas crafts/activities on my other boards: Misc. DIY and Papercrafts and Printables.

Enjoy preparing your heart and home for the celebration of His Incarnation, and just spending fun times with your children.

25 Free (or Almost) Advent Activities Part 3

This post is a continuation of a series on Advent. These are just some ideas for inspiration. Take what works, juggle them around to fit your calendar best. Have a great time helping your children prepare their hearts to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

Here are 7 more suggestions:

Advent Banner ~ from Me & My House

And this year’s Advent Calendar Banner! Click for closer view (and how we made it).


15. This week’s Advent candle is the pink one, and it stands for Joy. It is also sometimes called the Shepherd’s candle. If you aren’t using one of the Advent devotionals I recommended (or another one), read of the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth to the shepherds and their visit to the manger. (Luke 2:8-20)

Cracker/Bon-bon Box ~ from Me & My House16. Make Christmas Cracker (bon-bon) boxes
, fill them, and give to your postman or other delivery drivers or service workers, as an expression of your thanks for the job they do for you. The small size we made fits 3 Hershey kisses.

Cut patterned paper 8″ wide, 5.5″ tall. Score with short edge at top at 1.25″, 2.5″, 3.75″, 5″. Fold and burnish score lines.

Next you need to punch the holes. We used an Envelope Punch Board, (but you could probably just cut triangles.) (I love the Envelope Punch Board and we use it for so many things besides envelopes.) Fold paper on first score line, line up end at 2″ mark on Envelope Punch Board. Punch. Turn paper over, so other side can line up at 2″ mark. Punch. Unfold, and fold on next score line. Punch at 2″ from each end. Repeat for each score line, and on unfolded edge. (If cutting triangle by hand, fold and measure the same, cut from 1.5″ and 2.5″ down about 1/2″ at an angle to meet at 2″ – on each score line, and from each end.)

Cracker/Bon-bon Box (cuts) ~ from Me & My House

Score with long edge at top, at 1.5″, 2″, 2.5″ and at 5.5″, 6″, 6.5″. (These score lines will go down each side of the cut outs and through the center of them.) Fold middle score line in (patterned side to patterned side.) Fold outer and inner scores under (so each set of 3 forms an accordion fold, M shape.) Unfold.

Fold over 1/2″ long side, facing up (pattern of main piece facing down.) Put ATG/ScorTape (double sided tape, or you could use glue) on 1/2″ tab. Fold box in half to attach other edge to tape. Press firmly to adhere.

Shape into box shape. Tie ribbon around one notched area, cinching it in a bit gently. Add candies or other treat. Tie other end.

Add decoration, if desired. We punched, stamped, and heat embossed.

17. Read the story of and sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, or While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, or one of the carols from the Joy section of Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols. (You’re never going to get them all read at 1 per week. Read one or 2 each day.)

18. Go to a Living Nativity, Christmas Concert or Play. 

19. Make Christmas cookies or candies and deliver a plate to a neighbor or friend.

20. Make Snowflake decorations – from popsicle sticks or just cut paper ones, hang them plain or 3D style. Or these really pretty, easy to make but look hard, snowflakes. Or perhaps you’d rather make stars. There’s several on my Pinterest Advent board – crocheted, 3D paper, sewn paper.

21. Have a Christmas party or tea. Invite a couple friends over for cocoa or tea, (and some of those cookies/candies you made,) just to relax and enjoy their company in this busy season. Give them a snowflake, “Cracker” box, or plate of cookies to take home.

Christmas Music on YouTube

Need to fill your home with some holiday cheer? Rejoice with this Christmas music.

Some of my favorite more traditional styled carols include: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus and Emmanuel: Hallowed Manger Ground by Chris Tomlin. Hallelujah, Light Has Come and Carol of the Bells by Barlow Girls. O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Selah. I Heard the Bells by Casting Crowns.


These Christmas carols are fun or different renditions. Angels We Have Heard on High by the Piano GuysCarol of the Bells by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or with light show, by Mannheim Steamroller.  Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, flash mob style, by the U.S. Air Force Band. 12 Days of Christmas by Sraight No Chaser. Light show to Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

To listen to all of these, and more, you can check my YouTube Christmas playlist with over 25 Christmas songs. 1 for each day – and more!

25 Free (or Almost) Advent Activities Part 2

This post is a continuation of a series on Advent. These are just some ideas for inspiration. Take what works, juggle them around to fit your calendar best. Have a great time helping your children prepare their hearts to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

Here are 7 more suggestions:

8. Tonight we light the second candle, the candle of Preparation or Peace. If you haven’t picked an Advent book/devotional to read, the Scriptures on John the Baptizer’s birth and the annunciation to Mary (Luke chapter 1) would be appropriate this week.

9. Some call the second candle the candle of Bethlehem, so learning the story behind O Little Town of Bethlehem, and singing it, could be appropriate this week (and/or any of the other carols in the Peace section of Silent Night: The Stories behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols.)

Snowman Tealights ~ from Me & My House10. Make Snowman night lights. Each child could hang theirs near their bed, or give it to someone else. (Or make another snowman craft, such as bottle caps snowmen.)

Use battery operated tea lights, black self-stick gems or Sharpie marker, pink marker, ribbon, card stock or patterned paper for hat.

Add face to tea light, with light as nose, black gems or marker made eyes and mouth, and pink marker cheeks. Don’t put the eyes up too high, you need to leave room for the hat. You can color the nose orange with permanent marker, if desired, so it looks like a carrot even when not turned on.

Add hat. Ear muffs are made from short piece of pipe cleaner, and very small pom-poms (ours our homemade). Stocking cap/beanie is made from 1.5 circle punch, then punched again just along bottom edge, to get the bottom edge curved, (or you could cut by hand.) A small pom-pom is added to the top and narrow ribbon  to the bottom for the cuff. Top hat is made from 1″ square with top curved with 1″ circle punch. Hat band is made with oval punch (or cut with a die in our case, as I don’t have an oval punch). Ribbon is added between bottom of hat and brim. The ball caps are just a circle folded in half and decorated. We attached our hats and ribbons with mini glue dots.

Attach ribbon. We used 15-18 inches. Made loop at top, tied and attached that knot to the top of the candle with mini glue dot, then tied again to the side of the bottom, to make the scarf, and again used a mini glue dot to hold it in place.

11. Listen to Handel’s Messiah and discuss the story behind it. (I found this link, but haven’t checked it out.) Below is a YouTube video by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, (2.5 hours) and here’s a link to just the Hallelujah Chorus by the Royal Choral Society.

Check out other recommended Christmas music on YouTube, in my post here.

12. Make a holiday candle centerpiece  (or like this) for your home or as a gift.

13. Have a snowball fight – indoors. Make white pom-poms for snowballs.

14. Help decorate a neighbor’s, grandparent’s or other friend’s home.

25 Free (or Almost) Advent Activities Part 1

This post is a continuation of a series on Advent. These are just some ideas for inspiration. Take what works, juggle them around to fit your calendar best. Have a great time helping your children prepare their hearts to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

Here are the first 7 suggestions, just in time.

Advent Wreath ~ from Me & My House {Advent Wreath}1. Set up your advent wreath, light the first candle and read your first Scripture reading. The first candle represents Hope or Prophecy. Usually sections from Isaiah 11 and/or from Luke 1 (or other Prophecies of Christ’s coming) are read. If you don’t have an advent wreath, just set up 5 candles, 3 purple and 1 pink in a circle, with a white one in the center. Votive candles in cups will work. Light a purple one today.

Also begin your Advent devotional/book. Free download of John Piper’s Advent devotional, Good News of Great Joy here. 2 other Advent devotions for families, that are free downloads, have been recommended by friends, but I haven’t read them. Advent 2013: The Servant Songs has weekly readings, as well as activities and Christmas hymns to sing. (The first week is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.) 🙂 Readings and Devotions for Advent has daily readings. (Link goes directly to pdf. It was for 2008, so the dates will not be the same.) {Check my Pinterest Advent board for more. I’ll add what I learn of from trusted sources.}

2. Put up your nativity. I believe the best way to begin focusing our hearts on preparing for the Incarnation of Jesus, is to set out at the very beginning, that focus. Put your wise men, far to the east. You may want to also want to put Mary & Joseph a ways out, and move them a little closer toward Bethlehem each day. Save putting baby Jesus out till Christmas Eve. If you don’t have a nativity, and can’t buy one right now, find a print out, (or this one for an advent calendar, you can just print, cut and your children can color,) cut it out, and add bent paperclips to the back of the figures to make them stand up. {I didn’t search too hard for a printout, you may be able to find better. UPDATE: I’ve added some more printable/paper nativities (and other easy DIY nativities) to my Pinterest Advent board.}

Christmas Carols stories ~ from Me & My House3. Read the story of a Christmas Hymn and sing it. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Charles Wesley is my favorite for this week, but I don’t have a link to the story behind it (but there is some info at the link.)  O Come O Come Emmanuel would be perfect too (and another fave of mine, and is in the book. –>) I just got Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Hymns, so I’m not vouching for it yet. But it is only 79¢ for the download version. Gloria: A Christmas Hymn Study was recommended by a friend. (I don’t have it. $4.99 download.) We also have Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart by Joni Tada, that has the Christmas story connected to carols (not the stories of the carols.) It is no longer available through us, but you can get it through Walmart online.

4. String popcorn and cranberries, (or even just popcorn). Use strong cotton thread (such as quilting thread) and a large needle. Your popcorn should be non-greasy (preferably air popped) and a bit stale. (Make it the night before.) And your cranberries should be fresh and cold. Tie a strong, large knot at the beginning and end. Hang in a doorway or window, or out on a tree, as a gift to the birds and animals. Even if you hang inside for the holidays, you can hang it outside after Christmas, for the birds. Alternately, you could make a paper chain, as a count down to Christmas.

cd6148_w1855. Get out the Christmas CDs or make a playlist, and begin playing Christmas carols. Need some? Check out Chris Tomlin’s Glory to God in the Highest, or Casting Crowns’ Peace on Earth, CDs currently only $5, or Joy by Keith and Kristen Getty (9.99). We also enjoy the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Amazon has a page of Free Christmas Music you can download, (I’m not vouching for it, just passing on the info. If you’re looking for free, dig through and see if there’s anything good there.) And of course, Pandora has Christmas stations you can listen to or custom create, and there are plenty of YouTube videos.

6. Make Gingerbread men or house. If you don’t want to mix and bake the gingerbread, you can make a house out of graham crackers, frosting, and candies, or buy a pre-baked kit. Perhaps take it to a grandparent or shut-in.

7. Make a donation to a local or (larger) Christian charity. This may not be free, but can be any amount large or small that you choose. It’s too late to make a box for Operation Christmas Child, but you can Build a Box online for $30.  Just 12.25 provides gifts for 2 children through Angel Tree. Or buy a gift for Santa Cop, Toys for Tots or another local organization. Or donate canned foods, or a holiday dinner, through your local food pantry. You can even just have the children each put a donation into the Red Kettle for Salvation Army when you are shopping.

Enjoy your first week of Advent this week. I hope this ideas will get you brainstorming for some creative things you can do with your family, that won’t cost a lot and aren’t too time and energy intensive, but are still fun.

Don’t forget to check my Pinterest Advent board. I’m constantly adding new ideas to it.

25 Free (or Almost) Advent Activities

As I shared with you a couple days ago, preparing for Christmas through Advent can be a great way to help you keep Jesus the center of your Christmas. In that post I gave you 3 tools you can use to help you in that: Advent wreaths, Advent devotionals/books, and Advent calendars.

Advent wreaths come with their own “built in” activities of lighting the candles and reading Scripture. Advent books also come with their own built in “activity” of reading a specific part of the book and Scripture each day. Advent calendars have much variety available, (and many ways to make them, as I showed you yesterday.)

Some Advent calendars just have you move a token from day to day, to mark the day. Others just have you open a little window to reveal a small picture, or part of a large picture that isn’t complete until Christmas. Others have a part of the story of the Incarnation to read each day from the Bible. Others (Jesus/Jesse Trees) are bare branches to hang a symbol that reminds us of some facet of Jesus. Others are built around getting a gift everyday (overkill, IMO.) Others are based on various activities.

Since I believe we should be reading the story of the Incarnation daily as part of our Advent celebration, and I also believe we should not be teaching our children that this is all about them getting gifts, not only for Christmas but also everyday for the month prior, and I don’t believe you need daily creative instruction for moving a token or opening a card window,  this post is on some other activities you can do. They are not all specifically focused directly on Jesus (since that focus is already in our Scripture reading, which is the high point of our daily Advent celebration), but all are on preparing our hearts and homes, through giving and decorating, and learning some of the past of Christmas. Again, we don’t want our preparations to take the place of or distract from the Reason for the Season, but we can enjoy, in their proper place, many things in that preparation for the Celebration.

In my next few posts I’ll share ideas for you to glean and gain inspiration from. The ages of your children and your own time energy and budget, as well as other local activities, will influence your “calendar”. Of course, any of these can be done in any order, except the lighting of the candles on Sundays. This year, Advent starts on December first, which is a Sunday. That just makes things easy. On other years, we’d set up our Nativities on the first of December, and move the Advent wreath activities to the proper Sundays.

I’ll get at least the beginning of the list of Free or Almost Free Advent Activities posted before the end of this week, as Advent starts this Sunday.




Nearly 50 Advent Calendars

Before we get into some ideas for daily activities for Advent, I’d like to share a “few” easy ideas for making your own Advent calendar. Each of these options have store bought versions, if you’d prefer to buy something.

Here are 3 basic styles, and links to a lot of (nearly 50) pictures/instructions to give you inspiration. I’ve stuck mainly to ones that are quick and easy, inexpensive, don’t take up much room, and are easy to store. There are, of course, many, many other ideas. If you want to put “treats” (small gifts/candy) in some of your days, you will want pockets, envelopes, bags or boxes of some kind, rather than just windows or tags.

If you want to see all these ideas at once (and a lot more that aren’t listed here), and not have to click on each link, after reading this just click the link at the end that goes to my Pinterest Advent board.

1. Make your own traditional window calendar (or tags). Print out a Nativity (or other) picture on card stock. Make a numbered window grid (also on card stock), and cut the windows. (Cut on 3 sides, score/crease on the 4th, but do not cut. Also do not open the windows, leave them closed.) Glue the edges of the window piece over the top of the picture. Open 1 window each day.

If it’s flat and just flips, I’ve included it in this section, whether it goes on a board, in a frame or as a banner.

Ideas for inspiration:

This idea uses “windows” (cards that open anyhow) but the pictures behind are not Christmas-y or a large picture. Put photos of those you want to remember in prayer through the holidays, or just write your activity inside.

<< This one uses old Christmas cards for the pictures behind the numbers, that are windows of a house.

Rather than cutting all your windows and leaving them attached to one sheet, you could glue individual “windows” (cards) to a poster board or something similar. Or tack them to a cork board, like this.

What could be simpler than tags? This one hangs manila tags in a frame (looks like on cup hooks). Put your Scripture/activity on the back and turn them over. Include bells/ornaments or not. These manilla tags aren’t quite so simple, but I’m including the link anyhow, as it may give you creative types some inspiration. They’re decorated with junk drawer findings.

These free printable chalkboard tags hang on baker’s twine draped on a chalk board. Super simple. Download, cut out, write your activities and hang.

These snowflakes, >> could be hung in windows rather than on stair rails, or they could be hung as a banner on a wall or stairway, or even from a hanger (like these packages). These flakes were cut with a die cut, but you (your children) could cut your own.

This BINGO (make it JESUS?) board has wooden nickel tags that hang over each number, to be removed on the day. Just write your activity on the back.

Like Inchies? Hang 25 Christmas decorated ones on a board. Number the other side and turn them over on the day.

<< This vintage-y one has simple tags with numbers, and decorated on the back, hung rolodex style.

I’m including these clothes pins in this section. Paint clothespins and number them. Glue to a board or hang on a ribbon to make a banner or arrange around a wreath. Attach tags or any type of the pockets below.

2. Make 25 numbered pockets and hang along a banner on a wall or in a grid on a door. These can be made from fabric, felt, or card stock paper. Put a tag in each pocket, with the Scripture for the day and to give you direction for the day’s activity (if you are doing them). Alternately, you could put a symbol in each pocket to hang on your Jesus tree – and an occasional small gift, if you’d like.

If it’s a pocket, envelope, or bag it’s in this section. Many of them are bunting (flag banner) style. Many of these ideas were also made to hold gifts, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy a bunch of cheap junk to put in them.

Ideas for inspiration:

<< This is the only Nativity based one I found. A download pattern for the pieces, to make out of felt, is included.

This one is similar in style, without the flair of the picture–a simple, traditional pocket Advent calendar, with felt pockets sewn on a fabric backing. Tags are put in the pockets.

This burlap pocket banner  >> is what inspired me to look for more “different” types of Advent calendars. Walmart carries this printed burlap ribbon. It’s quite inexpensive.

Use clothespins or ribbon to hang all kinds of pockets to ribbon or twine. Little paper bags (colorful or mini brown ones) or this one with  little decorated bags hung with little clothespins.

Or baby socks, or small felt stockings, or these fabric ones, (or several others on my Pin board) or toddler mittens, or even pockets from men’s shirts.

This vintage pocket garland Advent calendar is a little more elaborate, but I included it for inspiration for those that want a calendar design to go with their vintage decorations. If you’d like to make it simpler, don’t transfer to fabric,  just print vintage images out and put your Scripture or activity on the back.

No room to hang a banner? Put your little decorated pockets on a binder ring or these cute ones on a board.

These little muslin tea/spice bags are stenciled and then hung by push pins on covered cork board. Decorate with small trinkets or ornaments, if you want.

The cute pocket banner is made with homemade decorated envelopes. >>

Make your pockets even simpler by using pre-made envelopes. This one uses plain white envelopes (with pretty insides) on a bulletin board. Or brown coin envelopes; this one includes a free printable. Or use various colored envelopes of various sizes and just use washie tape to attach them to the wall. If you don’t have wall space, just line your envelopes up in a small, low box.

3. Make a box or other 3 dimensional decoration to hold your numbered tags in order.

Ideas for inspiration:

<< I love this little box (not so much the tags) you can make that would hold 25 manila tags, in order, that you could decorate as much or little as you’d like. Simple, and small for those that don’t have much room for a wall hanging or banner. It isn’t meant as an advent calendar per se, and the directions here are for using an envelope punch board. But you could replicate it easily (if you don’t have a punch board–but they really are wonderful!) Or you could make 25 of these and hang them from a ribbon or twine.

Cover each “hole” in a mini muffin tin >> with a pretty paper covered magnet. Put your activity slip inside.

This pretty jar is filled with 25 decorated mini matchboxes. Need simpler? Just place colorful strips of paper with your activities in a jar.

<< Brown paper star pouches, hung from a pine bough, are made of 2 layers sewn together, with a treat (activity) inside. I saw a really cute version of this hung with a poster of the lyrics, “Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. This is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” Downside to this one is your stars disappear, one by one, each day. Upside, you don’t have to store them.

These 25 ornaments are easily made from a free printable. Hang them on a ribbon as garland, from a hanger, or… Put slip of paper with your activity written on it  inside.

Recycle those toilet paper rolls into this snowflake pockets calendar or use 25 “tubes” to make this simple house shape. Super simple and since it’s just TP rolls, you could throw it away rather than store it, if you’d like. (But you could decorate it a bit.)

I’ve tried to not include many ideas that have 25 containers that you’ll need to store, take up more room, usually take more time and cost, (and are unnecessary if you aren’t putting gifts in them). But this one was cute and not a gift holding one. Wooden spools >> with paper wrapped around them, with the number on the outside and Scripture/activity inside. Unroll one each day. Free number printouts included – that you could use for any of these ideas.

These would require buying 25 little storage containers, but they’re cute and small and easy, so I included them. They require 25 little round tins that you add a magnet to the back of each and a paper circle with your number on the lid. Dress them up a little more and put them on a backing board, like this.

I’ve given you nearly 50 ideas for making an Advent Calendar, and I have several more I didn’t link to, on my Pinterest Advent board. You could spend a lot of time on Google or Pinterest finding multitudes more.

Perhaps one of the simplest Advent Calendars you could make is a plain ol’ paper chain, using decorated paper (that shows on the outside of the rings) and writing your activities on the inside. Tear off a ring each day to read the activity.

The best one for you to make will be the one that you will get made and use this year. You’ve got a week. Get started. But whether you make an Advent Calendar or not, purpose to spend the next 30 days preparing your heart to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.



Thoughts on Christmas

Holidays are Holy Days. They are celebrated because of the meaning behind them that we want to remember. Thus, I have a problem when the most celebrated days of the year are centered around celebrating a falsehood, making a holyday all about something that wasn’t and isn’t. Holydays should be all about rejoicing, celebrating, remembering, even mourning in repentance or remembrance, over truth.

names_of_JesusYes, I’m a Truth seeker. That’s why, even way before I was born again, we didn’t celebrate some make believe elf that was omniscient and omnipresent, that gave presents to only children who were sleeping and never saw him come, who had been “good”,  and they could tell him (or any of the other 50 look-alikes) to get them whatever they wanted. (Though we do share the story of a man long ago, named Nicholas, who gave gifts to poor children who had nothing.) Truth is why I don’t even like celebrating the Incarnation of Emmanuel particularly on December 25th. (But reconcile it that it is likely near to the time that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit.)

Now, the Incarnation of Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus the Christ, is the GREATEST thing in the world to celebrate, so even if I know it is not the real day of His birth, I will take the opportunity to Celebrate with the rest of the world, as it is something I celebrate every day! If the world will at least give lip service to Him at this time, I’m all for an all out celebration of Him! But, if I’m celebrating the birth of our Savior, I don’t want that to get lost in, and just a cover-up for all the other trappings of “Christmas.” If He’s the “Reason for the Season”, let’s keep him the focus of the season.

There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts. He gave. But when our focus is on getting gifts, or the pressure to buy gifts you can not afford, because it’s expected, or the unrestrained spending on things you “want” or want your children to have, “because it’s Christmas”, the Reason for the Season has been lost. We give gifts because we love. We give gifts to show our thanks. Our focus for the season is on giving, giving out of the abundance of our love and gratitude, not to make a show, not to keep up/outdo everyone else, and not on getting gifts.

remb_aanb_herders_grtWhat makes the holiday? Is it the piles of presents? Is it the decor? Again, nothing evil in decorating. But when “it wouldn’t be Christmas without the tree”, the Reason for the Season has been lost. Decorations that can hold their place without taking prominence, can be fun and add a festive appearance, a constant reminder of what is coming, the REAL celebration. Can we celebrate as joyfully and in as much earnest, if there are no trees, no lights, no place to put them, no extra money to buy them? Decorate, but let decorations keep their place, as a backdrop only for the real celebration.

I pray as you enter this season of Celebrating our Lord and Savior Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, you will keep Him the focus of your celebration, of the HolyDay. I pray you will Rejoice in Him! I pray you won’t get stressed out over how you’re going to buy everything you (think you) “need”, or the fact that you don’t have room (or money) to decorate “properly”, or that you don’t have “enough time” for all that “needs” to be done. Keep Christ at the Center. May He be your Celebration.

Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth, peace and good will toward men.

John Piper has a great article you may enjoy, How We See Christmas Symbols.

He is Near

It’s about time. And I thought I’d give a heads up for those of you not knowing what you plan to do yet, to prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Messiah (Jesus, the Christ).

For those who are looking for more meaningful, Christ-centered, Christmas, Advent can be one of the most meaningful things you can do with your family leading up to Christmas, to keep it Christ centered. As a child we just did an Advent wreath, lighting the candles and reading Scriptures. This is where we started with our children, and have added to it over the years.

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent Wreath}

Our current Advent Wreath. Yes I know the pink candle is in the wrong cup.

Advent means coming of someone (or thing) notable, thus looking forward to the coming of Jesus, and it is marked out by the 4 Sundays before Christmas with an Advent wreath – 4 candles in a circle and 1 in the middle. The first outer candle is lit the fourth Sun. before Christmas, (this year Dec. 1,) the 1st and 2nd candles lit the next Sun., etc. Three candle are purple (seriousness, repentance, realizing we need a Savior), 1 (the third lit) is pink (joy). The center candle, lit with the others on Christmas Eve, is white. Emmanuel – God is here! There are beautiful advent wreaths to buy, or you can make your own very simply, by just setting 4 votive candles (in glass holders) amongst a wreath/circle of greenery and a white votive in the center.

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent books}Many books have been written to use for Advent, (some good, others not so,) in addition to reading Scripture alone. Some are just general devotional, thoughts preparing our hearts for the celebration of the Incarnation. Others are children’s fictional stories that lead up to Jesus birth. John Piper is offering his Advent devotionalGood News of Great Joy, as a free download. It has readings for each day, not just week. A series of fictional stories, Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, and Bartholomew’s Passage, are about children that meet the Christ child. Each book has daily readings, thus 3 year’s worth in the series. Jesse Tree books and activities are other popular ones (we have not used.)

He is Near ~ from Me & My House {Advent Calendars}Some people also count the days (not just weeks) with an Advent calendar. Although many use a calendar to just a count down till present-getting day, without a focus on Jesus, there are Advent calendars available that are looking forward to His birth. You can also make your own Advent calendar, very simply.

An Advent Calendar can be used to just note the day, moving a small item from day to day, or opening a “window” on the picture each day. Adding a Scripture for each day will add meaning, yet still be very simple. Others use a count down calendar to plan activities or give small gifts each day. Rather than giving presents every day till the BIG presents come, in addition to reading Scriptures daily, smaller activities focused on preparation and serving others can be scheduled.

The activities can include simple things such as cut paper snowflakes, color a nativity picture, or sing Christmas carols; or more involved things like: go look at lights, get family pictures taken, or go caroling; or bake cookies for the neighbors or give the mailman a small present; or set up the nativity(s), hang a wreath, or the lights, or address and mail Christmas cards. The ages of your children, and how much time and energy you have, will determine which activities are appropriate for your family this year. Even though our youngest is 9, it is still a big deal for all of ours to determine who gets to read and move the Scripture in one of ours, or open the window of another one. Having the other larger things scheduled will help you spread things out, so it isn’t overwhelming, and also insure that you get the things you want to do done.

Over the next week or so I plan to post some more simple ideas, for making Advent calendars and activities to do. Come back to check them out. Better yet, subscribe to this blog to get the posts sent to your email, so you don’t miss them.

Advent wreaths, books, and calendars are 3 helpful ways to keep our focus on Jesus this holiday season. Find one that works for you.

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41720X: Ytreeide Advent Stories, 3 Volumes Ytreeide Advent Stories, 3 Volumes
By Arnold Ytreeide / Kregel PublicationsThese three Advent devotionals will take you and your family from Advent to Christmas with day-by-day readings and advice for making Christmas a meaningful season of worship. Includes Jotham’s JourneyBartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.


23359X: Fisher Price Nativity Advent Calendar Fisher Price Nativity Advent Calendar
By New Day GiftsUnique keepsake Advent and Nativity calendar, 30″ x 14″ is one the entire family will enjoy. Includes 25 puffy fabric pieces, each tucked into dated pockets, to take out during Advent and velcro to the banner. By Christmas day you will have a complete Christmas and manger scene! Soft Advent calendar is family-friendly and may be used for years to come as a Christian Christmas tradition.Puffy and soft, for children as young as 18 months to enjoy; Little People child-friendly designs; soft handle loops over any doorknob to keep this at eye-level for children. Quality you expect from Fisher Price, to share the best story ever with small children during Advent and Christmas.

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