We have been involved in Biblical Feasts and Festivals for many years, having practiced them with both Christian and Jewish Believers at our home and at theirs.
We have studied them utilizing great resources, such as Robin Sampson’s, A Family’s Guide to Biblical Feasts and Festivals, and Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman, along with the Bible and good Jewish friends. I have shared some of what we have learned in my unit study, The Celebration of Sukkot.
Our family life has been nourished by ancient traditions that have fed our souls as we practice the Old Testament Feasts and Festivals and recite what have now become familiar prayers and sing traditional songs, such as Dayenu.
There is great learning to be had about one’s faith and tying together Old and New Testament relevance when you study the Biblical Feasts and Festivals. This is one of the reasons we are offering Biblical Feasts and Festivals as a one-semester class, taught by Rabbi Arthur Fischer.
If we want our children to never give up and never give in when it comes to their values and beliefs, we must teach them hope. Hope is what led the bruised and battered nation of Israel back to our homeland, and it is hope that will lead our world to the Messianic Era.
~ Yael Eckstein from Generation to Generation
When I had a chance to review Yael Eckstein’s, (of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews), latest book, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to our Children, I jumped at the chance.
Ms. Eckstein takes a unique approach to the importance of Biblical Feasts and Festivals, by focusing on the theme of each one.
The main focus of the book is l’dor v’dor- from generation to generation.
She begins, naturally, with Shabbat, and covers eight holidays – showing us ways in which we can pass on important lessons through each one.
- Shabbat – Teaching our Children Priorities
- Passover – Teaching our Children to Seek Knowledge
- Shavuot – Teaching our Children Gratitude
- Tisha B’Av – Teaching our Children Hope
- High Holy Days – Teaching our Children Forgiveness
- Sukkot – Teaching our Children Faith
- Purim -Teaching our Children Courage
- Tzedaka – Teaching our Children Generosity
Each chapter begins with a Scripture verse, then a quote from a Rabbi or Jewish teaching, and an explanation of the holiday, including how Yael and her family celebrate each holiday.
At the end of the chapter, there is a page-long explanation of how the feast or festival is celebrated in the New Testament; ways to teach our children the theme of each chapter, a special note for parents and then Scripture Memory verses from both the Old and New Testaments. Sprinkled throughout is Jewish vocabulary that illuminates the Scripture.
This is a jam-packed little book, easy to read and very accessible; and a lovely way to learn about and incorporate the deep meaning of Scripture into your family culture.
Perfect for families who are just beginning their exploration of Biblical Feasts and Festivals as well as those who have already jumped into understanding the rich correlation between Old and New Testament. Yael Eckstein, as expected, does a beautiful job of integrating the importance of Jewish meaning and themes with New Testament faith.
An important and accessible book for families who long to see their children raised and living in the living faith of The Book.
For more information on the book, visit the website at www.generationbook.org.
About the Author
The author, Yael Eckstein, is President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the largest provider of humanitarian aid in Israel. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, whose vision for building bridges of understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews has been translated into the largest Christian-supported humanitarian agency helping Jews in Israel and around the world.
You can learn more about the organization and Rabbi Eckstein at the website International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
For more than 2,000 years, the Jewish people have preserved and maintained their faith from generation to generation, despite being exiled from their land and suffering persecutions, pogroms, and even the Holocaust, where six million Jewish women, men, and children were killed at the hands of the Nazis. In her book, Generation to Generation, Fellowship President, and CEO Yael Eckstein unlocks the keys to how the Jewish people have successfully passed on the legacy of faith through the family and offers insights into how Christians can incorporate these principles within their own families to pass on a strong and living faith.
Find IFCJ on FB
If you are interested in learning more about Biblical Feast & Festivals, check out the semester-long class from True North Homeschool Academy which is taught weekly live online from Israel. We offer Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew which both include some study of traditions and culture also taught by Rabbi Arthur Fischer.
A Season of Giving
Wondering how we homeschoolers can give back to our communities? Recently, one of my Facebook friends asked those on her timeline for ideas on what homeschoolers could do to give back. She got the usual answers—shelters, Salvation Army, nursing homes, etc. My response? Help a homeschooling teacher!
Three Ways You Can Help Fellow Home Educators:
- Be there: families are joining the ranks of homeschooling by leaps and bounds and many have no clue how to get started. Simply having access to someone to talk to can help so much!
- Konmari your classroom: people may be looking for curricula that you have sitting in a box or closet. Instead of collecting dust and spider webs it could be helping a homeschool family. It may not be the latest edition, but I guarantee you that it will help SOMEBODY!
- Create a “kick-off” box: people use the same supplies as you – that extra stuff can be turned into supply boxes for new homeschool families. The kids will love helping with this!
Let’s talk about that last one for a moment. Have you ever given thought to making a homeschool kick-off box for a new homeschooling family? Think about that new homeschool parent who is going through all of those things you went through when you first started homeschooling. Often a search for help can lead to information overload- and you could be there to enable them to get a good start instead!
Stuff You Already Have
Think about what you have on hand that might be an encouragement to that new homeschool family. A tote bag or cute box of basic school supplies, coffee or tea and a cute mug for Mom, age/grade appropriate activity packets, books, and things of that sort go a LOOOOOOOOOONG way! Pay attention to those “If you could have anything for your homeschool, what would it be” posts—you might have that stuff right in your house and it could be used to inspire, encourage, uplift, and equip another family to resist the urge to put their kids back on the bus that they JUST pulled them off of…SIGH!
Make a Target Run
If your closet search doesn’t yield enough items for your homeschool kick-off box, a quick trip to your local Target dollar section or the dollar store can round out your list with cute erasers and inexpensive office supplies.
Other Ways to Give Back
Our kids need a reality check at times, so take them to those soup kitchens, shelters, orphanages, and even hospitals. That reminds me of something…
Last year, our youngest daughter was admitted to the hospital days after her birthday. Because she was in medical isolation, she couldn’t leave the room to engage in any of the amenities the hospital had to offer. As I opened the door briefly to see what was going on around the floor, I saw a family with a cart of dinner plates for the parents of children in the hospital. It was obvious that their youngest child did NOT want to be there at ALL! When they got to our daughter’s room, he noticed that they were the same age and had the same birthday. His mood INSTANTLY changed. He was up, walking around, serving others, and ran across a little girl just like him.
A local homeschool co-op came around the hospital with Christmas stockings and a cart full of toys. It was so hard for me to choose because our daughter likes pretty much anything! When I mentioned that she’d just had her birthday, they told me to take whatever I wanted! The cool thing was that one of the things she wanted MOST for her birthday was on that cart – how this small act blessed us!
A church group brought a full taco bar out for parents and children who could eat it. They prayed for each parent that came down to make a plate for themselves or their children. Little things like that make a big difference.
Many times, our children think that nothing will ever befall them and they need to see that it can and that there are people out there who genuinely need that smile or helping hand! They may be the only person that day who shows that person any kindness at all…I’ve seen it happen too many times.
Another thing you can do is write to a soldier who may not have a family or simply needs a pick me up from someone they have sworn their lives to protect. The loneliness they feel may not be something your child experiences, but it will teach them to appreciate others!
Four Quick Ways to Pay it Forward
- Volunteer at those shelters, soup kitchens, and orphanages
- Visit hospital patients during the holidays
- Write to a soldier
- Smile and look for little ways to lend a hand every day
Whatever you choose to do…give back!
It’s the Most
Wonderful HORRIBLE Time of the Year
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…No. It’s. Not. Every stinkin’ Christmas a tragedy occurs- every Christmas, thousands of us die. Do we deserve it? No. Do we like it? No. But do we wish for a different way of life? Um…yes. I have often dreamed of being a rock, cold and smooth. Or a book, treasured and kept safe. Even being a jack-in-the-box looks appealing right now!!! But no. Here I am, just bein’ a tree. A pine tree. A Christmas tree.
Yes, that’s right. I am one of your precious decorations for a holiday; you chopped down my brother last year, my parents the year before, and my girlfriend the year before that. Ellie…she was hot. No, I mean literally. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put candles on the Christmas tree that year, and when Ellie twitched while trying to hold in a sneeze, she caught on fire. And the guilty party did not even have the DECENCY to send a sympathy card!
The Legend of the Mighty Cliff
Legend has it that the very first North American martyr to Christmas was my great-great-great-great-great…y’know what, this will take forever…my extremely great grandfather. (I don’t know why everybody likes him so much, none of us have ever met the guy. How do they know he was so great??) Anyway, his name was Cliff, and he lived a peaceful life filled with simple pleasures; the chatter of squirrels and songs of birds, the fertile earth and sweet breeze.
But then, one day, a wimpy, harmless-looking thing on two spindly legs came and RUINED IT ALL. It used a weird, deceptively tiny INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL to chop down my extremely great grandfather Cliff, and after watching him crash to the ground, proceeded to drag him in a very undignified manner through the forest.
They say the angels wept that day. With his dying words, Cliff informed his brethren (via carrier-owl) that the strange little creature had propped his broken body up in its abode, and wrapped him ‘round with impaled little corn-children on a string. The creature hung paper from his branches and crowned him with a golden star; crowned like some pagan king prepared for a sacrifice ritual. I shudder simply thinking about it.
A Reign of Terror
When they heard of this atrocity, the Council of Trees got together (and by got together I mean communicated by owl, since, y’know, we’re kinda stuck). They compiled all of the information gleaned from various informants in the International O24U Association and discovered that the inhumane practice of chopping trees was all the rage in Germany. Many plans were conceived to put this reign of terror to an end. However, by the time a solution was settled upon, the barbaric tradition had spread to the point of no revocation (tree councils are not known for their timeliness, owls and all. Maybe we should look into drones). Since then, all conceivable options to rid the world of this savagery have fallen flat. World domination has been discussed, but the lack of opposable thumbs (in addition to legs, brains, and other useful organs) has proved problematic.
So here I sit, just waiting for fate to laugh evilly and point some merciless wood’s-bane of a human my way. Oh. Oh no. Oh, heck no! Are those…footsteps?? Somebody knock on wood! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!
I see a small female break through the foliage. I breathe a sigh of relief; that little sprout is no match for my brawn! But…I tense as she sucks a greedy portion of air into her lungs.
“DADDYYY!! I FOUND THE PERFECT TREE!!”
Oh, root rot, not another one! Another bumbling happiness-killer ambles into my clearing. And. He. Has. An. AXE! Oh, for the love of all that is green, please keep that thing away from me!! He advances like death itself! I’m comin’ Ellie, I’m comin’! Oh, the humanity! -Or rather…oh the forestry!! SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT!
“Oh Daddy, not that one.” The disgusting little creature wrinkles her nose. “That one.”
I glance behind me in disbelief and see my shaking neighbor, Steve. Might I add that Steve is the single, most annoying tree I have ever…and I do mean ever, met. And he’s not nearly as robust and amply-chlorophylled as I am. You want…HIM?! I gape as Steve is promptly cut down and hauled away. Too late, I yell after them: “HOW VERY DARE YOU!!! I AM CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR TREE HERE!! YOU JUST GIT YERSELF BACK HERE THIS MINUTE OR I WILL PERSONALLY-
About the Author: Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in the third person. Emily is part of the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club and has written previous articles for us, including Creative Writing for Awesome People!
Navigating Holiday Challenges
Less is more during the holidays- especially for children with learning difficulties, social difficulties, and/or emotional difficulties. Holidays are a wonderful, exciting time of year, filled with fun activities, family and friends. However, it can also be a challenging time for these children and their families. With some creativity and patience, these holiday times can be navigated with less frustration and more joy, when families say “less is more.”
Keep The Academics
Every year homeschooling parents question how long their holiday breaks should be and how much they should focus on academics. I say…why not continue academics (and clocking time for those that need a specified number of hours and/or days), BUT find creative ways to keep the learning going – while still enjoying the holiday. “Less is more…” can apply to academics during the Christmas break!
Here are some “tried-and-true” tips and tools that will keep your homeschooler focused and interested during the busy (and distracting) Christmas season!
Key Subjects – a Little Goes A Long Way
One big concern during the holiday break is that your child might lose skills they just learned – especially math skills. November and December are great times to review. Use short, focused activities. Print out some free worksheets, or use those extras that you didn’t complete yet, and keep their skills going. Even just doing 3-4 questions a day can help them maintain those newly learned skills. Pick the key subjects that your child needs the most practice in, and focus on those. You could also do shortened versions of their regular assignments on the days you have holiday activities.
Unit studies on holiday topics are a great way to incorporate the skills your child needs to keep up with while having some holiday fun! Learn about traditions and Christmas around the world. Study animals from around the world. Keep the fun going with a field trip to the zoo (weather permitting). Incorporate those holiday activities and family traditions: Christmas card writing, holiday crafts, and baking cookies are all activities that can be integrated into your homeschool day. Have fun and be creative- the sky is the limit on what can be included as school work!
Around Thanksgiving, I always pull my mountain of holiday books out and put them in the living room for my boys to enjoy. This is a great time to visit your local library where you will find tons of cute picture books along with classics like A Christmas Carol. After you read the book, watch a version of the movie too. We love The Muppet Christmas Carol at our house!
Games can be a great family activity – and they reinforce skills. RightStart Math has a games pack that reinforces skills from identifying numbers through fractions and decimals. Board games can teach other skills such as cooperation. Have your kids add up the scores and reinforce their math skills. Scrabble (or Scrabble Jr.) can reinforce spelling and vocabulary.
Documentaries, Educational Shows and Apps
From animal documentaries to the history of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus), there are documentaries that can interest and reinforce any topic you want to study. Pop some corn or enjoy those snacks you have been cooking up in the kitchen – so much can be learned from educational videos! Educational apps are another way to reinforce skills. Apps are perfect for travel – use them as you roadschool on the way to visit relatives and friends.
Baking gives hands-on opportunities to practice and learn new skills in reading, math, cooperation, following directions, science, and much more! It is also a fun way to build memories and start traditions.
Looking to incorporate more writing for the holidays? Start a family newsletter. Have everyone submit articles about their favorite memory or what they are doing for the year, and share the news with close friends and family. The holiday letter has become a tradition for many families to send out each year. This year, everyone gets to voice their part!
Crafts and Handmade Gifts
Make some handmade crafts and gifts to give to friends and family. Many skills are learned and worked on by making hand-made treasures. As an additional bonus, you save money on gifts! When you have a curriculum or schedule that must be maintained, change it up and make it fun using holiday paper to create your checklists. Make a bingo card for them to check off the work they have completed for the day or the week. When your child gets “Bingo!” take a break or have a treat!
Special Needs and Social Opportunities
Don’t forget that “less is more…” can apply to events during the holiday break! The holidays are filled with opportunities to see friends, family and acquaintances (and sometimes strangers) that we don’t see very often. Often this happens at large gatherings. For some people, these opportunities are cherished and loved. However, some of our children have a difficult time and become overwhelmed. Here are some ways to plan that will make it easier.
Give a Purpose
One difficulty can be that our children don’t know what they are supposed to do or say at these large gatherings. Give them a job, or help them know what to say (“I want you to ask three people about ________” or “Give three people compliments about _________”). Being “in charge” of a task (such as handing out gifts as guests are coming in) can help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress of being in a large group of people.
Look For Smaller Opportunities
Sometimes we are offered opportunities for smaller gatherings. Sometimes I make my own smaller gatherings for us to enjoy rather than attending the large gatherings others are planning. These are more meaningful to my boys, and tend to go over better.
Activities Over Food
Many times, food can become difficult to navigate, especially when allergies are involved. Look for opportunities that stress activities over food to avoid difficulties with food when this is a challenge.
Along the lines of looking for smaller opportunities, sometimes a simple playdate can take the place of larger activities. Families sometimes have more time off during the holidays, so plan ahead and schedule some simple playdates to enjoy!
Anyone else having an especially cold fall? I know we almost had snow, and that only usually happens once every thirty years…and generally in January or February. Extreme weather causes activities to be canceled or postponed so take this into consideration when planning each year to avoid big disappointments. Winter weather can be a major factor to consider when planning out your holiday schedule and activities.
Opportunities to Volunteer And Give Back
The holidays are filled with teachable moments. Scheduling time to volunteer and give back to our communities teaches kindness and love. Take goodies to the fire station or to other community workers. Donate clothes and toys – or even donate your old towels to the animal shelter. Look for opportunities to show kids how to help and care for others. Older children can read to their siblings or show kindness by taking a Christmas card to a therapist or friend. It doesn’t have to be something big to be meaningful.
I saw the Kindness Calendar idea recently and thought it was a marvelous idea. Even if you don’t follow the idea exactly, creating your own kindness calendar of things your children can do each day to show love and kindness to others can be a great way to show holiday spirit.
Holidays are busy, loud, bright, and filled with friends, family, and even strangers wishing us well! This can be a blessing to many people who love the hustle and bustle of the holidays. However, some of our kids aren’t ready for such happenings. When your child is one that does not enjoy this busy time of year, it’s ok to downsize your holiday traditions, and consider smaller, more meaningful traditions (at least in the short term).
Beware The Temptation to Over Plan – It’s OK to Say NO
When our children get easily overwhelmed, it’s ok to say “no” to family or friends when they invite us to do activities that our children will not enjoy or will be easily overwhelmed doing. It’s ok to not have outside activities every day, and it’s important that we don’t forget it is ok to reschedule or just say “no” when that is what our family needs!
Pick Your Favorite Activities
“Less is more…” may mean fewer activities for your family. Pick your favorite ones. Plan time before and after for your child to have “downtime” or time doing activities that are calming to them. This will help them be better prepared for the activities you do choose to participate in. Sometimes we try to schedule too much because we feel we have to see everyone during the short period of time we have, but we don’t have to see everyone during the holiday season – choose intentionally to spend time with those you may not see at other times during the year and plan times to visit other either before or after Christmas.
Plan an escape clause (pun intended) for a child who may become easily overwhelmed. Help them get away for a little while, or allow them to let you know when they are ready to leave an event. It could be a secret phrase or word they say. Or provide a quiet activity they can go do in a corner such as headphones and a movie, or anything else that helps them to get away and find the peace they need. You may need to explain this need to family and friends ahead of time so they are not offended when your child leaves the group in the middle of an activity to calm down.
Spread Things Out
Plan activities with plenty of downtime in between. We all need time to be at home with quieter activities and a closer to “normal” schedule. Arrange one big activity a week rather than five different activities in three days, with no breaks. Give yourself and/or your child permission to say “No.” It is ok to decline invitations (even from Grandma), or schedule a time that will be less busy to be with that person. It is also all right for you to make a final decision on the day of the event if your child is not having a good day. Give yourself permission to cancel, reschedule or otherwise change plans – that is the key to having a relaxed and positive holiday season.
Find Acceptable Alternatives
Whenever possible, find alternatives to those activities or foods our child wants to participate in but has difficulty with. Talk about this with your child. Saying “no” or canceling can be disappointing, but a plan “B” can really come in handy.
Be Sensitive to Food Sensitivities
Food allergies and sensitivities are challenging when so many things are geared around food for the holidays! Be prepared with food options that are allergy-friendly, and sensory-friendly. Volunteer to bring a snack you know your child loves or pack them an alternative snack and bring it with you.
Memories and Traditions
There are many ways to build memories and traditions with your kids. Holidays are about family, friends, and fun. Whatever activities you decide to do, build positive memories and treasure them. Take pictures. Create a scrapbook that gets the kids involved in writing, decorating and gluing – maybe include samples of their holiday schoolwork. Let them create your holiday décor. Remember that “less is more..” when it comes to all the holiday hustle and bustle. Establish new traditions and appreciate these years as your children grow. I hope these ideas and tools help you relish the time you spend with your children during the holiday!
About the author: Amy Vickrey holds a Masters of Science in Education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos. She spent two years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy. Amy loves the discovery approach to learning and believes that teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.
Thanksgiving is hardly a time to think of battles. We were at Gettysburg this past summer. It was sobering. The wheatfield, the hospital, the pillars from the states erected over acres of war-torn land. It was amazing and quieting. Yesterday we attended a luncheon with our State Senator who mentioned that President Lincoln declared a day of National Thanksgiving after the battle at Gettysburg.
A Day of Thanksgiving after a horrible 3-day butcher-fest.
And the pilgrims- think what you may- lost 45 of the original 102 souls who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They were people who were willing to suffer and die for the hope of freedom and the right to religious liberty. Those that survived celebrated with a feast: a day of thanksgiving after a year of profound suffering, death, and loss.
Battles and Loss
Maybe you feel like you’ve just come through a battle of sorts: a battle for your health, a battle for a child struggling with addiction, a battle for your soul or the soul of someone you love. What I know for sure and for certain is that this life is chock-full of battles, hardship, and disappointments. And holidays can be like pouring lemon juice on a paper cut
But I also know that regardless of the battles you’ve fighting or just won or recently lost, there is much to be grateful for. We live in America. We are the fortunate 5% of the world’s population that lives in a place of relative freedom, choices, prosperity, and opportunity.
In spite of the battles being fought, lost and won, we have much to be grateful for.
An Attitude of Gratitude
My daughter and I went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood last night. Mr. Rogers was beloved by many precisely because he continuously found thanksgiving amidst the battle. I certainly didn’t expect to cry throughout, but I wasn’t the only one as you could hear others in the theater muffling tears, sniffling and blowing their noses. At the end of the movie, Mr. Rogers leans in to whisper to a dying man, a man whose life has been exemplified by loss, addiction, and desertion of the people he was charged to protect. He is asked later, what was it that he whispered. He has asked the man to pray for him because someone so close to death would be close to God. It is a beautiful re-frame. Instead of pitying the man, he sees that death brings clarity and refined purpose. This woeful sinner repented, asked forgiveness in a clear and profound manner and used his last days to redeem and bring healing. Mr. Rogers is grateful for this man’s life-all of it- the pain, suffering, redemption, and healing. He finds thanksgiving amidst the battle.
Holidays can be hard. My prayer for you is that you see all that you have to be thankful for and that despite the current or recently fought battle, you will feel God’s good presence and experience joy!
May it be your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, who hears prayer.
For our family, holiday traditions include our three-story farmhouse swathed from top to bottom in Christmas lights. The holiday season is filled with special books, music, and movies. Trees, along with windows and door frames are trimmed with garlands, twinkle lights, and ornaments. Most importantly it means gathering gifts and special moments with those we love. Over the years we celebrate with time tested traditions as well as new activities as our family grows and changes.
Here are 15 ideas for special activities you may want to add to your family’s holiday season!
Advent Calendars are a lovely way to mark the coming of Christmas. You can purchase literal calendars, with tiny gifts or candies behind numbered doors, or use a pre-made toy calendar like Playmobile sells, or craft your own. There are a plethora of simple and beautiful Advent Calendar ideas on Pinterest.
Advent Calendar Baskets
My daughter, son-in-law and two grandbabies live miles away and one son is away at college. We’re sending them Advent gift baskets to celebrate the season. We’ve collected 25 little gifts, from playmobile and Legos, to lip balm and hand creams, earbuds, car chargers, little books, and gift cards. We’ll wrap and number each little gift, enclose a simple card with a scripture verse and celebrate the anticipation of Christmas, even though we are far away.
We love board games and holidays allow the time it takes to play a few of our favorites; Bananas, Code Words, Eclipse, Settlers of Catan, Rails and Trails, Ticket to Ride and Risk top our list. Of course, for younger kids, simpler games are in order; card games are always fun and provide a way to visit and chat.
We used to do this often when I was growing up and it is a lovely tradition. Gather together and go knock on the door of friends. When they open the door, sing them a Christmas carol. This would be easy and fun to organize with a church youth group or homeschool co-op.
Chopped “Holiday” Edition
Gather together a few teams, give each team the same set of cooking supplies and a specific food category- hors d’oeuveres, salad, main, side or dessert -set a timer for an agreed-upon amount of time and let the teams get cooking. When the timer goes off, score each team’s offering based on creativity, taste, and plating then choose a winner! Celebrate by eating a simple meal together! For more cooking ideas, take a look at this article with healthy low carb cooking ideas for holiday meals!
Christmas Crafts Party
Invite 10-15 friends and ask them each to bring a craft and supplies for 20-40 (because often it’s fun to make more than one!), along with snacks. Set a date for several weeks before Christmas and gather for a fun afternoon of crafting, snacking and making merry! Everyone leaves with fun crafts to decorate with and give as gifts! Pinterest is a perfect resource for the non-crafty momma.
We use the Christmas stockings my mom made for our kids and family years ago before she passed away. We often put magazine subscriptions, balls, ornaments, and other fun and simple gifts that make for a fun surprise during the holiday season. Also, look HERE for more great ideas for fun (and -shhhh- educational) stocking stuffers.
Decorate a Gingerbread House
We love the pre-baked gingerbread houses to decorate but you could certainly bake the gingerbread yourself, or make simple houses with graham crackers. Gather icing and loads of candy and get decorating. With a large enough family or group of friends, you could do a couple of houses. Some of ours have gotten fairly elaborate with decorated front lawns. Build them on a tin foiled cookie sheet for easy display and don’t be surprised if parts go missing!
We choose gifts each year through a combination of “want, need, wear and read”. Often a family board game, movie or favorite cartoon will make its way under the tree. Travel and experience related gifts, like museum and theater tickets or memberships, have shown up with greater regularity as kids grow and gain independence.
Hot Chocolate or Coffee Bar
Creating a place to gather some packages of flavored hot chocolate and peppermints, special flavored coffees, an assortment of teas, and treats such as biscotti, chocolate-covered spoons, along with special holiday mugs makes gathering together for a warm mug of holiday cheer something that will happen with regular, happy frequency.
Over the years we’ve gathered and been gifted several Nativities, some of which we leave out all year long. It is a good reminder that the story of Christianity began with simplicity.
The Nativity Story
Each year we read the Nativity Story on Christmas morning, while we enjoy a simple buffet. We also watch the movie The Nativity and The Star each holiday season. Perfect reminders of both the humanity and the majesty of the season.
Melk on the Shelf
A fun alternative to Elf on the Shelf, that will lead your kids and grandchildren to a greater understanding of the characteristics of God. Created by a homeschooling family that serves as missionaries in Mexico, Melk on the shelf incorporates the fun of Elf on the Shelf, but with the purpose of understanding God more deeply.
Parade of Lights and City Light Displays
Many cities have yearly light displays. Our mid-sized town in the far north has a wonderful Parade of Lights each year, which thousands brave the cold to view. We also have a wonderful city display of lights by our renowned falls, which seem to grow brighter with each passing year! Car tours are synced with holiday music, but plenty of souls brave the cold to watch the falls, colored by holiday lights up close.
White Elephant Party
Find the craziest unwanted item in your home, gather friends or family and have a white elephant gift exchange. Our personal favorites have been The Planet of the Apes complete video collection and an unidentified glass decorative item.
What are your favorite Holiday Traditions? We’d love to hear about them – you can drop us a line with your ideas here, or join us for the fun at our TRIBE on Facebook!
2019 Christmas Blessings Giveaway
Can you believe that this is the last Christmas in this decade?! Where has the time gone?
I have teamed up with some pretty generous bloggers for the 6th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway with the hopes of making this a Christmas to remember for TWO families as we close out this decade! While we wish we could bless many more families, we were able to come up with a big prize for TWO families – $500 each (delivered via Paypal) – that we pray will make a big difference in their lives this Christmas season – whether it’s to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to help build some savings, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need.
There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time-consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these amazing bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes, so this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them.
I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find some new blogs to follow.
The Christmas Blessings Giveaway will run from Monday, November 18th through Wednesday, November 27th (ends at 11:59 pm EST). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.
a Rafflecopter giveaway