Thanksgiving has passed, so it’s safe to come out and start celebrating the Christmas season! I LOVE this time of year and I’ve not-so-secretly been playing Christmas songs since midway through November. We put up our trees this past weekend and now I’m preparing to start wrapping the gifts and placing them underneath!
|Our children’s tree in their bedroom|
In our family, we don’t “do” Santa, although we don’t avoid him like the plague either. Our children know that he isn’t real and that we bring their gifts, but we don’t forbid stories or Christmas specials that include him because we view him as a fictional character just like any other fantasy. We do teach that there was a real St. Nicholas and we’ll explore more about him as the children get older. Instead of focusing in on Santa, elves, and lists full of naughty and nice children, we turn our attention to the birth of Christ. We strive to spend even more time than usual learning about Jesus’ great sacrifice of leaving His home in Heaven to come down to earth and be born here in a lowly manger so He could grow to save us all.
Over the years, we’ve tried many things, done many activities to try to emphasize the birth of the Savior, and I’d like to share here some of the resources that I’ve discovered that celebrate the true reason for the season!
*First I want to gush, I mean, share about one that we discovered last year. It made our entire advent/Christmas celebration ten times better! We are a hands on, love to craft family and when I first laid eyes on Truth in the Tinsel, it was love at first sight.
“An Advent Experience for Little Hands” sounds like a match made in Heaven for us and it certainly WAS a fabulous experience. In this one little ebook, you will find Scripture readings, discussion, and crafts every single day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas.
It will guide you through the story of Christ’s birth and also gives instructions on how to create simple homemade ornaments out of household supplies to symbolize different events starting with how Jesus brings light to this dark world and ending with a great reminder of Jesus’ resurrection and promise to return and take His followers to Heaven. Here are some pictures from our creations from last year:
If you and your children aren’t the crafty type, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of gathering supplies, or even if you participated last year and don’t want to remake all of the ornaments, there are now PRINTABLE ornaments available to accompany the book! We plan on utilizing these this year because I saved all of our ornaments from last year except for one that contained food items. We’ll color our printables and hang those along the wall and also pull out our corresponding ornaments from last year each day! This ebook is also available in Spanish or for use as a curriculum for churches to use! I promise you will NOT regret participating in Truth in the Tinsel this holiday season! (Amanda, the creator has been generous enough to offer 20% off to any of my readers who enter the code TOTHEMOON at checkout! 🙂
*Next up is something I’ve only just discovered this year! I’ve watched the last couple of years as friends posted pictures on facebook about the adventures that their mischievous elf friends are having in their homes via the super popular Elf on a Shelf book. It looked like so much fun, but since we don’t believe in Santa in our home, I thought it a little silly to have an elf from the North Pole showing up on our doorstep! I was also not fond of the “elf is reporting your behavior back to Santa” portion of the activities. I searched the internet to try to find something else to replace this holiday tradition with something more Christ centered. The only thing I turned up was this great idea from Walking in Grace and Beauty to use Mary and Joseph figurines and have them travel through your home, moving every day until they finally arrive in “Bethlehem” (aka the location of the baby Jesus lying in the manger at your nativity scene). I really liked this idea, but I didn’t think that it could be experimented with in a way to make it fun without being disrespectful to the Christmas story.
Then I read this post from A Small Snippet that shows how one family incorporates Jesus’ story and message with the Elf on the Shelf. This may be a viable option for Christian families who believe in Santa, but also want to keep the focus where it ought to be, but for us it still seemed silly to have an elf around when we teach that Santa is completely fictional.
That’s when I found this:
I knew immediately that I had found a new Christmas tradition for our family! The Christmas Angel is similar to the aforementioned Elf because she also visits your home daily up until Christmas. BUT instead of focusing on getting into mischief and keeping a watchful eye on children for Santa, she has a mission to restore the spirit of Christmas by teaching children to serve others through the Christmas season. Isn’t that what this time of year is really truly about anyway? Aren’t we to emulate our beloved Savior and spend our time looking for ways to bless those around us? Yes! Yes! Yes! The fun part is, that the angel can also have her own adventures without mussing up the story of the nativity! I won’t say much more because I will have a fuller review of this product coming later this week! (Make sure you check back in for that one!)
The Christmas Angel also currently has a giveaway running of their own! Go here to see details on how to win a $100 Toys R Us giftcard!
*We are a reading family. We love books and December gives a great excuse to pull out all the fantastic Christmas books that line our shelves without getting funny looks from Daddy(like when we pull them out in the middle of Summer). 🙂 I will have a post up tomorrow listing some of my favorite Christ focused Christmas stories for children, but for now, I want to share one in particular that we read over and over again this time of year.
I got the chance to review this book a couple of years ago and I fell in love! We have since collected the entire God Gave Us… series. Lisa Tawn Bergren has fantastically provided a picture book that helps teach the truth of Christmas to little ones in a delightful way. God Gave Us Christmas
shares the conversations between a little polar bear and her mother as she ponders if God is more important than Santa and whether or not we can really find Him. This is an excellent addition to your Christmas library!
Finally, I want to list some of the mostly FREE Christmas resources that I’ve found whilst searching for fun activities to do with my children:
Free Nativity Printable Pack for ages 2-7 from 3 Dinosaurs
Another printable Nativity themed pack from 2 Teaching Mommies (also has a Tot pack)
J is for Jesus themed printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler
More Jesus themed printables from 1+1+1=1
Nativity Pre K printable pack from Over the Big Moon
Christmas Tot School Box printables from Spell Outloud
Free Nativity Paper Dolls from Design Dazzle
Nativity Color by Number from Making Learning Fun
Three Wise Men Paper Chain craft instructions
Free nativity silhouette printables from Kinzie’s Kreations
Free nativity play and printable nativity figures for small hands from Prepared Not Scared
Printable Nativity Playset from Green Jello with Carrots
Christmas themed listening pages for church from Raising Arrows and Mama’s Learning Corner(reader and nonreader versions available!)
Free Advent themed coloring pages from Ministry to Children
DIY Glass Nativity Ornament from The Sewer, The Caker, The Copy-Cat Maker
Felt Wall Nativity Scene from My Crazy Blessed Life
Printable Nativity Finger Puppets from Hart of the Mountain
Nativity patterns to use to make felt or wooden characters from Under My Umbrella
How to Make a Toddler Nativity from What to Expect
Gingerbread Nativity Scene from $5 Dollar Dinners
I Spy Nativity Ornament from Chasing Cheerios
DIY Nativity Blocks from The Home Teacher
Oh wait! There’s MORE!
I have graciously been given permission to GIVEAWAY to ONE lucky reader, ONE copy of God Gave Us Christmas, ONE Christmas Angel package, AND ONE copy of Truth in the Tinsel to help one family keep their Christmas centered on CHRIST! All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter form below!
*This is a flash giveaway, only open for 48 hours to help ensure that the winner will be able to utilize their prizes for the month of December! Open to residents of the U.S. only. Must be 18 years of age or older.
*Some links in this post are affiliate links. All purchases through those links support To the Moon and Back. Prizes will be shipped/delivered by the sponsors. This blog is not responsible for delivery of the prize, but will facilitate initial communication between winner and sponsor.*