Friday, December 3, 2010

Traditions and Crafts

One of the best things about the Holidays are the traditions you can plan with your family.  Yes, I said "plan" - traditions don't just happen, you have to make them happen.  Blog land has been busy with Advent ideas and yes, I got overwhelmed with them all trying to figure out what to do and how to make it happen.  I finally decided instead of trying to do it this year, I'll plan it for next year - get everything made and ready to go so that on Dec. 1, 2011, I can be ready to enjoy that part of the season with my boys.  I think Josh will enjoy it a little more next year anyway.  So what do I plan on doing with my boys?  A few different things!

1) 25 days of Books.  I saw this idea on several sites that all led me back to The Picky Apple
The concept is easy, gather up children's book (the goal is to have 24 so you can start on December 1st) and read one book each day with your child.  If you have less than 24 books to start with, just start later in the month.  Once you gather the books, wrap them all individually and put them in a basket.  You can either let your child chose randomly OR put a number tag on them to do a countdown.  I like the tag idea so I can pick which books belong to which day.  (And put "The Night Before Christmas" as # 24!)  I've been scouring blogs looking for ideas for Children's book to start adding to my collection.  Obviously, as they kids get older the books will change some but it is something that we can do for years!  So yes, we will be adding this to our Christmas Countdown next year.

2) Christmas Countdown Lessons.  I follow two different blogs that are using books to do activities for the Christmas Countdowns. First, one of my new favorite sites, Musings of Me, not only is posting her daily Advent ideas but also tons of teaching ideas too.  The link will take her to her sight, not a specific post just keep scrolling down and back to see all of the ideas.  I know that besides the books she uses and ideas she gives I will be picking up one of these :

A Little People's Nativity Set to use with our Advent.  Musing's of Me often focuses on the Christian aspect of teaching which I love!!  She is also doing something called "Elf on the Shelf" - I had read a lot about this on Blogs and find it fun - I plan on getting the set and using it next year as well.
Than, Oopsey Daisy, another favorite of mine is doing this:

A book advent (to you sense the theme I'm following?).  She also uses books and activities that go with the book each day. She always has such cute, easy crafts to do too.  One of her posts is for a countdown Santa - it is SOOO cute.  The kids glue cotton balls on for Santa's beard - one for each day until Christmas.  I might try to whip that one up this weekend at least and do it for fun.  Josh likes to glue things - like his lips, his tongue, his fingers and his brothers head LOLOLOLOL

Another I really like that incorporates Christ into our Daily countdown is from Life at Sonic Speed and is called "The Jesus Tree.

The idea is to have a tree where each day you place an ornament with a name of Jesus on it.  As you can see from the picture, she chose clear bulbs, filled them with that red packing confetti and just put in a printed name.  On another blog which you can reach from her post I saw this idea too - just with scrapbook paper

My goal has always been to have some sort of tree in each room of our home.  So, I think I might check the day after Christmas and see if I can get a nice, small tree for our dining room and we'll make that our Jesus Tree.  That way, each night at dinner, we can pull a bulb and have some conversation around that name of Jesus. 

One last thought I have is packing two shoe boxes next year as a family - teaching my boys about giving back to others.  My church does them but I think it would be nice for them to learn about this concept at home too. 

There are a few other ideas that I've posted in my Too Cute Not To Toot posts on Tuesdays.  The advent bags with an activity in it for each day along with a small treat and/or some other countdown blocks.  I've already decided that next year, instead of designing Christmas "lessons" like we do the rest of the year - we will focus on our Book Advents, Elf on the Shelf, and Countdown bags/activities.  That way, we can all count down to a great Christmas :-)  We will incorporate making cookies, hopefully taking some to the neighbors unless we eat them all, going on Light Hunts and sending thank yous for the best displays we find.  And of course, teach the reason for Christmas - Jesus Christ Himself.  Musings of Me also has an activity book based on the Christmas story that I plan on using as well.  We will be busy next December!!

I'm working on my Craft/Lesson plan calendar now.  Deciding what crafts I need to focus on each month so that I can accomplish the ones that I want and need to do.  Now that I have the basic calendar laid out, I'm going to be going through all of the saved craft ideas I  have and picking out the ones I truly want to make first and go from there.  I could make a craft every day all year long, I think, but obviously, that isn't possible :-)

On a separate note - I've really enjoyed decorating my porch for the seasons lately so I have a new past time - keeping it decorated.  Not 100% sure what I will do Jan-March yet due to all of the snow that tends to pile up around here - I may try to pick up some white lights at those after Christmas sales again and maybe just do something with white lights this year.  It sure is nice to have that welcoming entry way though!  Be watching soon, there is a "show us your front door" post coming - I need to finish mine up!!

One last note for my loyal readers who make it this far in a post, (and I know there are a few of you!) My husband lost his job yesterday.  We are very thankful for the second job he has held all year as he has been able to go full time doing that - it is not the permanent solution at this point, not that it couldn't be but being self-employed has pros and cons - but we know that this is God's plan; we had actually been praying specifically about his job and what better answer than to not have it?  We knew that he would lose it eventually but did not expect it to happen yesterday.  And yes, we were on "vacation" this week (at home though).

We hope you are enjoying the true Christmas season and making time for family!