Celebrating Advent as a Family

Celebrating Advent along the traditional Church calendar has become a very special tradition in our family. Over the last two weeks, I’ve been getting so many questions about recommended Advent resources so I wanted to take a few minutes to share some ways that we celebrate this special time of year. No fear, I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my annual Christmas gift idea lists and they will be live early next week!

 *ALL OF THE PICTURES BELOW ARE LINKS WHICH WILL OPEN PRODUCTS IN A NEW WINDOW. 

 

Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Advent

Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Advent

So this first book, “Unwrapping the Great Gift” is GORGEOUS. It reads like a song and captures the heart of God, the heart of Love Himself for His people. It is a beautiful, hardcover, wonderfully illustrated book. The second one is an accompaniment to this book (see additional pictures below). The companion book opens up to a large pop up Christmas tree. There are advent “doors” to open and each door contains an ornament to hang on the tree which corresponds to each daily Scripture reading. There is an ornament for each day of Advent. The whole thing is very sturdy and can stand up to little hands (but maybe not a little one standing on top of it!) I will note here that the second book with the pop-up tree does come with a mini paperback version of the devotional, so you could use it independently if you wanted, but they work really well together.

Here are more pictures of the interior of “The Wonder of the Greatest Gift”

Another wonderful resource for Advent are these Table Advent Cards from SheReadsTruth. SheReadsTruth started out as mainly a company/ ministry to get women in the Word of God everyday. They have now expanded and have really embraced creating wonderful products for kids under the name KidsReadTruth. I have to say, I have been highly impressed with everything I’ve purchased from SheReadsTruth. I also do their adult Advent devotional study each year and it is my own favorite, private tradition.

As you’ll see on the picture below, each card has discussion questions for varying age groups. They are so soft, but durable and will last for many years to come. We incorporate these during dinnertime throughout the advent season.


Another brand new resource from KidsReadTruth that I’m over-the-moon about is their new Scripture book, This is the Christmas Story. It is so well done and does a great job of expanding to tell the bigger story of a promise fulfilled in the person of Jesus. The main text on each page is simple enough for your littlest ones, but there are full corresponding Scriptures on the bottom of each page which are an opportunity to go more in depth with your older ones. This is a great book to gift this year too!

Another way we make Advent family time more special is by using our Waldorf Birthday Celebration Ring I purchased from one of my favorite Etsy shops, FromJennifer. Be sure to stock up on beeswax candles in advance, they often go out of stock on Amazon close to the Christmas season. You could add a candle each night or just do them all at once, but it really does make it special. It would also be an awesome time to remember the Jewish menorah and all its symbolism as well.

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Last year, my sister bought Holiday one of those punch out cardboard Advent calendars from Target. Each day had a different part of the nativity. It was super cute, but not very sturdy. We ended up gluing some of the pieces, but it was still very much enjoyed. Our Target didn’t have them yet this year, but might be something to watch out for!

Instead, this year, I purchased this gorgeous wooden peg people nativity from another one of my favorite Etsy shops, My Pretty Peggy. This set is pricey, but the details are gorgeous and it really is a family heirloom set to keep forever.

When Holiday was a baby/ toddler, she of course really loved the Fisher Price Little People Nativity set- I know this set has been well loved by many families.

This last resource I have not used myself, however, The Jesus Storybook Bible is THE children’s Bible to own in my opinion. It is my very favorite first Bible for children and everything Sally Lloyd Jones does is fantastic! I was so excited to see that she offers a FREE digital download family Advent celebration based on the Jesus Storybook Bible! You can get everything HERE!

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A Nutcracker Suite Seventh Birthday

With Disney’s new rendition of The Nutcracker opening in theaters tomorrow, I thought it only fitting to share pictures of Holiday’s 7th Nutcracker themed birthday party!

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Nutcracker Snowball Ornament Craft Time!

Nutcracker Snowball Ornament Craft Time!

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Senior students from Texas Ballet Theater came. They read a Nutcracker story and helped the kids become different characters from The Nutcracker!

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Nutcrakcer and Mouse King masks along with foam swords for everyone on the trampoline were a huge hit!


Practically Easter

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It's hard to believe Easter is right around the corner! For the past two years, I have been on a major purge of ALL the things. For a person who loves to shop and surround myself with beautiful and high quality items, it has taken me on a journey to find the right balance of things which "spark joy" without turning into clutter that tries to steal my happiness! For me, things must be high quality, beautiful, AND functional. One of the biggest lessons I've learned over these past few years is that with children's toys, more is not better! In fact, when I invested time, carefully paring down Holiday's belongings into high value, beautiful, and functional items, I found that she played SO MUCH MORE than when there were too many things to choose from. When we were left with the best and then I carefully organized and displayed them in a way that allows for easy play, a lot more play and imagination happen. 

In view of my purging journey, I cannot, in all good conscience, offer you a list of items which will steal your joy come summer! Instead, I felt it necessary to offer you more practical and thoughtful ideas to add Easter joy to your springtime traditions. I hope you find a thing or two you and your little ones will love as much as we do! 

This year's list is set up a little different. There are pictures of a lot, but not all of the items. Click links below each picture to see all the items! 

 

Spring & Summer Wardrobe

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Easter obviously coincides with the change of seasons. As the warmer days start approaching, many of us will be switching over closets and drawers for spring and summertime wear. If you'll be buying warm weather gear for your little ones, anyway, why not fill their Easter baskets with items that are both fun AND practical?! Here are some ideas! 

Girls Rain Coats and Rain Boots

Boys Rain Coats and Rain Boots

Umbrellas

Native Shoes

Flip Flops

Our Favorite Kids Tennis Shoes (Water versions too!) 

Warm Weather Pajamas

Swimsuits for Girls

Swimsuits for Boys

Tuga Reversible Bucket Sun Hats for Girls

Tuga Reversible Bucket Sun Hats for Boys

Boys & Girls Baseball Caps

Sandals

Spring/Summer Color Hair Bows

Replenish Spring & Summer Toys 

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Spring is a great time to clean out broken bubble wants, random pieces of sidewalk chalk and sun-bleached pool toys. Throw out the old and start the season with fresh and fun supplies which happen to make GREAT Easter basket fillers! 

Pool Toys

Finding Dory Shell Race Diving Game 

Super FUN Pool Floats

Goggles

Bling2O Goggles

Beach Ball

Polarized and UV Protectant Kid Sunglasses

Kites

My Favorite Kids Water Bottle

Super Cute Personalized Decals for Your Water Bottle

Jump Rope

Light Up Hula Hoop

Our Favorite Bubbles Ever

Sidewalk Chalk

The BEST Personalized Beach Towel (these beach towels are blanket soft wash after wash) 

Replenish Art Supplies 

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I feel like this one is only practical if you take time to get rid of the old stuff! Fresh art supplies really do inspire creativity. The rainy spring season and long summer days will be here before we know it and art is a great boredom buster! 

Markers

 Colored Pencils

Our Favorite Crayola Inspiration Set

Poster Paint Pods

Watercolor Paints

Paint Palette for Mixing Watercolors

MUST HAVE Erasable Markers

Sparkle Gel Crayons

Rainy Dayz Gel Crayons

NOYO Crayons with Watercolor Effects

The Best Natural Beeswax Crayons for Little Hands

Crayon Rocks for Helping Learn Pincer Grasp

Oil Pastel Twisty Stix

Chunkies Paint Sticks

Chalk Pastels

Playdoh

Eeboo Sketch Books

Eeboo Watercolor Paper Pad 

Backyard Nature Explorers 

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To quote one of my very favorite characters, Dorcas Lane from Larkrise to Candleford, books are my one weakness! As a homeschool mom, I am surrounded in children's literature 24/7. I teach as many subjects as possible using wonderful, beautiful, and lyrical children's books. I used to think that we had enough books and that Holiday was too old for picture books once she was fluently reading chapter books. I could NOT have been more wrong. Cultivating a wonderful home library has been one of the best investments we've ever made. At age 7 and a voracious reader, Holiday is still absolutely delighted by worthwhile picture books. Most are written with the intent of a parent reading to a child, so the language is sophisticated and beneficial. 

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt

The Complete Brambly Hedge

Brambly Hedge: Spring Story

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

Our Favorite Peter Rabbit and Friends Little Book Set

The Country Bunny

The Wind in the Willows

The Secret Garden

James Herriot's Treasury For Children

The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies

Make Way for Ducklings

Fletcher's and the Springtime Blossoms

Tasha Tudor's A Tale for Easter (one of my favorite children's illustrators) 

Eloise Wilkin Stories: A Little Golden Book Collection (Also a favorite illustrator- this is my absolute favorite collection of Little Golden Book stories, especially for your littlest ones) 

The Egg Tree

Hedgie's Surprise

Spring Thaw

Ten Magic Butterflies

The Legend of the Easter Robin

Bunny's First Spring

When God Made Light

When God Made You

The World is Awake

When God Made You by Jane Meyer (different book, same title as one above) 

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

The Easter Story

My Book About God: A Little Golden Book

Egermeier's Bible Story Book (I like this one for kids who are reading chapter books fluently on their own) 

The Jesus Storybook Bible (My favorite Bible for little ones) 

A Few Extra Gift Ideas 

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This is listed above, but this is the personalized beach towel from JoAnn Grace Designs and it is absolutely LOVELY! It feels like a super soft blanket and the quality has never diminished wash after wash! CLICK HERE TO BUY

This is listed above, but this is the personalized beach towel from JoAnn Grace Designs and it is absolutely LOVELY! It feels like a super soft blanket and the quality has never diminished wash after wash! CLICK HERE TO BUY