As you shop, decorate, plan, and cook for the holidays, there are always those FUN FINDS that you stumble across! And what do you do?? TEXT YOUR BEST FRIENDS ABOUT THEM, OF COURSE! So that’s what we plan to do at Texting the Truth this month — Post about our favorite Christmas festivities! This will include gift ideas, activities, recipes, and decorating ideas.?
So check in with us this month as we share, from one busy mom to another, those great finds that make the holidays easier, more special, more delicious, and more fun.
Looking forward to creating an easy and fun Christmas season with you and your families,
?The Texting the Truth Blog Team
First there was chaos, then there was quiet.
I imagine our Christmases have a lot in common with the first one.
We rush around collecting presents; the wise men traveled a long distance with their carefully selected gifts.
We get distracted by our earthly circumstances and feel frustrated when plans don’t go our way; Mary felt the urgency of her contractions and the anxiety of having no real home where she could comfortably give birth. ?
We feel a variety of emotions but eventually, ready or not, the day finally arrives. The presents are opened, the food is eaten and we can truly breathe; the preparation was not in vain.
For two thousand years God was preparing the ultimate gift for His people. His preparation was not in vain. ?
We have really enjoyed sharing Christmas ideas with you! As you make FLAIR for your home, FEAST with your family and have FUN with your friends, may your greatest FIND be in the manger:
“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ (Luke 2:10-12 NKJV)
We hope you had a Merry Christmas! ? ?
We also hope you keep enjoying the season, even though you may be counting down the days until the kids go back to school. #letsbehonest #wegetit ? We have a few more suggestions for getting you to 2020. Stay tuned!
The Texting the Truth Blog Team ?
I have fond growing-up memories of making Christmas goodies and taking them to all the neighbors on Christmas Eve. We used to ride our horses all decked out in Christmas bells and bows and sing carols to our smiling friends.
Now our kids get to experience the joy of giving to others. The only difference is that we don’t deliver them while riding horses.
To be honest, I’ve been tempted to give up our tradition some years. It is a lot of work! My kitchen looks like a cookie factory exploded when we’re done! Not to mention the bellyaches we get from eating too much cookie dough.
But last year I was reminded why we do it. I saw tears trickle down our neighbor’s cheeks while she listened to the kids sing about Jesus with all their hearts.❤️
It wasn’t only our family giving out goodies and singing Christmas songs– it was a way that we could pause the frantic pace of the season and bring the focus back to Jesus. A way to show love for those who live nearby that we don’t often slow down enough to even notice.
I’m curious – do you have a Christmas Eve tradition? Share below!
Here’s an idea for adding some kid-friendly FLAIR to your Christmas décor: The Little People Nativity Set ?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that it can be challenging to help my children remember the birth of Jesus, and the true “reason for the season,” when we’re drowning ? in Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, and endless to-do lists this time of year ?♀️.
The Little People Nativity set has helped us create tangible moments of play, conversation, and learning. It also helps keep my grown-up nativity set a little safer from curious hands (most of the time?)!
It may not always get used accurately at this stage in the game with little ones?, but the foundation is there and it’s a constant reminder for all of us what this season is all about??. I love being witness to the creativity and ever-evolving interpretations of the manger story as my children get older.
Did Daniel Tiger’s crew? come hang out with your Mary and Joseph figures in the stable?? Why couldn’t the wise men take a little nap in the desert palm trees?♀️?♀️?
So if you’re looking for a kid-friendly nativity set that will add a little FLAIR (and fun!) to your Christmas season, ?you can find one below on our Amazon list of blog team favorites!??
Here’s a similar version that’s also a best-seller.
And to help your child understand the story behind their nativity set, (and help you start the conversation), there’s a picture book to accompany it here
Feast: Holiday Waffle Cookies
These cookies have become a Christmas tradition at our house over the past several years. The batter is quick and easy to mix up. The cookies bake on a waffle iron, giving them a fun and festive texture. My kids’ favorite part is to dip them in frosting and cover them with sprinkles after they bake. After all, what kid doesn’t love sprinkles at Christmastime? And, of course, they taste DELICIOUS!
Here’s the link to the recipe: https://www.parents.com/recipe/holiday-waffle-cookies/
Happy baking to you! Share your favorite Christmas cookie recipes with us in the comments below, too!
The Polar Express Tradition (Or just my van blasting Christmas carols with a bunch of rowdy boys in the back.)
Let me give you two scenarios that accomplish the same end: Family Time!
Scenario 1: You plan ahead. You hide these tickets under the kids’ pillows. At storytime you read them The Polar Express. You put the kids to bed slightly early and then about 2 minutes after you’ve turned off the light (after you race around to heat the hot chocolate and get the goodie bags in the car), you open their door(s) and ask them if they want to use that ticket under their pillows. You could even say something cute from the movie like, “Well, you comin’?” in your best conductor voice. Or maybe you holler from the hallway… “All Aboard!” Or maybe you play the song “Hot Chocolate” on your phone to call them to the train, I mean your car, for a special ride.
The kids love their “wake-up” call and march/ dance to the car to see what is in store for them. You will drive around for 30 minutes and sip hot chocolate and munch on carmel corn listen to Christmas music as you enjoy the neighborhood lights. Sounds lovely, right!
I have such high hopes that I will achieve Scenario #1. But alas we usually resort to scenario #2.
Scenario 2: Me at 7:15 one night: “Honey, do you want to take the kids out to look at lights?”
Hubby looking at his watch and thinking about the to-do list: “I guess we could do that.”
Me: “Let’s do it!”
Me to the boys yelling to be heard over the dull roar that is always present: “BOYS!!!!!! Put on your coats and get the van! Let’s go see some lights.”
Boys: “Really? Yes!” OR “Can I finish building this one [lego] thing?!” OR “But I’m huuuuuuuungry.” OR “I’m not wearing a coat, it’s not cold.”
Me: “Yeah, this will be fun! Your legos will be here when you get back. Grab a snack. Coats are not optional tonight! It is 18°!”
Me (in the car 25 minutes later with 12 snacks, one crying because his coat is poking his neck, and one with a bandaid on his knee because he tripped on something left where it shouldn’t be): “Well, that took forever to get ready. Sorry I had to yell at you guys to get moving, I was just feeling so frustrated that we couldn’t get ready a little faster. It seems like you were not listening. Now who wants to see some lights?”
Boys: “Can I have a fruit snack?”
But while it was a hassle to get everyone in the “train” that is my van, we are all together. We put on our family’s favorite Christmas music, Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack. And as we drive around, listening to the smooth jazz, we relax and peace fills the car as we take in the light sights together. We decide to count how many nativity scenes we see. We sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” with the Peanuts gang, and talk about how lights make all the houses look so beautiful.
When we pull into our driveway 30 minutes later discussing/arguing about which street was each boys’ favorite, my hubby and I feel it was worth the effort to have gone out together.
Both scenarios achieved the same end: we spent time together enjoying each other’s presence. So to encourage family time, we would like to offer you a free printable of this Polar Express Ticket. Whether you achieve scenario #1, resort to scenario #2, or do something in the middle, let this ticket serve as a reminder that being together is always worth the hassle. And even if you have to take 5 extra minutes to print these tickets, it might help make the night a little more memorable.
There are people who always know where their belongings are. I’m not one of those people. ?
I have frequently misplaced my keys, which is very inconvenient. And then there are the heart palpitations that arise when you begin to suspect you lost a phone that costs hundreds of dollars. ???
Enter Tile. Attach the Tile to my keys and download the app to my phone. Find one with the other. Adulting complete. Mind blown! ? ???
I ❤️ my Tile. Now I need a new reason why I’m late to preschool drop-off. ?
Christmas Tree Hunting and Trimming
I am a big fan of traditions, so cutting down our own tree is something I look forward to each year. And this year was no different. It has its downfalls of course (needles everywhere), but nothing beats that smell and the opportunities for talking with our boys about the real meaning of Christmas.
We always visit the same local farm that is sort of like us. It doesn’t have all the fancy bells and whistles. It’s just a quaint, traditional family farm, complete with saws that could be a little sharper and trees that could be a little shaplier. It’s really the perfect spot to remember that we are less than perfect too. God still has more pruning and shaping to do in our lives as well.
On our way, I prep the family that I will be the one to make the final call on which tree we cut down (because let’s be honest, as the only girl in a house of boys, I get the final say on all indoor holiday decor!). This year the boys teased me a little about that, but I don’t play my girl card often, so it went over pretty well and actually I think it helps dispel some of the could-be arguing.
As we walk around the acres of trees, we see tons of stumps all throughout the ground. So many trees have already been chosen. It reminds me that when God sent his son to Earth, He did so because he wanted to choose us for his family too. And even though we might still need some trimming, He chose us anyway.
Everything about finding a Christmas tree is fun for our family. Even when we are covered in mud like this year. Or the youngest says he’s tired of walking after the first five minutes and I carry him. After we find the tree and tie it to the car and we eat our free popcorn and sip the not-so-hot hot chocolate, we have such a feeling of joy because we have chosen a tree and the really fun part is yet to come.
We get to fix it up! And even though in the process sometimes things break (nothing broke this year). And there are always arguments over who gets to hang which ornament. And one of the twins may have cried actual tears because a needle poked him under one of his nails. In the end, the transformation is totally worth the conflict negotiating and bandaids. The tree looks almost magical.
Jesus came to to transform us. He chose us and our untrimmed branches so that He could make us beautiful and to give us new life and new purpose. He lights us up with His truth and crowns us with His glory. And so when I look at our tree, I feel the hope and joy of Christmas. God came to earth as a baby so that he could one day choose me, less-than-perfect me, to fix up and give new life.
No-Stress Teacher Finds
This is the teacher gift post.
Yes, there are three suggestions below.
But first, here is a gift for you, mama: permission.
You are hereby officially granted permission for the following:
- To spend as much or as little money as you would like on your child’s teacher(s).
- To not prepare a 17-step scavenger hunt that culminates in a spa day and helicopter city tour. (Shirley, PTA Pres. already did an 18-step one so why bother competing?)
- To wrap said free or cheap gift in the closest material available, whether that is a wrinkly Target bag or shoved into your child’s ‘return to school’ folder.
- To breathe and cut yourself some slack (A.K.A. grace!).
- To give nothing at all.
You might be thinking, “Okay, I’ve taken that breath. But I still want to give my child’s teacher something. What do you suggest? “
Appreciation can be free (child’s handwritten drawing or note) to minimal cost ($5 gift card to Starbucks or Target). Haters gonna hate and teachers gonna eat. Think Kroger or Walmart, too.
You really can just choose one favorite teacher to buy for. The rest of them can handle it. 😉
-personal note (we love these!)
-classroom donation (check with the school if your teacher has a wish list on Amazon or other retail site; size doesn’t matter ?)
-gift cards to their favorite store (see their beginning of the year newsletter, or simply ask)
Fun: The Kindness Elves
Elf on the Shelf. Just saying those four words brings reactions on all sides of the discussion!
For our family, we decided to embrace a bit of an alternative approach and introduced the Kindness Elves to our girls.
The inspiration came from Anna at The Imagination Tree who started the kindness elves idea. She now has a whole store in which you can buy the cute kindness elves as well as many other things to go along with them. She also has an Instagram chock full of kindness ideas.
Our family has adapted the version that works best for us. We do use the actual Elf on the Shelf but my girls don’t really know that our elf doesn’t do naughty tricks like the others (at least yet). 🙂 I also bought two other winter ornament dolls after Christmas one year to add them to the Kindness Elf gang. (Of course this year when they arrived my girls fought over who got which one because there wasn’t an even number so I suggest an even number if you introduce this!! Talk about starting this kindness thing off on the right foot!)
Every day the elves write notes to the girls of kind things they could do. It’s honestly just a way for them to be helpers in our house and in our community. Instead of mom harping on them, the elves are suggesting the ideas and it makes the tasks a little more magical.
Some of the ideas on our list are…
-help mom with Christmas cards
-write notes to others
-make treats for neighbors
-make homeless packets
-make basket for delivery people
-make bird house for birds in the winter
-be kind to sibling
-pick out a toy for someone who needs it
-pick out special ornaments as a family
-take candy canes to the nursing home
-make ornaments for family members
-make cards for loved ones
-be kind to friends
-get gifts for teachers
-write notes and leave around community
I also include a few verses in the notes like these:
“Kind words are like honey, sweet for the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.” Ephesians 4:32
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22,23
I have also found several free printables on Pinterest if you search “kindness elves” or “acts of kindness” that have ideas ready to print. Another idea is to brainstorm with your kids kind things to do together so that they are a part of the discussion.
The actual Kindness Elves only go for the 12 days leading up to Christmas so if this is something you want to do, you still have time to get it together! Our kindness elves come for all of December, but as I write this, I am nine days in and I forgot to leave a note this morning for the girls and I’m already falling behind. HA. Sometimes I just tell my girls that they had a busy weekend and slept in and I’m sure they’ll have a note when they return home from school.
I thought I would include the first note that the kindness elves give to the girls so that if this is something you want to start, the first note is already done for you! This note has been adapted from Laura’s note that her elf writes to her boys. Feel free to adapt it to your family!
We are so happy to be here in this cozy home with two cute girls! We couldn’t wait until it was December so we could return!
If you don’t remember, we are the Kindness Elves! Our names are Nutmeg, Gingerbread and Angel! During the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, our job is to encourage you to show Kindness!
There are a few things we want you to remember about Christmas:
*It’s better to give than receive.
*God loves you so much!
*This is a time to celebrate Jesus coming into the world as a baby to eventually die on the cross for our sins.
We want to focus most on those things because that is what Christmas is all about!
Our job this month is to remind you about these things. Together we can show others Jesus’s love by giving to others in need that don’t have as much as you and showing kindness to others.
Each morning, we will have a new job to do together to help remind you of the true meaning of Christmas. We also will read from the Bible to remind us of the stories that lead up to Jesus being born.
We can’t wait for a fun and KIND month!
Nutmeg, Gingerbread and Angel
I love this tradition of the kindness elves because it helps give us words and actions to the concept of kindness that is so important in our family. I will be honest that this year I feel a bit behind the eight ball in getting these notes together, but I am reminding myself that the point is not perfect execution but the thought behind the tradition. So even if the elf sleeps in or forgets a note all together, the important part is keeping our eyes focused on the real meaning of the season. This isn’t something that has been easy for me this year so I’ve enjoyed writing this to remind myself of this truth.
Here’s to joining with you as we teach our kids about the real meaning of Christmas.
Flair: Advent Candles Craft
An Advent “Calendar” featuring mason jars and candles. Did someone say #FixerUpperFarmhouse? ?
This photo is courtesy of my friend, Sarah, who led the craft activity. Beautiful photo, Sarah! ?
*5 mason jars with lids
*5 30-inch pieces of twine
*epsom salts (1 cup for each jar)
*round printable stickers for jar lids for events and corresponding Scripture (see below, step 1 of instructions)
*5 tea light candles
*display surface – my group used a rustic 2×4 but you can use any nonflammable surface like a metal or glass tray
- Print labels on stickers: Week 1: Preparing for our Shepherd – Isaiah 40:1-11Week 2: Anticipating our Forgiveness – Jeremiah 31:31-34Week 3: Waiting with Joy – Philippians 4:4-7Week 4: Expecting His Birth – Luke 1:26-38Week 5: Celebrating Christ Our Lord – Luke 2:1-20
- Fill jar with epsom salts. Nestle tea light inside.
- Attach stickers to lids. Event goes on top of lid; Scripture goes on the bottom.
- Seal jars and wind twine around the neck of jar.
- Arrange jars on a display surface.
- Light one candle and read the corresponding verse for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Read and discuss Scripture and thank God for what He has provided. Light the last candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, along with the other four candles.
Feast: Eggless, Nut-Free Christmas Cookies
Chances are, if you have a large family or love to host, you’ll want and/or need to be sensitive to food allergies. In our family, we are always on the lookout for recipes that do NOT include eggs or nuts so that everyone can eat them without worry.
Decorating Christmas cookies makes for easy entertaining when hosting parties/play dates, and proves to be an interactive treat/tradition that everyone from the youngest to oldest family members can enjoy.
Egg Free Cut Out Cookies:
*NOTE: Be sure to clean your baking space well to avoid any possible cross-contamination with surfaces that may have touched egg/nut product.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened slightly
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (NOT baking soda)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream together butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla in large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and stir until combined.
- Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Roll out chilled dough to about 1/4″ thickness on lightly floured surface.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Press one side in sugar or sprinkles, if desired. Re-roll any remaining dough for additional cutouts.
- Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
*NOTE: Be mindful of checking your decorating ingredients for any trace of egg, peanut, or tree nut as well. Other common allergens that may want to be checked include ingredients like red dye. Happy decorating!
First Find: Foam Alive
And here’s our first Christmas find: Foam Alive. It’s like Kinetic Sand, but different. It has a softer, light feel to it (addicting to touch!), and all of my kids loved playing with it! It “melts” and “moves” — so that’s the “alive” part! If your kids like Kinetic Sand, Floam, or Slime — they will LOVE this. This is also a great exchange gift for any age, boy or girl.
Here’s the Amazon link: https://amzn.to/2qQcxgZ
You can also find it at most stores like Target and Walmart.