The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to and end...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Homemade Christmas Part 2

Thanks so much for the comments you shared on my last post, I've been looking forward to having a few spare moments to write out part 2 of my Homemade Christmas series.

On my last post I shared what our family has done in the past, and why we are choosing to go towards a more simple Christmas.  There's so much talk about the "commercialism" of Christmas these days, and I see the evidence of that in stores, not to mention commercials on TV geared towards kids and toys.  I make it a point to explain to my children why there is a Christmas in the first place, and I do this starting now in October when their minds start moving in that direction. 

Like I said in my last post I do want our kids to enjoy the Christmas season and all that goes into it, but there's more than just presents involved in making a memorable Christmas for your family.  For example, cookie baking throughout the season is always a big hit in my family.  Our kids love baking goodies in the kitchen, and tasting their treats along the way.  I am going to make it a point this Christmas season to do a good amount of baking with the kids.  They love baking sugar cookies, cutting out Christmas shapes and decorating them how they wish.  I really don't care if they make perfect looking cookies that are decorated the way I would decorate them, I just want them to have fun and remember this time as a special time spent with their mom.  I do plan on taking a trip to the Dollar Tree and buying a few baking supplies- Christmas sprinkles, Christmas cupcake liners, etc.  It should only cost a few dollars but the kids will love all the festive decorations they'll get to use.  I also want to talk to the kids about hospitality this Christmas season, and take some of our baked goodies to others- teaching them that "it's more blessed to give than to receive".   And of course during this goody-baking time, the TV will be off and Christmas music will be playing in the background.  I'll make it a point that we won't be rushed, we will just enjoy the time spent with eachother.

Another activity I plan on doing this year, that I've done for the past 3 years is to do a countdown to Christmas using Christmas books we've collected over the years.  My mom got us started on this tradition a few years ago and the kids have really enjoyed it.  We have close to 25 Christmas books, if not a few more, that I wrap up each individually.  I then tape a number to each book and each night the kids find the book that corresponds with that particular date, they get to take turns unwrapping them and then we get to read it together.  It's like the advent calendars that are out there that allow kids to countdown the days to Christmas.  I usually need to buy a couple rolls of Christmas wrapping paper to wrap all 25 books, but other than that this activity costs nothing since I already have enough books.  In years past when I didn't have 25 books I would try to buy a few new ones to add to my collection.  I also went to our library and borrowed a few, those borrowed books were the first to be unwrapped so that I made sure they were returned on time.  This activity allows the kids the fun of unwrapping something, but also gave us time together, reading as a family and spending those few moments with eachother.  We would do this at night before bedtime, and read in the light of the lit Christmas tree.

I also have a few different weekend Christmas craft activities planned, one being Christmas card making.  Usually I order photo cards through Shutterfly or Kodak each year, but this year I thought it would be fun for the kids to make our Christmas cards.  This will be a way that will allow the kids to feel involved, but it will also save us some money.  I plan on buying some cardstock in varying Christmas colors, stickers, and other embellishments.  Last year I saw that the Dollar Tree sold a lot of Christmas stickers, so I'm hoping this year will be the same.  I'll probably print up a Christmas verse from the Bible and lets the kids glue it on the outside, and I'll let them be the ones to write a short Christmas message on the inside.  And again, during this time the TV will be off and the Christmas music will be playing.

One other activity that I plan on having the
kids help me with is to prepare the gifts we'll be giving to other family members (aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc.).  I found quite a few recipes for making your own coffee mocha mix, orange spiced cider mix, jarred apple pumpkin butter, and raspberry shortbread cookies.  The kids are at an age that they would be great helpers doing these kinds of things, and I know they would feel special being able to help make these gifts for our loved ones.

And I can't forget decorating the Christmas tree as a family, getting out all our Christmas movies and watching them together as a family, playing in the snow then coming inside for hot chocolate!  There are quite a few activities that will allow my children to have a fun and memorable Christmas season without focusing on gifts.

But speaking of gifts, I'm writing out the list of gifts we'll be making and am looking for pictures to include in the post that will give you a better idea of the homemade gifts we'll be making.  That will be the next post in this series, so I hope you'll come back for Part 3 in this Homemade Christmas series.

But tell me, what do you do to make your Christmas memorable, without focusing on gifts?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Homemade Christmas Part 1

I know what you're thinking, "Christmas??", but it's only October- and the beginning of October at that!

But usually I do start thinking about Christmas at this time of the year because I love to have all the Christmas gifts taken care of by December 1st so that we can actually enjoy the month of December and not feel so stressed.

For the past couple years I've been doing my best to have a more simple Christmas.  What I mean is that I didn't want the kids focused just on gifts, or how many presents they're going to be getting.  I want them to enjoy the month of December and all that goes into it, but I want them to also know why we celebrate Christmas, and the true meaning- Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Last year I had heard about the idea of just 3 gifts for each child, along the lines of the 3 gifts baby Jesus received from the three kings.  So all throughout the month of December I took the opportunity to talk to them about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, then I would explain to them that they would each receive 3 gifts just like baby Jesus.  So on Christmas day they were not surprised that there were just 3 gifts under the Christmas tree for each of them. 

This year I thought of doing things even a bit differently.  I'm not opposed to buying gifts, but I sure dislike buying a bunch of store bought toys just to see them, a week or two later, forgotten about and discarded.  So this year we'll be buying each of the kids one store bought gift and the rest of the gifts we'll be making or putting together ourselves.  I'm actually really excited about this idea, and my husband and I have already discussed the things we'll be making.

We have four children, two daughters (ages 9 and 3) and two sons (ages 7 and 5), and we've come up with gift ideas that we think each will really like.  We also have extended family that we'll be putting gift baskets together for, and I've come up with a lot of homemade items I can make for them.

I'm really looking forward to this Christmas season, to continue teaching the kids the importance of keeping Christ at the center of Christmas, and doing the things that make this season memorable:  cookie baking, house decorating, Christmas movie watching.  I'm looking forward to being creative with the gifts this year and to saving money by not spending so much.

My next post I'll be sharing with you the children's gift ideas that I have in mind.  And if you have any ideas yourselves be prepared to share them if you'd like in the comments section, with a link to your blog or post so that others can read about them too. 
And so that you don't miss the next part to this Homemade Christmas Series why don't subscribe to my blog via email.


Modern Vintage Homemaking

Being a loving wife

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Ephesians 5:32-33

To reverence our husbands means to show respect and honor towards them.  Sometimes that is easier said than done, isn't it? 

What do you do when your husband asks you to do him a favor?  Do you happily obligeOr do you go about grumbling and griping while doing it?  If it's an easy request that is in your comfort zone then no problem.  But what if his request is out of your comfort zone?  That can be a different story sometimes. 

I remember a few years back in the middle of winter when we had a good 2 feet of snow outside.  We would have to water our cows with a hose attached to our water faucet inside our house, then haul the heavy and long hose out to the cows water trough.  It is not that fun of a job, let me tell you.  My husband who leaves for work around 6:30 and doesn't usually get home until 4pm would then have to do the big job of watering the cows after his long day at work.  Well one day I felt the Lord telling me to help out my husband and water the cows for him while he was at work so that he wouldn't have to do it when he got home.  Like I said, it's not an easy job, especially for someone small like me.  Watering the cows is a job for someone with bigger muscles than I have, especially when you have to trudge through 2 feet of snow to do it.  Then after you've watered you still have to roll up the long hose (getting all the water out as you do it) and put it back inside so that it doesn't freeze.  But since the Lord layed it on my heart to help out, I did.  Can I tell you, my husband was so pleased and happy when he came home and saw the water trough full of water.  He could actually come home and relax instead of doing another strenous job.

That job was out of my comfort zone, it was physically demanding.  But I did it out of reverence for my husband.

Just this morning, my husband called from work and asked if I would call our internet provider because of the continued issues we're having with our email.  I detest making phone calls having anything to do with technology because they always ask questions I have no idea how to answer.  I told him I couldn't because I was right in the middle of breakfast, I have a list of things to do today, and I didn't like making those kind of phone calls, (and couldn't he hear the craziness of our house with 4 kids playing and running around- did he really want me to call in the midst of the chaos??).  So he said that he would just make the call himself when he got home, I could tell he was a bit dissapointed.  Oh, how I felt horrible when I got off the phone with him, like I had let him down in a major way.  So guess what I did?  Yep I made the phone call, it was out of my comfort zone but I did it.  When I called him back to tell him what I found out about the email issues he sounded so very pleased and happy with me. 

As wives, we can get into our routines and schedules, and forget about those around us that need love, encouragment, a kind word, a kind deed. 

The phone call didn't take more than 5 minutes, but it was a help to my husband.  As wives we are called to be "help meets" to our husbands.  I encourage you to do something (even if it's out of your comfort zone) to be a help to your husband today. 

And have you seen the "31 Days of Love" Marriage Challenge going on over at Time-Warp Wife??
Check it out!