I have been experiencing some major issues with Karis spilling food all over herself and thus staining her clothes with the previous baby feeder bibs I was using. But all that has passed once I started using these excellent bibs: IKEA’s Barnslig Rand Bibs. They provide complete and full coverage, are completely re-usable, and dry very quickly. Other varieties I have tried have been very susceptible to growing mold, but these bibs are thin enough that this has never been an issue. They are sold in packs of two for just $4! IKEA also has high standards and do not use any unsafe materials in their plastic products – this is free of BPA and PVC plastics! If you do not have an IKEA near you, it may just be worth asking a friend or family member to mail you a set. They are definitely worth it and they are very light in weight that shipping costs would be extremely minimal.
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My neighbor inspired me with this cute idea. Rather than throwing out her old wreath from last year, she kept it and reused it this year. Her wreath was actually real greenery. Yes, it was a bit dried out. Her solution? Spray paint it and hang a few cute ornaments on it! Looks brand new! What a great way to get a new and fresh look to any decor item whether real or artificial! I might just keep my Christmas tree around till next year and spray paint it!
The average family will have a living room full of Christmas wrapping paper this year…all headed for the trash pile? Why not consider a more sustainable, frugal and re-usable alternative? Include the kids in being creative and giving a little more thought and love into each gift.
Alternative Wrapping Ideas
1. Brown Paper Bags – reuse brown paper bags from the grocery store. Turn them inside out, wrap your gift and decorate with your children’s hand prints, sponge paint, or various art work. If you have a larger gift, cut the paper bags flat and tape two or more together. Cut a potato in half and cut out a stencil or design, dip into paint and have fun! Write a poem or special quote on the outside. Use twine or hemp to tie it. Here is a great idea for using simple stickers to decorate the exterior of your package as displayed below.
Over the last few weeks we have been discussing ways of keeping the holidays simple, restful and enjoyable, and most importantly, focused on the Savior’s coming. As Stephanie at Keeper of the Home invited me to participate in the special theme on this topic today for Simple Saturdays, I thought it would be nice to compile my ideas here with a few additions. Many may think it is quite impossible to simplify Christmas, but I believe deliberate planning and prayer is the key! Consider using the holiday evaluation questions to prepare for the holidays as a family!
I appreciate Stephanie’s encouragement to depend upon the Lord’s grace for pursuing a simpler Christmas! By His grace, it is possible!
Christmas is a wonderful season and yet how easily it fills up with an overwhelming load of activities! How can we simplify our outside activities and focus more on building strong family traditions during this season?
Limit outside events
Carefully and prayerfully evaluate how you wish to spend your holiday season as you know the invites, ideas and events will be coming. Using the holiday evaluation questions were a great tool for making these decisions and one I highly recommend you complete together with your husband. We have divided outside activities into two different themes for our families: outreach, and local holiday events (family building activities), and just limiting them deliberately to two events per category.
This year we are planning on hosting a Christmas Ladies tea for the women in our neighborhood and singing and playing Christmas carols at a local nursing home and visiting with the elderly. Other events are home centered – such as including our international students in our holidays celebrations and making some simple baked goods for our neighbors. We also like to attend two local Christmas events. I think it will be the Singing Christmas Tree (it’s free and right across the street!) & Handel’s Messiah this year. Limiting it this way helps us to prayerfully evaluate what events to participate in without stretching us too thing and not having a restful holiday season.
Advent readings throughout the season keep our hearts focused on the reason for the season and increase the family centeredness of the holidays that I enjoy. We can get so caught up in outside events and miss the meaningful times of building the family. Growing up, my family really enjoyed Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent and the other books in this series by Arnold Ytreeide. He has written three different advent stories that will take you through three years. Some of his doctrinal statements I do not agree with, but overall it was a fun family building time. When my own children grow older we will be reading through these again.
This past year, Aaron and I read through Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas and really enjoyed these deeper and thoughtful addresses from different authors (C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, etc).
Of course, you must have an advent wreath to go with it! Last year we used a small wreath with a colorful small garland tucked into it and four red candles for of the four weeks prior to Christmas and one white candle in the middle for Christmas day. You can also use three pink, one purple and one white which is very common as well.
Other family traditions we enjoy: giving a Jesus gift to a family in need, buying one new classic Christmas movie each year, buying one new ornament to commemorate a special event from the year, going out and finding a Christmas tree together, along with a few other fun things.
To read more about other Christmas traditions at our home, read Celebrating Christ’s Coming.
Other Advent Resources:
Celebrating Advent with Kids – instructions on how to make your own advent wreath and readings.
Homemade Advent Calendar – including fun family ideas and events for each night counting down to Christmas. Why not include a fun activity along with a passage of Scripture to reflect upon using the resource below?
Advent Calendar with Verses (Days 1-12 & Days 13-23)- another option is to post a verse behind each day on your advent calendar.
Jesse Tree Info & Resources -Rocks in My Dryer has done a fabulous job creating a unique Jesse tree. Check out here ornaments here. The Jesse Tree is a means of telling the whole story from Creation to the Nativity story with the use of ornaments and devotional readings. A great means of keeping a Christ-centered focus during the holidays! An alternative to the Advent Calendar.
Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp – another great resource for the Jesse Tree idea, including ornament ideas and devotionals.
How do you limit outside activities during the season? What traditions are you hoping to establish this year? Have any good advent reading materials to share?
A fun, frugal project to complete at home with a simple twin flat sheet! This can be given as a nice homemaking or Christmas gift as well! One twin sheet at my local Goodwill cost just $4. Eliminating the use of paper napkins around our house and replacing with cloth napkins has been a simple way to be a better steward of our environment. It also makes for an elegant table at all times!
“Two things I asked of You,
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say
“Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.”
This has been my heart’s cry as of late with the strain of our economy and work slowing down for many, including my husband. Lord, keep me in a constant state of dependence upon the Soveriegn provision of my Lord in order that I might exalt His name! I want Christ as my portion! If I walk in Him, all my true needs will be provided for and I will not loose sight of the great gift of life that He has granted me in Christ Jesus! Riches will not bring satisfaction, in fact in will gradually turn my heart away from the Lord. Ultimately, I want to mantain this middle state, one that avoids the two great tempations – to trust in riches or to steal from another! If I have too much that my heart is finding purpose in my possessions then some must be given away. I must maintain a simple life in order that I will always look to Christ Jesus as my constant source of provision!
For further simple living encouragement, visit Simple Living Saturday.
One reason I have greatly appreciated the Holiday Planner is the motivation it has provided to give me a little advanced encouragement to plan early in making homemade gifts. I have always desired to do so but the thought never crosses my mind until December hits. Homemade gifts are often less expensive and also more appreciated due to the thought and time we put into it. They keep the holidays simple by keeping you at home rather than rushing around in the holiday madness trying to find the perfect gift! It is also much more sustainable! Don’t choose huge projects! But also, take the time to begin now in thinking up ideas of what might be most appreciated by your family.
Evaluate where your skills are! I don’t want to get involved in a woodworking project, because I have no skills in that area. I can bake and I can sew to a reasonable level, so I began scheming up how I could use these skills to bless others.
Photo gifts – grandparents always love these! Updated pictures of the grand kids are always a great way to bless the grandparents and they can never get enough. Walmart & Costco offer an array of fun gifts with the use of photos (From photo mugs, calendars, photo albums, etc). You can do it all online!
Themed Basket Gifts -This is a fun way to go! Choose a theme that revolves around a favorite hobby and go for it! For a ton of great ideas, visit Homemade Gift Basket Ideas or TipNut’s Ultimate Guide. These work great for housewarming, bridal showers, and baby showers as well! You can find baskets for a great price at Goodwill or your local Thrift store. Baskets are the great alternative to wasting excess wrapping paper and still looking nice and attractive!
Baked Gifts/Gifts in A Jar – whether it be a mix in a jar or pre-baked goodies, I don’t think you can go wrong. Mix in a jar can be anything from a baked good ready to throw in the oven, seasoning mixes, beverage mixes, etc. For more ideas and recipes, visit Razzle Dazzler Recipes or Gifts from the Kitchen or TipNut’s Recipes & Resources. You could even adapt some of your favorite recipes for a jar! If you want to do some Christmas gift baking, get it done ahead of time – in November and freeze it! These are wonderful gifts for neighbors as a way to reach out and share Christ’s love during the holiday season. NO wrapping paper needed here either!
For more ideas, visit Buy Nothing Christmas for a full list of alternative ideas! (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Autumn for the link!)
Care to join me in avoiding the use of wrapping paper this year? I want to be a good steward and thus have made it my goal to avoid it altogether! For a great list of alternative green wrapping ideas, visit here. Baskets and jars here we come!
What are your homemade frugal gift ideas?
This video says it all! One of the most significant ways we can simplify the holidays to to first change our focus. Spend less, give more (time relationally and monetarily), celebrate true joy as we focus on worshiping Jesus! Rather than continuing in the $450 billion dollar Christmas industry, we can make a difference by first focusing on others! Why not designate a specific amount of your Christmas budget towards a giving project or two? Why not limit your gift purchases to just one gift per person this Christmas? Many readers shared last week how they liked to follow in the pattern of three gifts as the Wise Men gave Jesus. If Jesus only received three gifts, why should we receive so much more? OR consider giving away three specific gifts to Jesus and be His hands and feet?
There are many ideas out there, but here are just a few family friendly ideas for encouraging a spirit of giving this Christmas:
Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog - several readers shared how these use this tool to focus on giving. Samaritan’s Purse offers a whole list of specific projects of ways you can give and contribute to those who have so much less then us around the world. Projects include anything from helping a disabled child to building a church.
Angel Tree Project – Provide a little joy for children who have a parent in prison.
Operation Christmas Child – This is a fun opportunity to send a shoe box full of love and gifts to a child in a foreign country. We have participated in this on many occasions. National Collection week is November 17-24. This year, families in our church are preparing and sending Ziploc bags filled with such gifts to the Philippines through ACTION missionaries we know there. These bags will be distributed to adults and children through their disaster relief outreach. This past week we had a shopping and packaging party to participate together. IT was such a blast!
Give a Jesus Gift – Our family chose a needy family we know in the church to whom we will give a Jesus gift this year. We are filling a basket full of baked goods, a monetary gift, and small gifts for each of the family members (mainly books and craft supplies). This has been so exciting to plan and scheme how we could bless this family most effectively.
Here is our group packaging Ziploc gifts for the Philippines!
Would you consider prayerfully joining the conspiracy with us? Pray together as a family how you can spend less this Christmas and give more! God may burden each family differently, but we can all give to carry the gift of Christ’s name to the nations around us in some small way.
Stay tuned for more ideas on how to maintain a Christ-centered focus this holiday season!
Are you overwhelmed with the thought of yet another holiday season? Do you desire a peaceful holiday season and yet purposefully Christ centered? How can you begin now to pray and plan how God might have you and your family invest in making this a profitable and God-glorifying time of the year?
It might seem a little early to start thinking of the upcoming holidays, but what better way to keep the holidays simple but through a little planning and foresight! I am looking forward to sharing a few ideas that I have been blessed with over the next few weeks in our Simple Living Series, but for now, I would like to kick it off with a little giveaway!
The 12 Week Holiday Planner for Christian Families by Sheri Graham (mother of five) is a great tool for any family desiring to keep the Christ-centered focus in the holidays without being overwhelmed. Filled with practical and useful charts, planner pages, the Jesse Tree Devotional and other useful information, you will be equipped to keep your light shining this season!
Sheri says, “My desire in putting together this eBook is to provide a tangible way for you to plan out your holidays so they are enjoyable, less stressful, and more filled with the things that really matter.”
This 146 page e-book includes:
*Weekly plans for the 12 weeks prior to Christmas
*”Sheri’s Tips”- tips to make your holidays meaningful, shared throughout the ebook
*Christmas Craft, Gift, Decorations and Menu Ideas
*Memory Making Ideas for the Family
*Ideas for Baked Items to Share/Give Away
*Ideas for Meals to Freeze for Use during the busy weeks
*Supplies to stock up on ahead of time or when on sale
*Ideas for a Holiday Baking Schedule
*Kids’ Gift Idea List
PLUS!!! “The Glorious Coming: A Jesse Tree Celebration of Advent” – Jesse Tree devotionals which include devotionals, ornaments, and instructions to make your own Jesse Tree!
I am so thrilled to share this resource with you all and am finding it very helpful already as I start taking simple steps with the use of these materials for planning our purposeful Christ-centered holidays!
To join in on the giveaway, please leave a comment below and feel free to share one idea you have found helpful for simplifying the holidays.
Giveaway ends: Tuesday, October 14th 5:00pm PST. Winner will be randomly draw Tuesday evening and announced next Wednesday.
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