Gift Guide: Stuff for Advent & Christmas

Advent is still (a few years) new for us. The first Christmas we were at our current church, they asked our family to light the first candle. I had no clue what all it meant, but through the years, I have really enjoyed this season of preparing for His arrival.

(*Disclosure Policy: These are great products that we have used and love, or have been recommended to us! Links are affiliate links. We will get a small percentage of the sales if you make a purchase through the links at no extra cost to you.)

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas* – This has come as a recommendations from many, and we have it on our “to buy” list. This is the family version of The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.


Love Comes Near: An Advent Bible Study – We really enjoyed Love Comes Near last year. I have worked with Jenni Keller in HelloMornings, and we got to meet for a retreat last year before Advent. She gifted us with this lovely Bible study, along with a kit to use with our families for Advent. The girls enjoyed doing the reading and activities each day.



The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas – This has come as a recommendations from many, and we have it on our “to buy” list. If you have not read any of Ann Voskamp’s books, she writes in a flowy and poetic way. I have not read this book, but I have read One Thousand Gifts, and while, it is not my typical choice of books, I really enjoyed the message, and I am certain I will enjoy this one as well.


Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight Of Waiting – This is a new one from my online friend of many years, Kris Camealy, that I will be reading this year. I loved her book for the Lenten season, Wholly, Holey, Holy: A Lenten Journey Of Refinement. Her words are beautiful, and I know I am ready for some calming words this season.


More Than Candy: A 25-Day Christmas Countdown that Counts – This countdown by Sarah Mae puts a more hands-on approach to what it meant when Jesus entered this world as a little baby. I know this is one we will read through again…good for anytime really! 🙂 If you think random acts of kindness are amazing, you’ll enjoy intentional acts of kindness ideas in this book.


All the Colors of Christmas Devotional – Focus on the Family puts out an Advent devotional every year. I can’t remember if we received one as an insert in our Thriving Family magazine, but you can download one online.


Truth in the Tinsel (the code is old in the link, but there should be a Black Friday special coming soon) is fun for the little ones, and I just got the recommendation for Pieces of the Promise puzzle, which looks like a great indoor-day-when-it’s-cold-outside activity.

I’m not sure if there are anymore gift guides coming soon on our blog this year, but if you have any guides you would like us to put together, leave a comment below and let us know.

What Advent and/or Christmas books or activities do you enjoy?

Other Gift Guides:
Children’s Christmas DVDs
Easy Read Books (Fiction)
Chapter Books (Fiction)
Series Chapter books (Fiction)

Truth in the Tinsel: Days 1-12

truthinthetinsel_300-250If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen these photos. If you don’t following me on Instagram, why not?! :p But also, here are some photos of our girls working on their Truth in the Tinsel crafts. The captions are also from when I posted on IG.

In the midst of all the fun Christmas activities, it is nice to sit and reflect on the different events that led up to the reason why we celebrate Christmas – Jesus! The girls are loving discovering the word that we will be focusing on each day, and the fun craft that accompanies the Scripture passage.

Advent Day #1: Light | They weren’t too thrilled to have their pic taken but were proud of their candles.

Advent Day 2: Kingdom – It took awhile for the paint to dry so the girls were anxious to finish the crowns. I think they might add glitter later.

Advent Day 3: Zechariah | One of Emily’s fave parts of The Promise DVD (giveaway, link in profile) was when Z gets his voice back, so reading about Zechariah’s unbelief of the Christmas miracles was pretty exciting…finding out why he lost his voice…

Advent Day 4: Gabriel | They are getting so excited to do Truth in the Tinsel each day. This particular day’s craft was a little tricky for little fingers, but they had fun customizing their angel.

Advent Day 5: Mary | These Marys will be finished later…the girls were getting ready to watch The Sound of Music LIVE last night, and so Mary didn’t quite get her hair done…and I heard glitter will be added to her fab outfit.

Advent Day 6: Mary/Elizabeth | Day 7: Song | Day 8: Sun | We have been reading and doing the ornaments, but haven’t gotten a chance to post. The girls are still deciding on what to do for the CD/song since we don’t have flat marbles. I think they are adding ribbons. And, in other news, our tree is up, so Emily added the chain to the tree.

Advent Day 10: Dream | One last thing before bed. Thanks @oohamanda ! The girls really enjoy hearing the Christmas story a day at a time, and seeing how everything came together. P.S. If you noticed that we missed a day, it is because we are looking for one more craft stick for Joseph.

Advent Day 11: Jesus’ Name | It was hard to find names and letters, but we did it! | Day 12: Census | Broke down and got the printable ornaments. | We have had quite a few activities these days (and a sick child) so I need to sort through them to find all the Tinsel ones. Emily got to go to Living Bethelem and it was fun for her to sign her name to be a part of the census.

If you weren’t able to do an Advent activity this year, you should consider doing Truth in the Tinsel next year. I had this since last year, but didn’t get around to doing it because of other Advent activities, but I am glad we got a chance this year!! I  think the crafts really get the kids excited about learning what happened before Jesus was born. And if you are wondering about all the preparation for the crafts…I am not a crafty person, and I also hate shopping, so I just found what I could at home to use, and for the ones where I didn’t have the materials, I ended up using the printable ornaments. You can use the code JOYCE20 for 20% off the ebook. The code expires after Christmas, so get on it! 🙂

P.S. There is also a Spanish version: La Verdad en el Oropel.
P.P.S. There is also church curriculum.
P.P.P.S. Here is a great post about using Truth in the Tinsel with younger kiddos.
P.P.P.P.S. I just like having the here because it reminds me of writing letters or notes to friends in elementary and middle school. :p

For the Holidays: Truth in the Tinsel

DSC_0695bWe’ll be featuring some of our favorite things if you need Christmas gifts/activities ideas.
(Disclaimer: Affiliate links are in this post. We personally own and love the things we recommend. We are in this season where we are trying to live more simply, so we know that if you are in the same boat, it is sometimes hard justifying buying anything else! Norm and I have many wonderful memories from our childhood, and with our family now, that don’t involve “things” and “stuff,” because we just enjoy being together. But gifts seem to just happen during the holiday season (and birthdays too), so we want to share some things that we like having in our lives. Any purchases made using the links will give us a percentage to use toward gifts for our sponsored children Solissa and Lucnise. Thank you!)

truthinthetinsel_300-250Truth in the Tinsel – As we prepare for a somewhat busy season of the year, the parties, meal prep, gifts, decorating, etc., can be overwhelming enough that you don’t want to think about adding an extra task to your to-do list. It might be December 25th by the time we realize that we haven’t even talked about Jesus as we are celebrating the day of His birth! The gifts and cookies are fun, but I would love for my kiddos to also remember why we have this holiday at all – Jesus! Enter, Amanda’s ebook, Truth in the Tinsel! There are 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, and other activities, that point us to Jesus as the reason for the season. If you don’t have time to do the ornament crafts, there are Printable Ornaments available. You can also purchase this ebook in Spanish (La Verdad en el Oropel). For tips on how to use Truth in the Tinsel with your preschooler(s), check out THIS POST with a great video by Amanda. If you would like to purchase for church use, there is also a Church Curriculum. It is sure to be great with Amanda’s background and involvement in children’s ministry.

**Amanda is offering an ebook coupon code to our lovely readers. When you check out, just type in JOYCE20 to get 20% off the ebook! (code expires on Christmas)**

This is recommended for kids from preschool through elementary school.

What are some of your favorite things? Any recommendations for great Christmas gifts?

Affiliate links for other things we enjoy and would recommend.