10 Proven Ways to Improve Your Marriage

We all desire great marriages, right? If we are honest with each other, we know that marriage is work and at times can be absolutely difficult. However, after 23 year of marriage, I can tell you that somethings have been proven ways to improve your marriage and they work with little effort, but with great rewards.

10 Proven Ways to Improve Your Marriage - Easy ways that make great results in your marriage. | www.joyinthehome.com

10 Proven Ways to Improve Your Marriage

These ways are so easy to implement and really bring great results, quickly and they are fun doing them.

Ask Each Other About Your Day… AND then Listen to Each Other

The mundane of everyday can easily find a couple just walking through the routines without really talking about them. The dangers of this in a marriage can easily be understood when you realize that how we spend the majority of our day often times is how we relate or see ourselves. If we don't include the love of our life in the good, bad and ugly of our days, it is so easy to drift apart and believe that the other one doesn't have an interest in what you do for the largest part of your day.

Touch Base During the Day Just to Say I Love You 

We all get busy with our to-do list and before you know it dinner time arrives and you realize that you haven't heard anything from your spouse. There is nothing like getting a call just to hear those special words “I love you” or “I'm thinking about you”.  Even if it is a routine and not a spare of the moment kind of call, it is really important to know that your love one took a moment and was thinking of you, enough to drop what they were doing to just tell you something sweet.

Implement a Touch Rule

With four children, homeschooling, blogging, homemaking and everything else in our lives, including my husband's own crazy schedule that includes him working from home, it is so easy to be so distracted that we don't touch each other until late at night. Knowing that my love language is physical touch, it can easily become hurtful if my husband walks by me several times a day and never reaches for me. That is when I implemented a 3 feet rule at home. This rule is simple… ‘if you are in 3 feet of me, touch me'. It sounds silly but oh my goodness, it means the world to me to have my husband just reach out to acknowledge his love for me. His isn't 100% faithful in it and I wouldn't expect him to be, but it helps him to remember that I need his touches and treasure each one. It also helps to keep the romance alive outside of the bedroom!

Flirt With Each Other… OFTEN!

There are so many opportunities in a marriage to act like you did when you were falling in love. A wink across the table, sending a sweet text or a photo of you smiling, touching each other, whispering something sweet in their ear or leaving a love note where they will find it. The more you keep that alive in your marriage, the easier it is to overcome the obstacles that always arise.

Think on the Positive Things About Your Spouse

What makes your spouse AMAZING? Is he great at fixing things around the house, or helping in the kitchen? Does he keep the car clean, fueled and maintained so you don't have to worry about it? Does he play with the kids? Does he invest in your marriage? Is he a good friend? Whatever it is that makes you proud about your husband… THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS! Then don't miss this important step… TELL HIM! Praise him often and keep telling him. Make him (or her, men need to do this, too) secure in knowing that you see all the good things and that you love him for them.

Improve Your Marriage with these 10 Prove Ways | www.joyinthehome.com

(Print this graphic and frame it for a great way to focus on improving your marriage:
Improve Your Marriage Printable Image)

Bury the Past and Keep it There

This is the hardest thing to do for most people but is it one of these best ways to improve your marriage quickly, but leaving the past where it belongs… behind you. Trust me when I tell you that I have struggled with this in our own marriage, especially when trust was broken in our marriage, but our marriage is always improving when I have learned how to do this and fought the urge when dealing with a hurt feeling with my husband. When you do find that your marriage is struggling, you can help keep the past in the past by learning how to implement steps to fighting nicely.

Don't Talk Negatively About Each Other to Friends

There is a place in friendships where you can share about your marriage experience, but it should only be done when you have a positive result to share that you learned in the process to help encourage a friend that is struggling in their marriage. If you are the one struggling, you can share the truth of the situation but do it with only a person that desires to help you get through it and work to improve your marriage. Friends that let each other talk about their spouse and join in on the negative talk are not the kinds of friends that you really want to discuss important aspects of your marriage if you want to keep your vows, because they will only keep you from finding the positive.

Date Each Other Often

Dates are not only done out of the house, but can easily be done at home and at the spare of the moment. If you are able to sneak away from the home and get some alone time, you can easily find free or cheap things to do in your area, including a packed picnic and talking at a local park. Grab a Redbox movie and cuddle together after the kids go to bed. It can easily be done if you make it a priority.

Play with Each Other

Laughter is the best way to improve your marriage. Pillow fights, board games, chases around the house, hide and seek, food fights, hiding on each other to scare them, or just laughing together over a comedy (all some of our favorite ways to play with each other). There is just something about laughter and how it brings people together.

Memorize Scripture Together

As a Christian, scripture is so important to our home and there is nothing like memorized scripture to help you through a rough patch in your marriage. You may not have any idea of what are some good scriptures to memorize together, so you may find these post helpful: verses for wives and verses for families.


5 Ways to Raise Adventurous Children

We all want to give our children a great childhood. Having adventures is one of those things that we may not put a lot of thought into, but is so important to a childhood. The best memories are made from times when we were children and we were being adventurous. Aiding our children in being adventurous is where we may struggle, but it isn't that difficult.

5 Ways to Raise Adventurous Children - Learn how to create adventurous children with these 5 ways that will build memories that they will remember into their own adulthood. | www.joyinthehome.com

5 Ways to Raise Adventurous Children

Read to Them

Ideas of adventure abound in living books that inspire children of places they have never been, but would love to explore, people that experienced adventure first hands, but they can only meet through stories, and things that inspire them to be anything that they want to imagine for themselves.

Children of all ages can benefit from a daily read aloud time. For younger children, a story before nap or bedtime is the perfect time to read to them. Older children may enjoy a book in the morning (if you homeschool) or afternoon, but some may only be able to fit it in at bedtime.

Provide Them with Dress Up Clothes

Adventure starts in the mind. Providing your children with dress up clothes can give them hours of imaginary play, reenacting the stories that they listen to and fosters the love of adventure in their childhood that will provide many memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Dress up clothes are not just the kind that you may get them at Halloween or for their birthday, but could also include clothes that you find at Goodwill stores. Some of my children's favorite dress up clothes are made up of these kinds of things: women's wool jackets (red and blue) to play scenes from the Revolutionary War or their favorite men from that era, sports pants that go along with the jackets to play more of the parts of those kind of uniforms, army clothes, western clothes and much more.

When my daughter was younger, she loved to dress up in my older dresses, clothes that looked like prairie clothes and Indian type looks.

Allow Them to Create from Their Imagination

My children has so many memories of creating from their imagination that stemmed from living books that I read to them. Ordinary things from around the house became prompts in their imagination play as they lived out the adventures from the stories we were reading.

Sometimes, we would get inspiration for them when we were going to yard sales!

Limit Electronics

Children are quickly losing the ability to be adventurous because so much of their time is spent in front of electronics, dulling their ability to become inspired through books and to play through imagination, like we did as children.

It is so important to learn how to balance your family's electronics to ensure you are raising adventurous children.

Give Them Hours of Free Time Each Day

There is nothing more beneficial to raising adventurous children than to give them hours of free time each day to be adventurous. This is the time that the ideas that come from the other four ways can grow and flourish. Packing our children's schedule with activities that rob them of these important hours of the day will ultimately hinder the ability for them to implement their adventurous ideas into their play, furthering their ability to be creative and grow in their imagination.


You may also enjoy this post, 5 Tips to Raise Children with Virtue

5 Tips to Raise Children with Virtues | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

The Complete Cruise Guide

My husband and I went on a 7-night cruise to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. This was our first cruise and we had a great time, but we learned a lot of things we will do differently next time. It was a wonderful experience and one that we look forward to doing again, but not without sharing some of the things that we learned along the way, because the stress we had before getting on board was enough to make me decide that there was a need for a complete cruise guide.

The Complete Cruise Guide All You Need to Know for the Best Vacation | www.joyinthehome.com

The Complete Cruise Guide: All You Need to Know For the Best Vacation

I feel like I need to start at what is the MOST important aspect of a cruise, because this was the most stressful part of our planning stage and could have been completed avoided if we had some clear, correct advise.

TIP ONE: Have the Necessary Documents in Your Hand BEFORE Booking Your Cruise

You will need to have your proper paperwork in order to be able to get on a ship. If you don't have these papers, you won't be given permission to board. PERIOD.

Don't worry, we were able to board, but not without sleepless nights, tears because of mounting stress and not having the right papers until 24 hours before our flight. I'm not joking!

We were told by several people that you need a passport to go on a cruise. So, my husband and I each paid over $200 to process our passport and have it expedited to get it before our cruise that was 3 weeks away at the time. My passport came in 9 days, however my husband ran into some issues because his PA birth certificate did not have his birth parents name on it, nor the location of his birth. This is now required, so he needed to obtain a new birth certificate and get it to the Passport department in New Hampshire and back to us in now 2 weeks from our cruise.

Long and stressful story short, we overnighted his original NEW birth certificate, without getting a copy, the same day that New Hampshire received 2 1/2 feet of snow, shutting down all government offices for the rest of the week.

In desperation, we called the cruise line to see what our options were and we were told that for our destinations, a good copy of your BIRTH CERTIFICATE was only required. Yes, we were relieved and stressed all at the same time, because we never copied the birth certificate before overnighting it, so we still had NOTHING for my husband to board the cruise.

We decided to have the package returned to sender, overnight, since it was never delivered but it never arrived. Further calls made us realize that it wasn't going to be here. Our last resort was to call the Vital Record department and pray for favor for them to overnight us another copy of his birth certificate. After being told two times that they weren't able to do this for us, they transferred the call and the next morning we had his birth certificate in our hand and we left the next day.

To know what you need, visit the cruise's website or call them directly. This is what we found and was confirmed on the phone, as well as on our cruise:

“The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.” sourced here.

TIP TWO: Shop for the Cruise Ship that Fits Your Vacation Desires

We had a great time on our cruise, but as we had more time on our 7-night cruise, it became apparent that our ship's amenities and activities didn't fit our desires for our cruise as much as we anticipated.

We traveled on the Carnival Splendor and we spent a lot of time researching the ship AFTER we bought the tickets. The ships pictures on the site were NOT the way the ship actually looked, not even close, so we were already disappointed by the retro decor that was everywhere, not the beach-pool feel that the website ‘promised' when we were planning our anniversary get-away.

We were also surprised by the buffet feel of the ship and how the menu never seemed to change, unless you went to the assigned dinner times in the restaurant.

Ask for referrals from those you know that cruise a lot. Ask to look at their pictures, hear their stories of their experience on the ship, for the service they received and the food experience. 

Make a list of amenities that you would like to enjoy while on the cruise. Ours had dive-in movies, which we did enjoy and family friendly comedy shows, which were by far the best entertainment we had on the ship, plus a 9-hole putt-putt course (I beat my man!!!) and a large chess game on the floor.  Other than the pool and hot tub, we really didn't do anything else with the amenities… well, my hubby did try his hand in gambling, but I will share more on that in a minute.

TIP THREE: Bring a LOT of Small Bills

This was great advice from some family members that cruise often. It was a GREAT tip! We decided to take enough cash to tip those helping with luggage, guides on the excursions and for some light shopping, while leaving our debit card at home.

We ran into a pickle, though. When we went shopping two times, we forget to use our credit card in stores that accepted them, leaving us short $35 short on cash and you guessed it, out of it before we were done cruising. We decided to get a small cash advance on our credit card, but neither of us remembered our pin number. We called the 800 number on the back of the card, but they were only willing to mail us a new number in 7-10 business days.

We were out of options, until another cruising couple told us that if we charge something on our Cruise's Sail and Sign card (needed to board and exit the ship, but also for any and all purchases on the ship) to use in the Casino on board, that we can play a little and then cash out our chips for cash. It worked perfectly and my hubby was happy to try his ‘luck' out on the cards. He actually did pretty good leaving with $2 more than what he started with.

We were surprised to see that they charged 3% to do this, but in the end it was cheaper than doing the ATM machine on board, so it really is a good tip to know, if you ever find yourself in our shoes.

TIP FOUR: Everything Isn't Included in Your Ticket

You may believe that cruises are all-inclusive, but they really are not. The basic things are and that is good for many people. However, if you like soda, frozen drinks or even alcohol, you are going to pay a hefty price for each drink. They do have a drinking plan that may vary from cruise line to cruise link (something to research when you are choosing the right ship for your vacation), but on our cruise it would cost $49 a day, plus tax for unlimited soda and limit on any speciality drinks from the bar. Many people did this but it would be over $350 a person on our cruise and we never drink enough to justify that expense.

They do have unlimited water (not bottled), juice, tea and coffee on one deck, which we maximized on, while getting some exercise. We did buy a few virgin frozen drinks through the week, and we did bring 24 water bottles with us, so it helped a lot.

Each cruise line is different, so research if you can bring any water bottles and soda with you. Our cruise allowed 12 bottles per person. We only spent $5 for the water we purchased, and we would have spent almost that for one bottle on the ship. VERY smart! You will have to carry it on board if you do this, but we went to guest services once on board and asked them to hold it until our cabin was ready. They put our cabin number on it and we picked it up later that first day, when we were in our cabin. Totally worth doing!

There were a lot of desserts, but nothing that really excited us… well, except for the 24 hour soft served ice cream and we did enjoy the dining room desserts when we went.  So one day we both wanted chocolate, which we paid $20 for 1/2 a pound.  If you think you will miss your favorite candy or snack, do your budget a favor and pack some!

What to Pack for a Cruise - Don’t overpack, but pack with purpose for a great vacation. | www.joyinthehome.com

TIP FIVE: What to Pack

This is something that I took a lot of people's advice on and missed the mark. We didn't have enough clothes, because we packed lighter than we should have and we had more bathing suits than we wanted to wear… at least all day long.

If you are a pool lover, sun-soaker, lay at the pool kind of person while you cruise, you will want to be sure to have several bathing suits. We each took 3 for our 7-night cruise. We had the right amount of swimming suits for our water activities, but because I was told that you will be in your bathing suit more than you realize and to cut your luggage in half, we didn't have enough of comfy clothes to keep us for our entire 9 day getaway.

We felt that we needed one casual outfit a day, 3 swimming suits, swimsuit covers, flip flops, sneakers, two pants, two long sleeves, a sweater (the evenings were cold, but at times the air condition proved to cause you to be chilly in the main eating areas) and if you are doing the elegant dinning experience outfits for those days. We didn't want to go elegant, but I did pack some clothes that we would go to a nice event in and it was just what we needed to enjoy the elegant wear for the dinning room. (We loved our dinning room staff that it was always the highlight of our day to get to know them, their goals and about their families back home)

We packed some heavy duty magnetics that went on the wall to hold our sweaters and towels. Be sure to pack these in your check-in luggage, not your carry on or you will be stopped in the security line at the airport.

Do NOT pack beach towels, like we did. They give you wonderful ones in your room and will give you clean ones if you use them. You can even take them on excursions, but if you don't have the same number in your room at the end of your cruise, you will be charged a hefty fee.

I also would recommend taking two beach towel clips, per person, to be able to clip your beach towels to your chair. It will serve as a great way to keep your towel in place on a windy day and will also help you identify where your things are with a quick look.

Of course, you can't forget to pack sun screen, a hat and sun glasses. They are a MUST!

You may consider packing motion sickness relief or my favorite, Peppermint Oil and Lavender Oil to aid with sleeping! You may also consider any other medication or immune boosting supplements.

Get more packing tips in my What to Pack for a Cruise.

TIP SIX: Fly in Early and Leave Late

We flew into Miami, Florida, which is a large airport and because of the popularity of cruises, the number of people coming into and leaving can be very overwhelming to the airport.

The cruise may offer those arriving the day of and leaving the day of return a transportation options for a charge, but it will be hectic because of the number of people taking this offer.  (Our cruise offered to take your luggage straight to the airport for you, but I don't have experience with that service and I'm concerned of lost luggage) On their site, they recommend flying in EIGHT hours before departure to ensure you have plenty of time to go through the airport, arrive to the port and go through check-in and boarding procedures. 

This all can take a lot of time and I can't image the stress level that we would have experienced if we arrived the morning of the departure and traveling more than two people, especially with young children.  We don't regret the extra expense of two nights stay because it completely eliminated the rush of getting checked in before departure and the rush of getting to the airport and through the masses leaving that same day – 5 ships came in within the same time period and all with 3,000 or more guest!

We arrived the night before departure and left the morning after arrival at port.

TIP SEVEN: Save Money While Enjoying Excursions

If you don't take advantage of the excursions available to you at the ports you visit, you really aren't taking the best vacation that you could take. However, excursions are EXPENSIVE and completely WORTH IT, if you know they have good reviews and how long each will take.

You can learn about the cruises you have the options to participate in, on the website of your cruise line. Although it is available to purchase your excursions online, I highly recommend that you DON'T. Use these resource to learn about what is available and more important take the time to read the reviews on the ones that interest you. This time spent eliminated several that were top on our list because they received really bad reviews, however some that are similar to those received excellent reviews and won our place on our ‘wish list' that we took on our cruise.

The first day on the cruise, go to the EXCURSION DECK, and purchase the excursions that you are interested in doing. We purchased excursions on 3 of the 4 stops our ship took and earned us a 15% discount, that saved us almost $90!

If you want to save MORE money and are willing to be completely flexible with what excursions you want to do, you can wait until you get off the ship at the port and see what excursions are still available. When we stopped at San Juan, Puerto Rico, we planned on just shopping and going back to the ship when we were done (which we did) but we could have easily taken a 2 hour tour for $10 each. The same tour cost $40 per person when booked on the cruise. That is a BIG difference!

Another way you can save money on excursions at the ports you stop is to learn about each port BEFORE you cruise. We booked an excursion at Grand Turks but had time before the excursion started, so we took advantage of the beach that we were ported at. We were surprised to find out that the beach and chairs were FREE to cruisers.  In addition, the shops were the best we had experienced and would have LOVED to just shopped at my leisure.  We had the same type of opportunity at another port, but we paid $70 each to do what we could have done for FREE at this port.

Do you ever think about Cruising With Kids? Don’t do it without my tips! They will make your dream vacation full of memories you will cherish for a lifetime.

Cruising With Kids - Tips to make your vacation amazing. | www.joyinthehome.com

TIP EIGHT: Shopping Tips to Save You Money

We were told by several people to ALWAYS BARTER with the shops and never pay what they are asking for without trying for a cheaper price.

This is so true, but shouldn't always be done.

Each time we attempted to get a better price, it worked. However, we also did price comparison in other shops on the same island and found several items that we wanted to purchase marked different prices, saving us several dollars per item. Seeing the difference from one shop to the other, we knew that the cheapest price we found was actually a price that was worth what we would be willing to pay and in those situations, we didn't barter.

Then there were a few times that we found something that I had been searching for as a gift and I knew the price was something that I would be willing to pay, because the shop was clean, the customer service was wonderful without being pushy and the products offered were high quality. Even then, I felt that I got a great price with what was marked and never thought twice about paying what was being asked.

TIP NINE: Important Things To Do Before Leaving

Only take a minimal amount of credit cards, we each only took one. You need to let your credit card company know that you are traveling and where. You can normally do this online, but you may find it more comforting to call them, so you have further questions, like your PIN number. You should also call your bank if you are taking any debt cards with you.

Be sure you get the right amount of cash – Formula is $1 a bag, times the number of times it will be handled by someone else. In our situation it was four times at the hotel stays and one time at the ship (we did self check out of our bags), $2-$3 per taxi ride for your group, $2-$5 per excursion for two people.

If you are leaving your children behind, be sure to give a letter of permission for the care giver to get them emergency help if needed, along with their insurance cards. Be sure to pack your insurance card in your wallet. We know of two people on our cruise needing emergency care while at different ports.

Be sure you pack your drivers license and birth certificate or passport in a wallet or small purse, because you will need this each time you leave or enter the ship.

Update your voicemail and email to notify people that you are out of town.

TIP TEN: Extra Charges Added By the Cruise Line

This one took us by complete surprise, so I wanted to be sure you knew about this additional charge that is added to your account with just a paper on your bed to inform you it was added… at least that was our experience. This was for the tips for those serving on the ship in the staterooms (your cabin) and dinning areas. (Note: if you purchase drinks, you need to tip them at the time of the drink, which can easily go on your Sail and Sign card) We were charge $12 a day per person, so $84 per person for the 7-night cruise.

This tips is a nice feature to allow you not to worry about tipping each time you eat or on a daily basis for your stateroom steward, who are also so quick to ensure your trip is relaxing and enjoyable. However, if you don't know it is coming you will be as surprised as we were and especially if you need to budget for your cruise and keep it within a budget that works for your family.

 

 

10 Things Parents Should Do With Their Children At Least Once

Making memories as a family is one of my main priorities as a parent. I desire my children to look back on their time at home with us, and have some memories stick out more than others. The kind of memories that went against the grain of my daily parenting. The kind that took them by surprise and captured their heart because they ‘knew‘ I was in the moment and that it was all about them!

10 Things Parents Should Do With Their Children at Least Once | www.joyinthehome.com

10 Things Parents Should Do With Their Children At Least Once

Our children grow so quickly and before you know it, they will be ready to leave your home. Why not send them off with some memories that they can look back and see that their parents are fun and exciting? It will give you a lot to laugh about together!

Go Camping

My husband grew up camping and loved it. I only have a few memories of camping in a tent. We wanted to give our children some of those memories and so we made it a point to do that a few times. We made such awesome memories doing that with our children that it was worth it for us to get away from the normal of life and become secluded with just our family.

Have Ice Cream for Dinner

Years ago, my nephew was visiting us and it was his first time. I wanted to make him feel special, so I asked him what he would like for dinner. He had just turned 13, so I wasn't too surprised when his reply was ‘ice cream'.  I will never forget the reaction when I said, “Okay! Let's go to the store to get ice cream for dinner!”  He smiled the whole time and to this day, as he is quickly approaching 30, he often will mention the day ‘we had ice cream for dinner'.

Knowing the impression it left on him, I have made it a yearly tradition to have ice cream for dinner one summer day. We go out and buy peanuts, bananas and toppings for our own banana splits and giggle over ice cream for dinner.

Take the Day Off and Let Them Plan the Day

Not everyone has the ability to just take a day off when they feel like it, but this can be planned in advance, just don't let your children know until that day arrives.

When they get up, tell them it is a special day and they get to plan the whole thing!

If you need to, you can give them a budget for the family to do something with or just say it has to fit in the FREE category. This privilege will be a memory that they will not easily forget and neither will you!

Talk About Your Childhood Memories

Sometimes, it is hard for our children to picture us at their age. One of our favorite things to do is talk about when we were our children's age and the kind of memories we have of family time, birthdays or just random things that our memories hold.

10 Things Parents Should Do with Their Children At Least Once | www.joyinthehome.com

Go Fishing

Alright, I'm not a fishing loving kinda of mom, but my boys love fishing. When my son's last year of high school had started and although we value education of books, I wanted to give him something a little different for starting out his last homeschooling year. When they woke up that morning, I told our children that we were going fishing for our first day of school.

I'm sure you could only imagine the joy that filled our home that morning and the busyness of my boys gathering their gear, while my daughter grabbed her camera for a chance to enjoy her love of photography.

While we were there, I wanted to remind my son that we are called to be fisher of men before we are called to do anything else. I was so proud of that moment that I just went with a desire rather than sticking to the books. I know he will never forget that day or his first catch in a new fishing spot that we went to that day!

Start a Food Fight When Dinner Didn't Turn Out

I will never forget the first time (yes, this has happened more than once in our home) when what I made for dinner didn't turn out the way it should and I felt so disappointed with myself. As I sat at the table trying to figure out what I missed or didn't do correctly, my family was trying to encouragement me that I'm a great cook and other stuff to help me not be too bothered that no one liked it.

I knew I was going to throw the food away, so I started throwing it around the table. The next thing I knew we were all laughing, well, maybe not my husband because he removed himself from the realm of flinging food and looked at me with a shocked face. There was food everywhere around the table, on the walls and on the floor. We all picked it up, laughing again and again.

This isn't something that has happened more than three times, but each time has proven to my children that life is better when we laugh at our mistakes and seize the opportunity to make memories.

Get Your Child Out of Bed When They Least Expect It

Yes, I know! You think I'm crazy. I may be, but crazy with amazing memories.

I have gotten my children out of their deep sleep to enjoy something with them that I didn't expect. One time it was a family of raccoons on our back porch. Another time it was to look at the night's sky that was absolutely amazing.

These times always proved wonderful for breakfast conversations!

One time, I even got my children up to watch one of my favorite movies when I was their age. We now have a DVR, so I wouldn't do that again for the TV purpose.

Talk About a Foolish Thing You Did in Your Childhood

Children feel so foolish at times, especially during the ages of 10 through 15, when so many things are changing in their bodies and they are dealing with things that are so new to them. Add to that, the things that they should know better but still do foolish things again and again.

It is during these times that correcting them can seem overwhelming and daunting as a parent. There is something special when a child knows that correction is coming and instead they get a heart to heart with a parent that shares some of their own foolishness during this age and how they learned to overcome the foolish or their own consequences for continuing in them.

Again, children just have a hard time relating to their parents as people that have walked in their shoes. Maybe it is because many of us don't talk about these things with our children or because children are so absorbed in their own world to even think about others, but either way, this is so effective that you may choose to do it more than once.

Play with Your Kids Without Being Asked

Our children have always asked us to play things with them, from board games to outside sports. Often times, these requests come at inconvenient times for parents, but imagine the delight of a child's heart when you approach them to play something. It is truly PRICELESS.

10 Things Parents Should Do With Their Children at Least Once | www.joyinthehome.com

 

Jump on the Bed With Them

Yes, I'm certain that I'm going to hear from some readers about how jumping on expensive beds is not responsible and that it can damage the mattress.

I already know this, but there is absolutely nothing like grabbing the hand of your child and taking a few jumps on your bed together. In fact, it is one of those things that I have done with all four of my children. It may just be that I love children and I love to hear them giggle, but remember my title… ‘at least once‘. How badly can you damage your bed, if you only do it once? (Don't answer that)

If you can't bring yourself to do this one thing that is okay!

You can hide under the blankets with them, or use a flashlight while you talk about something important to them. All of these have been practiced and loved in our family, so maybe you can find a way that you can make a memory, filled with giggles for your children in your bed, other than TONS of cuddling time.


 

You may enjoy this post as well, 10 Indoor Activities that Tire Kids Out

10 Indoor Activities That Tire Kids Out | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You

Marriage becomes a place where love often times feels taken for granted, and comfortable. However it is the most important place to demonstrate love on a continual basis. If you aren’t one to plan things out well, these last minutes ways to say I love you will help you make a focus of demonstrating your love in your marriage.

 

10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You | www.joyinthehome.com

10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You

Love is something to celebrate everyday, however there are some days that seem to get more attention for reasons to celebrate those you love. Some people are planners and romantics, having no issues with showing their love all day long any day. However, some people seem to be procrastinators in the game of love and need some help in some last minute ways to say ‘I love you'.

Make a Nice Dinner with Candles on the Table

Dinner is always a part of a couples day, but you can make a regular dinner into a reflection of your love by dressing up the table to be a more romantic dinner with just a few candles, a table cloth and maybe a few extra touches. If nothing else, just lower the lights and light the candles.

Pick Up a Bouquet of Flowers

Bouquets of flowers are everywhere! There is no excuse to coming home empty handed. Flowers will make a perfect addition to a candle light dinner and setting the mood of a night of demonstrating love for one another.

Create a Homemade Card

Grab some scissors and colored card stock to create you on card with your own words will be a great way to say “I love you” with only a few minutes to making the card. Okay, you may not be a crafty person but there are stores for ‘your kind‘.

Send a Text with a Something Sweet that You Love About This Person

Texting should be all about details and grocery list. Take your love ones breathe away with a sweet text about something you love about them and why you love having them in your life. Just be sure you don't text the wrong person, because that could get awkward really fast.

Write a Hand-written Letter

A hand-written letter is almost extinct so it would be cherished by the person receiving it and a perfect balance between making your own card or buying one.

Play Soft Music and Just Talk

Another lost art is a face to face talk, without distractions of other electronics pulling your attention away. Sitting on the couch, with soft music in the background while conversing in a conversation can be as romantic as anything else you can come up with. Just don't do all the talking, but a two way conversation says “I love you”, but a one way conversations says, “I love me”.

Start a Fire and Look at Old Photos

Everything about a fire screams romance, right? Add a trip down memory lane with photos of times that are important highlights and sharing memories about those times will have love all around you.

Go for a Ride or Walk While Holding Hands

If you or your spouse is a nature lover, taking a country ride or walking in a beautiful area while holding hands. This one is a timeless romantic scene that all couples can relate, too.

Watch a Movie with Popcorn Together

Some people go to the movie theatre but some of my favorite home dates with my hubby is when we rent a movie, cuddle on the couch and share a bowl of popcorn. This is something I love to do anytime I can.

Put a Getaway on the Calendar

So let's just say that you show up empty handed on a day that your spouse expects something that says you love them. What do you do then?  My best suggestion is pick a date on the calendar, really quick and mark it off on your calendar. Next, hug and kiss your spouse, and while still in their arms, whisper this in their ear – “Where can I take you …. (the date you reserved on your calendar)? It has to have …. (list a few of their favorite things).” Then, if you want extra points for the idea only, then say, “I will arrange the child and pet care, so it is just our little getaway.”

If this is your last minute way to say “I love you”, be sure to make it all happen on the date you stated and if you went further to say you will arrange for the kids and pets, you will reap the benefits!

If you like this, you may like this Love Scavenger Hunt

 

Love Scavenger Hunt

 


5 Tips to Raise Children With Virtues

We all want children that emulate the virtues that are important to us, but this is something that doesn't happen naturally on its own. It takes purpose in your parenting and staying consistent in your efforts. It is hard word, especially if you get sidetrack from time to time, as we all do, but so worth every effort to raise children with virtues.

5 Tips to Raise Children with Virtues | www.joyinthehome.com

5 Tips to Raise Children with Virtues

I'm still working on my own virtues from time to time, but I know that having a plan of action is important to reaching our goal to raise children with virtues. Having two adult children already and knowing what things we did that worked well, I would love to share with you these tips that we are doing with our younger children, and what new things we are doing that are good things.

  1. Focus On Habits – Habits, both good and bad, are started at a very young age. It is dangerous to think a child will grow out of lying, being mean or being lazy. It is true to human nature that the more we do something the harder it is for us to undo that habit. If a child is showing undesirable habits at a young age and they are not corrected, these will continue and grow into their adulthood. It is so important to understand the need for focusing on habits when your children are younger, to help them grow into good habits that only become stronger with time.
  2. Identify Where Your Children Struggle – As parents, we know where are children struggle most. In our home, we have had to deal with lying, cheating, stealing, selfishness, being unkind and dishonor. Thank God, not all at once and not all in the same child, but these things poked their head early in our children's lives and being able to identify them early, gave us the ability to focus on these habits and work diligent to teach the opposite of what they were struggling with daily.
  3. Use Scripture to Train Your Children – We love using scripture to train our children. There is no better way to teach virtue than through the verses that are all through the Bible to help us in our daily walk. Teaching children scripture at a young age will make it easier in your parenting and easier for them to learn and emulate the virtue you desire them to have evident in their lives.
  4. Praise Them for all Improvements – If you know that your child struggles with lying and you see them speaking the truth, especially in difficult situations that lying would be easiest, you own it to that child to praise them for making the virtuous choice. The more we praise our children the more they grow. They desire our praise and acceptance, so giving it to them freely in your efforts to raise virtuous children will only improve your child's ability to grow in them.
  5. Demonstrate the Virtues in Ever Way Possible – If we want our children to be truthful, we need to be truthful in our own example. We have found that even as powerful as that life lesson can be in our efforts to raise children with virtues, we improve the lessons in what it means and look like by purposefully demonstrating these virtues through stories, illustrations and anything that we can share with them that prove to be good things.

 

31 Bible Verses for Families Affected By Cancer

Cancer. This word brings so many emotions when it is used in the same sentence as the name of someone you love and hold dear. It isn't a stranger to me by no means, as it has taken the lives of several family members and friends and we have known it to be beat by many as well. It is during these times, when cancer is mentioned, that we all desire some positive thinking, so why not use Bible verses for families affected by cancer? We use Bible verses for all parts of our lives, all the more reason to use them now.

In February 2015, we heard this word in the same sentences as my dad. I won't lie, my earth felt like it was falling out from underneath me and the 400 miles that separates us feels like thousands. Add that with the words ‘inoperable’ or ‘incurable‘ and things start to spin in your mind and fear grips your heart and our mind races at such a high speed.

It was in this time of overwhelmed concern that a friend stated, “Cancer isn't a death sentence.”  It was the thing that made me look at my faith and stand on the scriptures that I know to be true and need as my encouragement.

31 Bible Verses for Families Affected by Cancer | www.joyinthehome.com

31 Bible Verses for Families Affected by Cancer

Matthew 10:30-31 – And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. | www.joyinthehome.com

Psalms 62:6-8 – Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Exodus 14:14 – The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Proverbs 18:21 – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Deuteronomy 31:6  …Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalms 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

I Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7 | www.joyinthehome.com

Isaiah 58:8-9 – Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Malachi 4:2 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

Psalms 138:3 – On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

Romans 15:4 – For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Psalms 103:2-4 – Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Matthew 11:28-29 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Psalms 33:20-22 – Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalms 34:9 – Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.

Psalms 46:1-3 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 | www.joyinthehome.com

Matthew 17:20 – “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

James 1:3 – because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 5:13-14 – Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him

I Peter 1:21 – Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

I Peter 4:19 – So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

I Corinthians 2:4-5 – My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I hope these verses build your faith, as they are building mine!

Staying Positive During Cancer

I've heard it said that fighting cancer takes 90% positive thinking and 10% plan of attack.

I know how true that has been in my Dad's fight against cancer. I wanted to help my readers learn how our family has discovered how to stay positive during cancer, even when we thought our Dad was slipping away.

I pulled 9 things we have been doing into one FREE resource to help others on their fight against cancer.

Here's a free download that can help you, or a loved one, stay positive during cancer.

Staying Positive During Cancer | Joy in the Home

 

Cancer Resources

Are you looking for more resources to help you during a cancer trial? If so, these resources may help you as well.

In the beginning of December 2016, I was sick in bed with a high fever when I got a phone call from my parents. They asked me to three way my youngest sister because my other siblings were working and they had something to tell us.

Once my sister was on the phone with us, my parents began to tell us that my Dad was given 4-6 weeks to live and that hospice was the next step.

I can't even begin to explain the grief that shock me to the core. I muffled my cries, attempting to stay strong and positive for my parents and my devasted sister that was bawling.

The moment I got off the phone, I cried until I had no more tears.

My sickness kept me in bed for a few days and I spent the first 36 hours after that call manufacturing tears on the slight thought of my Dad's grime death sentence. I was spiraling into depression and feeling hopeless.

I'm the type of person that finds the silver lining in everything, so my family didn't know how to help me.

That is when I recommended my verses above. I began to use them to overcome my grief again and it worked.

Journaling Through Cancer - Proven to help the mental part of this difficult journey. Learn more about how to do it for a positive outlook. | www.joyinthehome.com

I started to remember the power of journaling, as I began to feel the power of positive thinking returning into my own life. I knew that journaling through cancer was something that would help us in that place.

Still sick with the flu, I called my daughter who does my book designs into my room. I told her I wanted to create a journal for those who are dealing with cancer and give it as gifts to my family for Christmas, as we faced losing our father and husband.

We started pouring our attention in creating a cancer journal for myself, and my family, as well as families touched by cancer. My children were all helping me find the right quotes on health and healing to fill these pages, while my daughter went to work putting it all into a journal that was building our faith in the process.

Before I did, I knew that my Mom was exhausted with the care of my father. I wanted to relieve her stress so she could spend time just being with him.

I excepted the offer of help from two of my friends and we went to work on creating freezer meals for my mom to just put in her crock pot in the morning. I wanted to do all I could for both of them but the 400 miles between us proved a challenge and this was a way that I could accomplish this.

7 Ways to Help Those Battling Cancer Twitter
Other friends started pouring their love on me, asking how they could help. It was through this out pouring that I created a list of things for people to help those battling cancer.

We had decided that I was going to head to my parents on my own and spend some time with them, helping my mom where I could, while my husband and children joined me a few days before Christmas.

Before I left to go to my parents, the journal was done but I still needed to proof the printed copy before it was available for other families like ours that were hit with the fears of cancer. I ordered enough copies to help us through what felt like a ticking time bomb for my father.

I arrived to my parents and filled their freeze with the labor of love of friends and myself for our parents and awaiting the package of love from my own family that we all desperately needed.The 31 Days of Journaling Through Cancer arrived at my parent's house for my approval and I had tears running down my face, as I handed my parent's their own copy first.

cancer3dcover

They were so emotional and thankful for the act of love.

Over the next few days, as I had to rush my Dad to the emergency room in the middle of the night, our family spoke the verses and quotes to each other for encouragement and faith building.

As we celebrated Christmas day, with my Dad asleep in his chair highly medicated for pain, we sat around him discussed just how these words were going to help us through this trial.

When my Dad finally woke up but still obviously feeling the effects of the drugs because his speech was slow and his head drooping, he told us that he wasn't done fighting.

My Dad is still with us and his tumor is shrinking as our faith is growing.

Most days he goes without his oxygen and is even doing home improvements around the house when he has the energy.

We know that one day will come when we will have to say a final goodbye to my Dad, but when we do, we will know that our faith fought the battle when doctors gave up home and set him home with medicine to make it easier on his passing.

If you or your loved one isn't ready to give up your cancer fight, I want to encourage you to use journaling to fight cancer with positive thinking but sometimes it does work.

31 Bible Verses for Families Affected by Cancer

5 Ways to Eliminate Constipation

We all have times that we have a family member that is dealing with constipation, but it is really difficult to go through with a young child.  It is important to know how to eliminate constipation before it gets too difficult as it can cause a lot of abdominal pain and stressful for the bowels.

5 Ways to Eliminate Constipation | www.joyinthehome.com

5 Ways to Eliminate Constipation

  1. Increase Water – Water is a necessary component to staying regular, but most people do not drink enough of it. It is important to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces to stay hydrate and help with regularity. However, you should increase this some if you feel that constipation is a factor.
  2. Drink Prune Juice – Prune juice is a great drink to add when constipation has hit. Young children should have this diluted some.
  3. Bath in Epsom SaltEpsom salt can be consumed but our family uses it in warm baths when someone is constipated.  The bag will tell you the exact amount to add to either a bath or for a consumable treatment for constipation. If our child is really young and struggling with the pain constipation can cause while pushing, we will keep them in the bath while they have the urge to push, giving them the benefits of the water.
  4. Eliminate Bulking Foods – Bananas and cheese are often culprits to causing constipation. Eliminating these during bouts of constipating is a healthy choice.
  5. Bowel Inducers – If the constipation is really bad, you may need to do something a little more aggressive. You may want to use a saline enema or suppositories. Always read the labels for appropriate uses for young children.

You may like to also read Fever Induce Seizures: What Every Parent Should Know

Fever induced seizure: What Every Parent Should Know | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

3 Ways to Balance Your Family’s Electronics

Our homes are filled with electronics, from the television, to DVDs, video games, Kindles, Tablets, iPads, iPods and cell phones. Families are often seen overflowing with electronics that it can really be something that pushes them apart. If you are like me, and want to balance your family's electronics, these 3 ways should prove useful to you as well.

3 Ways to Balance Your Family's Electronics - Includes printables to helping you set boundaries for electronic use. | www.joyinthehome.com

3 Ways to Balance Your Family's Electronics

If your home has free access all day to the many electronics in your home, your children may take a while to adjust to these steps but each are worth implementing to balance your family's electronics daily.

These 3 ways can be summed up with one word – ALL!

A – Attitude

In our home, attitude is the fuel to everything fun. If our children have a bad attitude in homeschooling, relationships or responsibilities, it will effect how much electronic time they will actually get that day or the next day.

It is important to explain that good attitudes will give you a full allowance of electronic time, but you will need to decide what that looks like for your own family.  When a child is having a good attitude a day, they can earn allowance for the next day or they can loose their allowance if their attitude has been difficult.

Here is a free printable Attitude Allowance Coins to getting electronic allowance time. Just print, laminate and cut out. You can determine how many minutes each allowance coins is worth and change it for different ages. When you laminate it, you can write names and time allotments on the back and wipe them off, if you need to change them.

Attitude Allowance Coins | www.joyinthehome.com

L – Limits Based on Chores

Electronics should be something children earn, at least in our home, unless it includes their homeschooling assignment.  If children want to earn additional electronic time in addition to their attitude allowance coins, they can earn them through chores.

These Chores Allowance Coins can be printed and then write the chore on the back and how many minutes the chore is worth in electronic time, laminated and cut them. Your children will have a new way of looking at things to do around the house and could actually help them earn or keep more of their Attitude Allowance Coins.

Chores Allowance Coins | www.joyinthehome.com

L – Lists Work Amazing

We use lists for so many things with our electronics that really help our children stay within the limits that we set for them in the time that they earn. We record on a DVR for our television watching, which allows us to not let it control us but also so we can fast forward through commercials and have safe things for our children to watch during their allotted times.

We also have different folders for their Kindles, one for educational and another for play. If we give them education time for this electronic, they can only play with what is in that folder, but if they earned additional time to play on their Kindles, they are free to pick from their play folder.

I hope these three ways to balance your family's electronics will empower you to use the resources available and give your children the power to earn what they really desire through their own actions.


You may also like my DIY Chore System

DIY Chore System | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

10 Indoor Activities that Keep Kids Quiet

When our children are stuck inside, whether it is because of cold weather and short days or extremely hot weather, it is always a joy to have them doing something quietly. I know that I'm not the only mom to think so.  You may not know what to suggest to your children to do that will keep them content and quiet for hours inside.

10 Indoor Activities that Keep Kids Quiet | www.joyinthehome.com

10 Indoor Activities that Keep Kids Quiet

I would love to share with you my list of activities that provide hours of quiet for our children when they are stuck inside. Please note that these activities are for a large range of ages, and some should be done with adult supervision.

  1. Reading – I love to provide my children with a basket filled of books that interest them. My own shelves are filled, but mostly with homeschooling living books, so I love to fill the basket with books from the library. Many times, there will be books about animals, the history of weapons, books that teach a skill like calligraphy, sports, knot tying and more.  Implementing a time for quiet book time is really a good thing that all ages would benefit from, including mom.
  2. Building – Children love building! Early stages of building can easily be done with Duplo Bricks and Lincoln Logs. The beloved Legos wouldn't be far behind, and even more building with the equally loved wooden train tracks. As children grow, they love to build tents and forts, transforming their bedrooms and living rooms into imaginary places that can easily give hours of fun.
  3. Creating Videos – My boys, as they grow, have turned their love of Legos, army men and cars into stop motion videos, with their Kindle Fire that has a front and rear camera and a free app. This will provide hours of fun far into their teen years.  Our five year old can even do this with his own Kid's Edition Kindle Fire that is made just for his age, and comes with a 2 year warranty that makes it easier for us to give him the freedom to create videos and photos on his.
  4. Writing – Not all children love to write, but if you have a writer, like I do, you can easily give them hours of writing fun with just a few writing tools. My daughter loved calligraphy and gel pens to practice writing special letters to friends. I loved providing her with her own stationary, which often came from the dollar store and a book of stamps that gave you the ability to sent one or two letters a week. Letters quickly turned into writing her own stories and provided her with hours of quiet time several days a week.
  5. Drawing – My children all love to draw! We provide them with their own sketch book, colored pencils and drawing pencils. My children love books that have step to step directions on how to draw, like Draw Write Now and Draw and Write Through History.
  6. Play Dough – Children love play dough! In our experience, having some tools and accessories will provide hours of quiet play for children of many ages.
  7. Making Jewelry – My daughter loved doing beading.  The more her interest grew in it, we got her some tools to make more advanced jewelry that she even sold for awhile. When she was young, Rainbow Looms were not around, but she has still taken time to learn this new art of jewelry making.
  8. Creating with Yarn – My children loved learning how to knit with looms that made it easy and quick to make projects. They also enjoyed learning the skill of crocheting for kids.
  9. Whittling and Carving – My children have loved learning the skills of whittling and carving. They loved the beginners guide to whittling to learn the skill and project ideas.
  10. Making Models – My boys have loved models of all kinds. Car models, wooden models and anything that they could build that had directions and a finished project.

If you liked this post, you may also like 10 Indoor Activities that Tire Kids Out

10 Indoor Activities That Tire Kids Out | www.joyinthehome.com

 

7 Ways to Remove Holiday Stress

Christmas can easily be the most stressful times of the year, yet we all love the season. It is so important to learn how to remove holiday stress before it takes away the things we love best about this season.

7 Ways to Remove Holiday Stress | www.joyinthehome.com

  1. Limit Holiday Parties – Everyone throws parties this time of the year, but if you already decided that you are only going to attend a certain number and stick to it, you can help limit the number of parties and thus the stress of being out of the house so much.
  2. Do Shopping Online – Shopping in your PJs is priceless. We love our Amazon Prime Membership because we can get our items in two days, with free shipping.
  3. Bake with Friends – Why not get friends together to bake! Have each friend bring their own recipe and ingredients. You each work on your own recipe or help each other until the baking is done, while enjoying the fellowship of each other.
  4. Put Addresses for Cards in Your Computer – Organizing the address to those you send cards to every year can cut down a big chore, once it is done. My favorite place to get holiday photo cards will even mail them to your individual list, but they need the list first. Do it once and it is done.
  5. Put Up Less Decorations – Decking your halls can be so overwhelming, both in setting up and taking down. Why not decorate the main portions of your home with minimal decorations and let less be more!
  6. Learn How to Say NO – The holiday season is so easy to get overwhelmed with over committing. Learning to say ‘no' to the pressures around you is so important to keeping the holiday stress low.
  7. Include Some Quiet Traditions into Your Calendar – Our family loves to add quiet traditions to our holiday season. These are the best things for our home when the stress of Christmas gets out of hand and we need to pull ourselves together and regroup.

7 Ways You Can Buy for Others While Spending Less

Christmas shopping can get really expensive when you are buying for so many people.  Finding ways to give to those on our list is always important to keeping our budget in place and keeping us spending less.

7 Ways You Can Buy For Others While Spending Less | www.joyinthehome.com

  1. Shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales – I'm always amazed at the prices that come out on Black Friday (or trigger happy Thursday these days) and last through Cyber Monday (or Cyber week so it seems).  Even if you don't like to hit the roads and fit the crowds, you can take advantage of all kinds of deals online during these amazing sales days.  It is important to have your list ready and ready for the sales to take advantage of these.
  2. Sign Up for Emails for Your Favorite Places to Purchase Gifts – I have my favorite stores for shopping for loved ones, so I make sure I am signed up for email deals to these places, and check them often to ensure that I know what is on sale and who I'm shopping for on my list.
  3. Exchange Names for Extended Family – Buying gifts for your immediately family can always hit you hard financially, but then you have the extended family to buy for and it can be financial suicide if you aren't careful of your spending. The best way to stay on top of your spending is to exchange names with your siblings and their children.  Sibling picking for siblings and cousins picking for cousins. It can really make a quick difference in spending less and everyone will have a gift on Christmas. When clean up is done, pick names for next year, but be sure that you always end up with different names than what you just had.
  4. Bake for Friends, Neighbors and Co-Workers – Baking holiday goodies is one of the best way to spread the holiday budget. Always make your best recipe or two… okay, maybe three!  Divide the recipe up with the number of people you are blessing and put them on dollar store plates and festive color wraps to make them look amazing. They will love getting something homemade, and your budget will be happier.
  5. DIY Gifts – Make something instead of buying it! DIY ornaments or aprons can be cherished for years. You can spend the year making gifts for loved ones and enjoy quiet celebrations while everyone else is going crazy shopping the holiday season away.
  6. Consignment and Yard Sales – Our family loves to visit consignment shops and yard sales. It is amazing the kind of things you can find there, including things that have never been used. Sometimes, you can find things that would be perfect for a DIY project that would be just what someone on your list would want and cherish for years. One of my favorite things is picture frames, just add the right family photo!
  7. Shop Christmas Eve and After Christmas Clearances – Often times, the stores will have great last minutes sales for the procrastinators. You are taking a gamble of what you can get for a good price, but often times worth it. I love purchasing holiday themed gifts during the after Christmas clearance season.

I linked up at Thrifty Thursday.