7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit

Christmas spirit. We heard this term often, but do we really stop to consider what it looks like or feels like? I know that for most people, the Christmas season is spent with shopping lists, purchases, parties, wrapping and longing for the season to pass to get back to a normalcy to live.

Several years ago, our family took a step back and evaluated the Christmas season and what it looked like to our family. It was during that time that we replaced our tree with a manger. It seemed like a perfect solution for our young family to keep the reason of the season in front of us, as we made some transitions.

7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit - Want to help your family ponder the reason for the season? These ways will help you do just that! | www.joyinthehome.com

7 Ways to Spread the Christmas Spirit

I don’t know many people who don’t love Christmas. In fact, I know quite a few that get so excited about decorations, lights, baking, gift giving and more long before the weather even really changes.

As a Christian, I love to see people getting excited about the season that is related to the birth of our Savior, but many times He is forgotten in the celebrations.

It is a family focus of ours to do what we can do to help spread the Christmas spirit, you know the reason of the season, to those that are within our path to reach.

If you are like our family, and you desire to really make the most of this season to bring joy into other’s lives, you will love these family fun ideas to spread the Christmas spirit each holiday.

Give Baked Goods to Your Neighbors

As long as I can remember, making baked goods for others is a part of my history. When we bought our first home, I was eager to pass on this tradition with our own neighbors and share some of the goodness of the season with those that often times can be strangers.

It is simple to do.

Just purchase some heavy duty red plastic plates and plastic wrap, and added a few types of baked goods to each plate for the number of houses that you want to bless. Add a little note to each, and deliver it. There is no need for them to return any dishes!

Go Christmas Caroling

I remember Christmas caroling when I was a teenager. I loved it!

A few years ago, my family church went caroling in our neighbor. We delivered baked goods at the same time, along with an invite to join us for church.

We actually have good friends because of it!

I remember one family actually said, “I didn’t realize people actually do this!” Then they tipped up. We just added it to the church funds.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Our daughter cooks for the homeless once a month, and loves it. There are always opportunities to volunteer within your community. Seek out a church that does outreach opportunities and ask for referrals for places you, too, can serve.

Donate Toys, Food or Clothes to the Needy

Donating is a wonderful way to spread the Christmas spirit. There are a lot of ministries that do this thing, but if you know of someone personally, why not just purchase them somethings and drop it off on their porch in a box, without a note.

We did this before, and it was one of the best things we did as a family.

Visit an Elderly Person Your Family Knows

We are blessed to be in a church that has many older people in the congregation.

Our culture is so busy for them, and they love how much we enjoy to just sit and visit with them. Hearing stories of their childhood, and hardships are the highlight of our time together.

You may be surprised just how much spirit this one thing can give to you, and to them!

Invite Your Friends, Family and Neighbors to Church

I’m often convicted that I don’t enough to spread His joy to others. Christmas is the perfect time to invite others to church, because it is the one time of the year where Christ gets some thought. The season alone often softens the hardest of hearts.

Did you know that most people who don’t attend church would be open to attending but they often don’t know where to go, or feel welcomed?

You can make a big difference with an invite!

Acknowledge Those that Keep Christ in Christmas

Our family enjoys a Nativity Scavenger Hunt each year (I share the printable for free). A reader emailed me and told me that they have a tradition of acknowledging those who keep Christ in Christmas by displaying a manger, or nativity scene. She was sweet enough to let me share this idea with you.

I created a free printable for you to carry on this wonderful tradition with your own family! Get yours here: Christ In Christmas!

In the end, it is people who carry the Christmas spirit and it is our responsibility to demonstrate the love, joy and peace that makes this season so special.

The more we do for others, the more His light will shine during this season and the rest of the year.

 

A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas

I love taking the month of December as a way to read to my children and have a meaningful Christmas, inspired by stories perfect for this time of the year. This has been a tradition for our homeschooling for over 15 years and one that I look forward to with excitement. I have so many memories of finding picture books that I thought were going to be just good reads with beautiful illustrations, to only find me crying as I read them to my children. This is what keeps me coming back to reading Christmas books each year.

A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas | www.joyinthehome.com

A Book List for a Meaningful Christmas

Christmas Tapestry is a story about how a tapestry that was used to cover the damage left behind from a leaking roof, lead an old Jewish woman to recognize the importance of this tapestry.

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story is about a boy who hope and waits year after year for a desired package from a train that delivers gifts to children. This book brings the true story of Christmas to the reader.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale is a warm book that is full of beautiful illustrations of what it could have been like the night Jesus was born.

Jacob's Gift is a cherished book of mine, as it shares the truth about giving our best in what we do for others.

The First Christmas Night is a book with beautiful illustrations of telling the story of the birth of Jesus.

This Is the Stable is a fun book that shares the story of the Nativity in lyrical verses.

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent is a book full of suspense and adventure, as it leads you through the Advent season and ends in the same town that the Messiah is born.

Bartholomew's Passage: A Family Story for Advent is a story that is spun off from Jotham's Journey and one that will have you just as captive, as it guides you through the Advent celebration.

Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent is the third book in this set and true to the adventure and suspense as the other two, as their stories are spun together. This too will guide you through the Advent season.

Legend of the Christmas Stocking is a book that will share the legend of how the Christmas stocking tradition started and will bring giving from the heart a focus.

The Legend of the Candy Cane is a wonderful story about the beginning of the candy cane. This story will make one of the most popular Christmas candies one of your favorites.

 

The Crippled Lamb is a wonderful book about acknowledging God's purpose for all of us and that things that make us different from others can be used for His purpose.

The Christmas Star is a simple book that tells of the star that lead the Wise Men to worship the Messiah.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is an inspiring story that brings a broken and lonely man to a place of enjoying Christmas again, as he carves a special nativity scene for a mother and her son.

J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told is the story of the candy cane and how it represents our gift in Jesus.

Lucy's Christmas is a book set in the turn of the 20th Century, when Christmas was a simple holiday of giving homemade gifts and traditions that most children do not have personal experiences with and family was the focus.

AN Orange for Frankie is a story that will have you reaching for tissues.  This true story is one that I think about each Christmas season, as its story of giving is played out through the book. I love it so much that I wrote about it at the Homeschool Village and created a printable for your family to be like Frankie! (Don't miss the opportunity to get the free ebook, by subscribing to their blog)

Desire a Christ focused Christmas? These resource will help you create it with hands-on activities focusing on Christ!

Truth in the Tinsel ebook

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

I love nativity scenes. I own three already, and I’m always looking for one to add to our yard.  Our family loves going to look at Christmas lights together, as I'm sure most families do! Over the many years of this tradition, we have noticed how nativity scene are harder to find, and more Santa Claus and Disney things are making their way into decorations.

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt | www.joyinthehome.com

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt

We started to make it about a game to see who could spot a nativity scene, or baby Jesus first. The kids really were enjoying the hunt we embarked on every Christmas season.

In the attempt to saturate our family with a Christ Centered Christmas, I have created a Family Nativity Scavanger Hunt for us to do together, while keeping that excitement to ‘seek Jesus like the Wise men did long, long ago’.

Get your Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt.

You can print one per family or one per person.

You may want to take a clip board or hard books to use as a hard surface. And don't forget a pencil or pen to mark off your finds.  You may just be surprised how much of a hunt this turns out to be.

Your children may love to dress up as ‘wise men', as they go out looking for the nativity.

To add to our family tradition, we like to bringing some hot cocoa and snacks, with Christmas music playing in the vehicle!

I hope your family will enjoy the hunt as much as we will.

Do you want more Christ centered activities? These resources will help you do just that!

 

Truth in the Tinsel ebook

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.

7 Quiet Ways to Enjoy the Christmas Season

Christmas can seem so loud with activity and busyness that often times, we aren't really enjoying it.  It can be such an amazing time of the year, if we just allowed ourselves time to be quiet and simply enjoy the season with family.

7 Quiet Ways to Enjoy the Christmas Season | www.joyinthehome.com

 

7 Quiet Ways to Enjoy the Christmas Season

  1. Watch the Snow Fall – Assuming you get snow in December! We all love the first snow of the year.  It is mesmerizing to just watch it fall. I love to take photos of it coming down and covering the tress. There is nothing like a December snowfall, so taking time to just stop and enjoy its beauty should be one of the first things you do when you notice it falling.
  2. Listen to Christmas Music with Only the Christmas Lights On – There is just something about soft Christmas music playing while all the house lights are off and only the lights of Christmas illuminate the house. It is so relaxing and refreshing. Children can quietly play with their toys on the floor and you can just take in the sweetness of a quiet evening and the blessings of family.
  3. Read a Christmas Novel with Your Family – I love to read Christmas themed books, both for myself and for my family. I have my favorite picture books that I love to read to my younger children every year, but I also have some books that are perfect for the Advent studies.  I also have some that are my own books.
  4. Make S'mores by the Living Room Fire – One of American's favorite dessert that has been bringing families together for a long time, is also a perfect way to usher in a quiet evening with the family. It would be the perfect time to share your favorite family stories.
  5. Watch Christmas Movies – I absolutely love the Hallmark movies for Christmas. There are some movies that are by far my favorite that I enjoy watching with my family time and time again.
  6. Go for a Drive in Your PJs to Look at Christmas Lights – We love to go for a drive to look at Christmas lights, but have turned it into a nativity scavenger hunt. We may just have to take it to the next level and dress in our PJs, since we are always so tired by the time we return home.
  7. Look at Family Photos of Christmas' Past – Our family loves to look at family photos. Christmas is the time of year that just makes the tradition more inviting to just settle in and laugh over the photos that mean most to us.  You can even make a photo book of your favorite ones together and give them as gifts.