Christmas Magic Bars

Christmas Magic Bars | www.joyinthehome.com

Magic bars are such an easy dessert to make, but this Christmas we added sprinkles to make them more festive, making them Christmas Magic Bars. We added these to our neighbors baked good plates that we give each year and they just made the plate pop with Christmas color!

This is a recipe that children can do on their own, with some assistance when putting it in and out of the oven.

Christmas Magic Bars

Melt one stick of butter and add it 1 1/2 packages of crushed graham crackers. Press firmly at the bottom of a 9X13 greased pan. Evenly pour sweetened condensed milk over the entire crust, then add the 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups of coconut. Then sprinkle your choice of Christmas sprinkles to the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool and then cut.

Here is a printable recipe card for Christmas Magic Bars just for you:

Christmas Magic Bars Recipe Card | www.joyinthehome.com

 

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

Peppermint Whoopie Pies | www.joyinthehome.com

Our family loves whoopie pies and most families do. We decided to make a peppermint flavored one that has proven to be a big hit with our friends. You can add red or green food coloring to the frosting if you want it to be with the Christmas colors, but we choose to keep ours white with the peppermint taste.

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

Whip together: 1 egg, 1 stick of soft butter, 1/3 cup of cocoa, 1 cup of evaporated cane juice, 1 tsp real salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp baking soda, and 2 cups of milk. Add 1/2 cup of soft white wheat flour (or baking flour) at a time, until you get a wet cookie dough consistency. I put in about 4 cups or a little more.

I drop my cookie dough on a greased cookie pan using a small scoop. If it doesn't flatten, I have the right amount of flour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes.

Let cool on cookie rack, while making the peppermint frosting. Cream together 1/2 cup of shortening or coconut oil, 1 stick of softened butter, 1 tsp of peppermint extract 4 cups of powered sugar and 2 TBSP of water.

Place a spoonful of frosting between two cookies and enjoy!

You can freeze the cookies without frosting, and then add frosting when they thaw.

Here is a printable recipe card for Peppermint Whoopie Pies your holiday baking:

Peppermint Whoopie Pies Printable Recipe Card | www.joyinthehome.com

How to Make a Manger

Have you ever considered having a manger to celebrate Christmas? If you are looking to make a manger yourself, here is how we made ours.

How to Make a Manger | www.joyinthehome.com

Our daughter wanted to make her own headboard out of barn wood, so my husband asked his relative in Pennsylvania if they had any laying around that she could use. He blessed us with many planks of 100 year old wood that was harvested on the family land, which makes it have it own history for our family and beautiful.  We decided to make another manger with our left over wood.

How to Make a Manger

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 – 25 inches long wood, at least 8 inches wide
  • 2 – 12 inches long wood, at least 8 inches wide
  • 1 or 2 pieces of wood to make the bottom
  • Angle tool
  • A table saw or another saw to cut with
  • Nail gun or hammer
  • Nails

Manger angle the cut | www.joyinthehome.com

My husband angled each cut 12.5 degrees. You can either use an angle tool, like above or an attachment on the table saw, like below, to easily do the cut.

manger table saw cut | www.joyinthehome.com

Once you have two pieces for the long side (25 inches before the angel cut) and two pieces for the short sides (12 inches before the angle cut), you can begin to construct them together, using a nail gun or hammer and nails.

manger putting it together | www.joyinthehome.com

After you get the walls of the manger put together, you will need to put a bottom on it. Measure yours to be certain of the length and width needed. You can use one or two pieces to make the bottom. You can see that we used two pieces of our scrap wood to make our bottom.

manger bottom | www.joyinthehome.com

That is all it takes to make a manger!  It took us about an hour to put ours together and we absolutely love sharing the story of how we got the wood.

manger complete | www.joyinthehome.com

Check out Why a Manger Replaced Our Christmas Tree.

A Collection of Nativity Activities

Our family replaced our Christmas tree with a manger, and ever since, I love finding good ideas that surround the nativity story.

A Collection of Nativity Activities | www.joyinthehome.com

A Collection of Nativity Activities

Matchbox Manger Craft by The Craft Train
Journey to Bethlehem Small World Play by Adventures in Mommydom
Little Drummer Boy by Every Star Is Different
Handprint Angels by My Little 3 and Me
Simple Cheap Nativity That Children Can Really Play With by My Mundane and Miraculous Life

Nativity-Sensory-Bin

 

Nativity Sensory Bin by Golden Reflections Blog
Sun Catcher Nativity Scene by Peace Creek on the Prairie
A Felt Nativity Story by Stay at Home Educator
Nativity Ornament Tutorial by Crafting and Creativity
Nativity Wood Chip Style by Create It! Go

familynativitylead

A Family Nativity Scavenger Hunt by Teachers of Good Things
Painted Rock Nativity Set by Painting Rocks
Stable Ornament by Adventures of a DIY Mom
Free Printable Bible Town and Figures by Bible Based Homeschool
A Manger of Their Own by Teachers of Good Things

toilet-roll-nativity-set

Toilet Roll Nativity Set by Happy Hooligans
Truth in the Tinsel by Oh Amanda
Celebrate Jesus Resources by Homeschool Encouragement

10 Things that Girls Love to Call Their Own

I wanted more girls, but I have been blessed with only one. My daughter is such an incredible learner, and always happiest when she has tools that will help her learn more about her interest.  It didn't take me long to see that there were several things that she quickly wanted to be able to call her own.

10 Things that Girls Love to Call Their Own | www.joyinthehome.com

10 Things that Girls Love to Call Their Own

  1. Music – This is probably one of the most important things in my daughter's life. We purchased an MP3 player earlier in her teens because she always was singing. Prior to that we were always giving her CDs of her favorite artists, but now we only get her iTune gift cards to keep that love going strong.
  2. Sewing Machine – When our daughter turned 12, we gave her a sewing machine, mostly so she would leave mine alone. She was so happy to make all kinds of things and even help with mending clothes if it was needed. She enjoyed sewing more than I did, so this was a perfect gift for her and now she has something for her own home.
  3. Recipe Book – My daughter hated to help in the kitchen, even though she was an amazing cook. One year, she got a recipe book ‘for her own recipes' and next thing I know she was asking my friends for their recipes and her attitude about helping in the kitchen changed. She only puts the recipes that she likes in there and is creating a wonderful tool for her own home.
  4. Knitting Loop – My daughter loved to have her own knitting loop! She was always making hats for the new babies that were coming into our family or friend's family. This is one things that she thought girls would enjoy to have for themselves, as it adds hours of creative fun with very little to learn.
  5. Calligraphy Kit – My daughter loves to make things pretty. Giving her a calligraphy kit was a great way for her to experiment with creating beautiful letters for one of her favorite things to do… writing.
  6. Stamping Kit – The love of writing was always fun when our daughter was busy at creating her own cards with rubber stamps. She loved to make thank you, thinking of you, get well and congratulation cards, as well as birthday cards. She enjoyed having her own stamps to use and keep in her room, away from her busy brothers that didn't always take care of things properly.
  7. Stationary – Letter writing was a favorite activity for my daughter, and still is in her 20's.  She always loved having her own pretty paper and envelopes to write to her friends. We even would give her a book of stamps for her own.
  8. Pens – This is something that I should have done sooner! I was always losing my favorite pens. When my daughter was busy with making her cards or writing to friends, she wanted to use my colorful pens. She was so happy when we invested in some gel pens that were all for her.
  9. Jewelry – Girls grow to be women, so of course, jewelry is something that would be on the list of what she would desire to call her own. Earrings, necklaces and anklets are all important to her. She loved when we bought her tools to make her own jewelry.
  10. Digital Camera – It doesn't take long for a girl to fall in love with taking photos. Today, with the cell phones, digital photography is easy, however for many girls, they desire to take more professional photos. Our daughter filled out when we purchased her Nikon camera. What a great way to invest in her interest for many years to come, while she became the family photographer, again and again.

If you love this list, you may enjoy seeing my list of 10 Things that Boys Love to Call Their Own

10 Things that Boys Love to Call Their Own | www.joyinthehome.com

 

 

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool

For many homeschooling families, they break from the normal homeschool routines to bring Christ into their December Homeschool, usually with more of an Advent focus. There are many ways that we can have a more Christ-centered Christmas through homeschool. This list is to inspire you to make the most of your December homeschool with family oriented days that will be easy to bring Christ into your days all December long.

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool | www.joyinthehome.com

25 Ways to Bring Christ into Your December Homeschool

  1. Study Christmas Hymns – Learn the stories behind the Christmas songs we all love can be a wonderful month long study that will easily bring a Christ-centered Christmas to all of your family. I would recommend Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas and Gloria, A Christmas Hymn Study. This could be a wonderful way to spend the last 30 minutes or so of a day, cuddled with your family, before tucking the kids in bed.
  2. Make Christmas Goodies for Neighbors, Elderly and Shut-ins – We all make Christmas goodies, often times too much. Showing Christ in December can be easy when you bless others with some as well. Think beyond your family and friends, and consider blessing your neighbors, elderly from church and don't forget those who are shut-in their homes because of health reasons. I saw a fun way to package cookies using a Pringles can and thought this would be the perfect way to share our Christmas goodies this year. You can spend the day baking cookies and doing crafts to bless others later that day. Have the child see if they can double or triple the recipe for some math practice.
  3. Make Homemade Christmas Cards for Family and Friends – Children love crafts, so why not have a day where they make homemade Christmas cards for their closest friends and family members. While they are making their cards, you can work on your list of Christmas cards. I love Shutterfly for Christmas cards! I can get our Christmas photo put right on them, plus I can have them send my cards straight to my list of family and friends.
  4. Write a Family Newsletter – Creating a yearly newsletter where each person shares a paragraph of their highlights for the year. Once everyone has their final draft of their paragraph, just add them together to create a fun family newsletter to let family and friends know what is going on in your life. Don't tell the kids that they are working on their writing skills!
  5. Clean Out the Toys and Clothes for Donation – Most children receive new toys and clothes for Christmas. Take the time before their new gifts arrive to declutter and organize their rooms, while putting the focus on children who do not have as much. Once you are done, take a family trip to the local charity organizations for your donations. Removing them quickly will really help the younger children.
  6. Go Christmas Caroling – This wonderful tradition is not practiced enough. We did this a few years ago, in our neighborhood. We had a group of friends that came together at our home and we constructed cookie trays with a card. We visited about 12 homes on a very cold night the week of Christmas and sang until someone came to the door. Our neighborhood loved it and we were able to meet some new people we would otherwise not have taken the time to introduce ourselves. Our neighbors mentioned it the next year and seemed disappointed we didn't do it again.
  7. Organize a Winter Coat, Hat and Glove Drive – To get your family excited about this opportunity to bless others, I would recommend you read Gideon's Gift. Then start asking your church, neighbors and going through your own closets to collect winter coats, hats and gloves for the homeless. There are many organizations that deliver these to those in need.
  8. Spend a Day Reading Picture Books – I love picture books, but there is nothing like Christmas picture books for our family. I have a list of my favorite books that I have read over the years to my children and would recommend you starting this tradition. Grab some tissues, cuddle and read!
  9. Host a Birthday Party for Jesus – There is nothing so special than to take time to put your children's attention to celebrating the birth of Jesus. You can start the birthday party with The King is Born, read Luke 2 and talk about Him being the light of the world, as you all blow out the candle on your own cupcake, to symbolize that Jesus is here for all of us.
  10. Do an Advent Activity Daily – You would love Truth in the Tinsel for your little ones! Each day has an Advent activity that is part of the nativity story.
  11. Read Advent Focused Books – Our family has loved the trio series for Advent reading: Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.
  12. Watching Christmas Movies that Motivate Good Things – Christmas movies are all over the television in December. I have a list of some of my favorite Christmas family movies that teach thinking about other things. I also have some of my favorite Christmas movies for my younger children.
  13. Create a Jesse Tree – We have never done a Jesse Tree, but the concept is a great idea. Here is a Jesse Tree study that may be a great fit for your family.
  14. Participate in a Christmas Choir or Play – Get your whole family involved in a Christmas choir or play that will have them memorizing for a Christ-centered Christmas.
  15. Write a Letter to Jesus – You have heard about writing a letter to Santa, but have you had your children write a letter to Jesus? You could have them thank Him for his blessings, tell Him how much they love them, write what they want to do for Him and even what they desire from Him. Your church can host a Letter to Jesus drive with a box for the kids to drop their letters in each Sunday of the month of December.
  16. Study Gifts in the Bible – I created a free printable for a study on what the Bible says about ‘gifts'. You can use these as memory verses or just as discussion verses through the month of December.
  17. Go on a Nativity Scavenger Hunt – We love to go Christmas light looking. We turned this loved family tradition into a meaningful Nativity scavenger hunt. Get your free printable to go on your own!
  18. Host a Cookie Decorating PartyCookie decorating is a family tradition for our family, but we switched it up a few years ago to have a more Christ-centered Christmas with using nativity cookie cutters.
  19. Children Create a Skit for the Nativity – Have a homemade skit of Luke 2, where the children dress up and construct their own skit for you and your spouse, and maybe others.
  20. Make Christmas Ornaments – Having homemade Christmas ornaments on your tree is something that your children will cherish for years. They also make great gifts! You can make clay ornaments, swirly ornaments, or wooden ornaments.
  21. Learn About Candy Canes – The history of the candy cane is fun to learn about. You can also do some fun decorating with candy canes, like this beautiful centerpiece.  You can also do some yummy things with them: chocolate candy cane, peppermint fudge, and candy cane pops.
  22. Sponsor an Orphan – Helping our children think of others is always a great way to bring Christ into our homeschool. Our family loves the heart of Door of Hope Palawan and would love to share with you how you can help raise money to sponsor one orphan for a year. It is easy with just finding 35 people to donate $10 year or 12 people donating $25 each.
  23. Host a Charity Event – There are so many amazing charities that your family can get busy with supporting. Inviting friends over during December to enjoy a time of fellowship, while introducing them to a way to impact others.
  24. Visit a Nursing Home – The elderly have a hard time during the holidays and anything we can do to make their celebrations joyful would be a good thing. Your family can visit to read books, sing carols or just to visit.
  25. Invite a Soldier to Christmas Dinner – Soldiers are often times unable to return home for Christmas, so they would normally have no where to go for the Christmas dinner. Some local churches organize hosting homes for soldiers to come and enjoy Christmas with others.