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

The History of Chocolate

This post was sponsored by American Heritage® Chocolate.

We all love chocolate, right? Once you learn about the history of chocolate, you may love it even more. Learning about the history of chocolate as currency, medicine, drinks and indulgences in the book, Great Moments in Chocolate History has been a lot of fun and insightful that it would be a perfect way to do a unit study in your homeschool or even a wonderful gift idea for a chocolate lover.

The History of Chocolate - Learning about chocolate as currency, medicine, drinks and indulgences makes a favorite dessert more enjoyable with Great Moments in Chocolate History | www.joyinthehome.com @chochistory

The History of Chocolate

Do you know where chocolate comes from? Most people may think it is the cocoa bean, but it is actually the cacao bean. It is only through a roasting and processing that the cacao bean name is changed to cocoa. I have taken chocolate for granted, and just ‘assumed' that it has always been a part of history, but haven't considered the path it has traveled  to become the most loved dessert today. That was until I enjoyed reading the book Great Moments in Chocolate History and learned about its historical start as currency, and how valuable it was as medicine to many cultures (I would LOVE a cupboard full of this medicinal drink) and how it has found its place in the hearts of Americans, and making its place in WWII in the form of M&M's.

Imagine getting your children excited about learning about history though chocolate!

From the Aztec Empire, explores like Christopher Columbus and Cortes, King Philip II, Louis XIV, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart and many others who are mentioned in this beautifully illustrated book about the history of chocolate could serve as a fun and exciting way to learn about world history with your family in a way that children of all ages could relate with and find interesting from the beginning.

Great Moments in Chocolate History

 Mars Chocolate North America, along with partner National Geographic Society, has just released the first of two books Great Moments in Chocolate History, which is full of fun facts that will bring chocolate into names and events like never before. To complete this book, they have added 20 classic recipes from around the world that will be a perfect way to bring math learning, and cooking skills into a true unit study for world history through chocolate and its available for sale anywhere in the world.


American Heritage® Historical Chocolate Drink

Did you know that the chocolate drink was the first way that chocolate was consumed, and not only was it used to better the performance of warriors, but was a popular beverage during the colonial days and even out at sea?   American Heritage® Chocolate is an authentic historical line of product, developed from chocolate recipes in the 1750's, it is made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. With 63% cacao, it is rich, and delicious, with amazing flavors blended together that include cinnamon, nutmeg, chili pepper, orange, anise and vanilla that will delight your palate.

Your whole family will love this historical drink, while learning about its history as it provides a perfect way to add some hands-on learning to your history of chocolate, and enjoy the flavor and the health benefits that have been recognized for over 500 years.


American Heritage® Historical Chocolate Block

We all use baking chocolate, or powdered chocolate in our recipes, but the American Heritage Historical Chocolate Block is not only easy to use in grating, chunking, shaving or baking but with 63% cacao, it gives such cocoa flavor that your recipes will taste amazing.

You can use this in any of the 20 recipes that are provided in the Great Moments in Chocolate History.


How to Plan for the Summer You Desire

We all look forward to summer and the feeling it brings. We have some ideas of things we want to do in summer, but do you really plan for the summer you desire in a way that will help you make the most of the added family time and beautiful weather that allows for so many activities outside?

How to Plan for the Summer You Desire - don't just go through summer thinking you will get your wish list accomplished! Plan to make the most of the season with these ideas. | www.joyinthehome.com

Summer time is upon us. How will you spend it?

For many families, they focus on a family vacation and put all their planning efforts to make that week amazing. Why not plan to make the rest of your summer amazing?

How to Plan for the Summer You Desire

Enjoy Your Area

Why not vacation in your own area? These vacations are called ‘Staycations' and are just as amazing as planning one week somewhere else. Often times there are free or cheap things to do with your family in your own area that will prove to make your summer amazing.

Keep Learning ALIVE

Children are often bored if they don't have enough to entertain them. I created a Summer Learning Checklist that my children can do on their own, filled with learning through play that will give them a great summer of learning!

Create a Summer Bucket List

Before the summer comes in a full swing, consider making your own summer bucket list with your whole family. You may not get to everything on this list, but it would be a great list for your family to work on each summer. Add more things as you think of them and just keep working on them, as you go through this summer.

Find Time to Just Relax

Summer is a perfect time to find time to relax, rather at the pool or on your porch in the evening. It is really the perfect time to grab one of those books you have been wanting to read and get started resting your body, and engaging your mind.

Plan to Save

The more you plan for your family's summer, the easier it is to save money while on a summer vacation. Some places have discounted days, or even free days. You just need to plan ahead and you can really save big!

Start a New Hobby

We love to work on skills during the summer, and it has proven to be a good thing to do during the summer. I have list 10 Hobbies Perfect for Summer Fun that I'm sure your children will enjoy, because they are the ones that my children have learned during their summer breaks.

Focus on Helping Others

We all love to do something good for other people, but often times our schedules stand in the way of really doing what we desire. I encourage you to plan at least one of these summer ideas for charities that I'm sure your family will love as much as our family does. Our family always does something special for our favorite orphanage.

You may like my tips on cruising… 

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