Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas - A Bit Different...

We're one week into the Christmas season in our house and I felt convicted to share our Christmas traditions, meaning and reasoning, along with some other info! This is a LOOONG post!

First of all, we've never done much in regards to Christmas. Present/Gift-wise at least. But over the past couple of years we began to change things even more. Our Christmas does not look like the standard American Christmas. And it changed completely because of conviction from God, some books we had read, and something called Advent Conspiracy. Please watch:

$450 BILLION dollars. Spent on Christmas. That's even with the downfall in economy. Are we the only ones who think that's just outright ridiculous? So we changed things up even more... We don't do a lot for gifts. We don't spend a lot of money. We don't put our focus on things that don't matter. We don't do Santa.  That's not to say that those who do things differently are wrong. We have lots of friends and family that do things differently and that is OK! God is not going to convict every family to be the same, do the same, act the same. Every family will feel convicted to do things differently and that's totally fine. This is what WE do.

We do three gifts for each child. A Gold Gift (something they really want). A Frankincense Gift (something spiritual). A Myrrh Gift (something they need). Yep, that's it! The kids love it and their main focus stays on Jesus and not all about the gifts. In fact, this year when asking Ilana what she wanted, she said said "A chapter book. But really, I'll be happy with whatever you give me. Besides, it's Jesus' birthday, not mine." Not saying EVERY child will react that way, but that's partly just who she is, despite her youthful age of SIX. She just knows that it's not all about her and that's what we want to instill in ALL our kids.

We do a family gift. A gift that the kids open together that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Usually a couple movies or some board games.

We do stockings. But they're not your "traditional" stockings filled with little toys and goodies... They're filled with practical items. Yep! We buy them new undies, socks, toothbrushes, tooth paste, body wash, hair accessories, and such for Christmas! And you know what? Our kids LOVE it! We do include a hotwheel for the boys or a small gift for Ilana and maybe some candy but that's it. I love that our kids get so overjoyed about something as simple as a toothbrush! (again, this is just what WE do!)

We do new PJ's given on Christmas Eve.

Instead of a ton of gifts, we do a lot of family time and we do traditions. Lots of them.

- Breakfast Casserole on Christmas morning. I have had that since I was little on Christmas mornings. I made it on Michael and I's first Christmas together and Michael demanded it be a continued tradition. Recipe requested! Here it is:

                                8 slices bread, cubed into 1 in. pieces     1/2 T dry mustard
                                2 c. shredded cheddar                           2 c milk     
                               1 lb. cooked ground sausage                  1 can cream of mushroom soup
                               4 eggs

Grease 9x13 glass dish and layer the bread cubes, then sausage, then cheese. Beat together eggs, dry mustard and milk. Pour over top of cheese. Top with cream of mushroom soup and refrigerate overnight. Bake in morning at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. 

- We do a Jesse Tree (a new tradition this year) AND a Christmas tree (which we always get a REAL tree)

- We do 25 wrapped Christmas books. Each day the kids take turns picking a book to unwrap before bed and we read it. They are not new and are books that we have already.

- We do Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) throughout the season (more on that later)

- We make a birthday cake for Jesus

- We buy gifts through Compassion International, World Vision, or Samaritan's Purse.

- We always put quarters in the Salvation Army buckets wherever we go.

- We hang 25 envelopes on the wall as our December Calendar with a paper inside each one that tells what special thing we get to do that day (we do it in the evenings during the week because Michael likes to be involved with it, too).

Here is our month of December:

1. Get a REAL Christmas Tree!
2. Have a Christmas tree decorating pizza party (with Christmas tree shaped pizza!)
3. Craft Day! Make a gift for grandparents!
4. Make and play with snow play dough (recipe found HERE. Just add silver glitter)
5. RAOK - Go to Chick-fil-A and pay for someone else's meal
6. Make paper snowflakes and decorate bedrooms with them
7. Christmas Parade and Tree-lighting in our local downtown
8. Christmas goody making day for Mommy at Grandma's while the kids have a fun Daddy/kid day
9. Cookie decorating day at Grandma's for everyone!
10. Craft Day! Make a gift for cousins (we are doing a cousin gift exchange where the limit is $5 and they have to really think about making/getting something meaningful and also pray for that specifically for that cousin throughout the month).
11. RAOK's - take Christmas goodies to someone special, to our car mechanic, and to Daddy's work!
12. Family game night with prizes!
13. Shop for an ornament and possible RAOK
14. Christmas movie and candy cane shaped pizza party sleepover with cousins!
15. Aydan's birthday! His choice for the whole day and another Christmas parade
16. Aydan's birthday party and a lighted boat parade by the Harbor
17. RAOK - make a meal for a fire station close to us
18. Make lots of salt dough ornaments
19. Live nativity
20. RAOK - In honor of Grandpa Larry (my dad) who died one year ago today, visit an Alzheimer's wing in a nursing home and deliver our handmade ornaments
21. Christmas movie and a star shaped pizza!
22. Minivan Express - Details HERE. We've done something similar to what is found here, but without the tickets and such. This is a great idea and a new tradition we're starting this year!
23. Watch The Nativity Story as a family
24 - Make Jesus' birthday cake as a family and go to Christmas in the Park (every year, our church has an evening service in the park with a live band, short sermon/story, and such. It attracts thousands of people! It's great! Afterward, the kids open their new jammies that are packed in the van, put them on and we drive home and look at lights and then we come home and read the last book from the wrapped books that is the true Christmas story.)
25. Family Jesus Party! (we wake up and read the Christmas story from the Bible, open stockings, eat breakfast casserole, then open gifts.)

What are YOU doing for Christmas? Will you be able to shop and spend less and love and give more? My next post will be about shopping with a purpose!


  1. This is great! No Santa here either. We usually get the kids new PJs too, and maybe a small toy for each, and let the grandparents and aunts & uncles get them the rest of their gifts. Last year we picked a gift to give through Compassion International, and plan on that being a family tradition. Have you posted your breakfast casserole recipe? If not, will you?? :) Thanks! Merry Christmas!

    1. I meant to post it and forgot! Thanks for the reminder! Just posted! :)