How We…do CHRISTMAS!

Friends!  It’s the last HOW WE…WEDNESDAY of 2018!

Where did the time go?!

Like seriously, where is it?

Erika and I had so much fun with this link up.  A HUGE thank you to all of you who linked up with us this year.  We are so appreciative!!

We are excited to wrap up with today’s HOW WE…DO ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS, but first, we have the new link up for 2019 to share.  If you’re blogging in the new year, please link up!  It will be the second Wednesday of every month starting on January 8th.  This next year, we’re hosting…

Let's Look!

So, that should be fun, right?!  Erika and I are super excited!

Alright, the 12th and final How We…Wednesday of the year.  If you missed one of these…

JANUARY: Our New Year’s Resolutions.
FEBRUARY: How we take care of ourselves
MARCH: How we mom fail and live to talk about it
APRIL: How we spring clean/organize
MAY: How we transition our wardrobe
JUNE: How we plan our summer vacations
JULY: How we motivate our kids
AUGUST: How we pack lunches
SEPTEMBER: How we FALL!
OCTOBER: How we meal plan!
NOVEMBER: How we talk to kids about adoption

…just click the month and you can go back and see them.

As for today, it’s HOW WE…DO ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS.

I mean…if you’ve read my posts this week, then that’s probably enough and we can all go home now, right?

Okay, we love to do “all the things Christmas” over here, and I have a month’s worth of posts to prove it, so for today, I’m going to focus on how we keep CHRIST in Christmas around here.

I’m not saying we do the best job, but here are some of the things we do to make sure our kids enjoy the fun and festivities of Christmas without forgetting the real reason we celebrate…THE BIRTH OF JESUS!!  If you have other ideas, I would love them!!  We can’t have too many, so please comment and share!!

Here they are all ready for church!  Ha!  We really try and go to church every single Sunday, but I think it’s especially nice to be there during the holiday season.  Some sermons might be over my kiddos’ heads, but the sermons we typically hear this time of year are right on point for my kids.  Plus, the music this time of year in church is very familiar to the kids, so they really love to head to worship and sing some of their favorites.

We have done several family devotionals over the years, but this one from last year was a huge hit!  Every day, there is a devotional story with scripture leading up to December 25.  We always do this at night while we’re sitting around the table eating dinner.  We have tried doing it in the morning, but no one was focused enough.  Dinnertime seems to be the best time for us.  There are lots of family Advent books online that you can pick from.  We have also done this one by Voskamp too!  It’s also really good for families!!  I think they’re really easy to do with kids of all ages.  The pictures keep even our littlest ones engaged.

Speaking of Advent readings, our church has had one that I’ve been doing myself and then talking to my kiddos about each day.  They passed out these big magnets at church for us to use to keep up with the daily readings, but you can follow along HERE too.

If you’re looking for a cute movie about the birth of Jesus, my kids LOVE The Star!  They watch it year around because it’s so darn cute!!!  This is a great family movie to enjoy together this time of year.  I could be wrong, but I think it’s on Netflix right now!

We bought this little Fisher Price Nativity Set yearsssssss ago, and it’s still one of our favorite things to pull out!  I love that it makes things super simple to explain.  I can sit on the floor with Madeley, and we can chat about the sweet baby Jesus and all the people who are there to see him and why it’s important.  I put this away during the rest of the year, so that it’s special when I bring it out each December.

We always participate in Operation Christmas Child and shop for kids we pick off of the Angel Tree.  We do both things as a family.  We select the kiddos as a family, we shop for them, we wrap for them and then we pray for them as a family.  I think praying for these kids is super important because it really makes my kids stop and think about how these are real people with real needs this time of year.

So, those are just a few ways we try and keep our kids attention on Jesus this time of year.  PLEASE SHARE WITH ME SOME OTHER IDEAS!  I can always use more!!

If you’re wanting to see other festive holiday posts about how we do all things Christmas, click HERE 🙂 .

And because it’s December 12th, I wanted to share this with you…

12 Savory & Sweet Christmas Recipes

…my 12 Sweet & Savory Christmas Recipes!

No matter what the occasion, there is a recipe HERE for you!Okay!  That wraps up How We…Wednesday!  If you blogged today, please link up below!!  Here are the topics for next year’s LET’S LOOK linkup…

Let's Look At...

See you guys tomorrow! xo

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog December 12, 2018 at 4:56 am

    I really like how you’re setting up family Christmas traditions, Shay! The holidays sound so fun at yours! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Erika Slaughter December 12, 2018 at 5:00 am

    We haven’t seen The Star yet! This is the perfect time to watch. I’m so glad you added that! Thanks for hosting with me all year long! Looking forward to 2019!!

  • Narci December 12, 2018 at 5:10 am

    I have loved this link up this year. 🙂 and, you just reminded me to make sure we watch the Star. It’s such a cute movie!

  • Laura December 12, 2018 at 5:34 am

    When my sister and I were little, on Christmas Eve after the church service we would be home in pjs. My mom would have us wrap up in cozy blankets and we would go outside and look at the stars. She would talk about the North Star and what the shepherds and wise men saw that night. It was also neat to be looking at God’s creation (stars and night sky) and how beautiful they were, not just manmade Christmas decor. I still remember so clearly her doing that with us and I still look at the stars on Christmas Eve night!!

    • Morgan December 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      I love this! what a lovely idea.

  • Teri December 12, 2018 at 5:36 am

    We love the 25 days of Christ by newtradtioncrafts.com.There is an ornament the kids take out of a little bag each day that tell the story of Jesus. There is a devotional for each day with scripture or video. The Christmas Star From Afar has been a hit this year. It comes with a book and a nativity. You hide the star each day and when the child finds it they place the wisemen with it.There is a scripture a day (listed in the back of the book) you can place with the star. On Christmas Eve you place the star on the stable. My 8 yr old daughter has loved this!

  • Kristen December 12, 2018 at 5:44 am

    Hey Shay! I love all your ideas as usual! This year we added a new tradition. We went to a walk through Live Nativity that another local church puts on. There are 14 “scenes” and you walk up to them in order and there is narration that’s recorded that plays while the live actors act out the Christmas story. It ends with Jesus’ resurrection. Then you head to the church’s Fellowship Hall for hot cocoa and cookies. So fun! Also our Sunday School class does Operation Christmas Child as a group. So each family tells me how many kids they want to sponsor and they pay for the shipping and the WOW gift for each kid. Then I count the number of families and assign them another item to purchase in bulk. For example one family may bring toothbrushes for all the boxes being packed for our class. Another family may buy enough crayons and coloring books for each box. Then we gather on a Saturday morning and set up all of our supplies on a long table and our kids walk through the line and pack boxes assembly line style. Most of our kids are Madeley’s age all the way up to Smith’s age so even the littles can help! We pray over the boxes and then enjoy donuts as a group. So fun and really gets the kids involved in missions!

  • Carla Tretter December 12, 2018 at 5:45 am

    I don’t know if y’all have an elf, but there are several other options available now like a Shepherd, Angel & giving manger. I bet your family would love any of those. Merry Christmas!

  • Melinda December 12, 2018 at 5:48 am

    One thing we always do is on Christmas morning, we get out the birthday candles, put one in each of my kids’ coffee cake (our special Christmas breakfast) and we all sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We’ve done this since they were tiny. They are now 16 and 12 and we still do this! My 12 year old told me its one of her favorite traditions 🙂 We also read the Christmas story in Luke on Christmas Eve. That’s just a couple things we do to keep the focus on Jesus 🙂

    • Renee December 12, 2018 at 7:29 am

      This made huge tears pop in to my eyes. Sweetest thing ever! Merry Christmas. Keep on singing.

  • Sheaffer December 12, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Thanks for the reminder about The Star! We never saw it last year, and I’d forgotten about it!

  • Nicole December 12, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Our elf found Star for $4 on dvd Black Friday so he’s bringing it this weekend for the boys to enjoy/add to our Christmas movie collection

  • Carly December 12, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Loved this post Shay, the reason for the season. I loved “The Small One” as kid. It’s both a book and now a Disney movie about a young boy who has to sell his donkey to Joseph who uses him to go to Bethlehem. Happy Wednesday!

    • Lisa December 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      My very favorite Christmas story and one I was going to suggest. I didn’t know it was a Disney movie, though. So glad to hear. Enjoy your day!

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams December 12, 2018 at 6:18 am

    My goddaughter and nephews LOVE the Fisher Price Nativity set!! It’s such a great thing to have to explain that scene to them. Music in church this time of year is the best. I’m excited about the new link up!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Carolyn Cox December 12, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Shay, you shared a recipe a few years ago that I used and it was a big hit. It was cocktail weiners wrapped In bacon. I lost my recipe. Could you somehow print the recipe again.

  • Sarah December 12, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Great post! We do a lot of the same ideas that you do with trying to keep our focus on Christ during Christmas. A couple other things we do is make treats for our neighbors and attach a Christmas card or verse to it and then deliver them as a family. We also enjoy listening to this audio drama by Back to the Bible. https://www.backtothebible.org/the-twelve-voices-of-christmas

  • Betsy Siegal December 12, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Love all these ideas and we do a lot of them! I would love to know your ideas for teachers gifts? any chance you could do a post on that? I find that one so tough every year!

    • Jennifer December 12, 2018 at 11:02 pm

      I’m a teacher for 22 years — I would suggest gift cards, even $5 Starbucks, McD’s, whatever. We get SO MANY mugs, ornaments, and knick-knacks. Gloves for bus duty would also be good, dry erase markers (those suckers are $$$), lip gloss for winter months. But hands down, I get most excited about the little gift cards. They are fun to use on work days – or just as a Saturday morning treat while running errands.

  • Jill Koch December 12, 2018 at 6:50 am

    How cute is that little Nativity set?! And I can’t wait to watch The Star and add that to our family movie collection we watch each year. Excited for the 2019 link up 🙂
    Jill @ https://jillcomesclean.com/

  • Brooke Richardson December 12, 2018 at 6:51 am

    Love the blogging idea for 2018, I’m going to join ya!!!!

  • Susan December 12, 2018 at 6:58 am

    I have an advent wreath with candles in the middle of our kitchen table. We light the appropriate candles each night at dinner. It helps our kids understand the four Sundays in Advent. I know other families do a Jesse tree; you might like that too.

  • Danielle Kirchner December 12, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I highly recommend The Sparkle Box book!

  • Kenzie December 12, 2018 at 7:06 am

    We did Christmas Star from Afar this year. You take the Christmas Star and move it each day. Once the kids find the star, they move the three Wise Men to the star. Then you repeat each day until Christmas when the star appears at the nativity. It’s a way to bring it back to the birth of Jesus and how the Wise Men followed the star to him. It’s a little similar to Elf on the Shelf in that the Christmas Star gets moved everyday, but the children know the parents are the one moving the star.

  • Abby Slaton December 12, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Christmas morning we have a small cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus!

  • Melissa Terry December 12, 2018 at 7:32 am

    We have so many of the same traditions as you…OCC, the FP nativity, church services, but another tradition that’s one of my favorite parts of the season is reading ALL THE BOOKS. We have amassed a large collection of Christmas books over the years and some of them are all-time favorites. Being a former kindergarten teacher I am really picky about children’s lit and some of my favorites are Room for a Little One, God Gave us Christmas and my personal favorite-The Crippled Lamb. The Jesus Storybook Bible has gorgeous illustrations and is our favorite way to read Luke 2 together as a family. So many sweet memories in those pages!

  • Courtney December 12, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Such wonderful traditions! And, I LOVE the kids nativity set – thanks for sharing that.

    Looking forward to the link-ups next year, too! 🙂

    XO,
    Courtney

  • JJ December 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I don’t have kids yet but growing up we had a birthday cake for Jesus and would sing Happy Birthday to him. It’s simple, fun, and is a reminder of what the holiday is all about!

  • Jenna Lathrop December 12, 2018 at 8:01 am

    My kids love The Star. I love that your church gives you an advent reading. I need to check out that devotional for our family for this time of year. We have been reading a little of the Christmas story each night before bed time. My kids are loving it. I am excited for next years link-up.

  • Liz December 12, 2018 at 8:23 am

    We do lots of traditions and over the years they have meant so much to my kids as they have gotten older. Keep doing them!! One thing we do is a craft on Christmas Eve with all the cousins. Which is a little nuts now because there are 21 of them. But none the less we do one anyway. All of them. Even the old ones. 😊

    Another we do is we act out the story of Jesus’ birth. In the early years when there weren’t many cousins, nieces or nephews the BILs and Grandads and everyone had a part to play but now that we have so many we give the parts to the younger ones and the oldest ones (bless them) help manage and get to help the story. We just get whatever material or costumes we have that look the part. Nothing fancy or expensive.

    These are the 2 I can think of that are a must. But I can say my kids would have a list too. ❤️❤️

  • Leah Reinemund December 12, 2018 at 8:53 am

    My dad would read The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado to us every Christmas Eve. It really is a sweet story.

    On top of that, the same as you guys really, going to church, operation Christmas Child, Christmas Eve Service! I also think we used to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas morning when we were super litter 😉

  • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs December 12, 2018 at 9:20 am

    A special Christmas tradition growing up, that I hope to incorporate in our home as our kids get older (6, 4 and 1 year old at the moment), was giving a present to Jesus on His birthday. We always got Christmas gifts as kids, but it was with the understanding that just as Jesus has given to us we give to each other. One of those gifts we were expected to give was also to Jesus. It ranged anywhere from wrapping a school book to represent giving Him our best effort in school, a dollar bill to represent giving Jesus control of finances, a piece of paper with the word “anxiety” to suggest the giving of worries and fears, or a bottle of children’s Tylenol to represent the idea that I am giving Him my children’s health and entrusting that worry to Him. The gifts we give are then written in a Christmas notebook for review the following year and provides the opportunity to give Jesus glory for what He has done with our gifts the next Christmas season. That little “Gifts for Jesus” notebook becomes a precious Christmas treasure!

  • Paige E December 12, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Shay – I have a church question for you. From the post it seems your little ones go to “big church” with you on Sundays. Do you guys do much with the kids activities at church? I grew up pretty much in church whenever the doors were open and really big into the kids programs. My kids are not so much into it. We do go every Sunday, but my 13 year old has now decided he wants to go to service with us instead of youth group and it kind of bummed me out. I’m struggling between letting them vet all this and just lead by example, or trying harder to get them to get into the kids stuff. Both of mine are also into sports in the community and we do quite a bit with the schools, so I’m just wondering what your take is on being really involved in church (other than Sunday service) vs going on Sundays and being sure to show Jesus at home? I don’t have a ton of Jesus following mom friends, so I’m looking for a little validation.

    • Mix and Match Mama December 12, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Oh gosh, that’s a hard one, mama. Our kiddos go to Sunday school for the first hour (while Andrew and I are in our adult Sunday school class) and then the kiddos kindergarten and up, go to worship with their parents (Madeley goes to the “kid” service since she’s only four). We’re not into the “youth” program yet, but I do know that our youth pastor encourages the kids to go to worship with their parents and friends and then to the youth Sunday school hour after that (they do it in the reverse order of us…we have two worship times). Are you plugged into an adult class? That way, you could both do both?

  • Brittany S December 12, 2018 at 9:31 am

    We make a birthday cake for Jesus every year (usually on Dec. 23) and I let the kids pick everything and do most of it themselves. Last year we ended up with a messy, purple iced cake with dinosaur sprinkles! 🙂 We put candles in the cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus.

    • Mix and Match Mama December 12, 2018 at 10:06 am

      I love this!!

  • Tracy December 12, 2018 at 9:38 am

    All great ideas! Curious about your church. You mention the kids and the sermons. Do they not have children’s church they can attend? I assumed all bigger churches offered that these days.

    • Mix and Match Mama December 12, 2018 at 10:06 am

      They do for kiddos under kindergarten, but for kinder and up, they go to Sunday school and then worship with the whole church body.

  • Leah December 12, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Your 2 littlest might be too young for this yet, but we read an advent story every night called Jotham’s Journey (bought on Amazon). It’s a little shepherd boy who gets separated from his family and while searching for them, meets the “characters” of the Christmas story along the way and learns many lessons. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s so good! There is a devotion at the end of each night’s reading. There are 3 other books in the series after Jotham, and even one for Easter! We’re on the third book this year and it’s fun for the kids to remember how this story is tying into the others we read in previous years!

  • Leanne Gilchrist December 12, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Okay, I just have to say, Madeley in the first picture!? I about melted! WHY are all of your babies SO CUTE!?? Shay, I recently read this idea, and here’s the link: https://www.joyfullythriving.com/reverse-advent-calendar/. It’s called a Reverse Advent Calendar, and basically, you put a food/toiletry item in the box or basket for each day of December, and then, you take it to your local food bank or church. I LOVE this! You can start any time in December, and your kids can pick out things for the basket. This idea was revolutionary for me! This would also be fabulous for baby items for your local caring pregnancy center! Thanks, Shay, for all of your really good ideas!

  • Kerri December 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    I’m so excited to be part of the link up this time around! I’m super new and just learning about all the ins and outs of blogging, so I had a lot of fun with this! Love that you are focusing on teaching those sweet babies the true meaning of Christmas! I’m super excited to check out that movie that you recommended. Hoping to check that out tonight!
    Hope you and your family have an amazing Christmas!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick December 12, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    We do A Star from Afar too and the boys love it! Love reading all these comments! That Inspired Chick

  • Melnaie December 12, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    When my kids were young, we bought gifts for kids from The Angel Tree. It was or is a ministry that provides gifts for kids who’s parent or parents are in prison. I have 1 son and 1 daughter and we would always choose a boy who was my son’s age and a girl who was my daughter’s age and then they helped me pick out the gifts. Now, that my kids are grown, my husband and I do the Operation Christmas Child. A tradition that I did with my kids…..I started when they were rather young, I would give them a different piece to the nativity scene each year. So, when they left home, they had a nativity set of their own. We collected the Fontanini by Roman classic nativity pieces.

    • Keri December 12, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      I love this idea! Did you purchase the entire set one year and then just give them one piece each year or did you purchase a new piece each year?

  • Jackie W. December 12, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I’d like to recommend the movie, “The Navity Story,” (2006). For the past several years, my husband and I have watched it very Christmas Eve. It’s real “human” actors vs. cartoons, and is the most realistic version of the religious aspects of the Christmas story that I’ve seen. The actors are wonderful and the cinematography is beautiful, and the real meaning of Christmas comes through. It’s on TV every year, and runs about 2 hours, (AMC On Demand), but we broke down and purchased the blue-ray DVD! I’d highly recommend it for an entire family, and for kids over preschool age.

    • Kelly December 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      I agree! “The Nativity Story” is a great realistic movie about Joseph & Mary & what it might have been like at that time.

  • Kim D. December 12, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Any idea if you can find the nativity set any cheaper? I love it, but $45 seems high for a Fisher Price nativity. Suggestions?

  • Mother of 3 December 12, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Umm.. Just a quick question. You say the second Wednesday of the month but Jan 8th is a Tuesday so will the link up be on the 9th or is it on Tuesdays? I’m guessing the 8 is a typo. I found you all and your we do link up rather late in the year and am looking forward to participating in next years link up more regularly. You have some super cute kiddos and great ideas for keeping the reason for the season in your kids minds and hearts.

    • Mix and Match Mama December 13, 2018 at 5:29 am

      Duh! You’re right, it’s the 9th!!

  • Melissa Sikorski December 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    We have a Jesse Tree that we do everyday. It tells the story of Jesus. We also read the scripture and read the story each night and then let my daighter hang up that days ornament on the jesse tree.

  • Kelly December 12, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    There is a movie called The Star of Bethlehem that looks at the astronomy surrounding the star of Bethlehem. It is absolutely fascinating! My husband has had my kids looking through telescopes since they were tiny, so they started watching this movie when they were probably close in age to Kensington and Smith. It offers scientific evidence behind that wonderful night.

  • Yley Allen December 12, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Love the jammy cocoa Christmas idea- we always drive around and look and Christmas lights, but the pajamas and hot cocoa sound like so much more fun!

  • Kacy Mah December 12, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    My church does operation Christmas child and it’s the best!

  • Sara December 13, 2018 at 5:30 am

    On my son’s first Christmas, my in-laws gave him the Fisher Price Little People Nativity. We set it out on the table next to our Christmas Tree and/or under the tree (we often wait to put presents out). Both my kids like to play with it. The first night I brought it out, he wanted to act out the story. “You be Mary, mommy,” he said. It’s great.

    As someone else noted, we also have a Fontanini nativity. My husband’s granny has given me a new piece each year since we’ve been married. It’s to the point now, though, that we have enough and really don’t need anymore, so she has stopped that tradition, which I’m okay with.

  • Lois jenison December 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

    These are all great!! Have you heard of The Giving Manager?? It’s a great tradition too!

  • Deanna Gemmer December 13, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Two of my favorites that are really easy:
    – Pick a symbol at Christmas and then be on the hunt for it all season long to remind you of the meaning of Christmas. Star, angel, lights, evergreen, wreaths, candy canes, even colors can be symbolic. When my kids were super little our symbol was “light” and so every time we were out looking at Christmas lights we talked about how Jesus is the light of the world.
    -Save those Christmas cards you get that have photos on them in a special box or basket. Then pull one out each day to pray for the family on the card. We used to do this at bedtime prayers and now we do it at dinner.

  • Jaren December 14, 2018 at 5:17 am

    One of our favorite traditions is 25 Days of Christ (New Testament Edition). It comes with several wooden ornaments that the kids painted the first year. It has book with a scripture reading for each ornament. My kids love putting the ornament on the tree each night ( and yes, sometimes it is a fiasco with whose turn it really is). We pray as a family at night, and we do our ornament before prayer.
    Looking forward to Let’s Look!

  • Monica Gordon December 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Just wondering if any of your kids believe in Santa, and how you approach that? We are Christians and put the focus on Jesus’ birth, but my kids are 4 and under, and see and hear about Santa all around them.

    • Mix and Match Mama December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

      They do! We approach everything cautiously, but we do let them “believe” this time of year. I think it’s important that we talk about Jesus 12 months out of the year and only a little bit of Santa.