Saturday, November 22, 2014

25 Days of Christmas

    Believe it or not  I started Advent bags on November 1st this year, and I just go them done this week! I had fun doing them again this year.  Some days are the same as last year and some days are a little different.  Some days are a small surprise, an ornament, candy, toy, etc.  Some days it might be a craft or a service project.  There are a few Christmas movie days and several bible verse days.  I tried to mix it up.  

The reason I do the advent bags is to daily remind the kids what Christmas can be about.  You can get a lot of things out of the Christmas season, but it is important to learn how to balance.  I believe it's ok to get presents and give presents.  It's ok to make cookies for yourself and I encourage them to bake something for someone else too.  It's important to learn the Christmas story at a young age and talk about the Manger and what it means.  these bags are just a fun way for me as a parent to talk to my kids about christmas every day.  They also help with time management in that the boys know exacly how many days there are until Christmas every day.  Also it helps me balance our Christmas goals and Christmas service projects.  I just have them in a bag and than on that day we remember to do them!

I love the tradition and want to share it so others can start.  Please see our days below.  Remember - I also add Christmas goals to the tree but you could have them as your advent bag day such as get a Christmas angel from Walmart or donate food to a food bank, etc. etc.  

Merry Christmas season!

Day 1
a.       Boys - Santa Hats & Jesus is the reason for the season bookmarks
b.      Girls - Santa Hats,Jesus is the reason for the season bookmarks, & Christmas CD
Day 1
Christmas tree…..check
This time of year often brings with it a check list. Sometimes we get so busy with our check lists we forget to check our hearts.  Is your heart prepared for the Christmas season? Over the next 25 days of Advent bags you will get surprises, read bible verses, learn something new, and serve others.  Serving others takes the focus off our busyness and gives us a sense of why Christ came. This Christmas season don’t forget to add the most important thing to your to do list – prepare your heart!
So put on your hats – turn up your Christmas music – get in the Christmas spirit because Advent bags have begun!!!!!  But remember who is the reason for the season J
 Day 2
a.       Boys -Transformer ornaments
b.      Girls - Pink and purple ornaments for their trees
Day 2
Enjoy these ornaments to put on your tree in your rooms! Get excited its Christmas time!
3.       Day 3
a.       Boys - Christmas legos
b.      Girls - Christmas movie night, popcorn, and hot chocolate
Day 3 - Girls
Movie night! – a Christmas Wish
Enjoy some hot Chocolate, popcorn, and a movie about a mom praying for a miracle to help her family for Christmas.
Day 3 boys –
Mom and dad got these legos for you from lego land!
4.       Day 4
a.       Boys - Santa stress balls and candy
b.      Girls – Bracelets
Day 4
As you wear your pretty new bracelets you might receive some compliments, or you might have heard a compliment today.
Max – you are such a great reader!  You are doing great in Kindergarten.
Alex – You are so silly!  Thank you for always cheering mommy and daddy up and making us laugh.
Laney – I have noticed lately you are so good at coloring and writing. You sure are learning a lot in Kindergarten.  We sure are proud of you
Mabry – You are such a good helper.  You are so thoughtful and easy to talk to.  I love visiting with you and hearing your stories.
Mary Frannie – you are such a good oldest grandkid.  I am so super impressed with your tumbling skills.  You are better than I ever was, keep it up.  I have noticed lately you are so fun to go shopping with.  We need to plan a shopping trip soon!
Too often we underestimate the power of a smile or a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  Leo Buscaglia
Act of Kindness:  Look for people to give compliments to.  Not only today and tomorrow but through the Christmas season.  Watch as you give them a compliment the smile that comes to their face.  It can be something simple like you like their shirt or something nice like a Thank you for something they did for you or just anything that comes to mind.

Day 5
a.       Boys - Make your own bell necklace and $1 for Salvation army bell ringers
b.      Girls - Cute little purses with Make your own bell necklace and $1 for Salvation army bell ringers
Day 5 – Salvation Army Bell Ringers
Bell Ringing
One hour of bell ringing raises enough money to provide a family in need with two bags of groceries. 
The Salvation Army Red Kettles have been an American tradition since 1891, helping raise financial support for critical Salvation Army programs and services year round.  Over the years, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States – providing toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year-round. You become a vital part of our Christmas efforts when you help those in need.
Next time you see a red kettle outside of a store – please place your dollar inside the red kettle.  Keep the purse for you to use through the season.  As a fun activity I also included some twine and a bell for you to make your own bell necklace to wear through the holidays.
 Day 6
a.       boys and girls -  Greeting cards and light pens
Day 6
Activity:  Send someone you know a card! 
How excited do you get when you get mail?! Enclosed you will find some greeting cards.  Write a thoughtful card to someone you know:  A friend, a family member, or neighbor.  Thank them for something they have done for you or wish them a very Merry Christmas.

  Day 7
a.       Boys & girls  - Snow globe
Day 7
Bible Verse and Activity:  Please read aloud
Verse:  Be still, and know that I am God!    Psalm 46:10
Shake up the Snow Globe and watch the glitter swirling around.  Do you ever feel all stirred up like this?  Like there are a million thoughts or feelings all floating around inside you?  If you’re worried about something, you can feel like you just can’t settle down.  Are there things you worry about? (School, Friends, Family) Adults worry too.  Sometimes we worry about things we can change, like whether we did something our parents asked us to, but often we worry about things that we don’t know how to change, like if your grandma is sick and you don’t know if she’ll get better.  God understands that we care about people, but God knows there are things that we can’t change.  The GOOD News is that God knows things that we don’t know, and understands things that we can’t understand.  If we can be still long enough to let our worries settle down, (the glitter should be toward the bottom of the snow globe by now) we might be able to see that God is with us, and we might even be able to see what God is doing.  Being still means trusting that God can take care of things we don’t understand.
Day 8 Boys & Girls
a.       Legends of the Candy Cane movie and candy canes with ornaments
Discover the story of hope and the hidden meaning of a favorite Christmas candy – the candy cane. 
Hard Candy - Reminds us that Jesus is like a "ROCK", strong and depenable
Psalm 31:3
Matthew 2:11
1 John 1:7
Jesus is our "Good Shepherd".
John 10: 1-18, 27-30
Matthew 1: 21
and for Jesus' love in giving His life for us on the cross.
John 3: 16 and Revelation 1:5
the wounds in His hands and feet, and the cross on which He died.
John 19: 1-30
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.
In the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" what is given on the tenth day?
Day 20: The Incredible Juggling Act
Peppermint Flavor - Is like the gift of spices from the wise men.
White Candy - Stands for Jesus as the holy, sinless Son of God
Cane - Is like a staff used by shepherds in caring for sheep.
The Letter J. - Is for the name of Jesus, our Savior.
The Color Red - Is for God's love that sent Jesus, 
The Stripes - Reminds us of Jesus' suffering - His crown of thorns,
Day 9 Boys and Girls
a.       Away in a manger book and little manger scene
Day 9
READ:  Book
SING:  “Away in the Manger”
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
 Day 10 boys and girls
a.       Christmas light glasses and thank you notes
Have fun with your Christmas light glasses.  As you drive around or walk around and see some yards that are decked out with Christmas lights, put a Thank you note in their mailbox to let them know you enjoyed their hard work.
Christmas trees, lights, ornaments dazzling bright and beautiful all remind us that this is the season of light.  True light – the light from God that has been coming into the world since before the foundations of the world were laid.  Through Jesus we become sons and daughters of light, but not just to stand around in a corner looking lovely.  We are children of light so that all may come to know the True light – Jesus – the true light of the world.  Arthur M. Kelly
Just like the Christmas lights you see on houses all around – how they catch your eye – how they make you smile – how they spread cheer and happiness to all those who pass…..Remember to be a true light yourself this Christmas season.
Day 11 Boys and girls
a.       Each kid gets a Christmas book with stickers
Have fun reading your new Christmas books with stickers.  Once your finish yours, trade with each other and see what they all have to say about Christmas.

Day 12 Boys and Girls
a.       Scripture mints
Jesus – The sweetest Name I know
Keep some of these scripture mints in your purse or in your car.  Share them with friends and family.  Put them out at a family Christmas party.  How creative can you be when sharing these scripture mints?   Who would have thought talking about Jesus with someone could be as easy as sharing candy!
 Day 13 Boys
a.       Story of Advent movie, hot chocolate, popcorn
MOVIE NIGHT!  Enjoy the Story of Advent movie with your family
 Day 13 Girls
 Story of Advent movie (girls got other stuff on day 3

Day 14 Boys and girls
a.       Christmas trivia game night
How much do you know about Christmas?  Have fun playing this Christmas Trivia game and see what all fun facts you can learn about Christmas!
  Day 15 boys
a.       Cards
Day 15 girls
a.       lipgloss
 Day 16 Boys & Girls
a.       Angels
A  Story from the Bible
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.'
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:8-20

Day 17 boys and girls
a.       Bake something and give it away – it can be your mom, your dad, your grandparents, someone at your church, a neighbor, or a friend.
 A story by Linda E Knight:
Many years ago, during the Christmas season, I felt God nudging me to bake some cookies and take them to a few families in our neighborhood.  After packaging the cookies, I bundled my three small sons and off we walked, trudging through the snow, our dog happily following after us.  First stop, no one was home, but there was enough room between the two doors to leave the plates of cookies.  Next stop no one was home again, but the same thing happened.  3rd stop, same thing!!  By than my five year old sone was asking me. “Are you sure the Lord told you to do this, Mommy?” I must admit, doubt was trying to get a handle on me too!  Our last stop was the minimart in our little town.  When I handed the lady who owned the store her cookies, she broke out in a wide grin and began hugging us!  Then she proceeded to give my sons all kidns of treats!  All the way home, five year old Aaron kept saying, “Praise the Lord , Mommy!”

Day 18 Boys and Girls
a.       Christmas little toys
Wind up your Santa.
How far did it go?
Wind it up again?
Man….this thing is high maintenance isn’t it?
How far would the Santa make it if you didn’t wind it up?
God winds us up and gives us the push we need.  Just like Santa needs you, remember you need God too…
"All Who Are Thirsty"
All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of his mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)
Have fun with your little Christmas toys.  And remember….anytime you think you need an extra push in life, God is always there….

Day 19 boys and girls
a.    Craft make an ornament

 Day 20 boys and girls
a.       Christmas ball poppers
Practice with your ball catcher…..
Throwing the ball up in the air and catching it isn’t easy is it?  Do you ever feel like you have a lot of “balls” in the air.  I don’t mean actual balls.  School, church, friends, events, sports, etc.  I know you are just kids but sometimes even as kids you can feel busy or overwhelmed.
Sometimes my life reminds me of the famous I Love Lucy episode where she is working on the assembly line at the chocolate factory, and as she starts to get the hang of it, the conveyor belt is turned up and she can’t keep up despite her best efforts. 
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
If you find yourself overwhelmed today, ask God to reveal which “balls” you should keep tossing, and which ones to let hit the ground. While we may need to put a few “balls” down from time to time, let us keep on doing good knowing our true Father loves us and is there for us even when we don’t know how to juggle everything.
Remember – sit back and relax – enjoy the holiday season – and don’t try and juggle too many “balls”
 Day 21 boys and girls
a.       Jesus candy cane packs to give to a friend or neighbor
Candy Cane Poem about Jesus
Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that red
Like the blood shed for me
White is for my Savior
Who’s sinless and pure!
“J” is for Jesus My Lord, that’s for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!

 Day 22 boys and girls
a.       Pens and notepads and lots of foam stickers and stamps to make crafts
Have fun with everything n your bag and make some Christmas crafts, cards, and ornaments.  Give the crafts away, keep them up in your room, or hang them on your tree. Have fun getting crafty!
 Day 23
a.       Activity books
Are you twiddling your thumbs?  Are you going crazy yet?!  When is Christmas going to get here?  Hang in there – just TWO more days.  I hope you have had a wonderful Holiday season so far.  Here’s something to keep you busy while you wait on CHRISTMAS DAY!!!!

 Day 24 boys and Girls
a.       Happy Birthday cups, bracelets, and bookmarks
Who’s Birthday is it tomorrow?  I’ll give you a hint….look at the stuff in your bag!  Get ready for a party – because it’s Jesus’s Birthday tomorrow!  Should be a great day.  Don’t forget to wish him a Happy Birthday J

Day 25 boys and girls
a.       Happy Birthday Jesus bookmarks and homeless kit backpack
Christmas will always be in the hearts of God’s children everywhere as they extend a helping hand to a friend in need…as they go about reflecting God’s goodness in the little quiet and unheralded expressions of a loving heart…as they share the light of the world with those who live in darkness.  Jane Hillsmen
Last year our Sunday school class made homeless bags.  We filled them with different things around our house we thought could be useful to someone who does not have much. I wanted to share one of the bags with you.  Feel free to add something to it.  Maybe some non perishable food, an old winter hat, or an old bible.  Be creative.  Have you seen the people on the side of the road who are in need?  Give it to one of them.  Or have you heard of a place that needs donations?  donate it to them.  It may not be tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but hopefully an opportunity will come along sometime and you will be ready with your bag to share to a person in need.
Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful day with friends and family.