77: LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar 2011

 You will not want to miss out on this. It’s very hard to find! Luckily, we purchased ours at the LEGO Store in Orlando last month.

I think the highlight of this Advent calendar is the Yoda Santa Claus! Yep. Your Star Wars fans, young and old, will love this Christmas activity!

Click here to order yours today!

97: Sing in a Christmas Celebration!

Do you like to sing? Do your kids like to sing? Now is the time to get involved in choral organizations if you want to be a part of their annual Christmas programs. There are many opportunities to sing during the Christmas season. If you don’t have a church home, now is a great time to “church shop” if being a part of a music ministry is important to you and your kids. If you do have a church home, find out when the choir meets and go give it a try! In my experience, choir folks are some of the friendliest people in church and love to have a good time together! For kids, it’s a great opportunity to work as a team. Singing in a choir builds self-confidence and is a very positive experience for all participants!

Find a program that meets your scheduling needs, because this is supposed to be fun and bring joy, not drudgery and complications!

Psalm 100  says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” or “Shout for joy to the Lord!” Excellence is important (Psalm 33:3,) but only comes through experience. So, get out there and spread the Good News this Christmas!

38: Tree Toppers: Angel or Star?

What’s on top of your Christmas tree? Star or angel? Tell us what you have on your tree by voting in the poll in the sidebar of this page.

If you have a specific reason for one or the other, post it in a comment. I’m curious to know how people make this decision.

I’ve gone through periods of both. As a child, we always had a star, but when I saw a particular angel in a store one Christmas, I campaigned to try the angel that year. I believe my parents still put that angel on the tree! Now, we have a star because I wanted something that lit up and the kids like it. I also like the reminder of the shepherds and wisemen looking up and seeing that star shining in the night, guiding them to Bethlehem. As a Christian, seeing a symbol that led people to Christ long ago reminds me of my job today. Be a light that leads people to Christ.

Please vote and leave a comment about your choice of tree topper.

Stunning photo courtesy of DaveJay.

41: Michelle’s Christmas Memories

My friend Michelle sent me a note with her favorite Christmas memory filled with traditions:

“Absolutely, hands down….
Family dinner, followed by the opening of one gift, then Midnight service at church, ending with ‘Silent Night’ by candlelight and coming home and making ‘reindeer food’ with my nieces and nephews.  They’re grown now and we all are in different places, but it warms my heart to think about it!”

What a great evening! There are several elements to this evening that make it special: food, gifts, worship, tradition, and fellowship. Any great memorable tradition combines many of these elements. When all five senses are engaged, the experience is etched in your memory very strongly.

Beautiful photo courtesy of Miriam.

42: Birthday Cake for Jesus

Rhonda, a fellow elf, sent in a favorite family tradition:

“Every year on Christmas eve, we bake a birthday cake for Jesus.  We light some candles and sing Happy Birthday.  We have decided his favorite cake is probably chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.”

My daughter thinks this is a great idea! Kids love birthday parties and it’s a great way to add another Jesus-focused element into your Christmas celebration.

Photo courtesy of Tim Notari.

56: Personalized Gifts for Kids

Every kid loves to see their name on various items: books, mugs, placemats, signs, or just about anything else! What could be better than a Christmas Story featuring your child? Our daughter received one of these as a gift a few years ago, and it is still one of her favorite books! Personalized gifts are fun!

Personalized items at Walter Drake

Personalized Christmas Story about your child for just 1 cent!

Oriental Trading Company, Inc.

Great photo courtesy of Megan Soh.

57: Get Creative with Knitting Hats

I’ve been trying to find the perfect hat to knit to convince other people to knit for fun, and I think I’ve found it! Who can resist this baby hat? For the experienced knitter, this could be an afternoon project. In fact, most knitted hat projects can be made in a day or two. They make wonderful gifts and kids love them.

If you get totally hooked on knitting hats, you can knit a few for charity. Here’s a list to get you started:

Knitting for Charity

Head Huggerspattern list

Free knitting hat patterns

I’ve knit several hats for cancer patients in my life, and it’s been the single most rewarding thing about knitting. The care, love, and prayers that fill each hat you knit is special for the recipient and the giver. A hand-knit hat is a treasure! Get out those needles and get knitting!

Fabulous knitting and photo courtesy of Robin Zebrowski.

61: Take Time to Pray

Take time out of your schedule today (and hopefully every day) to pray. The easiest place to find time is early in the morning. Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier, get up, and get on your knees. If you need music, play music, if you need silence, bask in the sound of the sunrise. Go out on your patio, take a walk, stretch. Get into The Word. Flip open your Bible and pick a spot. I usually land in the Psalms and it’s usually the one I absolutely needed that day.

I also like the prayer acrostic ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Read more about it here. This is a great one to teach the kids, too. It’s not all about “God’s neat! Let’s eat!” There’s a bit more to it than that!

It’s important to pray with your kids at bedtime. Praying together has a calming effect, and creates an atmosphere of protection and solidarity for everyone.

Remember what Christmas is all about. It’s not about LEGO robots, cookies, or even ham. It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to humankind. Pray for peace: throughout the world, our nation, our cities, our neighborhoods, and especially in our homes and families. What are you waiting for?

70: Museum Memberships – A Great Family Gift!

Here’s a gift to consider for that special family on your list. Find out what’s available in your gift recipient’s area and get them an annual membership. In our area, some of the favorite places include the zoo, science museum, aquarium, children’s museum, art museums, and others. If your recipients already have a membership, it is usually very easy to add another year to their membership.

Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum