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Christmas:  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Recap)

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ChristmasTree

Thanksgiving to New Year’s is the most fun, crazy, busy, meaningful part of our year.  We love Christmas!  Our blog reflects this…60 posts mention Christmas so far!

Here are some that we hope you will enjoy!

OPL: Slowing Down At Christmas

OPL: Fun Christmas Activities

OPL: Christmas Crafts

OPL: Christmas Treats

OPL: 12 Days of Christmas

OPL: Christmas Day

OPL: Merry Christmas

OPL: Epiphany

OPL Christmas Gift Ideas:

Toddlers to Early Elementary

Books, Games, and Videos

Buck Denver

Books

For Grown-ups

For Husband

Budgeting

Kansas City Christmas Lights Tour

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Christmas Place

The Christmas Lights tour is one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions. We changed things up a little this year and added a few new ones. We also updated our directions and notes from last year’s tour.  This is a great activity to enjoy with your family, so we wanted to share it with you.

Detailed Directions and Notes:  | Kansas City Christmas Lights Tour   PDF_Picture  | 

We pack a supper and a ton of snacks, pile into the car and hit the road. This year’s Tour de Johnson County was a 4-hour journey of 60 miles, so it requires a lot of snacks for the kids (and my husband)!  (We live about 5 miles from stop #1, and we didn’t stay at each music light stop for their full show.)  If you are not excited for such a marathon, you can break it up into 2-3 shorter nights or you can just pick and choose which ones your family will enjoy most.  We pack healthy food and not so healthy food. We eat it in courses. Only one food item comes out between stops so that we do not run out after stop number 3 and we don’t get car sick from eating too fast. I took a mini water bottle and one mini pop bottle for each kid and that wasn’t quite enough for some of them. We did have to take one potty break.

One extra tip- get gas earlier in the day or the day before. It was a bummer to have to stop and get gas in the middle of the tour.

Let us know if there is another light display in KC that we should add to our list. We are always looking to add new stops!

What is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Check out ideas from previous years:

Christmas Activities

Christmas Lights Tour

Learn more about OPL’s love of Christmas by clicking here.  And don’t forget to follow us by email by putting your email address in the Subscribe box on the right.  One step and you’re done!

Merry Christmas!

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ChristmasGifts

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

I was reminded of this verse by a dear friend this last week. Of course I see this verse at Christmas time every year – in a card, in a song or on a Christmas decoration. But this year the verse has really struck me.  I have finally listened to the actual words and it has brought joy and comfort to my soul.

Holidays are full of emotion. Sometimes they are wonderful emotions. It can be a time where the family gathers, traditions are completed, love is exchanged and memories are made. Other times holidays can be full of pain and turmoil. The loss of a loved one is heavy on your heart, feelings of hurt and pain rise, opinions are made known, sickness steals and frustrations surface. But as I think about this one verse, I am overwhelmed by the promise of what we were given on that miraculous night 2,000 years ago.

That night that Jesus was born, we were also given a…. Continue reading

Christmas Crafts and Activities

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DSCN8249

Christmas time is so much fun, and there is so much that you can do to make it extra special. Today I am going to give you some ideas of extra activities that you can do with your kids to spend some quality time together. (Remember Monday’s post though…it is more important to slow down and just enjoy being together than to do it all.) When you have free time, browse through the list. Pick 1 or 2 to do and then make a mental note of a couple for next year and throw away the rest 🙂 )

Homemade Cards to give to other:  (We hand them out at nursing homes)

  • Last year we did a Candy Cane Card using the kid’s thumbprints. I didn’t go to the extra effort to add the ribbon. Instead I stamped ‘Merry Christmas’ in the corner of the card.
  • This is this year’s Christmas Tree card.

Christmas Card Holders: (It is fun to have a place to display all the cards you get.)

  • Last year I attached 2 strips of ribbon to scrapbook paper that was placed on card stock. It hung by a ribbon on the door.
  • This year I took a picture frame that we were not using and made a framed place to put the cards. It looks similar to this Card Holder. I wrapped the backing in wrapping paper and used chicken wire instead of glass. Then I used mini clothespins to hang up the Christmas cards.

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Games: (Use these for Family Fun night, at your holiday parties or family Christmas gatherings)

Worksheets/Activities Pages:

Check out our Pinterest page for more ideas.

What are your favorite Christmas Resources??

Giving Not Receiving

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Give

Christmas is such a wonderful season of the year.  We are given so many gifts by so many of our friends and family. This is a wonderful way to show and receive love.  But this season is also a great chance to remember these important verses:

Jesus said to His disciples, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”  John 13:13-17

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a random for many.” Matthew 20:28

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 (NLT)

Christmas time is the perfect time to lay aside yourself and serve others. This year instead of giving each other Christmas gifts Nate, the kids and I are taking the opportunity to serve others in our community. The kids have gotten so excited about it and are looking forward to our different outings! Continue reading

Slowing Down at Christmas

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ChristmasTree

Slowing down?  At Christmas?  Sounds impossible, right?   Like yet another Christmas fairy tale?

We love Christmas.  A lot.  We love doing fun things and living out our various traditions.  But as you know, Thanksgiving to New Year’s can be an incredibly busy and hectic time.  There are a thousand other things that happen this time of year – programs, recitals, and parties, to name a few.  Oh, and we have to buy gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and teachers.  And send Christmas letters.  And, and, and…you get the point.  (Sorry if I induced some anxiety there.)

The point is that we all know it is a busy time, and our family will at times make it even busier with our many fun and important Christmas traditions.  So we need balance.  Here are a few ideas and compromises we have made to take the hectic out of the holidays: Continue reading

December Storytime – A Savior Is Born!

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Candle

Today we are giving away the fourth Storytime.

Storytime is an opportunity for you to have fun teaching about a certain topic by reading Bible stories, fables and books. Most of the stories follow a similar theme, with a few books thrown in just for fun.  Most of the books can be checked out from your public library or can be put on a Christmas gift list to get and enjoy for years. If you are not able to find these specific books, feel free to substitute with ones you like. You can find the Bible story and the verses in your Bible and you can also go online to www.biblegateway.com to look up the passage.  The Fables can be found online (one place is http://www.aesopfables.com/) or in many different books at the library.

Why would you do a Storytime?  Stories are a great way for us to remember concepts and principles.  By discussing these timeless stories with your children you can help them learn, and your family will grow closer as you experience the stories together.  This is also a great way to do an outreach to kids in your neighborhood, church, or circle of friends.  Kids enjoy listening to the stories, and in the process you are planting seeds of truth in their lives.  We hope that you are able to use this Storytime to bless your own kids and the kids in your neighborhood.

Download the whole Storytime here:     Continue reading

Christmas Activities

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Last years short, but FAT tree :-)

Christmas time is full of family traditions. As our kids get older, I cherish these moments with them. I love to watch the excitement on their faces. Christmas time becomes magical when you watch through the eyes of your children.

One of the first Christmas activities that we do is go and pick out our Christmas tree. I love having a real tree and going to a tree farm is one of my favorite things to do. It brings me so much joy to watch our kids run up and down the rows trying to find The Perfect Tree. The perfect tree in my book is fat and full. The height doesn’t matter as much as the thickness. Here is our post from last year sharing our favorite tree farms here in Kansas City.

My next favorite Christmas activity is driving around town looking at Christmas lights. Depending on the year and the ages of the kids this can be a two to four hour long outing. The kids get in their pajamas. I pack a sack supper to eat in the car along with lots of fun treats and drinks to pull out along our way. Nate (always the sound guy) gets his iPod set with lots of Christmas music and we throw in Charlie Brown’s Christmas DVD to watch after we see all the lights . Here is our Christmas lights tour that we take around the KC area.

This year we will be adding a new favorite. Our church is presenting Redeeming Birth – A Walk Through Bethlehem. The girls, Nate and I will each be playing a part in this experience. To quote the website, it is a way to “experience the city of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth. See people at work in the marketplace with busy shopkeepers and vendors everywhere. Smell the fragrant scents of herbs, spices, and breads. See the potters, weavers, and carpenters at work, purchase their wares. Visit a crowded inn and a humble stable where the King of Kings was born!”  So if you are in the KC area the first two weekends of December you should reserve a spot. This is something you and your family will not want to miss.

And of course, don’t forget Advent!

Whether you do these activities or create your own, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to slow down and spend some quality time with you spouse and children.

What are your favorite Christmas activities and traditions?

Ultimate Purposeful Christmas Lists For Grown-Ups!

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ChristmasGifts

Adults are always hard to buy for, especially the ones who seem to have it all.  Whether it is a coworker, a relative, or your spouse, it is sometimes hard to start out with a blank slate.  If you are trying to think of things to put on your own wish list, of course you want to put some fun, impractical things on there that you would never buy for yourself.  But you may also want to put some more practical things on there as well.  We usually try to put some items on the list that are tools, not toys.  For example, over the years I have asked for and received a lot of fun scrapbooking supplies, sewing equipment, and kitchen gadgets.  It is amazing how my collection has grown by getting a couple items at a time, and I can use these items to bless others and (sometimes) to save money.  Nate has asked for a lot of garden equipment and construction tools.  He also has asked for computer and electronic gadgets that are really pretty useful, but are still fun for someone else to buy for him.  By thinking ahead and patiently waiting until Christmas, we are able to receive fun but practical gifts from those who want to bless us!  *

Whether giving or receiving, here are a few out of the ordinary ideas to help you round out your Christmas lists. Continue reading

Advent: Valuing the Valuable

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Candle

Advent begins this Sunday, and it presents a great opportunity to purposefully guide your children.

As a parent I am teaching my children what to value.  By showing them what I think is important, it helps them to decide what they think is important.  If I never show them then they will have a hard time knowing!  By spending a little time each day for the next month I can emphasize for them what is really valuable.  It is the real meaning of Christmas.

Here are the 5 OPL Advent posts with the printables you will need to celebrate this year with your family:

Advent Week 1 

Advent Week 2

Advent Week 3

Advent Week 4

Christmas Day! 

 

Here are some other great Advent resources to help you keep Jesus in Christmas:

  1. Focus on the Family’s Advent Calendar – Free
  2. What’s in the Bible? Everyday Emmanuel – $9.99 on sale (The shortened version of some video clips can be found here.)
  3. Truth in the Tinsel   – $7.99 plus $3.99 for the ornament templates

Please share – what Advent traditions do you have with your family?