Advent with Children

Advent With Children ~ A mom's perspective on Christmas

 

As a household, we get excited for Christmas, we grab hold of events and traditions, we bake, we sing, we watch our favourite movies.

This year I’ve been trying extra hard to keep things simple and our schedule more open than past years.

I also want to try a few “retro” activities like simply driving around in pajamas to look at lights. Maybe build a classic gingerbread house. Some sledding. That kind of stuff.

I’m trying to avoid the bustle a bit.

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A Lot of Love in a Little Box: Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child ~ How to Pack a Shoe Box ~ By Bubblegum Sass

Each year we pack up several shoe boxes to donate to Operation Christmas Child. We started this tradition well before Sammy was born, knowing how much these gifts would be appreciated by a child in a developing country. Now as a mother, these shoe boxes have come to mean a whole lot more. They are HOPE. Hope for a child, for his siblings, for his friends, and community. One shoe box isn’t just Christmas gifts for a single child, for a single year. It is LOVE in box that has the potential to spread from one child, to a whole community.

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A Time For Giving: Simplifying The Christmas Season

Snowflake Button Hair Clips by Bubblegum Sass

December is not far off. Goodness! Where did the month of November go?! At our house, it was consumed by colds, potty training, and more colds. I’ve been squeezing in little bits of crafting time where ever possible, but there’s been very few big chunks of making going on. Market Collective is only 10 days away now. I’m busy simplifying things in my head for the show, knowing what’s possible & improbable at this point.

I’m also being very mindful of what is most important at this time of year. This is the season, that one can most easily get caught up in the expectations of the world and lose focus on the true celebration of Christmas. So I make what I can for the craft show. I make what I love; make what I wish to share with my customers to fill their homes and help them express their love to others.

Christmas Love Catcher By Bubblegum Sass

I also made the point to prepare myself for the coming Advent season. I don’t want to let it pass me by. Over the summer months (our craziest time of year), I managed, for the first time in my life, to make Bible reading and reflection through journaling a DAILY habit. A habit that was sadly broken during our Disney trip and subsequent chaos at home, but I’m really looking forward to committing again with the start of Advent right around the corner. I ordered an Advent journal from Naptime Diaries (I loved their Lent one last year) and even splurged a bit on their Advent calendar so that I could fill our house with mini-devotional prints (and God’s message to us). I might also follow along with the reading plan from Love God Greatly (formerly Good Morning Girls, which I did last year). Advent isn’t about spending money, but I saw the difference it made in my own Bible reading habit to have inspirational resources at hand (purchased or free).

Small changes quote by Bubblegum Sass

Peering into December, it’s easy to see Christmas as a looming deadline. With chaotic parking lots, busy, busy malls, and the pressure of getting just the “right” gift, it’s no wonder we all get stressed out and miss the point of the season. Each year, hubby & I make another small step in avoiding the crushing chaos of December. It started years ago, when we began making the majority of our gifts. Then we incorporated Gifts of Change (gift certificates to World Vision & such, where recipients could choose the way they would like to impact the lives of others). Christmas craft shows start in September and this year I attended several before the shopping season was in full swing. It allowed me to support local businesses & feel a wee bit more prepared for the giving season. I also discovered the ease of ordering locally and having it delivered directly to my door (shout out to Cedar & Sparrow for the lovely natural beauty products, all made in Canada, that will be gifted to friends this year). Making small changes to simplify the season.

Natural Products From Cedar and Sparrow

Throughout the entire year, we purchase & collect items for Christmas Shoe Boxes. I have a little cubby in the sewing room where I squirrel away items to donate. We make organizing half a dozen Christmas Shoe Boxes a priority every November and we try to volunteer at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse each year, when possible. I’d love to volunteer there more than just one shift. Perhaps in coming years. I also really want to do more random acts of kindness during Christmas. We managed to do several last year and I’ve collected more ideas on my Christmas Pinterest board. I’m not trying to boast, but trying to encourage you. Our season of Christmas is becoming less about the pressure of giving and more about the experience of giving and ultimately, the deeper enjoyment of it. It is well worth the time to take a look at your own Christmas season and see if there are any changes, big or small, that can be made to embrace the true meaning of this most wonderful time of year.

A Time for Giving Quote by Bubblegum Sass

Christmas in a box

operation_christmas_child_logo_color

It’s that time of year again. I’ve posted before about our adventures in shoe box packing for Operation Christmas Child and the fun we’ve had volunteering at the processing centre. I’m not sure if we’ll get a chance to volunteer this year. The dates have come up so quickly. I think I’ll need to put a reminder in my calendar for next year, so I can be more organized in booking a volunteer shift.

Anyway, last year, while we were sorting boxes at the processing centre, I managed to take some notes on unique ideas that people had for filling boxes. You can read our full basic list of things we typically put in the shoe boxes here. The following list is for a few unique additions to consider:

  • picture Bible (ages 2-4 & 5-9)
  • basic tool sets, including multi-head screwdriver, wrenches, compact hammer, nails, & screws (ages 5-9 & 10-14)
  • good quality multi-tool (ages 10-14)
  • mini compact Bible (ages 10-14)
  • feminine hygiene pads (ages 10-14)
  • cooking accessories, including measuring cups & spoons (ages 10-14)… of course, given that kiddos of all ages like to play with kitchen tools, you could probably include these any of the boxes 😉

Happy packing!!

Shoe box fun

Operation Christmas Child ~ How to Pack a Shoe Box ~ By Bubblegum Sass

Last year, hubby and I put together a couple of shoe boxes to donate to Operation Christmas Child. We also had the immense pleasure of volunteering one evening down at the processing center in Calgary. So amazing to see the amount of donations that come in and to think about the number of children this programs reaches around the world! So when it came time to start thinking about filling shoe boxes again this year, we decided that we wanted to do several more. We’re blessed to be expecting our own child and I know that he/she will always have gifts to open at Christmas and birthdays. It was one of those moments where you realize that simple acts on our end can really bring joy to a child across the globe, so we set out to fill our boxes. I thought it would be nice to share some of the things we tend to put in the boxes, in case others are looking for ideas (it will also help me to remember for future years). Nothing too incredibly ingenious, but it’s amazing how much you can fit into a shoe box, so the more ideas the better:

Ages 2-4

  • Washcloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Stuffed animal or doll
  • Big chunky crayons
  • Colouring book or notepad
  • Stickers
  • Board books/picture books
  • Hard candies (which may or may not be the best, given the choking hazard)

Ages 5-9

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Crayons
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Stickers
  • Notebooks
  • Stuffed animal
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties and accessories (for girls)
  • Hard candies

Ages 10-14

  • Wash cloths
  • Bars of soap
  • Combs/hairbrushes
  • Pencil crayons
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener & erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Stickers
  • Small musical instruments (harmonica, whistle, etc.)
  • Hair ties & accessories (for girls)
  • Hard candies
  • Sewing Kits (A couple spools of thread, a hand sewing needle pack, small bag of colourful buttons, assortment of ribbon, grosgrain, webbing, small squares of fabric)

We’re hoping to volunteer again this year at the processing center and I will try to remember to jot down notes on good ideas for shoe box gifts. Sadly forgot to do that last year and there was so many good ideas that people had!

What types of things do you like to put into your shoe box donations?

Samaritans purse banner

Shoe boxes everywhere

We spent an evening this week volunteering with friends for Operation Christmas Child (a program run by Samaritan’s Purse). Many years ago, my mom and I used to put together shoe box donations for the program. In recent times, I missed out on this while we focused our donations on local needs through our church. This year, though, hubby and I had quite a bit of fun organizing items to fit in our shoe box donation. We have friends who volunteer each year at the actual facility where the Calgary shoe box donations get sorted, packed and shipped. So it was with great thanks that we accepted the offer to join them in their volunteering efforts. It was just one evening, a few short hours, but it was nice to spend some energy towards helping others after focusing so much on starting up the craft business these past couple of months.

Samaritans purse banner