Friday, December 7, 2012

O Come, Emmanuel

Here is a beautiful video with music by the Pianoguys and biblical scenes from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos found at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wise Men Still Seek Him

We don't know exactly how many wise men were seeking the Christ child so many years ago.  Tradition suggests 3, but only because of the three gifts mentioned in the scriptures.  We do know that they were indeed wise, good men seeking out the King of Kings in the form of a little child.

Here are some ideas for a family activity night that could be based on the scriptures about these good men. 

Hide and Seek
Mom and Dad or older siblings could be Mary and Joseph.  The rest of the family could dress up in their best wise man attire with turbans and sashes, carrying small battery operated candles from the dollar store.  They could travel throughout the house finally finding Mary and Joseph seated by candlelight.  The "wise men" could present their gifts.

A short lesson about the symbols of the gifts that were presented to Jesus could be given.
  • Gold symbolizing kingship and royalty 1 Timothy 6:15  Also invaluable to a young couple who would soon have the expense of traveling to Egypt to save their child from Herod.  
  • Frankincense used in priesthood ordinances and burnt offerings representing the Lord's priesthood and His role as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed on our behalf John 1:29.  
  • Myrh a bitter oil is associated with burial in the New Testament John 19:39-40, symbolizing the bitter cup Christ would drink when He suffered for our sins. 
(New Era magazine Dec. 2011, by Rebekah Atkin)
Seeking Christ
This would be a great opportunity to talk about what we can do to always seek the Savior.  The wise men traveled great distances to find the Savior, honor Him, and present gifts to Him.  What can we do to remember Him and honor Him and feel His presence in our life everyday, not just at Christmas?  How can we be His hands in helping others?  Make a plan to do service one day a month as a family having a regular set aside day, maybe Sunday afternoon to write letters or visit someone lonely or sick.  Pondering and seeking ways to help our family seek the Savior has brought about some precious experiences to our family through service and study in the scriptures.  Wise Men Still Seek Him could be your family motto for the year as you intentionally plan ways to bring the Savior and His atonement into the fore front of your family activities.

Some more ideas:
The Wise Men night would be a great time to play the wise man game we have played for years in our family.  We have 3 wise men figurines that are safe for little hands and have been put into service for years.  They simply travel through our house each day getting closer to the baby Jesus.  We take turns hiding them and finding them and for some reason our children loved this game.  The wise men could occasionally leave a word of inspiration, a scripture, a quote or a treat behind. 

For an art project that goes along with this theme, the wise men can be created from hand prints.

A wise man cake could be made with a round cake decorated with a paper crown.  Singing "happy birthday" to Jesus would be fun for children and remind them again whose birth we celebrate.

Sing "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem"

Another simple game for children that we have played is to find the fancy button that fell from the cloak of one of the wise men.  We have hidden that button so many times!

Video Presentation
We are so excited to share with you a resource that just became available online called "The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos". These videos are beautiful vignettes of the accounts of Christ as recorded in the King James version of the bible. To view, simply go to:
Click on the picture to link to the video "The Wise Men Seek Jesus"

We hope these ideas will spur creative ways for you to have fun with your family and as the wise men of old, seek and find Him.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Christmas Quotes: Printables!

Shannon- over at  created some beautiful print-outs of incredible testimonies of Christ's birth by men who are Special Witnesses of Christ.

These are great to ponder on and to display in your home.

Click here to link to her post.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Christ: The Real Gift of Christmas

Have you found this website yet?

It is an incredible resource for your Christmas preparations!

You may download beautiful Christmas music under the "Christmas Resources" tab.

OR you may want to share the Christmas Videos with your family.

There are coloring pages and tradition ideas as well.

Here is a video I enjoyed today. I love that President Monson says we should focus on people, not things. It's about love and giving, not the actual gifts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Planning Notebook: Organizing Tabs

My planning book is starting to come together. It may seem a little odd thinking about Christmas so early, but consider this "planning stage".  There is much celebration to come!

Here are the organization tabs I came up with. They are sized to be pasted into a standard sized composition notebook using the "glue in" method (see instructions below).

This is what they look like:

Here is the PDF file if you'd like to use these for your own notebook. Follow the link to Scribd website then click the download button on the bar along the bottom of the page.
(I created these in PowerPoint, so if you want that version email me: alunt29 AT gmail DOT com )

You're welcome to use these how you want.

For the "Glue in" method you'll need:
3 sheets of white card stock paper
Glue stick

-Print the PDF file out on card stock.
-Cut out around the red dashed-line.
-Decide roughly how you want the tabs to overlap and how many pages you want in each section.
-Slide the left edge of the paper along the top of a glue stick (see pic)

-Press edge into the crease of your notebook. Take care that there is only glue at the edge of the paper. -Close the book until glue has dried.
This secures your tab, yet keeps it free from the pages in the book, so if you need to move it to a different spot you could do so without much damage.

Happy Planning!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Learn Silent Night in ASL

My best friend taught me the signs to Silent Night several years ago and it has been special to me ever since.

To refresh my memory, I did a search on YouTube for videos. There are several versions, but this is the one closest to what my friend taught me and the signs are very clear. It only has the 1st and last verse, though.

The signs help me focus in on the beauty of the words and music.  As you become more comfortable with the signs, they can be very expressive and beautiful too.

Perhaps this could be part of a family performance on Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Planning Notebook: Fabric Covered Composition Book

I've been working on preparing my planning notebook for this Christmas season and here is what I came up with: a fabric cover for a composition notebook.

Cute with the covered button, don't ya think?

The red fabric says "hope" "peace" and "joy"

Side pockets allow the cover to easily slip on and off the notebook

I LOVE that it is reusable, so I can start with a new notebook next year using the same cover... OR I can choose to whip up a new one.

Some of the tutorials I looked at include: My Patchwork and V and Co. Pretty much I looked at their ideas and then made up my own thing as I went.

Now I am on the hunt for things to help organize my notebook.
To mark my different sections I want to use movable tabs OR I'm toying with the idea of using ribbon book marks.

To decorate, I have pictures of the Savior which I have cut out of old Ensign magazines. But I want a snazzy cover page, which really highlights the focus of Christmas and the purpose of this notebook... I'll let you know what I come up with.

Over at Christmas Your Way, they have some free printables that are super helpful in establishing structure to your different sections. You could scale down the size so you can paste pages, such as the calendar, into your notebook, OR just copy the general structure and hand-write your template in. I like to have the freedom of being able to personalize my notebook but also like having something to work off of.

This notebook is now set to start plugging in my plans for gift giving, budgeting, activities we want to do as a family, etc. But I also want this to be a place I can record spiritual experiences and impressions, so I'm making sure I have plenty of room for writing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Time to Start Planning Again

It's been a long time since we've posted, but we are still here... and we're getting ready for a new Christmas season!

Have you caught the Christmas spirit yet? The bug caught me this morning as my iTunes randomly picked up some Christmas songs. I was busy reading, and didn't really take notice of the change in songs.

Then the Hallelujah Chorus came on. And I stopped.

Listening to the beautiful words of praise for our Lord and Savior really moved me.

The spirit in my home changed in an instant. Music is that powerful and I'm so excited to have these beautiful songs permeate my everyday. 

Music about Jesus Christ makes Christmas all the more special.  My goal is to sit and ponder on the words of often heard songs and really let the meaning sink in. A song a day sounds reasonable right? But of course my default song will be Hallelujah Chorus.

This week I'm working on putting my planning notebook together.  Have you started yours?

It's time to get started! Check out the left side bar for ideas :)
The important thing is to start writing now and get those planning juices going.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seeking Christ

"As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always."

~Thomas S. Monson


Friday, December 17, 2010

Reindeer Names


When our oldest children were old enough to read gift tags on packages they began to sort and stack packages under the Christmas tree into piles according to the name on the tag. That was annoying to me as they compared piles of presents, who had the biggest package, guessing what was in the package, etc. It was distracting to the focus we wanted to have in our home and seemed to bring out the "gimmies'.

To solve the problem we began randomly assigning each member of the family a different reindeer name each year and they would not find out which reindeer they were until Christmas. The piling, comparing and guessing stopped completely! It is a system we have used successfully for about 25 years on the gifts that are from Mom and Dad.

Another idea for handling presents under the tree that I really like is the tradition of each child receiving 3 gifts, representing the gifts from the wisemen. One gift could be something useful, one could be something fun that is wanted and one a book or something related to a skill or hobby that the child has interest in.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Art Activity: Mural of Christ

We do not advertise or sell things on this site, but when I found this beautiful project for our family to make I knew I had to share it here.

It is a stunning mural of the nativity which is downloaded and printed off in about 35 pages, then pieced together and colored or painted by you. We will be creating our masterpiece as our family travels home to gather for Christmas. A great project we can all work on down to the very youngest. Kind of like doing a  puzzle together, only much more interactive and creative. The download is 5 dollars.

Happy coloring!

Names of Savior Art

Amy at the Idea Room posted a great idea for a Christ centered Christmas gift or decor for your home. She simply wrote some of the names of Christ and framed them. Really Lovely!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Devotional

Last night was the annual Christmas devotional for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can watch the entire broadcast online. It is full of wonderful Christmas messages and beautiful music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. A great way to invite the Spirit of Christmas into your home.

Messenger and Advocate has posted some beautiful shots of the Christmas lights at Temple Square.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shepherd's Night


"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night"

Plan to spend an evening with your family as though you were humble shepherds on that wondrous night when an angel of the Lord appeared with glad tidings.

Begin the evening with a hearty dinner of "Shepherd's Pie", or eat on the floor on a blanket a more humble fare as the shepherd's may have had with them such as pita bread and cheese. Spend this evening by candlelight.

Read from the scripture the part they played in the birth of Christ. Sing "As Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night". Have everyone dress as shepherds. Act out their story.

Read the prophecy from Alma 13:26 and discuss how these were not just ordinary shepherds, they were "just and holy" and prepared. How can we make ourselves just and holy? How can we prepare our hearts?

The shepherds went with haste to the Christ child. Do we seek out, are we urgent about finding things that bring us closer to Christ? What brings us closer to Him? I love that phrase "with haste".

When they had seen the babe (Luke 2:17) they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. How do we share our testimony of the Savior? Do we share our love of the Savior with our family? Do we love Him enough to try to be like Him? Do we live our testimony? How can we make "known abroad" our tender feelings about Him this Christmas season?

Make Shepherd Cane cookies. You could already have the dough ready and let each person make their own cane.

Shepherd Cane Cookies

1 C butter
1 C powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t peppermint extract
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 C flour
1 t salt
1/2 t red food coloring

Mix together butter, sugar, egg and extracts thoroughly. Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough in half. Blend red coloring into one half of the dough. Cover the two pieces of dough and refrigerate.

To bake:
preheat oven to 350. for each cookie, roll 1 t of dough from each half back and forth on a lightly floured surface into 4 inch rope. Place 1 red and 1 white rope side by side. Press together lightly at top and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and turn down top to form the crook of the cane.

Bake 9 minutes. Watch closely as they have a tendency to brown quickly. Cool on racks.

Other ideas for Shepherd Night:

For young children (or not so young "children" (I like to sing this song) sing "The Itsy Bitsy Shepherd" with actions, found by clicking on Music on the side bar to the right on this site.

Families with young children could make construction paper sheep with cotton balls glued on.

"Find the Lost Sheep" game could be played where a "sheep" hides somewhere in the house and the shepherds try to find him. The little lost sheep could cry "baa" until found.

A small lamb from a nativity set could be hidden in the room, and the children find him and then take turns hiding him again.

The children could sleep that night as shepherd's slept, on the ground. It is fun to have a night of sleeping near the Christmas tree.

There are so many lessons to be learned from those wonderful shepherds of long ago.

"And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds".

Christmas Bells Are Ringing

Actions to do with the song "Christmas Bells Are Ringing" for young children

Christmas bells are ringing
(do action with hands that looks like you are ringing bells)

Hear what they say to you
(place hands to ears as if trying to hear better)

Jesus is born
(rock arms back and forth as if rocking a baby)

In Bethlehem, in Bethlehem
(raise arm high above head while opening and closing hand to represent a twinkling star)

If you are interested in other songs with actions for children click on music under "Labels" on the side bar.


Friday, December 3, 2010

I Know that My Savior Loves Me

When I think of the babe born in Bethlehem, I can't help but reflect on the love of our Savior and why He came to the earth. This is a beautiful song, which was the theme for the primary children this year and I love the paintings in this slide show and the overall message.

I know that my Savior loves me and ALL of His children. I have felt His love and the power of the atonement through times of sorrow, sin, confusion, and hardships as well as in all the joyous and happy times in my life. He is my friend whom I look to in all circumstances and with Him I know all things are possible, as I strive to keep His commandments and honor the covenants which I have made with Him.

You can download the words and music for this song here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twelve Witnesses of Christ's Birth

This article is helpful in studying the scriptural accounts of the witnesses of Christ's birth.

This could also be a fun FHE with props for family members to dress up and read the scriptural testimonies of each witness. Or you could make a video of "eye witness accounts" and do it as a news show.

Some of these witnesses are often forgotten. Like Anna, after whom I'm named.  But each had an important role in testifying to the world who the Christ child was and would become.
Anna by Rembrant

Monday, November 29, 2010

Missing a Loved One

This Christmas will be our ninth Christmas without our beautiful son Daniel. He was the one in our family who loved holidays most of all. The night before a holiday (ANY holiday) he could barely sleep, rising very early and greeting us with shining eyes. He simply loved his family and any excuse to celebrate.
Dan, Sarah, and Anna -Christmas 1989

Because of him, we feel a greater desire to celebrate Christmas, even though we miss him terribly at Christmas. As we focus on the Savior, we truly feel joy at this time of year. Because of our Redeemer, we find peace and comfort in knowing that we will yet see our Daniel and have many more celebrations with him. Now that is something to be joyful about!

Dan's grave is located in a small cemetery that has a very beautiful tradition at Christmas. Every Christmas Eve families come and place luminaries on the graves of loved ones. It is so sweet to see all the lights flickering in the dark night on the eve of the Savior's birth. Jesus truly is the light shining in the darkness. May we all focus on that light and drink deeply of the meaning of His life and the comfort and hope that He has given us.

Simon Dewey: "For Unto Us a Child is Born" 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Peaceful Christmas


It is so easy to be caught up in the commercial aspect of this time of year even if you try your best to avoid it. Often our intentions are well meaning and we are swept away without intending to overspend. Then we are faced with the nagging pressure or guilt etc., that robs us of the very feelings we were trying to create when we overspent.

One way to help bring peace to the season is by simply starting to keep a small Christmas planning notebook and dedicating a small portion of it to figuring out your budget. Check out the ideas for making a planner on this site. Once you have one, you will wonder how you managed without! Make your lists and check them twice. Spend spare moments thinking and plotting exactly where your money will be spent and the best ways to accomplish the intentional ways you wish to celebrate. Time spent now focusing on a deliberate plan will be a key part in having a more peaceful Christmas.

We have heard many lamenting the fact that due to economic times, this will be a lean Christmas. Maybe there is a blessing hidden here. It does not cost any money to sit around the table and play a game with our children. And taking a walk on a clear winter's night, looking at the stars and talking about the special star that appeared in the heavens long ago does not cost anything either. Many of the ideas on this sight cost little or no money. Small and simple things like these are the stuff that memories are made of and that bring us closer to each other.

Our family is going to try to focus more on these quiet joys this season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"M" and "M" poem

This little poem is a simple reminder of the real meaning of our celebrations this time of year.

The M and M Nativity

As you hold these candies in your hand
and turn them,
you will see
the M becomes a W, an E and a 3.

They tell the Christmas story,
it's one I'm sure you know,
It took place in a stable,
a long, long time ago.

The E is for the East where the star shines so bright.

The M is for the Manger
where baby Jesus slept that night.

The 3 is for the wise men bearing gifts,
with haste they came.

W is for Worship, angels sang praise to His name.

So as you eat these candies
or share them with a friend,
Remember the true spirit of Christmas
and never let it end!

This poem could be attached to a small snack packet of M and M's or a large bag of M and M's to give to a neighbor. We saw this at a craft boutique with the poem and small bag of M and M's packaged in a small clear bag tied with a ribbon. There are several versions of this poem all with the same basic message. Elementary age children really like the symbolism in this poem.


The White Stocking


Some families hang a white stocking that stands out from the other Christmas stockings. It is hung early in December and is a special reminder to do kind acts of service for the Savior. When an act is performed, it is recorded on a slip of paper and placed in the stocking. These can be read out loud on Christmas morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Crafts

Sarah posted here about how she loves to display her little artists' renditions of the Nativity scene during the Christmas season. This is such a wonderful idea because children sit and think about the birth of Christ as they are crafting, you benefit from the output of adorable decorations, and your child is reminded in a personal way of Jesus Christ and the reason we celebrate Christmas when they see their art displayed.

Here are some more craft ideas that would be fun to share with your little ones.

Click here for instructions on how to make:
Stick Nativity Scene
Isaiah 7:14 Bible Scroll
Baby Jesus in an Envelope Manger
M&M Christmas poem

String Art is a fun activity for older children. Here is a pattern for a Christmas Star

The Power of Music

The Philadelphia Opera Company staged an event at a huge Macy's dept. store. They were dressed as shoppers and suddenly burst into a beautiful rendition of Handel's Messiah. It is at first humorous to see the reaction of the shoppers as they are astonished by the outburst of their fellow "shoppers". Watch this:

What a contrast between the commercial aspect that Christmas has become and the true meaning found in this beautiful music. The power and majesty of the music says it all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Books to Share

I remember helping mom put out the Christmas decorations and my favorite part was when Dad would heft the large box of Christmas books out of the storage room. These books were special because we only broke them out once a year. We would read this books together at bedtime throughout the season in place of our usual storybooks. This is a tradition I would like to establish as I am starting my own family, but I'm not worried about buying a whole bunch of books at once. You can build a collection with one new book a year.

The following is a list of beautiful Christmas stories you might consider adding to your own collection.

Picture Books:
Dozen Silk Diapers by Melissa Kajpust

Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers
The Gift of the Magi
A Dress for Ellen by Thomas S. Monson
Christmas Trolls, Wild Christmas Reindeer, Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechoski
The Story of the Three Trees
The Christmas Visitor by Annaliese Lussert
Santa Mouse by Micheal Brown
This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar
Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day

We also enjoy books about how other cultures celebrate Christmas as well as books with illustrations from various cultures depicting the nativity of Christ.

Chapter Books:
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Does your family have a favorite book to read around Christmas time?
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