Early in our dating relationship, my now-husband and I discovered the delight of asking one another questions.

I remember one long road trip we took together to visit family in Texas. We spent over six hours talking (which is pretty amazing if you know us), and learned so much!

Prior to the trip, we had come up with lists of questions to ask one other. It was fascinating. I remember having our first “issue” as a dating couple over the question, “Do you think it is a Christian’s duty to vote?” It turns out my husband is quite the patriot and did not *exactly* understand my, “Well, if I am committed to praying for the election I guess God will tell me whether or not I need to vote” sentiments. 🙂

The conversations were rich, and they set us up for not just a life of knowing each other, but a life of pursuing to know each other more.

To this day, we still come up with fun and serious questions to ask.

To this day, we still surprise each other with our answers.

I’m grateful that something so simple as time together and a list of questions can result in a deep, sweet, life-giving connection.

In Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word she writes,

“the heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”

She’s making a case for knowing God, but in doing so, she uses a husband and wife as her prime example. She explains hat the more we know something or someone, the more love and appreciation we will be able to feel and have.

So, while fancy dates are fun, they are a far cry from a necessary ingredient to a happy, thriving marriage (thank goodness!)

And regardless of your childcare situation or date night budget, you don’t have to coast mindlessly in your marriage.

For most of us, we have the opportunity to connect with our spouses, right now, in our actual life. All it takes is time and intentionality. It takes a return to simplicity, and to what “in-love” people do: a seeking to know each other.

That’s why I’ve created 90 Date Night Questions for Christian Married Couplesand the Marriage Retreat (for Two) Planning Guide.

These guides, questions, and activities have been crafted to help you do just that: to find out something new about your spouse, to go deeper, and to have fun.

With Valentine’s Day coming up in just a few days, perhaps this is the perfect time to introduce a new tradition: the tradition of recognizing that there is more to learn about your spouse than what you currently know.

Click here to learn more: The Embracing a Simpler Life Marriage Bundle.

“What is the best trip you’ve ever been on?”

That is the question that was recently posed to my children and a group of their peers at a church activity.

Some said vacations to the ocean, others mentioned trips out of town to visit family, but as eyes turned on my four-year-old son, he was more than ready to give his resolute answer. “That time, two dates ago, when mom and I played on the playground together and then we got ice cream!” he exclaimed.

I was surprised by the answer, so I reminded him of the many fun and special trips he had been on.

“No,” he said, “not those. Our date, the one to the playground, was my favorite.”

That date to the playground cost all of $1 and took up only two hours of our evening, and yet it meant so much to a four-year-old little boy (a middle child, no less) out for a special night with his mom.

Parent Child Date Idea Park and Ice Cream

A photo from the very date!

And that is the power of a parent-child date. It allows our children to be seen and known.

There are so many things we pursue that seem worthwhile (money, success, education, leisure time), and yet if we’re not careful, we unknowingly accept these in trade for what actually does matter (relationships & the kingdom of God).

So, I want to teach you how to do dates with your children in a way that I think can actually work.

The key is this: we don’t schedule parent-child dates as often as you might think, but we do schedule them.

How we schedule kid dates

I had wanted to do parent-child dates for a long time. It fit what I believe about being intentional in my relationship with my kids. However, the schedule never quite made sense in my mind.

It never made sense that is, until one day last Spring when my husband created a date night system and inputted it into our shared calendar.

How it works

  • Tuesday night is date night
  • A date night occurs every other week (2 dates per month)
  • Once a month this is a mom-date, the other time it is a dad-date
  • Our three kids rotate through, so each of them has a date with one parent or the other every six weeks

When I first saw the schedule, it seemed too infrequent. It almost didn’t seem worth doing. However, as we have implemented this plan over the past 6-7 months, we’ve discovered that it is actually quite brilliant.

It is often enough to have a powerful impact on our relationships with our kids, and yet infrequent enough that it is practical for our family.

To keep costs down, we eat dinner at home, and then go out for a fun evening activity that always includes dessert. These are simple and inexpensive evenings that include things like driving around to look at Christmas lights, chatting over Starbucks drinks, watching a sunset, or playing at a playground. The impact is in the time spent together, having fun, making memories, and connecting one-on-one.

 

 

Kid Date Idea Starbucks

My daughter Clara and I went to Starbucks for a date just last month.

When my husband Mitch and our 4-year-old son hit their turn, they prefer to call it “man time” rather than a date. 🙂 They are cool dudes like that.

As a fun commemorative element, I make a point to take a photo of my child on our date and then set it as my lock screen for the following month. That has been a fun and special date-night tradition.

Why we think parent-child date nights matter

1. Date night facilitates intentional one-on-one time with our children

In a nutshell, this is the driving reason behind why we do date nights with our kids. Although we spend plenty of time together as a family, it’s often interrupted or chaotic. The dynamic is completely different when you get one on one with a child for a period of time and make an effort to interact with him.

2. Our children feel special and important

It is so fun to see the way they absolutely glow when they are walking out the door with mom or dad. That glow continues throughout the whole date.

5. Meaningful conversations have space to flourish

Because they feel special they seem to be much more open to us. They are in a jovial, talking mood, and we get to cultivate a friendship with them during these times.

I love the things I get to learn about my children on our dates! It is amazing what comes out when there’s no older sibling inserting herself into the conversation, and no little sibling crying for attention, et cetera.

 

Kid Date Idea

Emily and I split a strawberry frappuccino at Starbucks and visited the animals at Petco together on this date.

4. Date nights remind us to listen

Unfortunately, many days I am consumed with cooking meals, cleaning, getting children dressed and ready or off to bed, homeschooling, and working from home, that I don’t make the time I should to just listen.

Date nights remind me to do that. In fact, they put listening on my calendar. What’s more, the listening that I do on a date night reminds me to do more of it when we get back home.

3. We make memories together

Just like four-year-old son Matthew remembered a date that had occurred more than three months prior and considered it his favorite trip, our children remember and cherish their date-nights.

This is one of the most exciting things in their lives as 6, 4 and 2 year olds, and that enthusiasm makes the time incredibly valuable. 

Parent Child Date Ideas

On this hot summer’s evening, Clara and I went out for frozen custard and then picked out flowers to plant in our flower beds together. We both love flowers! She also helped me plant them.

I hope you can see just how simple these dates are from the examples I have shared. They are not expensive, and they are not a big time commitment. All that’s needed is a little intentionality and childcare for any other children.

I hope you’ll try it in the new year! I’m sure you can think of a few kid date ideas your children would enjoy, but if you need a little creative inspiration, I’ve rounded up more than 260 kid date ideas below!

260+ Kid Date Ideas

I wanted to share a few of my own parent-child date ideas based on our past year of dates with our kiddos, as well as links to other great ideas around the web. We want our kids to think these dates are special, memorable, and fun, so we keep some simple, but for others, we pull out all the stops!

20 Kid-Date Ideas:

  1. Go get ice cream (I don’t think we’ve ever had a parent-child date the didn’t include ice cream to date.)
  2. Go on a special shopping outing that is wrapped up in something you will do together
  3. Explore a cave
  4. Go out for pizza
  5. See a movie together
  6. Play at a park
  7. Go to an arcade
  8. Race go-karts
  9. Mini-golf
  10. Go hiking
  11. Attend a special event in your area
  12. Take Old Time Photos together
  13. Go to a trampoline park
  14. Get your nails done
  15. Go to the batting cages
  16. Coffee (and hot chocolate) date
  17. Go on a fun local tour (we toured our state capital together!)
  18. Go ice skating
  19. Walk around and explore your downtown
  20. Swimming pool or indoor waterpark

More Parent-Child Date Ideas from Around the Web

General Kid Date Ideas:

20 Awesome Date Night Ideas with Kids via Simple Kierste

12 Great Ideas for Parent-Child Date Night via Military Shoppers

6 Ideas for Date Night with Your Child via Social Moms

25 Seriously Fun Kid “Date” Ideas via Life as Mom

Mother-Son Date Ideas:

25 Mom and Son Date Ideas via Frugal Fanatic

60 Fun Date Ideas for Mom & Son via The Mommy Mix

Father-Daughter Date Ideas:

15 Awesome Father-Daughter Dates via Seaside Sundays

Mother-Daughter Date Ideas:

Over 20 Mother Daughter Date Night Ideas via The Cents’Able Shoppin

20 Things to Do with a Teenage Daughter via The Hillary Leonard

Father-Son Date Ideas:

27 Ideas for Father and Son Bonding via Mommy Making Memories

 


Looking for more ways to be intentional?

Check out my 90 Date Night Questions for Christian Married Couples printable!

The Bibles we have in our homes and hold in our hands are nothing less than divinely-inspired, accurate revelations of God.

Every story, every poem, every historic event, law and prophetic word join together to paint one picture of the God who set the world in motion and orchestrated this present reality. The people described in this book are real, and so their actions are both good and bad. But through their lives and God’s involvement with them, we get to know Him more.

He’s the God who knows us fully and longs for us to know Him in return.

John 17:3, Jesus prays:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)

But yet many times we fail to make the effort to actually read this other-worldly, mysteriously living and active revelation of God in its entirety. We are content to pick at it, visiting only our favorite verses or books of the Bible –the ones that give us the best feeling and show us parts of God’s character that are easy to accept.

Many of us neglect, specifically, to read the Old Testament. I would say I can sum up many of the reasons for this oversight.

Why we sometimes don’t read the Old Testament

  1. We think it would be difficult or impossible to understand.
  2. We aren’t comfortable with the bloodshed and examples of God’s justice.
  3. We think the Jewish law is boring and/or ridiculous.
  4. We feel it’s too far removed from our life today to be important.
  5. It seems really long and daunting to get through.
  6. Jesus defines our salvation now. The Old Covenant has been set aside, so we see no reason to revisit it.

Does that about cover it? Is there one I missed?

Unfortunately, this lack of study has some major negative implications.

Why we must read the Bible in its entirety

When we don’t receive God’s revelation of Himself in its fullness:

  • Our understanding of who He is becomes mushy.
  • We dangerously interpret scripture out of context.
  • We get fat on a diet of grace and have no idea how to fear God.
  • We are easily swayed by inaccurate teaching, whether from a friend, pastor, writer or blogger because we don’t know for ourselves what the Bible says.
  • We lack a reliable handle on God’s word. We’re walking half blind, saying we’d stake our life on something we’ve never read.
  • We can’t offer good, well-informed answers to those asking questions in our lives.

This is a priority. Scripture interprets scripture. 

2018 Bible reading challenge

If you have never read the Bible through, let me challenge you to make 2018 your year.

With a little diligence and commitment, you can do that. There are many great resources to help you out.

Here are some FAQ’s I invented 🙂

  • Q. Why read the Bible in a year?
  • A. This is a short enough period of time to get a good overview while being a long enough period of time to feel doable. You shouldn’t have forgotten everything you read in Genesis by the time you get to Revelation. Yet it only amounts to 15-20 minutes of reading per day.
  • Q: I’ve already read the Bible through, is this challenge for me?
  • A: Yes! My mentor taught me to read the Bible through in a year, every year. I haven’t kept up with that, but I shoot for every other year to free up more time for other types of study.
  • Q: How do I discipline my life to keep up with this?
  • A: You need to develop a simple daily habit of reading (if you don’t already have one). Here’s how I accomplished that.
  • Q: How do I pace myself to read through my Bible in a year?
  • A: If you read about 5 chapters per day, you will get through your Bible in one year!

Resources to set you up for success

The MOST helpful thing I’ve used to keep track of my “Bible in a year” reading is the One Year Bible.

It divides the entire Bible into 365 daily chunks and organizes them by days of the month. I always know if I’ve fallen behind and what I need to do to catch up. These are available in various translations, but I love the NLT for readability with accuracy.

Another cool resource is the One Year Chronological Bible. This reorganizes scripture into chronological order (no, the Bible is not chronological!), which makes certain things easier to understand in context, such as the Psalms or prophetic words that were delivered during a specific time in Israel’s history.

The One Year Bible is also available for FREE online here. You can choose a chronological plan or a plan that includes Old and New Testament readings everyday, plus on Psalm and one chapter of Proverbs. You can even select and bookmark the translation you want to use.

Or, if you want to keep it simple, just resolve to read about five chapters per day! No fancy Bibles or reading plans needed!

Another option is an audio Bible if you’re an auditory learner (which I’m not). 🙂

Will you take the challenge to read the Bible through in 2018?

If so, feel free to give yourself a head start! I prefer to start early and end on time than to end late.

*Republished from 2016 & 2017. This post contains affiliate links.

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I think subscription boxes are cool, and in many instances, they do make life simpler.

As a non-crafty, busy mom who longs to share meaningful time with my children exploring spiritual truths, Activity Ark couldn’t be more perfect!

Let me explain…

What is Activity Ark?

Activity Ark is a box subscription service that is delivered once every three months, or 4x per year. (I actually love that it’s not monthly, because I have tried monthly craft subscriptions before and found them difficult to keep up with).

Each quarterly delivery includes a complete Bible-themed lesson, or “Sunday School in a box” as they describe it.

These kits are crafted for children ages 4-9, and include five elements:

  1. Create: a hands-on activity
  2. Play: fun activity sheets
  3. Discover: a Bible storybook to read together
  4. Connect: family discussion starters and questions
  5. Surprise: a related toy, game, or something special that builds on the theme of the box

Our First Activity Ark Experience

We received our very first Activity Ark box last week.

My kids could not wait to open the box. Something about the sight of it really attracted them, even thought I had given them no reason to think it was for them. Keeping their little hands out of it until I was ready to sit down with them proved difficult. For this reason we made it our top priority the very next morning.

I allowed my children to carefully unpack the box and inspect each element.

This particular kit included:

  • Adam and Eve: God’s First People book
  • Glow in the Dark Stars
  • Cotton balls
  • 2 tubes of paint
  • 1 tube of glitter
  • a plastic jar
  • a wooden popsicle stick
  • two high-quality printouts folded over to create small “booklets”

It was all nicely packaged in a teal box with teal tissue paper.

The first of the “booklets” explained the theme and listed the activities included.

Create

We decided to begin with the craft!

This was a craft we had never done or even seen before –a Universe Jar. The instructions were very clear and they included step-by-step photos. My children enjoyed doing it, and they were able to easily complete the steps without much mess.

The Universe Jar turned out beautifully! We all liked this craft, and it did look strikingly similar to pictures of the universe we had seen. It was pretty too.

When we were done, we still had two mostly-full paint bottles and a glitter bottle to add to our craft supplies, which was great!

Play

Once the craft was complete, we turned our attention to the corresponding “Play” component, which was a series of activities on the second printout. My kids worked through these fairly quickly together. The bright, color photos made them engaging.

This gave me time to make sure everything was cleaned up and put away.

Discover

Next we decided it was time to read the book together.

This was a Bible storybook that told the story of creation and Adam and Eve. There wasn’t an overt tie-in made between the book and the craft, but in the early pages of the book we saw illustrations of the universe being formed, so I was able to help my kids see the Universe Jar here and relate the creation story to the craft they had made.

Connect

After reading the book not one, but two times (at my son’s urging), we talked through the discussion questions together. The questions were interesting and age appropriate, and I enjoyed the conversation very much.

At this point there are also key Bible verses to read together that correspond with the story.

Surprise

As the finale, we stuck the glow in the dark stars to my kids’ ceiling (this was made easier by bunk beds).

I hope that when they look at their stars, they will think about our powerful God creating the universe. I can help them make this connection by talking about it with them.

What I loved about Activity Ark

It truly got my kids excited about learning a Bible lesson.

They were very engaged throughout the activities. Teaching them the Bible is my top priority, so I loved that they were excited about it!

I know myself: I wouldn’t do crafts with them otherwise.

Did I mention I am not crafty?

Even so, my kids (and all kids) love crafts. Activity Ark made a fun craft time very attainable for me by providing a good project that wasn’t too hard but still very cool, along with clear instructions and all the materials.

We wouldn’t have done a craft together this week (or maybe even month) otherwise.

The target age was spot on.

Two of my three children were within the recommended age range of 4-9 years old. These activities were well suited to those two children. My 2-year-old, not as much.

That was good.

The instructions were clear.

You can’t beat clear-cut instructions! The step-by-step photos were awesome. I probably wouldn’t have understood this craft otherwise, but there was really no guess work.

The value was high.

When you buy a year’s-worth of boxes at one time (4 boxes), you pay less than $20 per box. That is not bad considering all it contains, and delivered to your door with everything laid out for you.

Spiritual truths matter most.

Of all the things I could be teaching and investing into my children’s lives, spiritual truths are the hands-down most important. That is a big draw to Activity Ark for me.

I know my kids get to do crafts and lessons at church on Sunday, but I like the idea of bridging that experience to the home environment as well.

It was meaningful time spent together.

Kids love crafts. They love time with their mom. They love books and activities and surprises. This box facilitated meaningful time together with my children, and that matters to me.

Perhaps an Activity Ark box might make a great “consumable” Christmas gift for someone in your life? It would mean less clutter, more experience, and if you pay for a year-long subscription upfront (only $79.96 for four boxes) it would be spread all throughout the year!

Find out more and get your own Activity Ark box HERE!

*This post was sponsored by Activity Ark. All opinions are my own.

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Learn how to make a Christmas Book Advent Calendar for your family and start a powerful new tradition to turn your children’s hearts to Jesus! 

Book Advent Calendar about Jesus

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and it’s not just one day either. We can enjoy the entire season.

During the month of December, we have the opportunity to intentionally prepare our hearts for worship. Advent is the four+ weeks leading up to Christmas. (Technically it begins four Sundays prior to Christmas day). This time reminds us of what our Savior has done for us and directs our hearts to the hope of his second coming.

The Christmas season is a time for joy, gratitude, and most of all, worship.

Advent was not something I celebrated in an intentional way growing up, although there was an element of preparation as our Sunday School lessons turned toward the coming and birth of Christmas for the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. However, this has become an even more special time of year as I have continued developing traditions with my family –one filled with awe in what God has done for me.

Christmas Advent Calendar Idea

Another beautiful thing about Christmas is that kids relate to it very well. Between the special music, the lights, the Christmas trees, the gifts exchanged, the beautiful nativities– the opportunities to reflect and ingest God’s truths are everywhere should we take the time to point their little hearts back to Him.

For that reason, I think Christmas is the perfect time to show our children just how much Christ matters to us and to pass along the legacy of worship and awe at Christmastime through a full-bodied Advent celebration.

There are so many fun ways to do this!

And as a blessed byproduct, we strengthen family bonds and pour into relationships as we set aside time together and shape our family culture and traditions through Advent.

Family Advent Traditions

This year, I want to share a brand new tradition my family is starting. I first saw this idea following @themoneysavingmom on Instagram last year, and I “instantly” knew I wanted to do it. Reading aloud is already one of my favorite things to do with my children, and it is truly and uniquely powerful in building bonds and creating shared experiences.

It’s called a Christmas Book Advent Calendar, and I’m going to give you all the info so you can do it too!

How to create a Christmas Book Advent Calendar for your family

The process is simple and easy!

  1. Gather together a set of Christmas-themed books (I love to primarily use Christian books, although I do throw in a couple of fun cultural stories as well, such as “The Night Before Christmas”). Twenty-four books would take you from December 1st through the 24th.
  2. Wrap the books and place them under your Christmas tree.
  3. Unwrap one book each day as a family and read it together!

It may be a good move to number the gifts and then open them in order. This allows the parent to assign longer books to nights when you know you will have more time and shorter books to nights that will be more rushed. You can also evenly mix in different types of books, such as evenly intermingling “just for fun” Christmas reads with Christ-centered and worshipful Christmas reads.

Christmas Book Advent Calendar preparation

This year, I’ve decided to let my children take turns choosing one each night, so I did not number the gifts. My kids enjoy the thrill of taking turns choosing the present to unwrap.

We unwrap and read our daily book at bedtime, in pajamas, snuggled up on the couch by the Christmas tree. It is a sweet way to end our day as a family! It’s amazing how much more special their books become when I wrap them! 🙂

We all enjoy this very much.

My Book Advent Calendar Picks

My Absolute Favorite Christ-Themed Christmas Advent Books

 

Because my mission is to help my children reflect and worship during the holiday season, Christ-themed books are my ABSOLUTE favorite. These are the ones I love the most.

  • The Bible Be sure to wrap up a Bible and read Luke 2 together as a family!
  • Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilsom– I’ll confess. I sometimes get a bit choked up reading the end of this sweet picture book. It’s about a mouse named Mortimer who wants to live in a nativity set. Along the way, he hears the story of Jesus and comes to understand some things about God and to love Him. In the end, God provides a home for Mortimer. It is a sweet (and different) perspective on a Christmas story.
  • Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell– This is a beautifully illustrated, simply written telling of the nativity story from the perspective of kind and welcoming animals.
  • The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt– This book is so powerful. It is about three trees who dream of doing big things. They are disappointed when they are chopped down and turned into a manger, a small boat, and a beam. But it turns out God uses them to do so much more than they originally hoped. This one is another tear-jerker for me. It’s just so powerful.
  • The Christmas Story for Children by Max Lucado– This beautifully written and illustrated retelling of the Christmas story emphasizes the message that we are loved and cherished by God, which is the most important message we can invest in our young children’s lives!
  • Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones– When Christ was born, creation trembled and cried out in worship and celebration. This picture book conveys the weight, holiness, and power of that moment from this perspective.
  • The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg– In the context of a story, children learn the meaning of the candy cane. Hint: it was created to point us back to Jesus!
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones– My children and I just finished going through this children’s Bible again, and I just love it. It has a beautiful telling of the Christmas story that is perfect for a Christmas Book Advent Calendar.

Other Great Christmas Advent Books

 

  • Why Do We Call it Christmas? by Phil Vischer– I learned so much from reading this book to my children! It explains how we got Christmas, why it’s called that, and how we came to celebrate Jesus and Santa Clause on the same day from a historical perspective.
  • The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston– This is a powerfully told story about a father gone at war, provision, and a Christmas miracle.
  • The Story of Christmas by Patricia A. Pingry– I love this simple Christmas board book for little ones. It specifically explains why we give gifts to each other at Christmastime!
  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado– This precious story is about a lamb who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play. As it turned out, God has a very special plan for him that unfolded on the night Christ was born.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren– A curious young polar bear begins to wonder who invested Christmas and whether Santa or Jesus are more important. He goes on a polar expedition with his mother to find answers to his questions, and along the way he learns about the true meaning of Christmas and just how much God loves him.
  • Berenstain Bears The Joy of Giving by Jan Berenstain– Brother and Sister Bear learn that the joy of Christmas is not in the gifts they will receive, but in those they give.
  • The Gift of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall– This book tells the legend of the Christmas Cookie, which explains why we exchange cookies at Christmastime. The original reason? To share the story of Jesus!
  • The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall– I love the true story of St. Nicholas. He was a Christian who gave sacrificially and secretly to those in need. It is the perfect story to invest into our children’s lives as they are surrounded by “Santa” this time of year.

Favorite “Just for Fun” Christmas Books

 

  • The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden– This is a sweet story about an orphan who finds a family and a doll who finds a girl on Christmas. It takes about 45 minutes to read aloud, but my daughter loves it.
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! by Lucille Colandro– This one is just completely for fun. My kids and I enjoy reading this sing-song book based on the “There Was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly” song.
  • The Night Before Christmas— Even though we have decided against convincing our children that Santa is real (read why we made this decision here), The Night Before Christmas remains a culturally significant and well-done piece of literature. We enjoy reading it together.
  • I Spy Christmas by Jean Marzollo– This is a fun book to mix things up a bit. Instead of reading a story, we can play Christmas I Spy together!

And Idea for Older Children

 

My children are ages 2-6 years old, so chapter books would not hold their attention, especially my two year old.

However, if your children are older, I love Trina Holden’s suggestion to wrap up chapter books that contain a chapter about Christmas. You can read just that one chapter. She has a guide to all the Christmas-themed chapter in the Little House on the Prairie series. Get more books suggestions and find out the Christmas-related chapters on her website here.

  • Little House in the Big Woods— This book describes the joy of a simple Christmas on the frontier in the early 1870’s, complete with family, traditions and homemade gifts!
  • Little House on the Prairie— Mr Edwards, a neighbor on the prairie goes to great (and sacrificial) lengths to make sure the Ingalls girls have their Christmas gifts by Christmas Eve. He spins an elaborate tale of how he met Santa Claus on the streets of Independence and was entrusted with the errand of bringing the gifts to the girls.
  • Farmer Boy A historic account of young Almanzo’s late 1800’s Christmas experience on a New York farm.
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek— This is the amazing true story of how Pa’s life was spared all because he bought a fur coat in town (along with Christmas candy). On the long journey home he was caught in a blizzard and found refuge in a cave, holed up only a few hundred yards from his home, with no idea.

These chapters are historically accurate and fun to read, they also highlight the beauty of simplicity and gratitude.

How to get books for your Christmas Book Advent Calendar without breaking the bank

Remember, You Set the Schedule

Another great thing about the Christmas Book Advent Calendar is that you get to decide how many days it runs.

While Advent traditionally starts four Sundays before Christmas (or December 3rd this year), that tradition is not the boss of you. If you already happen to have ten Christmas books in your home, you can wrap those and begin your Advent countdown 10 days before Christmas!

Start with What You Already Have

For our Christmas Book Advent Calendar, I started with the Christmas books we already had. These included gifts my children had received and books that my husband and I had from childhood. When my mom heard about my idea, she scoured her house for Christmas children’s books that were not being used and sent them home with me, another 5 books. Without spending any money at all, I suddenly had a collection of 17 books.

Go on a hunt. You might find more than you expect.

Collect Slowly

We have the opportunity to build our collections slowly. This is what I chose to do. I will add 2 or 3 each year until I have a full set. This year I chose three new books on Amazon and ordered them! I am content with that for this year. Over time we will fill, hone, and refine our Book Advent Calendar collection, but there is no rush.

The exact number is not what’s important so much as the ritual, time together, and focus put on Christ.

Shop Second-Hand

Don’t forget to peruse your local consignment or thrift stores! Many of them save Christmas-themed items all year to put out at this time.

Use the Library

When I check out books at my library, I am able to request an extension when I check them out. Instead of 2 weeks, the library will manually check books out to me for 8 weeks, no renewals required. This allows plenty of time to celebrate Advent with fun, never-before-seen books without spending any money.

You may be able to do likewise, check with your librarian!

Remember, It’s Reusable

One great thing about the Christmas Book Advent Calendar tradition is that once it’s set up, you can reuse it year after year (maybe swapping out some books as your children outgrow them). I pack away my children’s Christmas books throughout the year so they will be more special around Christmastime.

Christmas Book Advent Calendar

Please tell me, what are your favorite children’s books to include in a Christmas Book Advent Calendar?

I would love to send you my Guide to a Simple, Christ-Centered Christmas!

As you can tell, Christmas is extremely important to me. It’s important that we celebrate it well, focused on Christ, and in a way that cultivates gratitude, joy, and worship.

I’ve put a lot of thought into exactly what has helped us cultivate these attitudes the most at Christmastime, and I’ve created a free guide to help you get there too. Sign up for my mailing list here and get it delivered directly to your inbox along with weekly encouragement to set your heart and home on the things that matter most.

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