This month at Grace Family Church, we’ve been talking about Christmas Traditions, so we decided to find out what are some of the GFC Beautiful team’s favorite traditions.

Kristin Bonham, director of Beautiful
“My dad gives each person in our family a theme gift. Pickle ornament Some of the themes have been: a time piece, a book, a game.  He shops all year in anticipation and we all look forward to seeing the connections in the gifts and figuring out the theme. There is a German tradition of hiding a glass pickle ornament on the tree Christmas Eve.  Whoever finds it on Christmas morning gets a special gift.  Here’s a picture of our pickle ornament. We always have a Birthday Cake for Jesus and we sing Happy Birthday even as my kids have gotten older.”

Marilyn Hinders, Beautiful small group coach
“After the candlelight Christmas eve service we always come home and have oyster stew, salami and cheese, and eat Christmas cookies while opening presents. Christmas morning is spent reading the Christmas story to our grandchildren, putting together toys and playing games with them and eating ebelskivers (Danish pancakes with apples and cinnamon or blueberries in them) for breakfast!  They love to help Nana make them!”

Paige Eavenson, Beautiful small group coach
“On Christmas Eve at my in-laws we always make Gingerbread houses and at night the kids all get some new Christmas pajamas. When we arrive at my family’s house in Mississippi we all have a big dinner and after dinner we have some type of Christmas talent show. It’s usually goofy but a lot or fun. Then we all play white elephant bingo. We buy crazy gifts for the winners of the white elephant bingo.”

Vivian Germain, Beautiful small group coach
“We have few traditions as well. We decorate our Christmas tree together while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. Also, starting on December 13th we sit together every night by the Christmas tree, drink hot cocoa and we do a 12 days of Christmas devotional (you can find them online). The devotional has really helped our family not to lose sight of what Christmas really is……The birth of our Savior!”

Helene Rinklin, Small Groups Ministry Assistant
“We all unwrap one gift on Christmas Eve, which are always our new PJ’s that we have bought for our family. Then we make cookies and hot cocoa. We spend the day as a family talking about Christ and the reason why we celebrate his birth all year. We share how our life is going and what we can do to make a difference to those around us. Then we usually play games… and of course we compete to see who plays the best and whomever is the winner for the night rules!”

Leslee Stewart, Beautiful communications coordinator
“One of our family’s favorite traditions is to put all the Christmas cards we receive in a basket on our kitchen table. Then every night at dinner, we select one card from the basket and pray for that family when we pray over our meal. Another fun tradition I started a few years ago began when my oldest son was born. That year, I bought a small Christmas tree for him and two ornaments for his tree — one was a picture ornament that I put a picture of him in; the other was an ornament that represented something he liked (a teddy bear). Every year since, I’ve added to the ornament collection — always a picture ornament and something fun (this year is a baseball because he loves baseball). When his little brother came along, I started the same ornament collection for him. My hope is that by the time my boys are grown, they will take those ornaments and have enough to decorate their own “grown-up” Christmas tree.”

Let us know what some of your favorite Christmas traditions are. Post your comments on our GFC Beautiful facebook page.

by Misty Umholtz

A few days before Thanksgiving, my stress level hit an all-time high. It starts with a sign from my body that says, “Warning, Warning,” (with an imaginary flashing red light), “Stop whatever you are doing and do not move forward.” I get a headache that starts in my shoulders, goes up my neck and sends shooting pain into my head. That always means something is wrong.

This time last year, I had an infant, a toddler, I was heading up a ministry called MOPS and we were traveling to California for Christmas. I foreknew the holidays could possibly cause me to go over the edge. I wanted to enjoy my kids and my favorite time of year so I made a few decisions that would eliminate extra stress points.  I decided not to bake anything, not to host anything, not to send out Christmas cards and to only buy the kids one gift each. And you know what? We had a peaceful holiday season full of treasured memories.

This year I am not pregnant, I am not nursing, I am not leading a ministry and we are not traveling. I thought,” This is great!”  My 3-year-old daughter is already talking about Christmas, so I figured this is the year to start all the things I really want to do. Let’s line up the service projects, the parties and the decorations! Let the festivities begin!

After the third day with a headache, I called one of my mentors to help me figure out why I was getting stressed this early in the season. I told her I was hosting Thanksgiving at my house and my parents were coming in from California but that did not seem to be what was bothering me. The more we talked, the more she helped me get to the bottom of my problem. My calendar was already full. We had five Christmas party invites awaiting responses and we had three Sunday dinners scheduled in a row of which we were hosting two of them at our house and I was responsible for making dishes that I had never made before! Not to mention our Saturdays were booking up as well.

Just thinking about our schedule was making this secret introvert anxious.  I started eliminating whatever I could to clear my calendar. That meant asking a friend to host a dinner, moving another dinner to a restaurant, saying no to some parties and telling people what food I feel comfortable making.

I am breathing with ease now and my headache has disappeared. I think every year I will decide ahead of time what I can and cannot do to make sure I get to enjoy my family through this blessed season. Who wants holiday memories full of a stressed-out mommy anyways?

Maybe living in peace through the holidays is as simple as eliminating the things that stress us out in the first place.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body.” Proverbs 14:30a

 

 

by Leslee Stewart

Looking for a few gift ideas this season? Here are a few of my favorite Christmas gifts to give that are all under $10.

For my friends, my cousin and my sister-in-law, I love to give a few of my favorite, inexpensive beauty finds from the drugstore. A few of my personal favorites include:

  • Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer – This is one of those items I can’t live without. It’s Burt’s Bees famous, all natural lip balm with a hint of color and shimmer. And it comes in some great colors. My favorite is Cocoa. Under $5.
  • Sally Hansen Insta-Dry Nail Polish – I’m addicted to this stuff. I adore just about every color it comes in, but my favorite part is the extra wide brush. I can honestly paint my toes in one coat with this fabulous polish. And did I mention it’s quick dry, too? Under $5.
  • Sally Hansen Nail Effects – These are fun nail polish stickers that last forever! I wore these on my toes over the summer (prime flip-flop time in Florida), and easily got 3 weeks worth of wear out of them. They come in solid colors, but my favorites are the funky prints like leopard, flowers and the candy cane stripes for Christmas. Under $9.

For my neighbors and my kids’ teachers, I always try to whip up my favorite holiday bread recipe or homemade granola to pass out. Here are the recipes:

  • Banana cranberry nut bread from Southern Living. – Bake in small ceramic loaf pans available at Tuesday Morning or Homegoods. Wrap in an inexpensive holiday tea towel or printed cloth napkin. Tie with ribbon.
  • Golden honey granola from Country Living. – Package in inexpensive glass canisters from the dollar store. Tie with a ribbon and include the recipe printed on an index card.

A few of my other favorite inexpensive gifts include:

  • A small succulent plant or Christmas cactus from Home Depot or Lowes. Not a green thumb? Not to worry. These are the perfect plant for people who forget to water. So long as you place them in a spot with indirect light (like a windowsill), and water them every 2-3 weeks, they’ll thrive.
  • Note cards and decorative note pads. You can usually find a great selection of these for under $10 at Homegoods, Tuesday Morning and Target.
  • Board games and puzzles. My kids love to play games and right now Target has classic board games like Operation, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land marked down to $8 or less. Also, card games like Uno, Phase 10, SkipBo and Go Fish are great and under $10. I also like to give them the 48-piece character puzzles, which can often be found at TJ Maxx.
  • Mini flashlight, screwdriver, tape measure. You can pick up some great stocking stuffers for the guy in your life at Lowes. This time of year they usually have bins in the front of the store with small gadgets for under $10. One of my husband’s favorites was a $5 mini screwdriver that had interchangeable tips stored in the end cap. We keep it in our kitchen for quick fix projects.