Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

While We Wait (The Meaning Of Advent) @ Shaun Groves

“Do for one what you wish you could do for all.” @ Money Saving Mom

Apple Cider Donuts (GF, DF) @ The Nourishing Home

Choosing Connection Over Competition @ chatting at the sky

5 tips for enjoying the holidays as a highly sensitive parent @ Steady Mom

Butternut Squash, Creamy Chicken Pasta @ My Humble Kitchen

Six Weeks of One-Word Prayers @ SheLoves Magazine

Holiday gifts to give yourself now that you’ll thank yourself for later @ The Art of Simple

December Sponsors

Are you looking for companies that share the same values you do? Here at Keeper of the Home we curate a fabulous selection of companies that fit well with our audience. Here are our sponsors for this month!

Plan to Eat | Eating at Home is About to Get Easier

Lilla Rose | Our product line centers around unique, functional, and well made hair jewelry

EntreFamily | lead an uncommon life

Tropical Traditions | America’s Source for Coconut Oil

MadeOn Hard Lotion | Hard Lotion For Dry Skin

How are you celebrating the holidays this year?

8 Tips for Spending Less and Giving More

8 Tips for Spending Less and Giving More {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Nina Nelson, Contributing Writer

A few years ago, our pastor showed a video at church that completely changed my approach to Christmas giving.

The video was by a wonderful group known as Advent Conspiracy. They create thought-provoking videos to inspire change and a shift in mindset when it comes to Christmas.

They have four main tenets:

  • Worship Fully
  • Spend Less
  • Give More
  • Love All

Before learning about Advent Conspiracy, I had taken a “more is better” approach to giving.

I would make long lists of presents I needed to buy for loved ones and stress about the money spent. The aim was to get a gift for everyone, no matter what it was. Surely Christmas day would be worth it, though, and the stress would melt away as soon as the presents were open.

Not so much. There was still stress. Plus heaps of wrapping paper and disappointment. I’d tell myself that next year would be better, but often, it wasn’t and I’d be left with an ache for something more.

Thank goodness for that video.

I’ll admit that I was most excited about the spending less idea at first. For a long time, Christmas meant debt and I couldn’t handle the anxiety that caused. Thankfully, I discovered that gift-giving can be done simply without spending a bunch of money.

If you want to spend less while giving more at Christmas, read on for some of my best simple giving tips.

1. Think about the recipient.

This should be a given, right? But how many gifts have you received over the years that were truly meaningful? Often, we’re in such a mad dash to cross names off of our lists, that we’ll just buy anything, even if it’s not something they want or need.

Instead, put some thought (and even some prayer) into the gifts you give. What would be most meaningful/helpful to the recipient? It doesn’t hurt to ask. (If I can’t think of anything and/or they don’t know, I default to practical gifts that they can use up.)

One Christmas, after we’d shared this idea with our extended family, my mother-in-law got us a very simple, yet meaningful gift. It was a large wash basin, a bath mat, two towels and some lotion (see, it’s been years and I remember everything in it). It was meant for my husband and I to wash each other’s feet (a ritual that’s very important to us) and I’m still touched by the thoughtfulness of this simple gift.

2. Give your presence.

Perhaps what your loved ones want most of all is time with you.

The year after we saw the Advent Conspiracy video, my pastor invited me to challenge our congregation to give more intentionally and to share the stories with us.

One of my favorite stories came from a woman in our church who decided to give her mom a simple wooden box filled with 12 index cards, one for each month of the year. And each card had an activity for them to do together (including their husbands). Most of the activities were free, but they each carried the potential to deepen their relationship and provide lasting memories.

She and her mom thought it was the best gift ever.

3. Share your expertise.

Is there something you know how to do that people tell you they wish they knew? Maybe you’ve mastered the art of the chocolate chip cookie. Or perhaps you make jam better than most. Perhaps you have a beautiful garden each year. Can you teach someone your skill?

Say, for instance, you make soap, which your sister loves and she’s expressed interest in learning how to make it herself. Could you give her a handmade “coupon” for a free lesson? And then let her keep the soap?

Sometimes the best gifts just require a little thought and creativity.

4. Shorten your list.

You don’t have to give gifts to everyone you know. No, seriously. Even family.

As our extended (and immediate) family has grown, we’ve had to figure out ways to give creatively so we don’t take on debt buying presents. Our solution has been drawing kids’ names. Each child draws the name of one cousin (on each side of the family) and makes or buys that person a gift. We’ve also set a spending limit that all parents agreed on.

Now, our kids give gifts to their cousins and we give a small gift to our brothers and sisters.

5. DIY gifts.

Those gifts for the brothers and sisters? Mostly homemade. I like to pick a few days sometime before Christmas and make gifts (here’s a list of the favorites) all at once.

DIY gifts don’t need to be limited to personal care products, either. There are all sorts of things you can make and give.

6. Don’t forget edibles.

Don’t underestimate the awesomeness of a jar of homemade caramel sauce with a basket of apples. Or a plate of cookies.

My sister-in-law is an excellent baker and my brother has culinary training. So, come the week before Christmas, they get in the kitchen and whip up some seriously tasty treats. Their cost is minimal, but we appreciate them and look forward to their gift baskets all year long.

7. Maximize your time with batches.

If you’re making gifts, whether they’re edible or not, make them in batches whenever possible. (Oh, how I wish I could crochet in batches.) Doing so makes it way easier to get all your gifts done quickly so you have more time for other important things.

And finally …

8. Make a plan.

The best way to do this? With a plan. Figure out in advance who you’re giving gifts to and what would be meaningful to them. Then, decide what you’ll make (if anything) and schedule days on your calendar to make it happen. Don’t forget to schedule in shopping time (for DIY and other gifts) and wrapping.

And just know that you don’t have to get it perfect this year. Or the next. Or the year after that. Just set the goal to be a more intentional giver who blesses their loved ones. You’ll get it.

How have you learned to spend less while giving more at Christmas?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

A Creative, Fun and Educational Gift (That Won’t Fill Your House With More Stuff Your Kids Don’t Need)

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

I’m not into giving my kids a lot of stuff. Maybe you’re not either.

As the holidays draw near, I tend to get a little anxious about how much new stuff will make its way into our home. Even more than that, I care about the type of stuff it is. Blinking, battery-operated, Disney-character emblazoned stuff that screams “I’ll entertain you!! (for a week, until you realize what a boring, stupid toy I am)” is not exactly high on my list of desirables.

But stuff that inspires creativity, draws out the artist in my kids, pushes them to learn and challenge themselves, and makes them giggle with the sheer delight of un-commercialized, good old fashioned childish play?

That’s what we want for them.

And that’s why this is one of the most fun and exciting reviews I’ve done in a long time!

Meet Green Kid Crafts

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

This is a look at the inside of a box that comes to your door when you’re signed up as a month-to-month member. (Actually, you can get boxes even if you aren’t a member, but I’ll get into that more below…)

Each box contains 3 or 4 creativity-inspiring and science-teaching activity packs. Below you can see the three kits that came in our particular box:

  1. Bubbling volcanoes (shown on the right)
  2. Fizzy bath bombs
  3. Homemade soap

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

Each package comes complete with detailed, step-by-step instructions (with photos!) and sometimes a brief explanation of the science behind all the fun.

It also comes with all of the supplies you’d need to pull this off, other than the basic stuff you’d already have around the house.

For example, the only things that we needed to come up with ourselves to do all three kits were: vinegar, water, measuring spoons, a bowl or plate, a microwave (ok, we didn’t have that, so we used a pot on the stove to melt the soap) and essential oils were mentioned as an optional add-in (we had those, but the finished product would have been just as good without them).

I want to show you what I actually did with the kids and give you some visuals of it all, and then I’ll tell you more about what I thought and how it all works.

Homemade soap

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

Our first activity, this was SO simple it made me want to cheer.

Thankfully, it also made my kids giddy with excitement! I did it with my 5 and 7 year olds, who thought that adding purple glitter to the soap mix and pouring the soap over mini erasers so that they got trapped inside was just about the coolest thing ever.

Now, I’ll add that we weren’t truly making soap. We were more melting it down, adding fun stuff to it, and then pouring it into molds and letting it harden. For my kids, this was every bit as good. The whole process was very simple to follow, not messy in the slightest, and resulted in happy kids (and a toddler who keeps trying to steal the soap bars so he can do who-knows-what with them – but that’s another story).

Bubbling volcanoes

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

Hands down, our favorite activity!

I was slightly worried as we got going because I’d already promised we could do it and it called for vinegar, which normally isn’t a problem. Except I suddenly realized that I was all out of white vinegar and only had apple cider vinegar (see how our little cups are filled with brownish liquid?).

Guess how grateful I was that my oversight did not screw this project up in the slightest? The eco-friendly dye tablets dissolved perfectly in the apple cider vinegar, delighting the kids as they fizzed and slowly leaked their color into the cup.

But it was once we actually started adding the dyed vinegar to the plateful of baking soda that the fun really began. They used the pipet provided to suck up the colored liquid and squirt it into our bowl. Even the 2 year old got in on the action and as it made fizzy, rainbow “explosions”, all three were literally squealing with joy.

As more and more color got mixed in, it began to resemble the rainbow circles you see in an oil puddle and they were particularly fascinating. Eventually the baking soda was getting so saturated that we sprinkled a little more on to keep the fun going, but a motion was put forward to simply dump the remaining vinegar to make colored puddles, and eventually we had a fizzy, frothy, slowly-turning-brown lake of sludge in our bowl (a 7 year old boy’s dream, I’m telling you). It was fantastic. Best science activity we’ve done in a long time.

We also really enjoyed the science aspect of this activity, discussing how carbon dioxide is formed and where we find examples of it, the difference between acids and bases, and mixing together primary colors to come up with secondary colors.

Fizzy bath bombs

A creative, fun and education gift (that won't fill your house with more stuff your kids don't need!)

I did this one with just Johanna, my 5 year old, as a special mommy-and-me activity. She’s a complete girly-girl, so the thought of making something special for the bath was right up her alley.

As a naturally-minded mama, I loved that not only were we making bath bombs that would functionally fizz as promised, but the kit included dried chamomile to mix in, and suggested we add a few drops of essential oil (Johanna picked orange).

I worried briefly that the mixture wasn’t wet enough and we’d done something wrong when we began to pack it into the egg-shaped mold (which had a mustache on it – could it be any cuter?). My worries were in vain. Five minutes later, the bath bombs popped out of the molds perfectly, and they’re currently curing on our counter overnight and hardening nicely.

Yet another brilliantly simple but crowd-pleasing activity.

This mom’s opinion of Green Kid Crafts?

I have to say, I’m in love.

Here’s the thing: I’m not a particularly crafty, science-y mom. I want to be. I’m all about my children doing imaginative, educational activities over movies, video games or toys that entertain them.

Granted, the way we usually achieve that is through plain and simple creative-play toys — dolls, play kitchens with food, car and other vehicles, Lego, toy animals, dress up, free-range art and craft supplies (the non-super-messy kind), etc.

But sometimes my kids want to do something more involved or that they might not have thought of on their own. And as a homeschool mom, I really want that for them, especially in these young years where they’re just so exploratory and curious and soaking up everything around them like a sponge.

I strongly desire to do these kinds of activities with my kids on a regular basis, but the truth is that I rarely do. My husband is a bit better than I am at getting invested in a science project (tossing all math, language arts, and geography out the window in the process… which I’m cool with), but even then, it’s random and sort of depends on which way the wind is blowing and what strikes him or the kids in a particular moment.

When I had these activity packs at the ready, sitting there on my counter, pulling one out felt so easy. I knew I could happily reach for these several times each month and achieve my goal of enhancing my children’s learning and creativity while having a blast with them.

A few things in particular that made me happy:

  • The age range. They’re geared to ages 3-10, and honestly, all of my kids were interested and engaged (well, the 10 year old wasn’t with us when we did them, but I know she would have enjoyed them if she had been home).
  • The combination of art, science and intrigue.
  • How fool proof they were. I’m not good at this sort of thing and I didn’t screw a single one up, even when I had to use alternative ingredients or a stove instead of a microwave.
  • That all of the ingredients used are eco-friendly and safe for kids, and natural and sustainable for the environment.
  • That they require such minimal preparation and clean up. I mean, seriously. This is awesome.
  • Because it was all right there for me, I felt like I could really relax and be in the moment with my kids. That quality time is just so precious for me.

Screenshot 2014-12-03 23.28.57

How does it work?

There are a few different options. You can choose from monthly subscriptions that go month-to-month, or pay upfront for 3, 6 or 12 months at at time (the more months you do, the cheaper each month becomes). If you want some extra supplies because you’re doing it with multiple siblings, you can pay about an extra $8-10 per month to double the amount of crafts you’ll be able to make.

When you choose the subscription option, boxes are shipped out the 1st of each month with a new theme and set of activities, and you also get online access to their additional activities, games, puzzles, etc. that are all centered around that month’s theme (and I did notice the upcoming themes for the next three months… Geography, Rainforest Science, and Safari Science – fun!).

You can also buy specific themed boxes or activity kits. For example, you can choose from Mad Scientist, Green Energy, Dinosaur, Weather Science, Nocturnal Animals and more. These full kits (like what you’d get in a monthly subscription with 3-4 activities) are usually $24.95.

Then there are smaller kits with just one project – Storytelling Kit, Cloud Finder, Sun Prints, Rocket Launchers, Planetarium, etc. each for around $7 or $8.

Many of their kits are specifically STEM kits (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), while others are more discovery or creativity based. If you just look around for a little while, you’ll see that they all look just brilliant and engaging. I seriously know what I’m asking for from any grandparents that haven’t yet purchased Christmas gifts this year, and they may even find a few activity boxes under the tree from Daddy and Mommy!

Later this month we’ll be offering a Green Kid Crafts giveaway, which I know you’ll all be excited to enter, but for now, I’d encourage you to consider these as a way to bring enjoyment into your home without filling up the shelves with stuff your kids don’t need. Check out the monthly subscriptions or their stocking stuffers and holiday boxes!

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Green Kid Crafts, and the projects we completed were sent to us for the purpose of review. All words, images and opinions are my own.

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

I’ve never been thrilled about using conventional medications, and over the past 7 years my family has transitioned to using mostly natural remedies for any ailment that comes our way.

I want to be clear in that I think there is a time and place for antibiotics and other conventional medications. But our family’s rule of thumb is to always try the natural route first. 

I hope the following natural remedies round-up will help keep your family healthy all winter long!

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Aches and Pains

How to Make a Pain Relief Salve @ Creative Christian Mama

Medicine-Free Headache Relief @ Lexie: Naturals

Allergies & Asthma

Natural Relief for Seasonal Allergies @ The Humbled Homemaker

Naturally Reversing Asthma Symptoms @ The Humbled Homemaker

Colds (& More)

10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds & the Flu @ The Humbled Homemaker

10+ Natural Cold Remedies @ Keeper of the Home

Hot Toddy: Good for Colds & Flu @ Richly Rooted

Cold Kicker Remedy: A Tried and True Recipe @ Keeper of the Home

Cold and Flu Remedies @ Beauty in the Mess

Eucalyptus Chest Rub @ Lexie: Naturals

Using Kudzu to Fight a Cold (A Simple Remedy for Children) @ Keeper of the Home

5 Remedies to Relieve Congestion @ Nourishing Simplicity

Homemade Natural Vicks @ The Greenbacks Gal

Cold Salve @ Simple Abundant Life

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Coughs and Sore Throat 

Homemade Cough Drops @ Nourishing Joy

Homemade Cough Syrup @ Nourishing Joy

Naturally Treat Coughs @ Accidentally Green

Homemade Herbal Vapor Rub to Relieve Coughs and Congestion @ Keeper of the Home

Homemade Cough and Cold Syrup @ Keeper of the Home

The Ultimate Strep Throat Remedy @ Red and Honey

Sore Throat Soother @ A New England Life

Bacterial Infections

Using Natural Remedies to Beat Bacterial Infections @ Red and Honey

Detoxing

I find it a must to take a detox bath after the holidays!

How to Take a Detox Bath @ The Humbled Homemaker

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Eyes & Ears

Natural Ways to Heal Pink Eye @ The Humbled Homemaker

Healing Ear Infections Holistically @ Keeper of the Home

How We Treat an Ear Infection Naturally @ Beauty in the Mess

Essential Oils

Essential Oils for the New Mom @ The Humbled Homemaker

A Grace-Filled Answer to the Essential Oils Wars @ The Humbled Homemaker

Essential Oils Myth-stakes @ The Humbled Homemaker

More Essential Oils Myth-stakes @ The Humbled Homemaker

25 Uses for Tea Tree Oil @ Keeper of the Home

6 Ways to Use Essential Oils to Combat Cold & Flu @ More than Mundane

Flu

One Mom’s Guide to Avoiding Swine Flu Naturally @ Keeper of the Home

How to Naturally Fight the Flu @ Intentional by Grace

DIY Flu Bomb @ Intoxicated on Life

Herbs

 Herbs All Moms Should Know About @ The Humbled Homemaker

How to Make Herbal Glycerin Tinctures @ The Modest Mom

How to Make Elderberry Syrup @ Lexie: Naturals

How to Make an Herbal Tincture @ Intentional by Grace

 5 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs @ Whole Intentions

Using Herbal Powders to Supplement a Healthy Diet: An Alternative to the Daily Multivitamin @ Keeper of the Home

Favorite Winter Herbal Remedies: Colds, Coughs, Stomach Viruses, and Headaches @ Keeper of the Home

Backyard Medicinal Plants: Do You Have Herbal Remedies Right Under Your Nose? @ Keeper of the Home

Naturally Neutralizing Stress: Herbs that Calm @ Keeper of the Home

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Natural Medicine Cabinets & General Wellness

Building a Natural Medicine Cabinet @ The Humbled Homemaker

Winter Wellness Elixir @ Simply Smiles

How I Stock My Natural Medicine Cabinet @ Keeper of the Home

Stocking a Natural Medicine Cabinet @ Young Wife’s Guide 

Resources for Home Remedies: What to Buy, Where to Buy @ Keeper of the Home

7 Ways to Eat Raw Garlic @ Intentional by Grace

Simple DIY Hand Sanitizer @ Intentional by Grace

Skin Ailments

10 Uses for Bentonite Clay @ The Humbled Homemaker

Homemade Burn Cream @ Nourishing Joy

10 Ways to Soothe a Bee Sting @ Accidentally Green

How to Treat Bug Bites Naturally @ Keeper of the Home

How I Healed My Son’s Skin Infection (Without Antibiotics) @ Keeper of the Home

How a Hard Lotion Bar Helped My Eczema @ Keeper of the Home

How I Healed my Infected Finger Without Antibiotics @ Red and Honey

Sleep

5 Natural Ways to Get Better Sleep @ The Marathon Mom

Natural Remedies to Help You and Your Children Sleep @ Lexie: Naturals

5 Ways to Sleep Better Naturally @ Red and Honey

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Stomach

Avoid the Stomach Virus After Being Exposed @ The Humbled Homemaker

The Benefits of Gelatin for Heart Burn @ Nourishing Joy

How to Treat Acid Reflux Naturally @ Red and Honey

Stop the Stomach Flu in its Tracks @ Intoxicated on Life

The Ultimate Natural Remedies Round-Up  {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

image from pixabay.com

Do you use natural remedies? What are the best natural remedies you use in your home?

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products

real deals 700px post image

This week’s top deals:

 

paleo-plan-large (1)Paleo Plan has a 14 Day FREE Trial.  Paleo diet made easy!

They’ve also had their Paleo meal plans on 50% off or more for Black Friday, but I can’t tell when the sale is ending. Hopefully it’s still on and you can grab a year-long membership at a great price!

squeeztersList Price $19.99 On Sale $6.99  That’s Just $1.75 each!  Reusable Food Pouch for Kids or Baby. BPA Free | Set of 4 | Clear Back | Squeeze These Monstrously Squeezable and Refillable Food Pouches! Dishwasher safe. Large 7 ounce size.   Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

These are perfect for sending things like smoothies, homemade applesauce, etc. with your kids to school or to take when you need snacks or lunch on the go!

7th genAs low as $20.76 -$23.91  ($0.43-$0.50/roll) Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue, 2-ply, 300 Sheets, 12-Count (Pack of 4) are on sale for $31.48.  Save $6 after your coupon is applied.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

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foodsaverList Price $99.99 On Sale $63.99 FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

yogurtList Price $44.95 On Sale $39.95  Euro-Cuisine YM100 Automatic Yogurt Maker  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

knifesharpList Price $39.99 On Sale $19.97  Wrenwane Kitchen Knife Sharpener  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

little cookList Price $19.99 On Sale $17.45 The Little Cook / Child’s 10-piece Silicone Bakeware Set  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

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teether

List Price $23 On Sale $20.44 Teether – Zeta Zebra teething toy – BPA Free – Organic Food Grade Silicone  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

truth in tinsel 300

All right, this isn’t actually on sale. But, seeing as today is the 2nd day of Advent, I wanted to tell you about Truth in the Tinsel.

It’s a wonderful guide for taking your children through the Advent season with 24 days so scripture readings, activities, ornament crafts and printables and more!

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)
xmas cooking

Easy Recipes for Christmas Cooking [Kindle Edition]

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

juicingThe JUICING BOOK: Delicious Juicer Recipes for Weight Loss, Health and Energy [Kindle Edition]Christmas Treat Recipes: Christmas Desserts, Cookies, Cakes, and More! [Kindle Edition]
365

Crock Pot: 365 Days of Crock Pot Recipes [Kindle Edition]
DIY

DIY: 365 Days of DIY  [Kindle Edition]

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-dec-2

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

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Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

10 Ideas for Celebrating Christ at Christmas with Young Children

kidschristmas

This post was originally published in December of 2012 but we find these suggestions to be a great list to revisit each year for inspiration and ideas as to how to introduce the holiday season to your little ones!

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

Isn’t Christmas with little ones wonderful?

It’s been quite a Christmas here, already. We’ve suffered three broken ornaments (one vintage), one ripped Christmas book, two discovered presents, a missing baby Jesus, and our monstrous tree has toppled over twice. (Don’t worry: two tree stands, four saw-ings, one PVC pipe, and two strands of fishing line later, it’s as stable as can be.)

Oh… and did I mention a rather tense and snippy mom?

I keep wondering: how can we celebrate a true Christmas, amidst the wonderful stresses and messes of life with little ones?

This year I’m focusing my energy on a few of these ideas for a real, memorable, and Christ-centered Christmas.

Have a feast!

I love these musings from Ann Voskamp about feasting on Christmas. Our grocery budget is tight, but I’ve considered eating simply for a week– frugal soups and rice and beans  – so we can splurge Christmas morning on real, delicious foods God has given us.

What would Christmas feasting look like for your family?  

Here, we’ll have dairy-free cinnamon rolls or chocolate-chip banana muffins. (Food allergies aren’t going to ruin our feasting!) I’m a potato girl, so I’ll fry some hash-browns and brown-sugar turkey bacon. And of course, fresh berries! (Later we’ll devour Braised Short Ribs with all the fixings!)

Let your kids throw him a party!

My toddler boys love celebrating someone with a birthday party. To them right now, honoring Jesus’ birthday means a giant balloon, a homemade cake, and lots of loud singing! I think we’ll invite the neighbor kids and make an event!

Enjoy good Christmas music and books. 

I know this might cause an outrage, but I’m just not a fan of “Frosty” or “Silver Bells”! (I know, I know…I’m a Grinch!) These just pale in comparison to songs that tell the real story. This is our favorite kids’ album. My husband and I could listen to Andrew Peterson’s brilliant “Behold the Lamb” album all year long! As far as books, consider visiting the library for a few Christ-centered books.

 Teach Christmas to little ones. 

This seems obvious, but bears repeating. Christmas can be confusing to little ones! It’s Jesus’ birthday, but there are trees, candy canes, Santa, penguins… frankly, it’s hard for me to draw all the connections. Imagine the confusion if you’re young!

Here’s a snippet of the conversation I had with Sam, our 3-year-old:

 Sam, do you remember that God sent Jesus down to earth to show people how to get to heaven? Every year we celebrate his birthday, when he was born as a little baby! Do you think we should give Him a gift? (Yes!) Well, do you know what He said he wants? (What?) He wants us to love other people and help them!

And how about really giving Jesus a gift?

This year we rolled pennies and dimes from our family piggy bank, headed to the dollar store, and picked out toys to cram in shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Together we’ll pick out a gift from the Samaritan’s Purse or Compassion International gift catalog.

And I think we’ll give Jesus “a gift” – a picture of us stuffing the boxes. (You could take or draw a picture.) Although certainly not necessary, I think having a visual, tangible “present” for Jesus is a great idea for little ones. Whatever gifts of love you give this season, be clear that they are gifts for Jesus!

Simplify gifts.

I’m really intrigued by those families who forgo gifts at Christmas. Others do three gifts, symbolizing the three gifts Jesus received. I also like the idea of four gifts: “something you wear, something you need, something you want, something you read.” Celebrating and Savoring a Simple Christmas has many thoughtful, homemade gifts I’d never thought of!

Make it to a Christmas Eve service.

I’ll be honest; this often feels like a real sacrifice! Getting everyone dressed in festive attire, fed something semi-special, and in the car at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve is sometimes the last thing I feel like doing, and I’m tempted to skip it. Yet these services can often be the most entertaining and memorable for little ones!

Use Christmas cards as acts of love.

Look over that list again. Who’s missing? Elderly neighbors who linger to say hi to your kids? Out-of-town great-aunts? Would some of these folks enjoy pictures of your family or a Christmas coloring page? Funny, but a page of scribbles and a picture of your kids just might bless a lonely someone with His love.

Celebrate Advent daily. 

These days there are a plethora of Advent projects to choose from.

Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional is inspirational and outreach-oriented. Quiet times have been a struggle for me recently, and this is an answer to prayer!

  • Check out the Truth in the Tinsel resource with daily crafts for young children.
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible tells a brilliant Advent story. If you read 1-2 stories a day in December, on Christmas you’d be at Jesus’ birth! If you don’t have this beautiful Bible, consider gifting it to your family early.
  • You may have heard of the “elf on the shelf” tradition, where you hide an elf every day for your kids… I love this idea, which uses the “elf on the shelf” (or Santa, if you wish) to teach grace!
  • Or, how about taking time to meditate each day on a different name for Jesus?  Here is an adorable project that your kids can do on the same theme.

Give yourself grace.

Perhaps it’s been a long and stressful year for your family. Maybe you’re frazzled and weary, and a list like this is more overwhelming than helpful. (I’ve been there!)

What would it look like to ask Him for grace?

Consider pausing to ask the Lord what He wants for your family this year. If that means a barren tree, a handful of unwrapped presents, and a take-out dinner from Olive Garden, so be it! Growing up, we once celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant because my mom had been sick. We kids loved it!

How do you keep Christ at the center of your Christmas? What Christ-centered activities do your kids love?

Top photo by James Jordan
 Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

9 Things That Shopping Can Never Deliver @ Becoming Minimalist

Six Words My Husband Needs To Hear @ The Better Mom

Creamy Turkey Veggie Soup (dairy-free) @ The Nourishing Home

My best suggestion ever for Thanksgiving leftovers @ Simple Bites

Why We’re Not Buying Gifts @ GNOWFGLINS

Cranberry Turkey Monte Cristo (a yummy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers) @ The Nourishing Gourmet

When the Size of Your House is Cramping the Size of Your Hospitality @ Lisa-Jo Baker

When Your Online Community is Crowded & Your Real-Life Community is Lacking @ The Humbled Homemaker

How do you simplify the holidays in your family?

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer

Homemade gifts are fun to give, but can seem overwhelming to make. 

I’m here to tell you that this does not have to be the case. It’s possible to give something made with your own hands without spending days getting it ready. 

My favorite method of creating homemade gifts, is the fast and furious approach. I’ve even been known to make 100 gifts in an hour. (And it wasn’t that hard. I promise.)

Today I’m going to show you how to make a pampering bath and body gift basket in 30 minutes or less. 

It’s not as hard as you might imagine. 

This gift is perfect for anyone who needs some rest and relaxation, and is especially well-loved by those who enjoy a good bath. 

This gift basket will include:

  • 1 Soothing Lavender  Salt Bath
  • 1 Nourishing Oatmeal & Lavender Bath
  • 1 Rose and Chamomile Bath Tea
  • 1 Lavender Body Oil

It would not take much more time to double or triple the amounts in order to make more, if desired.

How to make a bath and body gift basket in 30 minutes

You will need:

Step one:

Gather supplies (try to do this ahead of time in order to make everything move quickly and smoothly) and lay out mixing bowls and spoons. 

Step two:

Place 11 ounces (1 1/3 cups) Epsom salts in one bowl and 2 tablespoons in another bowl. 

Add 4 ounces (1/2 cup) sea salt to the first bowl with the larger amount of Epsom salts

Step three:

In a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 10 drops lavender essential oil. Add this to the first bowl with the Epsom salts and sea salt. Stir to combine. 

 

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Place this mixture in the plastic jar and label: Lavender Bath Soak

Include these instructions: pour entire contents of jar into a warm bath as it is filling with water. To relax and soothe tired muscles, soak for at least 15 minutes.

One product complete!

Step four

To the other bowl containing Epsom salt, add 1/4 cup dried rose petals and 1/3 cup dried chamomile flowers. 

Stir to combine. This mix will need to be added to a muslin bag and floated in the tub to avoid clogging the drain. You may add the mixture to a muslin bag now, or place in a clear jar and include the bag along with it giving specific instructions that the mixture should be added to the bag before use. 

 

Product two complete!

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Step five

Now we will make the soothing oat bath. 

In a coffee grinder, place 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, and 2 tablespoons lavender flowers. 

 

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Pulse the grinder a few times until a mixture becomes a fine powder.

Pour mixture into a a muslin tea bag and include the following instructions:

Third product complete!

Step six

Time to make the final product: Body Oil

 

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

Pour oil into designated bottle  and add 6 drops of lavender essential oil. 

Replace cap and close tightly. Shake to combine. 

Add a label. Include instructions: use all over the body after a bath or shower to nourish and moisturize the skin.  

You’re done!

Place all jars and muslin bags in a pretty basket or box. Be sure instructions are included. 

That was pretty easy, right?

If you have more time, it would be fun to include some homemade bath fizzies, an herbal bath vinegar, and even a sugar scrub. 

Make a DIY Bath and Body Gift Basket in 30 Minutes or Less {KeeperOfTheHome.org}

What type of homemade body care would you enjoy receiving as a gift?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

larabarAs low as $5.09-$5.69 ($0.42-$0.47/bar) Larabar Variety Pack Mini Bars 0.78 Ounce Bar, 12 Count are on sale for $5.99.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

crockList Price $49.99 On Sale $39.99 Hamilton Beach 33967A Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart

chiaAs low as $8.49-$9.49  Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds Black, 32 Ounce Just $9.99  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.
train
List Price $174.99 On Sale $119.97  KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set and Table.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order. (Stephanie’s note: We bought this for our sons one year and they loved it. It’s a really fun set and the table has survived their rough housing pretty well.)

!

blocks

List Price $69.99 On Sale $40.38  ECR4Kids Architectural Unit Blocks with Carry Case, 48-Piece Set.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

bakingList Price $8.49 On Sale $6.02  Chicago Metallic Baking Essentials Silicone Baking Cups, Set of 12.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

digList Price $49.99 On Sale $35.68  Big Dig Ride-on working Crane.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

bike

List Price $65.99 On Sale $48.99  Radio Flyer Glide & Go Balance Bike Red.  Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

BHS

See allBulk Herb Store November Deals here.

BHS 2

Bulk Herb Store is also having a Black Friday Sale on November 28th only!

ora

Ora Wellness has a 2-Part Holiday Offer:

The first part is a popular Holiday Free Brush Offer, where customers will receive an equal number of Bass brushes FREE with the purchase of the same number of bottles of the Healthy Mouth Blend.  For example, when a customer purchases “buy 2, get 1 free” of Healthy Mouth Blend, they will receive  3 FREE Bass toothbrushes with their purchase.  The free Bass brush offer applies on all quantities of Healthy Mouth Blend (single bottle, 3, 7 or 12 packs)  The Holiday Free Brush Offer will run from Black Friday  through December 12th.

But, from Black Friday through Cyber Monday (Nov 28 – Dec 1), customers can take an additional 10% off their entire order. (yes, it still includes the FREE Bass brush offer too!)  To claim the additional 10% coupon, customers need to enter the promo code HOLIDAY2014 during checkout.

yam

And lastly, get these adorable Hudson Baby Natural Organic Bodysuits (select designs only) as low as $2.99!

 

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

(Note: Prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

drink

Christmas Drink Recipes: Simple & Easy Christmas Drink Recipes to Make at Home! (Hot Chocolates, Ciders, Lattes, and MORE!) (Stephanie’s note: I haven’t seen the ingredients in these recipes, but I would encourage you with any holiday drinks or treats that you make, substitute natural sweeteners for refined/processed ones. Your body will thank you this holiday season!)

christmas

Lost and Found, Stories of Christmas
organize

How to Organize Your Life, Mind and Home: 9 Organizing Principles To Help You Simplify Your Life, Increase Efficiency And Maximize Productivity.

This week’s best coupons:

real-deals-pinterest-nov-25

Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

9 Hair Care Products You Can Make for Yourself

 9 Hair Care Products You Can Make for Yourself {KeeperoftheHome.org}

By Beth Ricci, Contributing Writer

It’s routine for me now, but when I think about it I realize that I do a lot of DIY’ing. Mostly with kitchen and bathroom items. Sometimes it even feels as if I’m on a personal quest to put certain companies out of business. I mean, that would be a nice side effect in some cases (particularly the companies that malevolently market their junky products to unsuspecting consumers), but that’s not really the primary reason why I do it. 

I do it for one big reason: simplicity. It simplifies my life, my health, and my budget when I DIY products like the ones below. There is a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to making every kind of product imaginable (and then some) for your hair and beauty needs. It’s kind of weird, if you ask me.

They make all kinds of ridiculous claims about what their products can do but when it comes down to it, simple DIY versions can achieve the same end result — and with fewer toxic chemicals and less dollars out of your pocket.

 Case in point: I ditched shampoo and conditioner 10 months ago and currently have the best hair of my life.

I do use natural/organic store-bought products at times (when I can find ones that I actually trust), but I’m a busy woman, and sometimes I just don’t have the time to sort through a bajillion different natural brands to find the one that works well for me. I find that it is often simpler to just DIY it. 

Here are 9 DIY hair care recipes to try:

1. 2-Ingredient DIY Dry Shampoo from Red and Honey

I absolutely adore this simple recipe for dry shampoo. In case you’re not familiar, dry shampoo doesn’t clean your hair; it masks the greasiness until your next wash. I love it because I am a no-poo’er, and only shower and wash my hair about twice a week. (See my posts on How to Stay Clean Without Showering Every Day and No-Poo FAQ’s, Resources, and Tips for more info on that.)

9 Hair Care Products You Can Make for Yourself {KeeperoftheHome.org}

2. DIY Hair Detangler from One Good Thing By Jillee

This is a very basic recipe that uses a store-bought conditioner. If you want to avoid that, try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
diluted in a small spray bottle of water. That should do the trick too.

3. Coconut Oil Hair Mask from The Crunchy Moose

I love that this post includes advice on how to get the coconut oil out of your hair once you’ve slathered it on. I can imagine it might be sort of tough unless you have a plan!

9 Hair Care Products You Can Make for Yourself {KeeperoftheHome.org}

4. Homemade Hair Gel from Almost Exactly 

This post has two different versions – one that needs to be refrigerated, and one that doesn’t. Both are simple and effective! 

5. Natural Hairspray Recipe from Wellness Mama

Interesting recipe. I love how simple it is, and how much money you can save! Many people are spending $15 or more on a can of hair spray, and I love knowing that they could make this recipe for a tiny fraction of that cost.

6. Homemade Shampoo from Wellness Mama

This shampoo recipe uses one of my favorite smoothie ingredients, and I think it’s brilliant! Judging from the amount of comments on the post, this is one to try for sure if no-poo’ing ever stops working for me.

9 Hair Care Products You Can Make for Yourself {KeeperoftheHome.org}

7. DIY Beach Waves Spray from Empowered Sustenance

This one is sort of similar to the DIY hairspray recipe above, but adapted slightly to give it a more texturizing/volumizing function. 

8. DIY Hair Highlights from Empowered Sustenance

Have you ever used henna to color your hair? This post walks you through it.

9. Moisturizing Hair Treatments from The Humbled Homemaker

This post shares three all-natural DIY ways to do a moisturizing hair treatment. I totally want to try the hot oil one soon.

Which parts of your hair care routine have you DIY’d?

Also check out Stephanie’s post from a few years ago: My Frugal Beauty Routine

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!