The Day Before Thanksgiving….Let’s Talk About Christmas!

I have several previous posts about our Christmas traditions so I thought I would round them all up in one place for you, plus share a little more about our plans for this year!

We were very happy to get to kick off the holiday season with Operation Christmas Child this year! We have missed being able to volunteer at our local Drop Offs the last three years. This year not only did we volunteer, we visited all 10 Drop Offs in our area!

You can check out the following posts to learn many of the ways my family celebrates Christmas:

5 Ideas For Your Best Christmas #1

5 Ideas For Your Best Christmas #2

5 Ideas For Your Best Christmas #3

5 Ideas For Your Best Christmas #4

5 Ideas For Your Best Christmas #5

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions Video and My Favorite Gifts to Make

patterns courtesy of

I haven’t quite completed my Christmas shopping yet. I am usually done by now but plan to finish up in the next week or so.


We don’t do traditional “Christmas food” on Christmas but we do have my favorite stuffing on Thanksgiving along with this delicious Duck. These could easily make a wonderful Christmas feast as well. We generally do enchiladas on Christmas Eve and two years ago we started the tradition of having Swedish meatballs (recipe coming soon) on Christmas. This year we are having lutefisk, another traditional Swedish dish with my parents a couple days before Christmas when we celebrate with them.

Our Advent Calendar Activities: Some of the posts above mention our Advent activities. This post includes instructions to download my Advent calendar from 2015. I haven’t finalized my calendar for this year yet but it will include the following activities:

  • Holiday Ball (for hubby and I, the kids will get time with grandma!)
  • Kids performing in the Christmas Choir
  • Bake and decorate cookies
  • Bake and decorate gingerbread houses
  • Share cookies with the mail carrier, sanitation worker, neighbors etc.
  • Saint Nicolas Day
  • Christmas movies on Sundays (Pure Flix is offering a free Christmas movie every Sunday from now through Christmas, no subscription required!)
  • Star Wars movie
  • Pre- Christmas at Grandma’s

I will sprinkle some of the random acts of kindness from my previous calendar among these activities.

That pretty much sums up our Christmas Traditions. I plan to spend December doing a lot of planning and organizing this year as well so I can start strong in January! 


What are your favorite Christmas Traditions? Let me know in the comments! 

New Card Game: Unauthorized from Chara Games {Review}

I have grand visions of my family becoming a family who plays board and card games together, as my children are getting old enough to understand more and more games we are slowly adding to our collection (one can only play Shoots and Ladders so many times). Today I’m going to tell you about Unauthorized, a new game from Chara Games.


First, a little bit about the company. Chara Games creates board (and card) games for families with Christian themes. This is a neat idea that provides learning opportunities for your own family as well as opportunities to open up various Christian topics of discussion with others in a relaxed, casual way.

Chara Games

Unauthorized is a card game for 6-12 players ages 12+. It comes packaged in a sturdy box that should hold up well through plenty of use. The cards themselves are high quality and full color. I’m quite impressed with the quality of this product, especially coming from a pretty small company.


The box contains 12 double-sided role cards, 1 dealer card, 2 reference cards, 97 experience cards and the rulebook. Several of the experience cards are labeled to be used with 8+ or 10+ players. Basically, the expansion packs are included!


The theme of the game is the underground church. Each player is assigned a role and decides if they want to try to be aligned with the state or the church (unless they draw pastor or police which have a set alignment). During the game, certain cards are played face up and others are in each player’s hands. The object is to end up with as many people on the side of your chosen alignment, and you use your actions to manipulate other players’ alignments without necessarily giving yours away. You can make guesses based on face-up cards but don’t know what players hold in their hands (the cards each player’s hand determines his/her alignment).

The game is pretty quick to play once you learn how to play it. There is a bit of a learning curve the first time to play, especially in figuring out how to set it up. With only four rounds, it takes about 30 minutes to play.

Christian board games by Chara Games, Unauthorized strategy card game with the theme of underground Church

We had a bit of a challenge finding situations where we had at least six people old enough to play this game to try it out but we managed to make it work a few times and learned some things along the way.

What we learned:

  1. If playing with kids, it really works best to play with kids who already know at least a little about the underground church in places where Christianity is (or was) illegal. While kids who don’t know anything about the underground church can certainly follow the rules and play they just won’t really get the game. It is far more fun to play with people who understand the theme. This would be an excellent activity to incorporate into a study of the underground church and places where Christianity is (or has been) illegal.
  2. You really do need six players and the more the better. We tried playing with five players since finding six is a bit of a challenge. We had one person play two roles so that there were six “players” even though we only had five actual people. While possible, this definitely caused a bit of confusion and the game was much smoother and more fun with six people. Even more players would make it more fun and more interesting.
  3. Age matters. The box says ages 12+. I had heard that people successfully played it with children as young as eight. My almost-8-year-old wanted to play. She understood the rules and was able to follow along, but she didn’t really get the object or theme of the game and wasn’t able to strategize at all. She played a police officer and did enjoy putting everyone in jail. This is similar to #1 and perhaps if we had done a study on the underground church before playing she would have been more engaged but I think the strategy aspect would have still been a bit beyond her ability.


Christian board games by Chara Games, Unauthorized strategy card game with the theme of underground Church

Overall, this is a fun game and I love that it is quick and you don’t need hours to sit down and play. My 12-year-old thinks it could be fun for her CC Challenge class to play during lunch. They get about 40 minutes for lunch so it would be just right. It would also be great for youth groups (especially while studying about places where Christianity is illegal) and small groups. I would suggest only playing with at least 6 players and people old enough to understand the theme of the game and the strategy it takes to play effectively.

I am thrilled to have this game as part of my collection, I’m thinking about keeping it in my car and pulling it out whenever a random opportunity presents itself since it is such a quick play and small enough to carry around!

Christian board games by Chara Games, Unauthorized strategy card game with the theme of underground Church

What is your favorite family game? Have you tried anything from Chara Games? Please share in the comments!

This is a Review Crew review, click the graphic below to see more reviews of Unauthorized.

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

A Halloween Idea – Box Tract {Review}

It is starting to feel like fall! All of the Halloween and harvest themed decorations are out in the stores. I can’t believe it is that time of year already! Today I would like to look forward a little bit and introduce you to the Halloween Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract from Let the Little Children Come.

Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

I have written before about how our family handles Halloween. Honestly, it is a bit of a complicated subject and what we do (or don’t do) varies from year to year. Also, let me be honest and say I’m not a fan of tracts. I’m really not a fan of handing them out for Halloween. I find it a bit obnoxious and I feel like tracts as an evangelism tool have sort of seen their day. I’m pretty sure most people just ignore them and if a child is expecting candy and gets a booklet about Jesus instead they are likely to just resent Jesus for replacing their candy. Personally, I feel like there is a better way.


These boxes are super cute! And you put candy IN them so the kids still get candy AND learn about Jesus if they chose to read it. I still feel like this tool would be better used in an environment where the message can be expanded upon and explained by people the child trust and look up to but I will discuss that more in a minute. I wouldn’t fault anyone for using this as a fun way to hand out candy (like a goody bag with a bonus!). Most “fun sized” candy would fit in here, depending on what it is maybe even 2-3 pieces of candy. Small toys would also fit if you chose to have allergy friendly options for trick-or-treaters.

The boxes are made of sturdy, glossy cardstock. They come in a sheet with the box itself perforated and the instructions for folding it on the other part of the page. The outside is orange so that it makes a cute pumpkin when folded and says “Is There Anything Better Than Candy?” On the inside each petal is a different color and numbered in the order they should be read with the message of salvation.

Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract
Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

The paper used to make this is pretty sturdy and should hold up just fine to passing out to a group or to trick-or-treaters on Halloween but don’t expect them to last much longer than that. They come in packs of 20 which is probably perfect for a Sunday School class, AWANA class, scout troop or other small group gatherings. At $15.95 per pack, it could be a bit cost prohibitive if you have a lot of trick-or-treaters or hand out candy at a festival at your church but the price per pack does go down when ordering multiple packs.

There are only a couple of things I wish were different on these, it would be nice if the petals folded up in reverse order of how you read them so that you could read each one as you open it. It seems a little more random and you have to take the box completely apart to read the message in order. Also, it would be lovely if verses were included so that those using these boxes as a presentation or even those who received them can look up verses to back up what it says. Those are relatively minor issues and this can still be a very useful tool!

Let The Little Children Come Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box Tract Review

I mentioned using these in a Sunday School class or with an AWANA group. Other similar small group options would be a great place to use these as well. I do think that using them in this sort of setting rather than handing them out to people you don’t know would be a more effective use of the tool, especially if the leader who is handing them out takes the time to form their lesson around the message in the box and explains and expands upon each point.

My kids do a presentation each week at Classical Conversations and I think this would make a great presentation for the week close to Halloween. They can pass out a box with a treat to each of their classmates and explain the message in the box to the class as their presentation. Since I have two kids who do presentations and there are 8 kids in each class my pack of 20 will be just right!

What do you think? How could you use this fun Halloween tract box? Is this something you would hand out or use in another way? Let me know in the comments!


Is There Anything Better Than Candy? {Let The Little Children Come Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Back To Homeschool Blog Hop – Intro

It’s back to school time for most people! In my family, we don’t completely stop schooling over the summer but we generally change things up and have a reduced load. So while this time of year is not completely back to school, we are still gearing up and preparing for fall activities and re-establishing our “school-year” routines. (Why am I ALWAYS re-establishing routines???)


Need some new ideas?

For homeschoolers, this is often the time of year we are looking for fresh ideas on keeping homeschool fun, keeping up with the workload, balancing everything, and generally doing a good job with this huge task. An opportunity for you to get tons of new ideas is coming your way!


New Homeschooler or Considering Homeschooling?

The other thing that tends to happen this time of year when you are a “veteran” homeschooler is people start asking lots of questions about how to homeschool because they are wondering if it could work for them. Well here is a chance for those of you just starting out or wondering if homeschooling could be a good option for your family to get ideas, tips, and resources from a variety of veteran homeschoolers. 


Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Next week I will be participating in the Review Crew Back To Homeschool Blog Hop! We will be linking up with all sorts of homeschool information, tips, and resources that you won’t want to miss if you homeschool or are thinking about homeschooling!


Here is a rundown of the topics and schedule for the week:

I will be posting at least three of these, possibly four or all five if I manage to find the time! I will link each of my blog posts to this post once they are written. Any days I don’t get a post written I will link the main blog hop post so you can see what everyone else wrote!


Back to HomeSchool Series intro


It is going to be a fun week, I’m looking forward to reading about how my fellow Crew members organize their homeschools!

Click on the banner below to check out who else is participating in this hop or scroll down to see the linky of participants!


Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017