Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Cozy Stable

As the 12-day nativity gets launched this year, I asked friends and family to try one of the activities in the book.  Here is what Stacey and family did:

My kids had a lot of fun constructing their own stable. We've built quite a few forts but I liked how they used a building method that they hadn't used before for building the stable. 

We turned on some Christmas music to listen to as they built, and once it was finished we found lights so they could read books inside. They stayed in and played for hours!

I appreciated this fun idea that put a meaningful Christmas spin on a regular activity. 

What Can I Give him? A gift of love

As the 12-Day Nativity is launched this year I asked several friends and family to try one of the activities in the book and share it with me.  Here is what Stephanie and her family did:

We read John 10:27 and then read "What Can I Give Him?" as a poem (without the music). We discussed ways we can give our heart to the Savior. Ideas that were mentioned during our discussion were, serving others, keeping the commandments, honoring our Father and Mother; etc.

Together we tied a no-sew fleece blanket to give a member of our local church congregation in need of some kindness this Christmas. It was a great activity for the older and younger children to do...everyone could tie a knot!



Shepherd's Picnic

As the 12-day Nativity was launched this year, I invited a few friends and family to try one of the activities in the book.  Here's what Nicole and her family did:

I have three boys, ages 7, 5, and 3, who are energetic and have attention spans like fruit flies. We kept our shepherd activities short and sweet, but they had a lot of fun and are still talking about what we learned on family night.

We talked about what shepherds do, and how they get to know their sheep--individually. My husband brought a bunch of their stuffed animals downstairs and the boys could each easily pick out which ones belonged to them--they knew because they love them and spend time with them. We made a connection with how Jesus knows and loves us each individually, and how we come to know Him by reading His words and living like He lived.

Next, we headed over to the kitchen table where I had laid out reusable canvas shopping totes, bread, water, and candy cane ornaments. We didn't bother covering the ornaments with anything because we're lazy like that, and if I were on my A-game I would have tied in how candy canes are a symbol of the shepherd's crook, but the boys were happy with their makeshift crooks. 

We explained we would have a shepherds' picnic, and that the shepherds ate simple meals while watching over their flocks. The boys then each packed a bag and we spread a blanket on the floor for a picnic. We let the sheep (the stuffed animals from before) "graze" on the edge of the rug, and the boys had to keep an eye on them while they ate. We talked about how shepherds had to drop everything they were doing to go after lost sheep, and how we can do the same with our willingness to follow Christ. My husband randomly scattered the sheep, and the boys had to go after them and bring them back to the fold with their crooks. This was a scream! They watched vigilantly, and even teamed up to help one another. 

I loved how I could adapt the activities from the book to fit my boys' needs. We're excited to make The Twelve Day Nativity part of our Christmas traditions.

Thanks for this experience--we loved the spirit it brought to our home!

12-Day Nativity Yard Art and Digital Files

As the 12-Day Nativity gets launched this year, I have asked friends and family to try some of the activities in the book -- Here is one of them:

Karlyn out-did herself by doing a full-on yard art of the nativity characters in the book.  Here's a look at them in the daylight and at night.  She says that next year she may color each figure - one per day leading up to Christmas so that everyone, including the baby Jesus is in full dolor by the end of the 12-day Nativity.  So fun and creative!

If you have the book and want a link to the DIGITAL FILES, shoot me a quick email ( letting me know your favorite activity from the book and i'll send it along!

Under the Blue Lights at night:

And in the daylight.  I LOVE the black sheep who was a contribution of Karlyn's son who insisted on participating in the project!

Who knows, maybe Karlyn will have had a good night's sleep by next year and will be taking orders!

Gifts for the Baby Jesus

As the 12-Day Nativity gets launched this year, I have asked friends and family to try some of the activities in the book -- Here is one of them:

Gifts for the Baby Jesus

It is a tradition for our family to have a red breakfast on Dec 1st. Now that the kids have school and the mornings are super crazy, we have our special breakfast for dinner.  But we still make a big breakfast and go all out even if it's dinner time.  We use special red plates, decorate with red decorations, get red juice etc. We talk about the color red and how it is significant as one of the Christmas colors.  It has been a good way to start off the Christmas season and remember what we are really celebrating.  So the Day 12: Baby Jesus activities fit perfectly and helped to enhance our red breakfast.  We read the scriptures and the little devotional included in this section of the book. Then we talked about what we should get for Jesus this Christmas.  It was really neat to have the kids stop and really think about this concept and to hear the kids ideas of what they thought the Savior would want for Christmas.  Some of the ideas were helping to bring peace on Earth by being kind to others, being more patient with each other so it would be easier to feel the Spirit in our home, teaching others about Jesus, help sad people feel happy etc. 

We made a list of everyone's ideas and then each picked one that we would work on during the month of December and give to Jesus for Christmas this year.  Then each of the kids wrote a letter to Jesus about their "Gifts for Him" and we put it in a special stocking and hung on the fireplace as a reminder. It was such a great start to the season and I can't wait to try more ideas from 12-Day Nativity to help keep Christ, centered in our home this Christmas Season.

I  cant tell you how awesome this activity was!  It was such a neat experience for our family and I am excited to make it a permanent tradition!!  Thanks so much!!


Christmas Advent

As the 12-Day Nativity gets launched this year, I have asked friends and family to try some of the activities in the book -- 
Here is one of them:

Make your own Nativity

Matt and I do an advent each year starting on Dec 1st. We open up one envelope that has a small family activity or service idea for each day.  I love these ideas from your book. Its going to give us some more ideas to switch things up every year. I also think it would be fun to wrap up each piece of the nativity, starting 12 days before, and include it in the advent we have, so we can build our manger together. I can't tell you how much I love that you shared your awesome ideas with us all, through your book.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A great resource for Faith-Based School Programs

The 12-day Nativity isn't just a great resource for families, but also for faith-based school programs! 

 There are LOTS of fun activities that help children to learn about the story of the Nativity

**Songs to sing

**Scriptures to share

**devotionals that tell of how each character in the Nativity Story is a symbol of Christ and thoughts of how we can be more like the Savior by adopting the attributes of each one.

**use one of the advent ideas to help focus on the Savior every day leading up to Christmas!

So many fun ideas to supplement your Christmas lessons or program!

Sharing your 12-day nativity one day at a time...

Looking for a unique Christmas gift for a friend, neighbor, teacher, or co-worker ?

Something that will be a real treasure they can keep from year to year?

Something that will help them celebrate the Savior not only this year, but next and the next and....?  

Why not surprise them with the 12-Day Nativity, and a nativity set - given one piece a day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas?  

If you're celebrating the 12 days leading up to Christmas, that starts December 14! ( If you're celebrating the traditional 12-days of Christmas, you can start on the 25th!)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nativity Exhibit & Other Nativity Displays

Every year our church congregation turns a large space, hundreds of tables and miles of fabric, lights and garland to display hundreds of nativities.  The nativities range from exotic sets from around the world to simple creations.  I love them all-- in fact so much that this event was the beginning of my nativity collection creation.  I had a handful before this event, but seeing the many different interpretations and testimonies expressed in each one has been such a blessing.  

Setting up is HARD, HARD WORK.  A labor of love.  But so worth it in the end.  Here are some pictures of what it looks like before

During:  (fixing the lights on a tree  - so frustrating when they go out after things are set up):

All the nativities are stacked on boxes.  It's like a tetris game trying to find the right box to fit the right space.  Sometimes things don't go well.  Set up is always more fun with a good friend.

And here is what it looks like when it's all done:

This event is held annually - the first weekend in December in Carrollton, TX.  You can see current info on the display here:

Here's another view taken from a local TV spot in 2010

and a time-lapse video of the display from set up to take down:

Amazing, and what a blessing to be a part of this every year.


What Nativity events are available in your area?  I've been trying to figure out how to go see this one: 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nativity Tree and the 12-Day Nativity

One fun way to celebrate the Nativity is to have a tree dedicated specifically to the Nativity Story.'

Here is mine this year -- the ribbon is printed in Gold and includes many of the names of the Savior.  I have collected over 40 ornaments, so it slowly grew from a small twig of a tree to the full tree shown here.  You can find more ideas for the Nativity tree in the 12-day Nativity.

I love all the different varieties of ornaments:  blown glass, wood, fabric, ceramic, metal.  Some were collected while traveling, and others given as gifts by dear friends over the years.  As soon as the ornaments go up in the stores, I'm usually there to pick through them for the first official ornament of Christmas!

One of the things I love about the Nativity ornaments is that it often reduces the nativity to just the Holy Family.  The small scale creates a real intimacy between Joseph, Mary and the baby.  Just a momma, daddy and a baby encircled in one another's arms.  

Here are a few of my favorites: 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Launch Party

Thanks to everyone who dropped in for the book launch party.  It was fun to see so many friends.  I especially enjoyed visiting with one friend who accidentally showed up a day early.  In spite of the mess (I was knee-deep in the preparations), we enjoyed having some one-on-one time that would not have happened with the crowd.  So glad you came and stayed S.!  

Book Signing & Nativity give-away:

Hot Chocolate Bar:
 Yummy Cookies & Cake pops

The Nativity Tree:

Browsing through the book and some of the nativity projects:

 Signing up for the nativity give-away!

 12-day nativity

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Teacher Gifts for Christmas

Looking for a unique teacher gift this year?  Why not share the 12-Day Nativity?

You could share the book, and then surprise your teacher each day with a separate piece to a nativity set, so that they have the entire set by the time school is out for the holiday break. What teacher wouldn't love that!?! 

It's a fun and unique way (so much better than hand soap and starbucks gift cards!) to show your appreciation and share your faith with the people you admire and love. 

You can see a summary of what's in the book here...
or order it online here:  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nativity Quiet Book

While I have been waiting for The 12 Day Nativity to get published, I’ve been making a Nativity Quiet Book – (honestly, I have no idea why I picked this project... just saw some fun ideas on Pinterest and got a little crazy with myself)--  and I finally finished it up today!

There are so many fun quiet book ideas out there, and I admit that I have adapted those concepts to characters in the nativity story.  I’ll post some tutorials soon, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak of the pages:

Ok, first of all, please don't judge my sewing skills.  But here's the front cover.  Notice the little tab that says, "press here"?

This is what it does...

(I can say that because it wasn't my idea - found a similar concept on Pinterest!)

So-so-so-fun!  pull a star and another star somewhere else on the page moves!

Somewhere in the path is a marble that you push through the maze from the donkey to the stable.

Tie up the camels for the night!  

Incidentally, the text on the little notes ironed to each page?  It's MY HANDWRITING!  ha!  Yes!  My daughter & son-in-law (Kira and Cam) gave me an app for my birthday (One of the best birthday gifts ever!) that allows me to create my own fonts.  This is the first one that I did and while it has some "issues", I love it and have downloaded it onto my computer. I printed the captions out on fabric straight out of my computer. 

Find the Nativity characters;
I have little nativity buttons, as well as letters that spell out the names.

Look!  I found the donkey!

This next one is quite possibly my favorite page:

adapted from an idea I found on another blog, you lift the hay under the baby Jesus to reveal several surprises:

a sheep
a loaf of bread
a fish
a heart
a cross

each is a symbol of a story of Jesus from the New Testament.

A fun project -- but definitely a labor of love!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The 12 Day Nativity - In the box and on the way!

So while I haven't seen my copy yet, (argh!) my sister marched down to the publisher yesterday and picked up a box of The 12-Day Nativity and sent me this picture:

Hopefully you'll be getting YOUR copy soon!  You can find it here,(Amazon) here, (Walmart) here , (Target) here  (Barnes & Noble) and here ( - book or e-book formats are available.

As soon as I get my copy I'll do a video book trailer highlighting all the good stuff inside!  In the mean-time, here's sneak preview:

In the 12-day Nativity you’ll find activities that you can use to prepare to celebrate the Nativity story -- one character at a time -- and fill your home with the spirit of Christmas as a result.

Other things you'll find in the 12-Day Nativity:
O·         A template to create your own nativity scene or advent calendar.
·         Directions for creating or performing your own nativity using family and friends to depict the key characters and events of the nativity.
·         Information and related activities on how other countries celebrate the nativity.
·         Recommendations for other nativity-related events that will help bring the true meaning of Christmas into your home.


Non-traditional Nativities - the 12 Day Nativity

One of my favorite "nativities"  is not what most would consider as a "traditional" nativity set. 

 I love all the fun subway art that is so popular right now.   Having something that isn't a set of small pieces helps "break things up" and gives a little visual relief.   

These would be great as a centerpiece over a mantle, or they can be easily hung  on any wall (and just as easily removed when using the Command Strips -- I like the velcro strips when hanging these big pictures) if you don't have countertop  or mantle space.

You can find a link to the artwork here:

This link will take you to an instant download so you get the JPEG file, which you can then have printed, or even have it printed on a canvas.

The ribbon came from Hobby Lobby - a local craft & home decor store.

Here's another, more rustic version.  You can find the artwork here:

More subway art: