Our Favorite Christmas Books

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Amazon has $5 off any $15 book with code BOOKGIFT17! Expires 12/15 at midnight!

Non-Santa, Non-Jesus, But Still Fun

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Hilary Knight // Imagine if your true love really did give you all those gifts! Whew! The illustrations in this one are outstanding.

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry // A giant tree becomes a Christmas tree for more than just Mr. Willowby!

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor // Fancy Nancy books are always more family than fanciness. I love this sweet grandfather/granddaughter story.

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff // Typical If You… fun at Christmas time!

Christmas Magic by Michael Garland // Two snowpeople experience some Christmas magic! (This is not my favorite book but my kids LOVE it!)


Dream Snow by Eric Carle // A farmer (dressed in red and white) tends to his farm animals on Christmas. Includes clear pages and lights and music!

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood // adorable animals experience a quiet Christmas (“hoping for a snow day quiet”, “writing letters to Santa quiet”)

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson // Bear and his friends try to stay up for Christmas morning. (Santa isn’t seen, just his presents the next day.)

You are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love // A sweet love-letter from parent to child at Christmas.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry // A little bear experiences all the smells of Christmas–you do, too with scratch-and-sniff stickers! (Santa is seen in this one, but is not the main point of the story.)

Merry Christmas, Ollie! by Olivier Dunrea // A duck and his friends wait for Father Christmas Goose.

A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates // A funny retelling including Sir Peggedy and his eight giant seahorses.

Non-Santa, Kinda Not About Jesus, But Kinda Still About Jesus

The Christmas House by Carol Bullman // Busy neighbors are drawn to a young couple’s home (and their baby).

17 Christmases by Dandi Daley Mackall // A family travels the country to visit allllll their family during Christmas.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski // A grumpy old man is loved on by a widow and her son as he carves a Nativity scene for them.

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs // A farmer’s wife gives her favorite Christmas tree on the farm to a needy family.

Merry Creature Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall // Forest friends have a Christmas celebration in the woods and try not to wake the mean old bear.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson // Mortimer the mouse discovers a funny little mouse-sized house at Christmas. He’s not a fan of the inhabitants until he learns who they are.

Stories about Christmas Symbols and Traditions

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg // A little girl meets a candy maker and learns the legend of the candy cane.

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree by Crystal Bowman // Part of a series of board books about the symbols of Christmas.

J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

A Star for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

My Christmas Gift by Crystal Bowman

Christmas Books With Prophecy, Teaching or are Just SO GOOD You Should Totally Own Them

What's In The Bible

Christmas Love Letters from God Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist // goes through each of the main characters and then has a love letter in God’s voice at the end of each page.

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones // One of the best books to show God’s majesty. (Also, if you don’t own Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible, YOU MUST.) Both of these hardcover booksare on sale for UNDER $5 on Amazon today, 12/15!

The Wonder of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall // Maybe my favorite Christmas book ever. Turns a simple Christmas play into declarations to follow God.

Why Do We Call It Christmas? by Phil Vischer // I could talk about this book forever. Oh. I already did.

Ordinary Baby Extraordinary Gift by Gloria Gaither // A song set inside a book with lots of great truth about WHY Jesus came.

The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Hunt // This book ties in all of Christmas AND Easter. Must have.

Born on Christmas Morn by Melinda Kay Busch // A simple little paperback telling the Nativity story but it ends at the cross & resurrection!

The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell // I love this author so much! This story is the nativity story but told thru the lens of God’s promises to the people of Israel–and how the Messiah would come as a new, rescuing, forever King! (also: the companion sticker Advent Calendar and Activity Book)

The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats by Andrew Peterson is based on his CD, Behold the Lamb. And if you do not own that CD, you must have it! It tells the whole story of Jesus–from Passover in Egypt to the Passover before the Crucifixion. Absolutely an essential part of Christmas!

 Nativity Stories

A Night of Great Joy by Mary Engelbreit // children in a play act out the first Christmas.

The Berenstain Bears and the Christmas Angel by Mike Berenstain // The Bear family learns about angels in the Christmas story.

The Voices of Christmas by Nikki Grimes // The characters of the Christmas story tell their part in the first person.

Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren // A mother tells her daughter the story of the first Christmas. The little girl sees it in her own time and location. Very cool retelling.

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate // A sweet board book about animals in the stable waiting for Mary and Joseph.

A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck // A little boy tells everyone in his toy manger scene goodnight.

The Christmas Story (Peek a Bible: A Lift the Flap Book) by Tracy Harrast // A simple retelling of the Nativity with flaps and fun cartoon illustrations.

m is for manger by crystal bowman .

The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain // The first Christmas as shown by the Berenstain Bears. Sticks close to Scripture!

Goodnight Manger by Laura Sassi // A funny interpretation of how noisy the stable must have been!

Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall // Another story about the noises of the first Christmas.

M is for Manger by Crystal Bowman // Not technically a story, it’s an ABC re-telling of the Christmas story. Beautiful and perfect for preschoolers.

Stories about Giving

A Royal Christmas to Remember by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson // Thieves steal from the villagers so the five princesses give their Christmas gifts to the villagers.

Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis // Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, Annika hopes to find the almond in her Christmas pudding. Instead, she learns it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, illustrated by PJ Lynch // a favorite beautifully illustrated by PJ Lynch

The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop // A selfish Princess receives only three gifts for Christmas and then learns about giving to others.

The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson // A little girl learns how to give to Jesus at Christmas. The illustrations are kinda weird but this book has set up our favorite Christmas tradition.

And a couple more non-Christmasy books you should own:

I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God by Diane Stortz // not a Christmas book but a great devotional for the names of God. Perfect for Day 2 of Truth in the Tinsel!

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones // The byline of this book is, “every story whispers his name”. This whole book seems Christmasy because it is all leading to the coming of our King! MUST OWN.

The One o’Clock Miracle by Alison Mitchell // Story of a father’s faith in Jesus’ promise to heal his son.

The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross by Alison Mitchell // This book shows how sin kept us out of the Garden and the Holy of Holies but Jesus came to bring us back in.

The Storm that Stopped by Alison Mitchell // A powerful retelling of Jesus calming the storm.

Ultimate List of Christmas Books for Kids & Grown Ups Who Love Christmas

More of my favorite books & gift guides—>
best-books-for-under-your-tree  best devotionals for kids and families: gift guide

photo copyright: maglara / 123RF Stock Photo

On Christmas Carols & Christmas Art

lego table

After Christmas last year, the kids were sitting at Asa’s new Lego table (we made it from some Ikea furniture!) playing and creating. They were also singing. They were belting out Hark the Herald Angels, “Born that man no more may die Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth”!

I loved hearing their little voices sing such Truth about Jesus and Christmas. I’d say nine times out of ten—even during the summer, Christmas songs come out of their mouths! The words and thoughts from famous Christmas carols are digging deep into their minds and hearts. And I love it!

Everything about Christmas is super magical. We have Christmas cookies, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards and Christmas music. It’s why Truth in the Tinsel is so important to me. Using this magical, sparkly, shimmery time is like a catapult to my efforts to teach my kids about Jesus—it helps the story and attention go further!

Christmas music is the same–so much of this music is full of the theology of Jesus’ incarnation. These old Christmas songs are more than sing-a-longs. They are telling the story, the why/wherefore and the details of the most life-altering event to ever happen to the planet. When we turn on our Christmas Spotify list or drag out our Christmas CDs and listen to them over-and-over-and-over again for a month or more, we are meditating on these words and ideas.

I want my kids knowing and remembering and singing words like,

“He rules the world with truth and grace”

“Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning; Jesus, to Thee be the glory giv’n; Word of the Father, Now in the flesh appearing”

“Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease”

Seriously! Does that not make you excited?

So, the other day my friend Rachelle from Scripted Simplicity asked me if we could do a giveaway here on the blog of some of her Christmas pieces. (Uhm, YES!) And when they came in the mail I was so excited! First of all because they are gorgeous. And secondly, because she featured beautiful words from Christmas carols!

scripted simplicity 1

I love her heart behind her work—that each piece would remind us of the Giver of all good things. And isn’t that Christmas? Remembering how God gave us the very best gift of all?

I love having these signs up in our house apartment to help us further focus and meditate on the gift of Jesus’ birth–the miracle of a God emptying himself of his divinity to become a man. It’s unfathomable. Yet, it happened.

scripted simplicity

So, number one? Play Christmas music. Not just Santa and Rudolph, either. Play the old stuff! Here’s a few more of her gorgeous pieces for you to drool over…

scripted simplicity collage


(I just have to tell you about my two nativity scenes pictured above, too. The top one is handmade by artists in Uganda. I got it from Ornaments for OrphansThe bottom one I bought in the Dominican Republic on my trip with World Vision. When I got it home, it had two Mary statues in it, no Joseph! Awesome. )

Begin Your Holiday with GIVING

A few days ago I was at my mom’s house and she had a giant pile of Christmas gift catalogs on her couch–all kinds of stores with all kinds of goodies. I was supposed to be doing some work with the kids for school but I stacked those little catalogs up next to me because I sincerely love shopping for Christmas! I don’t love walking through the mall but the hustle and bustle of Christmas is exciting!

How are we supposed to keep that hustle and bustle fun and not turn it into a big crazy greed-fest for us and our kids? Well, the best thing I know is to simply GIVE. To take it a step further, I think it’s important to give first. Let your first act of the holidays be to give in a big and significant way.

Here’s 3 of my favorite give-first activities:

1. Operation Christmas Child

If you’ve been around me for even ten minutes, you’ll know that I adore Operation Christmas Child. If you’re not familiar with this fun organization here’s the skinny—you pack a shoebox full of fun toys, toiletries and school supplies. Then, you add $7 for shipping and drop it off at a a pick-up location. From there, the shoebox is shipped to a Processing Center (just to make sure it’s all OK) and then shipped to poor and marginalized kids around the world.


You can read a plethora of thoughts and emotions I have about Operation Christmas Child (especially lots of stuff about my trip to the Dominican Republic with them) but here’s where as a normal Christian American mom, I love Operation Christmas Child so much–-they help my kids not be greedy.

Every year, we are picking out and buying gifts that my kids would LOVE and they don’t get to keep them. In fact, the opposite seems to happen–they get excited about buying and giving away!

The best part is the National Collection Week for OCC is this week–right before the Christmas crazy starts. It’s the perfect beginning to your holiday celebration. Start your kids off looking into Christmas through a shoebox gift. It will change their heart. It’s changed my family.

2. Sponsored Kids Letters

Do you sponsor a child? We sponsor two kids through Compassion International and it is one of our favorite things we do. Every year, Compassion suggests we send our kids’ families money and we usually do. We also like to send them an actual gift–but since you can’t send big items, we try to figure out fun presents that can fit in an envelope.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 2.21.22 PM

Last year we colored  and laminated a printable Nativity Scene. You can find all kinds of printable gifts and toys online (just search Pinterest!) that fit easily into an envelope.

It’s a simple thing but it can help your kids set a standard for the first Christmas card, the first Christmas gift being for someone else!

And if you don’t sponsor a child yet? It might be the best gift you and your family give this year!

3. Ornaments for Orphans

Are you in charge of decorating a Christmas tree at your church or school? Maybe your office? Instead of stocking up on Target’s latest designs, why not do something that really helps others?

Ornaments for Orphans contracts artists in Uganda to design and create beautiful handmade ornaments. You can order (free of charge!) a box of 100 ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree then, people who pass by can stop and buy an ornament for $10 each. This money goes back to O4O who then pass it on to the artists so they can provide and care for their children. How great is this?

You decorate a tree. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers and passers-by undecorate it for you and kids around the world are protected! Don’t you love it? (And if there happens to be any leftover ornaments–O4O will pay the shipping!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.16.52 PM

We did this at my husband’s CrossFit gym a few years ago and my kids absolutely loved decorating the tree and checking up on it to see how many ornaments had disappeared off the tree.


This picture is of the woman who  is the head of the widow’s co-op that makes all the stuffed animal ornaments for O4O. The women in this co-op are the sole providers for their families and this work enables them to care for their children. Ornaments for Orphans is actually in the job of orphan prevention because the majority of Ugandan children living in orphanages actually have a living parent or relative. But women have to leave their children at orphanages because they are too poor to feed them. O4O’s work can keep vulnerable families united by providing an opportunity for dignified income. I love it!!



I hope you use one of these great ideas to begin your holiday. I think it’s kind of a “firstfruits” thing like with tithing. When you give to God first, it sorta evens out everything else. If nothing else, put it to the test and see what happens when you give first this Christmas!


Truth in the Tinsel Atlanta Swap Party 2015: The Recap!

It’s been almost a month since we had our Atlanta area Swap Party. Why has it been a month since I’ve written about all the fun we had? Because the DAY OF the Swap Party was also the day we moved out of our house! (You can read more about that here.)

It was by far, one of the most stressful weekends of my life. Even still, the party itself was so fun, the women so encouraging and I left with a full heart that night!

If you’re not familiar with a Truth in the Tinsel Swap Party—think Cookie Exchange, only with craft supplies! We all come with bags of Truth in the Tinsel ornaments ready to make in little baggies. Then we line them all up on a giant table and each take one so we have the supplies for every craft ready to go! (You can read more about how to do your own swap here–there’s a few more helpful details + look at our new Printable Party Pack!)

My main goal in the Swap Party is to give mamas a fun night out with good food, good people AND get their entire Advent celebration organized in just one night! So, the basic order of the night went like this:

First: EAT.

I had the party catered by Zoe’s. If you don’t have Zoe’s in your area, I’m sad. We ate yummy chicken kabobs, rice, hummus, pita and a Greek salad that was so good my daughter took the leftovers to school!

Second: CRAFT

Now, I know a lot of you think you’re not crafty. In fact, Truth in the Tinsel scares a lot of people because it’s craft-heavy. Well, I am a firm believer in anyone-can-craft because the end result is not really the goal. It’s the process.

Anywhoo–tonight’s craft was SO INCREDIBLY easy and it turned about even cuter than I thought it would.

It requires only three supplies.

easy advent calendar copy

Each person needs 24 clothespins, a few colors of washi tape and some cute ribbon or twine. Then, all you do is put a piece of washi tape on the front of clothespin and hang it on the twine!

easiest advent calendar ever

Can you even believe how cute that is??? The washi tapes fits perfectly on the clothespin so there’s no measuring, cutting or messing up!

This is the ideal calendar for the daily clues included in the Truth in the Tinsel ebook because it’s so simple and small. We didn’t have enough clothespins for me to make one, but the kids and I are making one this week. I love it.

TNT swap atl 2

Party Planner Note: My bff, Staci was at the party helping out with this craft and she had a great idea for next year. Instead of having a table set up just for crafts, put all the craft supplies in the middle of each table and after everyone has eaten, they can simply begin doing the craft right where they sit. It doubles as a centerpiece! I’m totally doing that next year.

Third: TALK

tnt swap atl 3

I talked. It’s what I do, I guess.

I wanted to encourage everyone in not being tired this Christmas. I wanted them to see that Advent is parenting. And it’s making an eternal difference in the life of their children.

tnt swap atl 4

I hope you know this for yourself, too. You can do this Truth in the Tinsel-thing!

Party Planner note: Those beautiful Christmas chalkboard posters behind me are from Caravan Shoppe. You download them for about $5 and then print them at Staples for $7. It’s just paper–how cute are they??

Check out our new Swap Party Printables–including a swanky Truth in the Tinsel poster + more!


I had some fabulous, amazing and generous sponsors of this event. At every chair, there was a super cute bag from my good friend, Yancy. Yancy is a singer songwriter who loves kids and God’s Word. Not only did she give everyone a fun Yancy-bag, she also gave them one of her super cool worship DVDs.  (Can I just say: CHRISTMAS PRESENT ALERT! CHRISTMAS PRESENT ALERT! You need to snag this stuff for your kids!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.35.48 PM

Also included in the cute little Yancy bag was the brand new Galaxy Buck DVD from Whats in the Bible?. The kids and I just watched it and I loved it so much! What’s in the Bible? also included a free month to Jelly Telly–where you can stream Bible-based kids’ shows and movies. (CHRISTMAS PRESENT ALERT!!!)

We’re not finished yet! My friend Tricia Goyer also included her book, Prayers That Changed History. It’s a family/kid devotional type book about famous people and the prayers they prayed–AND how God brought about miracles because of those prayers. (CHRISTMAS PRESENT ALERT!!!)


And if that wasn’t enough, we also had some fantastic door prizes!

Zonderkidz sent us so many cool Bibles and books from their Adventure Bible line. (It’s the Bible my daughter has!)

adventure bible

They even included lots o’ cute Christmas books and the Jesus Storybook Bible. (Which is literally, the best book I’ve ever read.)


Yancy is so generous and gave away more CDs and devotional books. (My favorite is Roots for the Journey and Taste and See

yancy faves

My friend Kam from One Girl Design Shoppe gave a beautiful tabletop block from her Holiday Collection. She hand paints signs (even gorgeous custom orders) on reclaimed wood. I can’t wait to put one in our new house!

Tabletop Block Christ Is Born Hand Painted Christmas Gift from OneGirlDesignShoppe.com

Jessica from OneTwentyOne Designs donated the cutest zip pouches I’ve ever seen.  Jessica sews all kinds of lovely bags and other yummies from vintage fabrics with vintage buttons. Every thing she makes is adorable.

Vintage Fabric Zip Pouch Christmas Coupon from OneTwentyOneDesigns.Com

Last: SWAP

Now it was time for the whole reason we were there! We grabbed our little Yancy bags and filled it with all the supplies for every day of Truth in the Tinsel! Aren’t you jealous??

tnt atl swap 5

A big special thanks to my mom for letting us use her children’s church space at her church and for all the other bazillion things she did that night–including take care of my two kiddos and running the sound. Thank you to Staci, my BFF who is just well, really and truly the BEST. Thanks to my kiddos for being so helpful and obedient on a crazy hard day. And thanks to my husband who moved us into our new apartment while I hosted the party.

And of course, thank you to all the ladies that made their crafts, came to the party and generally loved on me knowing it was a stressful day for me. You buoyed my spirit and I had so much fun with you. I love you all!

tnt swap atl 1


Happy Birthday, Truth in the Tinsel!

happy 5 anniversary tnt

Five years ago I went to a blogging conference and felt this blazing fire inside of me to release an ebook about the Advent activities I’d done with my kids. I had some bloggy friends look at it, encourage me and when I got home I rallied the troops (my mom, brother, husband and kids) to help me get this book ready for real people to read and use.

Since that time tens of thousands of families have experienced this little ebook during their Christmas celebrations. Did you hear that? TENS OF THOUSANDS. I seriously cannot even comprehend that number. God has taken a few pictures, a few words, a few experiences and used them to further His Word and His great love for the world. It’s literally a Christmas miracle.

Over these past five years a lot has changed. As I looked through the ebook, read emails and saw updates from mamas using the ebook, I realized it was in need of an update! My brother/designer from Buzzhive gave the paper chains an update, there’s been some more tightening and editing AND a few crafts have been tweaked.

In fact, it was a news story from July that really pushed me to spiffy up some of the crafts. What happened in July? Bubble Wrap began it’s departure. (Can you even believe that?!!) On day 3 of Truth in the Tinsel, bubble wrap is an integral part of of the craft and lesson. It was one of my favorite crafts of the whole month, actually! *sniff*  But never fear, it’s merely been updated–not done away with! And the idea came from all of you smart mamas who over the years substituted buttons, duct tape and band-aids for the hard-to-find bubble wrap!

zechariah collage

I also decided to update day 7 about Mary’s Song. In the ebook, we decorate a CD to remind us that Mary sang a praise song to God. With Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and all manner of streaming, I began to wonder if kids even equated music to a CD. Not to mention, we don’t get sample CDs, promo CD-ROMs in the mail or taped to cereal boxes like we used to in the early 2000s. (Man, we’re old!)

marys song collage

Instead of a CD, your child makes a sweet thumbprint craft of music notes. I love handprint and fingerprint crafts and I think this will be a treasured ornament from your sweet kiddos!

Whew. That feels like I’m giving a State of the Union address. I just wanted you to know about these changes for two reasons:

1. If you’re doing a Swap Party, some people will have the 5th anniversary version of the book while others will have the classic edition. The lessons remain the same, it’s just the craft that’s altered. It doesn’t matter which version you do, which version they do. You don’t need to buy the 5th anniversary edition if you already own the ebook! If you have any questions about it, you can email me.

2. I really think about what it’s like to do these activities in your home. I want this to be a peaceful, empowering experience for you. Not something where you are worried you’re not doing right or confused because you can’t find the supplies. I also want your kids to understand and identify with what’s being done on a daily basis.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing all kinds of fun Truth in the Tinsel tips, Christmasy ideas, giveaways, fun traditions, deals and more on the Truth in the Tinsel Facebook page. Plus, I’ll be doing weekly live Facebook live broadcasts so we can chat about the ebook, Advent and all manner of Christmasy-ness. Make sure you’re locked in with my on Social Media so you don’t miss any of the fun!

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Happy almost Christmas, friends! 


Christmas and Easter

This Christmas has been lovely. We didn’t have any spectacular, change-the-world conversations over Truth in the Tinsel. Just normal, happy, God-is-with-us-and-we-like-Him talks and feelings.

christmas 2014

Maybe you’re like me and you want to continue this focus on God’s Word with your kids. Maybe not EVERY SINGLE DAY, am I right? But maybe Truth in the Tinsel made you realize that impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart isn’t as hard or scary as you thought. Maybe you saw, for the first time, your child respond to God on their own. Maybe you saw their little minds work and their little hearts open. Maybe you saw the living and active word of God actually come alive in the life of your child.

I hope so. I pray Truth in the Tinsel wasn’t just another THING for you to do at Christmas–but a real and true introduction to God’s Word and his GREAT LOVE for you and your kids! If you’re interested in continuing these kinds of activities and conversations with my kids, I’ve got all kinds of fun devotional series on my blog that focus on sections of Scripture in ways your kids will love. Check out my Armor of God, Fruit of the Spirit, ABCs and Superhero series!

But if you really wanna continue the story of Jesus’ life and purpose, you’ll want to make sure you celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter this year. Probably one of the most common questions I’m asked after about December 23rd is, “Where’s the Truth in the Easter Basket book?!!” Well, ask no more! If you’re looking for a meaningful Easter experience with your kids, I have written an ebook called, A Sense of the Resurrection. It is a 12 lesson journey through the last week of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Each activity is connected to one of your five senses and it even includes printable flags to make a beautiful Easter decoration!

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Lent and Easter sneak up on my every year, so go ahead grab a copy so you’re ready when it sneaks up on you, too!

Thank you, friends. Thank you for journeying through Truth in the Tinsel with me. Thank you for sharing your pictures and stories with me. Thank you for being a like-minded parent that is raising a generation of God-loving, Christ-honoring, Bible-loving kids! Don’t forget to sign up for my monthly-ish newsletter for more fun impress-God’s-Word-on-your-kids-heart ideas & my free Pray for Your Kids ebook. 🙂


The Answer to the Santa Claus Dilemma

This post includes affiliate links. If you click through these links and purchase anything, I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting Truth in the Tinsel!

source: Kevin Dooley

source: Kevin Dooley

When I  had my daughter, my husband and I decided there would be no Santa in our Christmas celebration. Neither of us had believed in Santa and I just didn’t want it mixing up our Jesus-is-born holiday.

I was pretty strict about it and basically didn’t say the word “Santa” for two years. Even when my daughter would point out Santa hats on people we’d say, “Oh, look! They have a Christmas hat!”. We didn’t even listen to “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” because I just didn’t want those words in her mind (“He sees you when you’re sleeping…he knows when you’re awake…”).

On my daughter’s 2nd Christmas, she saw a tall traditional, velvet-y, fur clad Santa statute at a store and pointed at it yelling, “Noah!!” As in “and the ark”. Yeah, I did a good job shielding her.

As she got a little older and we let her see Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and read The Night Before Christmas, we continued to push Santa as a fun, fictional character similar to Rudolph or Frosty or even Mickey Mouse.

One day on the way home from church when she was 3 she said to me, “I can’t wait for Christmas!”.

I said, “Me, too, baby! What made you say that?”

She replied, “Santa is going to come down our chimney and give us presents!”

I whipped around in my seat and said, “Who told you that?!”

She said, “My teacher at church said Santa comes down your chimney and gives you presents.”

I was dumbfounded. I looked at my husband with wide eyes and then back to my daughter and said, “That’s not true.”

I went on to explain who-knows-what about Santa but could not believe that in one second my daughter completely bought into the Santa story with a simple push from her teacher! I’m not blaming the teacher at all–she probably just said, “What’s Santa bringing you?” and got started on a conversation that my little girl had never heard before!

After this conversation, we started talking about the real Saint Nicholas and how his story morphed through the years. We’ve watched Veggie Tales’ Saint Nicholas and probably even read a book or two about the real guy. My kids (now 8 and 6) don’t believe in Santa and honestly are a little confused at kids who do.

I tell you this whole story (because I felt like I finally needed to get it out into the internet) but also because I’m not exactly sure the best way to tell your kids about Santa. My father-in-law says “for every mile of road, there are two miles of ditch”. And I think that’s how the Santa debate has been. There’s the group of people who pull off elaborate stunts to perpetuate a lie about a jolly man who comes down your chimney and the others who equate him to Satan.

Where is the balance and the real education–not skewed by tradition and personal feelings?

I think I found it.

Does that sound like crazy hyperbole? (I’VE FOUND THE ANSWER TO THE SANTA DILEMMA!!!)

If you’ve been around me for any amount of time you know I love What’s in the Bible?. They produce the most amazing (hilarious) DVDs that walk kids straight through the story of the whole Bible with real and rich details. It’s like a Bible college lesson rolled into a bite-sized piece for a kid.

Anywhoo, their Christmas DVD, Why Do We Call it Christmas? does the same thing with Christmas–addresses all the traditions and their histories. This year, Phil Vischer (creator of WITB and Veggie Tales) released a new picture book called, Why Do We Call It Christmas?.

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At first, I thought it was going to be a simple paper-and-ink version of the DVD. In fact, it’s quite different and really really good.

In the book, Buck Denver (famous news anchor and star of all the What’s in the Bible? DVDs) is confused about Christmas because it seems to be two different holidays–the Jesus holiday at church and the Santa holiday at stores.

Buck’s friend, Sunday School Lady uses her magic flannelgraph (see how funny this is?!) to explain the word “Christmas”. She then begins the story of “Saint Nick” and how the Catholic Church gives certain people their own special day, like Saint Nicholas Day.

She then explains that Saint Nicholas Day is on December 6 and since Christmas is on December 25 and other churches didn’t always celebrate these special saint days–but they liked the traditions of them (hello! gifts left in stockings!) they just combined the two days. And bad-a-bing bad-a-boom we have our American Christmas traditions.

So. If you’re familiar with the Santa story, this might not seem like new information. It’s not the Santa-background that’s so great in this book. I know lots of people that celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. I’ve read all the books that tell Saint Nicholas’ true story. Instead, this book gives the explanation of WHY we celebrate Santa and Jesus on the same day. I love the clear delineation of the two celebrations.

When I finished reading the book, it was like a breathed a sigh of relief. There was no dancing around the story, or trying to walk on eggshells about should-you-or-shouldn’t-you believe in Santa. It is simply the story of how the Santa legend has arrived to 2014. Period.

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I think it’s so important to teach kids truth–in all circumstances. Not showing them too much, or inappropriate themes. But truth. This book will help you do just that–whether Santa is a part of your celebration or not.

If your kids have been confused about Santa–maybe they don’t believe and don’t know why he’s not included in your celebration, or they aren’t sure what to say to their friends, or maybe they do believe and you want to tell them the truth, or maybe they believe and you just want them to know where Santa’s story all began–this book covers all those bases.


Advent is Parenting

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The best part about Advent is that you take time every day for a whole month to focus on the birth of Jesus. The hardest part about Advent is that you take time every single day for a whole month!

If you’re doing Truth in the Tinsel for your Advent celebration (and I hope you are!) that means you’re sitting down with your kids, reading a passage of Scripture and making an ornament craft with them EVERY DAY. Maybe you’re just reading a devotional (I’m doing Liz Curtis Higgs’ Women of Christmas) by yourself. Or maybe you’re reading a storybook like Jotham’s Journey with your kids (we started this one and I love it so far!). Or maybe you’re unwrapping a picture book everyday and reading them in front of the tree. Maybe you’ve got a paper chain or a light-em-up idea or even a little chocolate calendar.

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And maybe, like me, you’ve breathed a heavy sigh and said, “We didn’t do our Advent stuff today!”  or you had a busy day and your kids said, “We can’t go to bed now! We have to do our Advent calendar!” and you know that the best thing you can actually do is put your over-tired kids to bed. Or maybe you just don’t want to get off Facebook or get up early to read your advent Bible readings.

There are simply days that just because it is December and Advent doesn’t mean you actually feel like celebrating or always have the time and space to make time and space!

{read the rest of this post at my personal blog, ohAmanda.com}


Here’s What We’re Gonna Do…

Traditional Advent begins November 28, 2017 and some of us will begin Truth in the Tinsel on December 1st (read: SOOOOON)! One of my favorite parts of Truth in the Tinsel is that people around the WORLD are doing the same thing everyday. It’s so fun to see how the crafts look differently, how kids and parents react and how we’re all celebrating Jesus together!

So, if you’re on Social Media, make sure to update with pictures so we can all see! Use the hashtag #truthinthetinsel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see what others are doing (you might make a new friend!). You can also tag me @oohamanda on Twitter or Instagram. And make sure to tag @truthinthetinsel on Facebook.

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Plus, every day on our Facebook page,  I’ll do a “roll call” of some sort and share our craft from the day. I’d love for you to chime in and tell us what you’ve done! (My kids absolutely love seeing that other kids are doing the same thing as them!)

Or you can post a picture on the POST bar at the top…

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and then it will show up on the VISITOR POSTS section on the right. Here’s a screen shot so you can see where it is (Facebook kinda hid it…)


I’ll also be posting on our Facebook page about fun supplements to go with each day–maybe an appropriate book, a song or an alternative craft PLUS, all the fun gift guides, Christmas book suggestions and meaningful Christmas suggestions that I’ve been sharing this season. So, stick around the Facebook page this month!

But here’s the thing I’m super excited about! This I’ll also be doing some Facebook Live broadcasts throughout the month. We’ll talk about Truth in the Tinsel and some of my other favorite Christmasy stuff.

Plus, I’ve also got some fun blog posts and giveaways planned for the blog. I can’t wait to share some fun Christmas folks and resources with you! Make sure you’ve got us in your feed (either Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) or bookmark us so you can keep up with all the fun!

You ready?!! Let’s go!

Truth in the Tinsel GERMAN

Last year a reader from Austria emailed me and asked if she could translate Truth in the Tinsel into German so she could use it with her kids and share it with the kids in her community. It took all year but it’s finally here!

It makes my heart squeeze to think about a little Christmas tradition with my daughter that has turned into a tradition for families literally around the world!

Truth in the Tinsel German

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Get the Spanish or English version here.