FREE Truth in the Tinsel Supplements

One of the coolest parts of Truth in the Tinsel is that it is so versatile. You can adapt it for any age and interest. Of course, I think doing it as is, is pretty fun and exciting but I love that people have come up with new cool ways to use it with their kids!

Fun FREE Truth in the Tinsel Supplements from REAL moms!

I’m going to share several free supplements and additions to Truth in the Tinsel made my actual Truth in the Tinsel alums.These are not alternatives to Truth in the Tinsel, simply fun additions or as I like to call them–Truth in the Tinsel hacks! Enjoy, the creativity:

1. Printable Mini Album from Pink Paper Peppermints

If you’re planning on doing our printable ornaments, Melissa has made the coolest printable for a mini-album to keep them in! You simply print, cut and staple the book together then glue your ornaments in as you go.

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You can even attach a ribbon and make them into an ornament. How super adorable is that?! If I ever travel during the holidays again, I’m doing this with the kids!

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2. Countdown Riddle Cards from Mama Jenn

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Included in Truth in the Tinsel are fun printable clues to introduce the theme and ornament of the day. Mama Jenn has taken it a step further and has made little riddles for each day and once the kids guess the riddle, they run through the house looking for the hidden clue!

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Isn’t that fun? And I love how she displays the clues like a Christmas tree!

3. Active Advent Exercises from Everyday Faith & Fitness

First of all, I have to tell you a little back story on this–a few weeks ago, a mom sent me a Facebook message and said asked if I had any  “games, challenges or physical activities” to go along with each day as her son isn’t really into crafts. There is a fun obstacle course suggested for the Joseph day, but besides that, I’d never ever thought about something like that.

THE NEXT DAY, Dawn from Everyday Faith and Fitness emails me and says, “As I was thinking about the T in the T activities for this year, all of these exercise-related ideas started coming to me (God is so cool!). I’ve got the whole Advent season sketched out with exercises that correlate with each of the days from Truth in the Tinsel.”

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Isn’t that amazing? Dawn has created some fun exercises to go with each day of Truth in the Tinsel and I think she’s going to be adding some videos through the month so you can see how to do them with kids. The kids and I are totally doing these!


4. Truth in the Tinsel Notebooking Journal Page from Not Consumed

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If you’re doing Truth in the Tinsel as your Christmas Homeschooling curriculum, these journal pages would be a great addition. You can print them off and have your child write the Scripture, draw a picture or simply write a lesson learned or reflection of the day. These would be a sweet momento, too!

5. Musical Companions to Truth in the Tinsel

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I actually ran across this on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea–songs for every day of Truth in the Tinsel! (And also, on my to-do list: make a Truth in the Tinsel playlist on Spotify!)

6. Truth in the Tinsel Tracing Cards from All Our Days

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This is another way to easily use our printable ornaments and keep them all in one spot. Cute, right?

7. Little Kid Hacks

I had to link to this post even if it is from my own blog! My friend Lindsey gives a TON of great ways to use Truth in the Tinsel with the littlest of kids.

8. Advent Snacks

Fun Food Supplements for Truth in the Tinsel!

Wanna add some yumminess to your celebration? Liz made up some fun food for each day!


// // //

Are you inspired? I hope you’re inspired and not overwhelmed. The point of this post is not to make you do ALL THE THINGS this Christmas season. In fact, Truth in the Tinsel has the opposite goal–to help you slow down and focus on God’s Word and His wonderful gift of Jesus. These activities are how real mamas have done just that–whether it’s through music or Legos or exercise.

There’s no wrong way to do Truth in the Tinsel. Truth in the Tinsel works because you work. Truth in the Tinsel is a guide to help you lead your kids to Jesus. That’s all. I pray this Advent season will be one of fun memories and sweet times of communion with God.

If you still haven’t downloaded your copy of Truth in the Tinsel, do so now! Then you can create your own TNT hack! I’d love to hear about it!

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We Said No To Ho Ho Ho

This is a guest post by my hero and mentor, Jim Wideman, author of Tweetable Leadership. (Jim also wrote the forward for Truth in the Tinsel!)

Back in November of 1978, Julie and I began our lives together. It was a wonderful day; all the kids in our children’s church were so excited about attending our wedding. I’ll never forget one little fellow named Zack who asked us if he could go on our “moon ride” with us. I told him he couldn’t, and one day he would have his own “moon ride.” (He thought when his parents said we were going on a honeymoon, they said we were going on a moon ride.)

I had no idea all of the work involved in the two becoming one. You see, although Julie and I both love Jesus, our families, rock and roll, and each other; we soon found out we had come from two completely different parenting styles. As we began to talk about all of our differences, the big desire of our hearts was to train our children based on God’s Word more than our own family and cultural traditions.

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I believe that just like the church needs a biblical vision for reaching children, so does the family. Have you ever asked God for what He wants for your family? God designed the family to put His Word into future generations. If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. So if God gives you the desires of your heart, what are your desires and goals for your children? For me, I wanted our family to be close. I wanted them to love the Lord and the Word with all their hearts. In fact, I wanted them to love the Bible so much that it would be what they base every choice in their lives on.

Julie and I believe the Bible was and still is the benchmark of how we should view the world and how we should live. The Bible tells us we are in the world, but we are not of the world. The Bible also tells us to come out of the world and be separate, yet we are told to be salt and light to the world. Over the years, I have studied families and the different ways they parent. I’ve also studied churches and the different ways they do church. To me, the families and churches who have the greatest successes are the ones who have teamed together to join forces and develop in individuals a biblical view of how to live 24/7.

I have had the wonderful honor of raising two wonderful daughters. They are both successful, not only in business but also in their spiritual walks. My girls are as different as night and day: if I had not been in the delivery room with both of them, I would not believe they were kin. I have had to discipline them differently; I have to communicate and instruct them differently. But when it comes down to making choices and how to live, it was the same for them as it was for their mother and me—simply, what does the Bible say?

There are lots of voices that speak into our lives and challenge a biblical worldview. As a parent and as a pastor, I cannot block out every voice that speaks to my family and to my congregation, nor should I; but I have spent my life pointing out that God’s Word contains truth, and the truth of the Word is what will set us free. God’s Word is the filter we should view the world through. Years ago, I learned that a stronghold is just believing wrong information. When we take captive every thought and make it obedient to the Word of God, it produces right thinking that creates right actions.

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Our actions come from our thinking; that’s why we have to be intentional about the voices we listen to and the actions we do, regardless of our age. When my children were small, we limited the voices and the traditions we planted in our children. Just because a movie or TV show was animated or geared for children didn’t mean we allowed our children to feed on it.

This led us to the big question: what were we going to do about mythical traditions?

Julie and I both grew up in Christian households. Both of our families attended church on a regular basis. Our parents also told us about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus. We also both grew up watching all the Disney™ fairytale movies and reading traditional children’s books. When Julie and I found out that our parents were really Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy; it affected us differently. Julie just kind of went along as long as her parents wanted to play the game. I felt betrayed. It also made me question if Jesus was real, too, or made up?

One thing Julie and I knew was we wanted to do whatever we could to help our kids know the difference between fiction and truth. We decided to do something that might not have been popular, but we felt it was right for us as a family. We chose to not tell them there was a tooth fairy; daddy bought their teeth. Oh, we still to this day give our kids Easter baskets, but they don’t come from Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail; they come from mom and dad.

But the most controversial decision we ever made was to no to “Ho Ho Ho!”

We never told our girls their Christmas presents came from the North Pole or that they where made by elves. We told them the stories as stories, not as truth. The truth was their presents came from mom and dad with love bought with money Father God provided to us because He loves His kids and wants us to love ours. We told our children that Father God started the whole gift-giving tradition by giving the first Christmas present—His one and only Son. 

I don’t think our girls could have been more excited about Christmas than they were growing up. They went to bed wondering what mom and dad were going to give them in the same way other kids were excited about presents from Santa. A funny thing that happened was when adults would ask Yancy what Santa was going to bring her, she would answer, “Nothing.” Those adults would look at us like we were the worst parents in the world. I’ll be honest with you; at first, I was guilty of being somewhat of a Santa basher. Some of you might have heard a song I wrote for an early Puppet Trax tape that says, “Santa Claus never died for anybody’s sin, and the Easter bunny never rose again.”

no to ho ho ho bro jim

I remember walking through the mall around Christmas time and seeing a mall Santa. I remember saying something about there he is, the god of this world; and I remember Yancy as a very little girl saying, “Dad, it’s just a man in a suit like your gorilla suits.”  After that, I just took a chill pill. We had done what we had wanted to do: we had taught our girls the difference between truth and fantasy.

My kids loved Disney™. They were big Snow White fans and big Little Mermaid fans. They loved puppets, all my full-bodied costumes, and clowns. They even have had their picture made with Santa. But more than anything, my girls love Jesus. They love their parents and are very close to us. Although we are not perfect parents, we have never told them a half-truth, a white lie, or a fantasy story as a true story.

Because of this, my children believed me about Jesus. When I told them about the hurt and pain from living contrary to God’s Word, they believed me. They didn’t need to experience the pain themselves; they learned from my mistakes and believed me because I have always told them the truth. I learned when I first started working with kids in church to always keep your promises to them. I never made a promise in children’s church that I couldn’t keep. If I did that at church, I needed to do that at home.

I have no regrets for telling my kids the truth. They still look forward to Christmas and seeing what they are going to get from mom and dad, but greater than that, they know the reason for the season is that God’s Son became a man and dwelt among us.

Jim Wideman is considered as an innovator, pioneer, and one of the fathers of the modern children ministry movement. He has trained hundreds of thousands of children’s and student ministry leaders from across the U.S. and around the world over the past thirty-five years. He has built strong ministries for families in five great churches. Jim and his wife, Julie, have two fabulous daughters and the cutest grandson ever born!

This article is reprinted with permission. ©2013 Jim Wideman Ministries, Inc.


How To Do Truth in the Tinsel Even If You’re Scared of Crafts

  How To Do Truth in the Tinsel Even If You're Scared of Crafts

Do you know how many people I have told about Truth in the Tinsel and they’ve shaken their heads and said, “No way. I’m not making a craft with my kid every day during December. Can’t do it.” (These are my friends, people!)

I really don’t get my feelings hurt. Honest.

I get it. The idea of sitting down with your kids every single day for 24 days in a row DURING the Christmas season AND making a craft AND having a spiritual discussion? It’s downright intimidating!

But guess what?

Truth in the Tinsel isn’t scary. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’ll even suggest that it’s empowering!

This little ebook may look like Just Another Thing to add to your never-ending, never-gets-done Christmas to-do list but it’s not! It’s something that will actually help ground the rest of your must-do’s this season!

Let me give you a few reasons why Truth in the Tinsel is so easy, so fun and so not scary. Ready? Let’s go…

1. Supply Lists

Included in the book are two supply lists. One is divided by day–you can see every single item you’ll need for each day’s craft.  The second list is divided by kind—the supplies you’ll find around your house, in your school supply pouch and even the few items you may need to pick up at a craft store. But I promise, you’ll be able to mark off a ton of the supplies before you even hit the craft store!

2. Hyperlinks

All the Bible verses you need to read each day are hyperlinked to You can read it all off your phone or tablet! (I do think reading it out of your very own paper-and-ink Bible is a good idea, but so not mandatory!)

3. Easy Peasy Tutorials

The ornaments crafts you’ll be making each day only include 3-5 steps. This is because the point of the ornament is not a perfect ornament. The point is time for your kids to meditate and think about the story from God’s Word. So, placing the ribbon at exactly 1/4 inch below the top? NOT EVEN A THING.

 How To Do Truth in the Tinsel Even If You're Scared of Crafts

4. Templates

Some of the crafts include printable templates so all you have to do is print, cut and add the extras!

5. Alternate Schedules

In the back of the book there are 4 different schedules which include anywhere from 6-10 selected days and activities from the ebook. So, if you want to ease into this experience, these shortened schedules make it easy!

6. Printable Clues

My very favorite part of the Truth in the Tinsel ebook is the clues. Each day your kids pick a clue from their advent calendar or from the printable paper chain included in the book. This gets them excited about what they are about to learn and it frees you up from having to come up with 24 gifts to shove into that Advent Calendar!

How To Do Truth in the Tinsel Even If You're Scared of Crafts

My son holding a printable clue while wearing his Spiderman mask. #typical

7. And the very best thing included in the book?

Grace. You don’t have to do the ebook just like everyone else. You don’t have to sit down and have an hour long conversation, perfect craft and happy kids for 24 days! All you have to do is use the ebook to help you lay a foundation of Jesus-is-the-best-thing-we-do-all-December. All you have to do is facilitate fun, time and conversation around the greatest story every told.

If you don’t have all the supplies mentioned in the book–just substitute what you do have. If you don’t do any of the extra “do more together” sections, that’s ok! If you just do one craft a week or simply color the printable ornaments during breakfast, you’ve succeeded. I’ve said it before, there’s no wrong way to do Truth in the Tinsel. It is simply a tool to help you lead your kids to Jesus, help them understand what the gift of His life really means and to lead them in meditating on His Word.

I pray you’ll jump into Truth in the Tinsel with both feet and do your very best to lead your kids in the way the book is laid out (because I think it’s really good and thorough) but the thing I want even more is for you to make Jesus great and famous this Christmas season! Let your kids know He really is the best present of all!

Buy your own copy of Truth in the Tinsel now! See a Sample Page and our FAQ here!

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photography by Jamie Worley


Tips for a Truth in the Tinsel Swap Party

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When my friend Sunny wrote about her Swap Party last year I was so inspired. I love the idea of getting all the craft supplies ready waaay before December. I love the idea of sharing with other mamas and having their hard work be part of my kids’ Christmas activities.

In case you aren’t sure what a Swap Party is, here’s the “sitch” (anyone remember Kim Possible?!)—>  So, the perfect idea is that 24 women take 1 day of the Truth in the Tinsel crafts and make 24 little bags full of the appropriate craft supplies. Then, when they leave the party, they’ll have 1 little baggie of craft supplies for each day of the 24 days of Truth in the Tinsel.

Sounds amazing, right?

Here’s what I kept wondering, though:  what if you had 50 moms sign up for a swap party? That’s not 5o kids doing Truth in the Tinsel. If they each had 2-4 kids, that would be 100-200 crafts that need to be made. So, everyone has to make 100+ crafts?!

Well, if I only have 2 kids, I would have only made 48 crafts at home by myself without the swap. Is it really worth me making 100? That seems like MORE work.

And what if I only had 1 kid and you have 4? I’m making waaay more crafts than I need to. Know what I mean?

So, I tried to think of a way where everyone could just make 24 crafts. So, I did what I do best: I asked around. And after talking to a few of my smartest friends, here’s how I planned and organized our Atlanta Swap Party!

1. Set up a Sign Up Genius or Volunteer Spot Invitation

You know these websites, right? If you’re in school or do any kind of team sports, you’ve probably been invited through one of these sites. Basically, the host enters in all the supplies or volunteers needed and you can sign up based on what they need. It’s a really easy and useful idea.

I adapted it for the swap. I had people sign up as “volunteers” for each day of Truth in the Tinsel crafts.

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2. I took Pictures.

For each day, I took pictures of what should be in their swap bag. The pictures aren’t awesome. Just a little baggie with the supplies inside.

I uploaded them to my Google Drive (you may be able to upload to Sign Up Genius, etc. but I couldn’t figure it out because contrary to their name Sign Up Genius is NOT genius all the time.) and guests were able to click on the link, see the picture and a description of each craft.

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See? It was not fancy at all!

3. I excluded some crafts.

Two of the crafts in Truth in the Tinsel require food. We make salt dough ornaments and the famed applesauce-cinnamon ornament and I just couldn’t imagine a mama having to pour salt and flour and cinnamon into little baggies for 100 people! So, we eliminated those all together. (We did do the census craft–just didn’t include the rice!)

I just let the guests know they are on their own for those days!

4. I Limited the Invites

Next, I decided how many people could come to the party. Sounds mean, right? Well, I was willing to let as many as wanted, I just wanted them to sign up slowly, in batches of 22.

On Sign Up Genius, I only allowed for 2 slots to be open for each craft. Basically, only 44 people could sign up. But, it’s actually a little more complicated than that because…

5. We Signed Up PER Kid

Everyone had to sign up for how many kids they have. For example, if you have 4 kids you’re going to do Truth in the Tinsel with, you had to sign up for 4 slots. So, a mama of four kids makes 88 crafts–just like she would have at home without the swap party. A mama of one makes 22, just like she would have without the swap party.

The only problem with this is  that some people had to make 2 separate crafts. I had to do 22 census crafts and 22 CD crafts. It certainly would have been easier if I’d done 44 of one of them.

6. I Opened It Up Slowly

As the slots got full, I opened up more so more people could attend. You’ll have to watch to see how your invites are coming along!

Now, a few problems that are still a little unresolved…

What if you don’t get an even amount of people signed up? We had 30+ people attend the event with over 80 kids and somehow not one person signed up for the Day 3 craft. So, I had to make all 80 of those myself. I’m not sure how you could remedy this–maybe have some helpful older mamas with no kids at home who are willing to fill in the blanks?

What if someone doesn’t show up? I was very clear in the invite and sign-up that you are committing to getting your crafts there even if something happens and you can’t be there. I had 3 mamas send crafts who lived too far away to come to the party!

And a few tips…

I’m actually not sure if this was the best way to plan this party. But because I invited people from the internet (!), folks from my church, my kids’ school and my mom’s church, I had to do it in a way that would allow for 20 people to come or up to 200!

However, if you knew you only had 12 mamas coming who had 36 kids, I might just have all of them choose 2 days and make 36 of each day. You’ll have to decide what’s easiest for the group you have.

Originally, I was going to have everyone sign up and just tell me how many kids they had. Then I’d email them and tell them what craft and how many. That would require a definite sign-up-by-date and lots of work on the back end. Sign Up Genius (or even an editable Google Doc) would eliminate a lot of that hassle and allow people to sign up even days before the event.

If I do this next year (I’m 90% sure I will!), I would do a lot more inviting on the front end. I’d approach some small groups from our church early in September and ask them to get some people together and come as a group. I’d ask some of my key friends to invite some of their mama friends or small groups from church, etc. I think it would work so well as a group party–you know, where several different groups of friends come together for a Girl’s Night Out!

I did ask for a donation of $10 for the event because I had it catered and I had some fun swag but you certainly don’t have to do that. It could be a fun potluck among friends. Or if you are in leadership at your church/children’s ministry, you could throw the swap as a gift to your families.

Don’t forget to tell everyone they need to buy the ebook! Eek! I assumed most of the guests were TNT alums, but in fact many of them were newbies and had to buy the book!

In conclusion

If you’re going to do a swap, make sure you feel out exactly how many people will be there first. That will give you a handle on how you should plan. Ask yourself: do I want everyone to only make 24 crafts? Or am I ok with everyone making 50-100 crafts? Do I want this to be an intimate party of friends? Or do I want a big event for my whole church/school/group?

Once you know what you want it to feel like, then you’ll be able to plan it easily. Any way you do it will be such a blessing to those that come. At the end of our Atlanta Swap Party, everyone said, “Thank you! I feel so much better about December! I don’t have to do anything but do the crafts with the kids!” I felt the same way! My little Truth in the Tinsel bag is all packed and I’m ready for December 1!

Have you ever planned a swap? Have any tips or ideas? Questions? Leave a comment so we can all learn from each other!



Truth in the Tinsel Swap Party Fun!

I wanted the Atlanta Area Truth in the Tinsel Swap Party to feel like a Girl’s Night Out instead of a oh-brother-we’ve-got-a-lot-of-work-to-do-to-get-ready-for-Christmas. The first thing to consider was decorations. We didn’t pull out all the Christmas decorations because it was hosted at my mom’s church (she’s a Children’s Pastor) and her Children’s Church room is pretty cool looking. It didn’t need a lot of frou-frou. But it did need a little tinsel, am I right?!

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I brought all the ornaments my kids have made over the years and spread them out on the tables along with mason jars filled with snowy-looking epsom salt and candles! (How smart is that?!)

Then, at each seat there was a green and white Truth in the Tinsel bag!

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Eek! How much to you love that?!! These were to collect all the crafts in but they also contained a few little gifts for the guests! Inside was the most fun little paper garlands from Dayspring…

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Yancy’s Have a Fancy Yancy Christmas CD

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and the Why Do We Call It Christmas DVD!

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Y’all. That was worth the drive through Atlanta right there!

Well, we weren’t finished! We also had a fun little craft station. Like a craft for mamas to make! No kids allowed! My friend, blogger, crafter, shop-owner, teacher and all-around super mama, Charity from The Heartfelt Home led the ladies in making this adorable button Christmas tree. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

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Everyone culled through the buttons and made their own sweet trees to frame and take home. (Talk about an easy craft, y’all. All you need is a 5×8 of burlap, a bunch of leftover buttons and some craft glue!)

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We even had a photo booth! (And now that I’m looking at all the pictures, I realize my kids took more pictures than anyone and I didn’t get a picture with enough of y’all!)

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And of course, there was food. I catered from Chipotle because you can make tacos, burritos, burrito bowls or salads. It’s kinda easy for everyone. (Also? Yummy leftovers.) And my sisterchicks and my dad did homemade Christmas food. We’re talking Christmas food like Hello Dolly Bars, Christmas Crack, fudge and my dad’s German Chocolate cake. Yeow.

tnt swap party food

Let’s pause on the food so I can tell you what typical crazy went down—> So, 30 minutes before the event started, I sent my ever-helpful husband to the restaurant to pick everything up. He called me a few minutes later and said, “Am I at the right location? They don’t have your order.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Sure enough, he was at the wrong location–at no fault of his own–there are 2 locations of equal distance to the church and we had talked about using both of them. I never told him where to go!

My sweet husband had to drive to the other location, pick up the food and arrived about 20 minutes late. He was more stressed than anyone about it! Oops.

OK. Back to the event….

After we were full up of guac and tacos, I got on the stage to speak.

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I told my story of going from Children’s Pastor of hundreds of kids to mom of 1, and how I felt lost and far away from God’s will for my life. And then how God used something so seemingly insignificant like a daily craft with my almost 1 year old to plant the fledgling seeds of the Truth in the Tinsel book and experience in my heart. And then how over 30,000 families have used the book in their homes and their Christmas celebrations. And how my heart is flattened at the thought of God allowing me to be a part of His story.

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We also talked about the unique, precious and huge opportunity we have as mothers to lead our children from darkness into Jesus’ magnificent, purifying, everlasting Light! How throughout the ages, God has been taking Light to dispel darkness and wants to do so in the lives and heats’ of our kids. How Christmas is really the celebration of the Light coming to our dark world and casting out sour sin so we could be in relationship with HIm.

Truth in the Tinsel isn’t a craft or a fun thing to do at Christmas–it’s a way to introduce your children to Jesus and His Light!

Whew! It gets me excited every time. OK. Let’s get back to the party…

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After a little talking and praying we played a game with a plate on our heads. Oh, yes we did!

And it was hilarious!

Then, it was time for door prizes! Y’all. I am OVERWHELMED by the amount of awesome friends who gave stuff away! I don’t have pictures of everything (for which I aplogize–next time I need to hire a photographer to capture more of the fun!) so, I’ll snag some pictures of their respective websites, ok?

First of all, Charity from The Heartfelt Home gave away a gorgeous print from her shop plus two vintage silverware Redeemed Ware bracelets. How much do you love those?!

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Dayspring sent some of their newest jewelry line called, Everlasting Light. And I could NOT be more excited about it because it is exactly what I’ve been loving and talking about with Jesus being the Light at Christmas!

Just look at these necklaces—>

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This layered shimmer necklace is my favorite one. And the verse engraved on the back is Isaiah 60:20, “The Lord will be your everlasting light.”  Isn’t that awesome?

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This North Star pendant is beautiful, too and has Isaiah 60:1 engraved on the back, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”. What a gorgeous reminder to hang around your neck this Christmas!

Don’t you wish you’d been there?!!

But wait! We’re not done!

One of my fellow-volunteers and friends at church has a super creative wife who owns OneTwentyOne Designs and makes the most ADORABLE bags and baby items and dish towels and more. She sent us the cutest tote bags you’ve ever seen, some pillows and an amazing dishtowel that hooks to your stove (you know what I’m talking about? It’s genius. And adorbs.)

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Plus, What’s in the Bible sent Phil Vischer’s new Why Do We Call It Christmas book:

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And Yancy sent t-shirts, CDs and devotional books:

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(This is my friend, Jen from church. She’s showing how much fun we had!)

But I guess you’re wondering about the crafts? Like the whole reason we got together, right?! I almost forgot about that part!

When everyone arrived with their 22 craft supply baggies in hand, they laid them out on the appropriate spot on these tables. At the end of the night, they walked through (with their new bags) and put one of each into their bag! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

tnt swap party bags

Thank you to my mom for hosting the event, to my sisterchicks–Staci, Mandi and Kristen, my friends Vanessa and Cassie, to my dad and husband for helping out at the party and to Lydia, Asa and Megan for being the best bag-stuffers & helpers ever. I couldn’t have done it without you–nor would I have wanted to!

Oh, and click over to read about the details (and my best tips) of planning a swap party! It’s not too late to plan your own Swap Party! And don’t forget to check out our new Swap Party Printable Pack to help you plan your swap!


A New Year To Lead Our Kids To Jesus

new year truth tinsel

This year is almost over! Christmas is being quietly tucked away and Truth in the Tinsel will be a happy quiet memory until next year. But, if you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the simple quiet daily meditations on God’s Word. You’re wondering how you can continue this focus on Jesus in your normal non-Christmasy life.

Well, I’m here to help! *grin*

I’ve got lots of fun Family devotional series on my blog. Here’s some of my favorites:

How To Be a Super Hero // family devotions from

Fruit of the Spirit series from

Family Devotions: Armor of God

Each of them include crafts, Bible memory games/techniques, mini devotions, book suggestions and more. Plus, they’ve all been experienced and tested by my own kids, so I know they work!

You can also subscribe to my blog via email. You’ll get my latest posts to your inbox as they are published. OR you can sign up for my monthly newsletter where I’ll highlight the series and include other fun resources and fun ideas. (Or do both!)

No matter how you sign up, you’ll get a free copy of my ebook, How To Pray God’s Word For Your Kids. It’s got ten simple prayers, Scriptures, devotions and family activities to lead your heart in praying for your kids. It’s a big gift from my little heart to yours. I know you’ll enjoy it!

So, what are you waiting for?! Sign up!

Oh. And thank you. Thank you for this year of Truth in the Tinsel. I had so much fun experiencing it with you and your kids. Your pictures, emails and comments were awesome and so encouraging! Only 334 more days till we do it again! 

It’s Not Too Late!

I think I told you the first week of December is crazy around here. Everyone is on a high of I’m-totally-making-Christmas-count-this-year and emails are flying, pictures are being posted and everyone is loving Truth in the Tinsel.

Then the 12th or 13th day rolls around and you’ve got glitter on your floor, glue sticks under your kitchen table, Christmas parties to plan and just not enough time to do everything.

Or maybe you just got your head out of Thanksgiving and school to realize ACK! Christmas is just NINE days away! What am I going to do? I have to make Christmas count this year!

It's not too late to make Christmas count!

Are you ready for my advice?

It’s some sage wisdom.

Get ready.

Here it is:


Seriously. It’s OK. You don’t have to do all 24 days of the Truth in the Tinsel ornaments. You don’t. And if you’ve just realized Christmas is around the corner and you haven’t mentioned Jesus’ birth once, it’s OK.

Guess what? A Christmas that counts? It can happen in one conversation, one snuggle on the couch or one small act of service. Christmas is not about DOING ALL THE THINGS. Christmas is about worship. (I think I may have been on this soapbox once already?!)

So, if you’re behind on your Truth in the Tinsel ornaments or want to start right now, here’s some tips:

1. Buy the Truth in the Tinsel ebook. (Just checking!)

2. Buy the Printable Ornaments. (They are only $4.99 and it will make your cray-cray days just a little bit easier!)

3. Look at the alternate schedules on page 33 of your ebook. There are 4 different schedules to choose from–one for the basic characters, one of each book of the Bible, one for the prophecies and one for the basics. Don’t even LOOK at the other ornaments and days you’re skipping over. Just do the alternate schedule and enjoy.


3b. Look through the book and pick 5-6 ornaments you have the supplies for, like the message or just think are cute. Do those days and NOTHING ELSE!

4. ENJOY. Just enjoy the time to sit with your children and lead them to Jesus.


Why Does Truth in the Tinsel Work?

The first week of Truth in the Tinsel is a busy one. Everyone is figuring out how to fit in a half hour to do crafts with their kids. Christmas parties and gifts have already started along with decorations and every other Christmas-y thing that “must” be done.

So, not only am I experiencing all that at home with my own kids and schedule, I’m also getting emails from all of you–everything from thank you’s to download problems to oh-my-goodness-advent-starts-today?! to questions about theology. I was feeling up to my eyeballs in all this Christmasy, Truth in the Tinsely stuff earlier this week when this tweet stopped me in my tracks:

Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands

All that tiredness and stress just melted away! A little girl gave her heart to Jesus during Truth in the Tinsel! How cool is that?!

I asked Amanda to email me so I could hear the whole thing–I wanted to know how Truth in the Tinsel fit into her story. I mean, it was only December 5th, so we haven’t even got to Jesus yet!

Here’s an excerpt of her story:

I hung the clue chain around a little tree and we only do the coloring ornaments that we then hang on the little tree. Today we completed Days 4 and 5. I was already behind one day! We talked about Gabriel and then we did Mary. I read Luke 1:26-38 after each clue and ornament. We talked about believing what God says and about Jesus.

I asked my daughter, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross? She replied yes. She’s has heard the story before. Then I asked her, do you want to pray and accept Jesus into your heart? She said yes!…We talked about what sin is and how Jesus died for us. We talked about John 3:16 and what it means to have eternal life. Then she repeated out loud a prayer that her daddy led her in. She is a shy girl and wouldn’t normally pray out loud, but she did for this moment. She knows the scriptures from AWANA, she knows some of the stories, but tonight it became real for her. 

Doing the Truth in the Tinsel gave me a way to talk about Jesus every day. The kids expect it and nag me about opening the next clue. I need the “Talk about it together” script to ask my kids questions about the scripture reading. The questions give me a way to introduce Biblical discussions into our daily lives. While my daughter colored an ornament with a picture of Mary we were able to talk about what it means to believe God and what His word says about Jesus.  

Thank you. Truth in the Tinsel gives me an easy way to talk about Jesus in my home. Tonight that discussion time led to a prayer of salvation. I will be eternally grateful.

Did you hear that last part? “Truth in the Tinsel gives me an easy way to talk about Jesus in my home”.

Why does Truth in the Tinsel work? //


It’s not really the Truth in the Tinsel devotion that’s so good. It’s not the ornaments or the talking points or the extra activities. There is nothing holy about this little ebook.

You know what it is?

Parents are taking time out every single day to purposefully talk to their kids about Jesus. Regular moms and dads are opening up God’s Word and planting it deep in their children’s hearts. THIS is what makes the difference.

And the thing is, if you don’t focus on God’s Word in December you will be focusing on something–we bake dozens of cookies, spend money on too many gifts, think of elaborate shenanigans for an elf on the shelf, read Christmas books daily and more.

But what if?

WHAT IF we spent all of December teaching our kids about Jesus? What if we put our energy into thinking up creative, dare I say magical ways to make Jesus’ story big and exciting in their hearts?

What if we chose to be purposeful with our celebration and made it actually focus on Jesus?!

Friends, if you’re reading this, you probably are being purposeful with Jesus’ birth. You are doing Truth on the Tinsel or some other Jesus-centric Advent activity. But can I just remind you of something? This time you are giving your kids is of eternal importance! The special ways you bring sparkle and excitement to Bible stories and the knowledge of Jesus in December will open up conversations, pierce hearts and soften spirits.

Truth in the Tinsel works not because there is anything special about it. Truth in the Tinsel works because YOU work. When YOU are purposeful and work hard to lead your kids to Jesus, God will do what He said and speak and move and do miracles in the hearts of your children.

Yesterday, I saw this beautiful question on my friend, Robin’s instagram stream:

Are you celebrating a season or worshipping a Savior? // a question from at

I want to worship a Savior. I want my kids to see December as a month of worship. Not because we don’t focus on Jesus all year–we do. But because this month is already glittery and shiny, I want them to see it glowing with Jesus and His gifts. I want them to turn that excitement back to worship to Him!

Will you join me in worshipping Jesus this season? Will you be purposeful this Christmas season–not on celebrating the season but worshipping the Savior?

buy tnt footer

A Real Mom Adapts Truth in the Tinsel For Little Kids

This is a guest post by my friend, Lindsey. We found each other via blogs and connected over Children’s Ministry and Truth in the Tinsel. You know I want Truth in the Tinsel to be easy and empowering. Not hard and overwhelming. Lindsey shares today about how she’s adapted  Truth in the Tinsel for the very littlest kids…

using Truth in the Tinsel with the littlest of kiddos //

When I first spotted Amanda’s amazing resource, Truth in Tinsel, I was eager to try it. Even though my daughter was only 2 at the time, I wanted to begin to help her understand the Christmas story. My son was only one, but often wanted to be “part of the experience”, so I tried my best to adapt Amanda’s brilliant suggestions for my kids tiny hands and short attention spans. If you’re in the same boat, read on to gather up some ideas for your own family (not every day is listed). It’s never too early to share the good news of Christmas in a hands-on way!

As for the Scripture, I generally found a matching story from a Children’s Bible such as the Read and Share Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, or the Preschooler’s Bible. If I couldn’t find an exact match up, we simply read through the Christmas story in general.

For the coordinating Scripture, discussion questions and more, pick up your own copy of Truth in Tinsel. There’s still time to make some wonderful Christmas memories with your kids!

Day 1: Candle Ornament (Light of the World)

For this ornament, we still used the candle template, but substituted construction paper for tissue paper. It was much easier for the kids to handle, though the light didn’t shine through quite as nicely. Another idea is to just use the candle in the front and a solid black circle as the background. Kids could easily cover the back and not have to worry about pieces falling through all the little holes.

Coordinating Coloring Pages At:

Coordinating Book: The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children

Day 2: Crown Ornament

This simple crown ornament is perfect for almost any age. At our day care Christmas party, we had kids aged 18 months all the way to 2nd grade participating, and everyone loved it. We did have the youngest kids use glitter instead of jewels.

Truth in Tinsel

Coordinating Coloring Pages:

Day 4: Angel Ornament

For this super fun ornament, we simply substituted construction paper for the suggested wrapping paper to make it more sturdy.


Coordinating Coloring Pages:

Day 5 & Day 6: Mary & Elizabeth

Since Mary and Elizabeth were both included on the day six template, we just combined these projects and skipped making a separate Mary. One day five we painted and constructed the ladies, and then on day six, we role played using our new characters (I put them on Popsicle sticks for easy handling). It was so fun hearing the kids retell the story with the puppets. I love the idea of the pop-dot. What a good idea!

Mary and Elizabeth

Day 7: Mary’s Song

For these CD ornaments, we used stickers to decorate the CD’s. Kids loved it and it’s terrific fine motor practice. Of course, we had Christmas songs playing as we worked. 🙂

Truth in Tinsel

Day 8: Jesus is like the Rising Sun

For this project, we simply painted a paper plate yellow like the sun. Use finger paints if you’re brave! If you look closely, you can see the Bible reference across the bottom. I also wrote “Jesus is like the Rising Sun” across the top after I took this picture. If I were to do it again, I would write the Scripture and title more to the inside and then cut triangles along the outside to make the plate look more a shining sun. This project is a little abstract young kids, but we did talk about how Jesus was the light of the world (again) and read through the book The Light of the World . If you’re using the Jesus Storybook Bible, pages 184 and 190 are great for this lesson.


Day 9: Joseph

For this one, we skipped trying to make a Joseph figure and used some Nativity “build-a-scene” stickers I had picked up from Oriental Trading recently. As can be expected, the stickers were pretty poor quality and my 18 month old kept ripping all the people to shreds before they made it to the paper. As a result, his Nativity scene looks a bit like a massacre!

Nativity Sticker Scene

There are also a ton of printable Nativity characters you can use for this too (to make a puppet like Mary and Elizabeth). Check My Little House, Making Friends, and Prepared Not Scared.

Day 10: Joseph’s Pillow

I appreciate the fact that making Joseph’s pillow is a no-sew project! However, even the pipe cleaner method seemed to be a bit too taxing for our crew. I had some scrap fabric in the craft drawer, so I had each kid pick out their material and then we cut it to about double the size of a pillow. I hot glued two edges (one was sealed by the fold) and then had the kids stuff cotton balls inside. Once the pillow was filled, I hot glued the remaining edge. Then we played out the scene from the Bible (again and again!). We also made a matching blanket to complete the scene. (We used a stick puppet from the printables I listed in Day 9)

Joseph's Pillow

Every time we finished, my 2 year old exclaimed, “Again! Let’s do it again!”. So again we would go! About 4-5 times into it though, Joseph started singing a different tune. Instead of getting up and listening to the angel — he would start saying “Go away, angel. I’m very sleepy.” Oops. That’s not how the story goes!

Day 11: Jesus Name Collage

For this day, we made a “Name Train” to help the kids recognize their own name as well as Jesus’ name. We talked about how everyone’s name is special and has a meaning. I told the kids why we picked their names as well as what Jesus’ name meant.

Name Train

Day 12: Mary, Joseph and the Census

The theme of this day is the census, so instead of making the jar ornament, we lined all our Little People figures and wooden peg people up and counted them as they were “on their way to Bethlehem”. If you want to get really official about it, use an abacus to do your counting!

Truth in Tinsel

Coordinating Coloring Pages:

Day 14: Stable Ornament

For this one, we made a stable out of craft sticks still, but glued it onto a piece of construction paper instead of making an ornament.

Craft Stick Christmas Manger

Coordinating Coloring Pages:

Day 16: Sleeping Jesus in Blanket

Today, we skipped the craft project and did some dramatic play with baby dolls instead. We practiced wrapping up our dolls and rocking them as Mary would have wrapped and rocked Jesus.

Coordinating Coloring Pages:

Day 17: Sheep Ornament

Nothing screams sheep like a heaping pile of cotton balls. For this, I had the kids glue cotton balls to a small paper plate and then I added little legs and a head when they were done.

Cotton Ball Sheep

Day 19: Shepherds

More dramatic play fun for this day. Instead of making shepherds, we acted out what it would be like to be “keeping watch over the flocks at night”. I pretended I was the angel and the kids fell down when I “appeared”. I told them not to be afraid and then encouraged them to run to another room to find the baby Jesus, wrapped up in swaddling clothes. The kids loved it!

Day 20: Star Ornament

For this one, I found a fun folding star trick to do with the kids. I would fold the paper and get it ready, and all they would have to do is make one straight line cut. We would unfold it to find a lovely star! You can find the full directions for the fold and cut star here.

Fold and Cut Star


Day 22: Wise Men

Tomorrow’s lesson focuses on the gifts the wise men brought, so for today, we got out the child-friendly nativity set and acted out the wise men’s journey to see the baby.

Day 24: Birthday Cake

Today, we made a birthday cake in anticipation for Jesus’ birthday tomorrow. It’s standard chocolate, and I’m thinking of letting the kids eat it for breakfast to demonstrate just what a wonderful day Christmas is!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

What About You?

Have have you made the Truth in Tinsel experience your own? I’d love to hear about it!


Lindsey Whitney is a mom of two, home day care provider, Children’s Ministry director and blogger over at Growing Kids Ministry. Growing Kids Ministry is a blog designed to help parents, teachers, and Children’s Ministry workers who want to help the kids they love grow in their faith. Lindsey loves books, coffee, springtime, and a really loud thunderstorm. You can connect with her via twitter or on facebook.

How To Plan, Organize and ROCK a Truth in the Tinsel Swap

This is a guest post from a Truth in the Tinsel fan, Children’s Ministry alum and all around amazing woman, Sunny Cote.

how to plan organize rock truth tinsel swap

We mamas have good intentions.  Really, we do.  But if you are anything like me, the daily grind of feeding, diapering, cleaning, educating, discipling and refereeing takes up a great deal of time and a blink later it’s bedtime for our little cherubs and our plans for a fun tea party/pinterest worthy crafts/fill-in-the-blank/ fly out the window like a kite dancing in the sky on a windy day!  Does anyone feel me?

And then, there’s December.  I actually LOVE everything about Christmas.  I love having the opportunity to teach my kids about the true reason for celebrating Christmas-the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  However, December can get awfully busy and unless I’m super purposeful all those good intentions can easily get pushed aside as I prepare for guests, parties, shopping, food…it can be so overwhelming!

But then amidst the busyness comes the soft, sweet reminder of Jesus speaking to Martha in Luke 10 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Mamas, it is a busy season, but shouldn’t we choose the one thing that truly matters?  Shouldn’t we make certain our children learn the wonderful news of our Savior’s birth and worship Him?

Well, that is exactly why my family LOVES Truth in the Tinsel! It is such a fun and purposeful way to focus the Christmas season on Jesus every day.  And best yet, my kids beg to have our devotion time every day!  Now I’ll admit that I am a craft lover and my 4 kids (ages 7, 6, 4, & 2) are craft fanatics, but it can be a bit daunting to gather lots of craft supplies and organize them for each day of Advent; I get it.  But guess what?  There is an amazingly easy way to gather, prepare and organize all the Truth in the Tinsel crafts and you don’t have to do it all by yourself!!  After all, when you get a group of girlfriends together, ain’t nothin’ we can’t do!

And, this is where the idea for doing a “Busy Bag” style Truth in the Tinsel Swap was born.

truth tinsel swap 4

Interested?  Well, read on my sisters!

In order to organize a Truth in the Tinsel Activity Swap, you simply need a group of women who would like to participate.  I began by sharing my experience with T in the T by showing everyone my printed ebook placed in page protectors in a binder, pictures of my kids doing the crafts and sharing a few of the wonderful spiritual conversations that resulted from doing these activities.  Afterward, there were masses of women asking to participate.

So, I simply passed around a sign-up sheet for each mom to fill in their name, email, and the number of children in their family that would be participating in the crafts.  Next, I sent each mom an email asking them to purchase and download their own copy of T in the T and to email me once they did this.

Then, I sent a second email with the swap date, supplies that everyone needed to plan to have on hand such as glue, markers, glitter glue, etc. and finally the craft assignments for each mom.  So, depending on the number of women participating each mom would be assigned one of the 24 days and they would only purchase supplies and prepare for that one craft, but they would make enough for all the children who were participating.

truth tinsel swap 2

Each mom would then prepare craft supplies (not prepared crafts—just supplies for the craft) and place them in a baggie, labeled according to the appropriate day.  For example, if I was participating and I was supposed to prepare crafts for 42 children, and my assigned day was “Day 3” I would prepare 42 bags and place inside each one enough supplies to make the Zechariah ornament and label all the bags “Day 3.”

On the day of the swap, each mom should bring their prepared craft bags as well as a large paper bag with their last name and the number of T in the T kits they ordered clearly marked on the bag.  This paper bag will be what the leave with at the end of the swap party.  The person organizing would then line up the prepared days of crafts in numerical order.

I highly recommend making this a fun, social time for moms to perhaps have a cup of tea or coffee and visit while a couple of organizers prepare all of the family bags.  This helps to ensure that each family bag gets the right number of each craft…you know, fewer hands equals fewer errors.   Here is the very best news, after the organizers prepare the family bags, each mom walks away with their entire T in the T kit for all of their children assembled and ready to go for all 24 days of the Advent season!  Can I get an AMEN?!!

So there you go mamas!  This is a way to equip not only yourself, but all your sister friends as well!  Can you imagine the impact that working together to make this happen will have on all our children?  What if you presented this idea to your MOPs group at church or your small group?  What if your Children’s Ministry program got on board?  Can you imagine the impact this might have on families who aren’t yet Christ-followers, but who attend MOPs or another similar program to socialize with other moms? I can’t wrap my mind around the possibilities, but God can!  And just maybe YOU could be a small part of His BIG story this Christmas season!

sammy coteSunny Coté is a wife and mama of 4 children, ages 7, 6, 4 & 2, who keep her on her toes! She has worked in children’s ministry for the past 7 ½ years and served most recently as the Director of Training & Development at a large mega church in the Washington D.C. area. Sunny is passionate about equipping families to live out an everyday faith and enjoys speaking on various topics related to parenting and children’s ministry.

Note from Amanda: Are you so inspired by this?! You know, it’s not too late to get this together. You could even set up a swap for Days 5-24 and have a party the first of December! And if you don’t have 24 mamas who want to participate, you could just have 12 and everyone could prepare two crafts. If you have a question or a great idea about hosting a Truth in the Tinsel swap, please leave a comment below so we can all talk about it!

2014 Update: See the details (Part 1 and Part 2) of MY Atlanta Swap Party!
2015 Update: See our awesome party + the cutest Advent Calendar craft ever!