Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Ann Voskamp slays me. She did it with her book “One Thousand Gifts”, with her deep and lyrical daily writings and now she has again with this family Advent Celebration of Christmas.


How can one with a “happy mess of six kids” have such a quiet, holy peace about her? What are the secrets? Do tell!!! With our own mess of three (mostly) happy kids we do not always have peace. And there are certainly no angelic harps playing in the background at our home, as I would envision the Voskamp abode to be.

I love the way Ann so beautifully and gently points us to Christ, the true meaning of Christmas. The season of Advent, this waiting for Christmas, is one that I have admittedly overlooked in the past, beyond the candy in the door type advent calendars. But this year I want something more meaningful. Our older children (7 and almost 5) are ready for it.


So we began last night, with a “Night Before Advent” hot chocolate party. I printed up the banners on card stock from Voskamps site and strung them on some twine in the dining room. I picked up hot cocoa packets, fancy chocolate dipped cookies and peppermint sticks at the store and laid them out on the buffet along with some new fuzzy slipper socks for each of the kids.



And marshmallows. Big ones.


I lit a few candles, tuned my Pandora Radio to The Nutcracker station (much more calming than the “grandma got run over by a reindeer” station), and gathered everyone around. They felt like it was this big special thing, when in reality it was a simple,simple gathering.

Old Dana would have insisted upon making the banner from scratch, as well as the hot cocoa and cookies too. But practical and slightly wiser Dana decided that shortcuts were necessary and totally okay!

We read the introduction of Voskamp’s book together and I explained what the Jesse tree was, showing the kids the ornaments I had downloaded and printed for them to color each day to adorn our own Jesse tree. I initially thought that Luke would not be interested in coloring ornaments but I was mistaken. He said that he wanted his own set, so I printed up another set after he went to bed.

We put our two year old to bed after hot cocoa and snacks, and the rest of is played a round of Blokus before retiring for the night.




It was such a sweet and special evening. Oh, and I forgot to read the “Night Before Advent” Poem, so I read it to the kids after they were tucked in bed. It was so wonderful to just sit around together and talk about what Christmas really means and what we are trying to do this December. The only arguing came from the particular order in which we should play Blokus, thanks to my stickler-for-the-rules son.IMG_2197.JPG

I’m looking forward to this evenings first reading and activity. It takes some preparation, for sure, to make it all happen. I’ve got chicken roasting in the dutch oven already, nice and slow, the ornaments out to color when Savannah gets home from school. The kids will be able to pick their fun activity from our other advent calendar- to find all the Christmas books in the basement and bring them upstairs- once she comes home this afternoon. My mother is coming over in a little bit to help with the kids while I go to the dentist… it’s always something… some errand, some appointment, some rushing… but I think this intentional advent will prove fruitful amidst the busy-ness of the season.

What are you doing to focus on Christ this Christmas? What are you doing to avoid or alleviate the holiday stress? What can you scale back on to be more present this season?



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Filed under DIY, faith, home life, Kids Activities

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