Knock & run nativity

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One of the traditions we enjoy is to bless a neighbour or friend with a knock and run nativity. Each day in the lead up to Christmas, a piece of the nativity is secretly delivered to their door. The first day comes with an instruction poem (free printable below) letting them know what to expect and asking them to leave out the bag/basket each day for us to deliver the pieces into.

The Blessing Buddies idea for the day was to get started on delivering our nativity; a wooden version that we picked up from Target this year. We chose a bag with handles so we can hook it over our neighbour’s gatepost as we can’t actually access their front door without them knowing we are there.

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The children love running across each day to leave the next piece without being discovered and we get to share the Christmas story with someone who may never have heard it before. Each piece comes with a bible verse that tells the relevant section of the Christmas story with a short description of the role that each particular piece plays.

If you do not live close enough to deliver a piece each day, I have an instruction poem for an all at once delivery here  that allows you to make one single delivery with all the pieces numbered and instructs the recipient to unwrap one piece each day in the lead-up to the 25th of December.

Click below for a FREE PRINTABLE of the scrolls that you can attach to your own knock and run nativity pieces with 2 copies of the instruction poem – one for bags and one for baskets.

FREE PRINTABLEknock-and-run-12-days-of-nativity-poem-scrolls

 

Blessing Buddies and “What’s in the Box?” for holiday routines

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Our little one is enjoying the new and exciting Christmas tray activities that have been arriving each day with the Blessing Buddies. Even during the holiday period, a flexible routine is essential for toddlers. While we break out of our usual day-to-day activities, I still try to make sure that my 2-year-old has some structure to her day and she enjoys doing her table activities after breakfast while her siblings work on their crafts and gifts throughout December.

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This tinker tray of loose parts was a hit today as she used it to decorate the felt Christmas tree. After decorating our actual Christmas tree recently she understood exactly what this concept was all about. Of course they don’t all end up back in the tray quite the same way at the end!

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Gingerbread men “cookies” to decorate plus a Christmas tree ice block sorting tray to use with the oversized tweezers or spoon. We will make gingerbread biscuits some time soon so this will make more sense to her after that experience.

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While not too Christmassy, she loves these mini erasers so I have made them available for decorating the coloured rice Christmas tree, again with oversized tweezers to help with hand strength for pencil grip later on.img_2209

The Blessing Buddies have decided it’s too difficult to bring a new activity each day with so many nighttime commitments at the moment so for today’s blessing they set up a “What’s in the Box?” cupboard instead. They will add some new activities to it during December but  it gives the children more time to play with and enjoy the special Christmas activities (plus it takes the pressure off me to remember to hide a new one each night!) The other children like to use some of the same activities for table time as well.

So “What’s in the Cupboard?”

img_2228The craft at the moment is hand-sewing designs onto plain red tea-towels from Ikea which we will use as gifts. Even our 4 year old is managing a decent running stitch.

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Blessing Buddies and “What’s in the Box?” continues

The Blessing Buddies have continued to focus on blessing some of the ladies from our church who are coming for a special Christmas high tea tomorrow. They have had the children making craft gifts, decorating and setting up the room and making the house look presentable for the coming visitors.

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Our 3rd “What’s in the Box?” toddler activity for this year is some rainbow coloured metal jingle bells that combine beautifully with these magnetic construction tiles for a new dimension to the children’s play. My 2 year old is just getting the hang of constructing with these blocks so I think she will like this one.

 

 

 

The Blessing Buddies have arrived

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The first of December is an exciting day in our house as so many special Christmas traditions get started. The Blessing Buddies arrived with their daily act of kindness to help us focus on blessing others throughout the Christmas season, we began our Jesse Tree readings and started our sugar-free advent calendar jigsaw puzzle.

The children come out first thing each morning and hunt through the house to locate the Buddies and read the little note that will tell them what blessing we will work on for the day. Today we are working on a craft gift to give to the ladies from our church who are coming over for a Christmas high tea on the weekend. The whole event is about blessing others so it fits right in.

We choose not to do Santa (see why here) so we are careful not to replace one lot of pretend with another – the children all understand that they do not really move around by themselves but enjoy the experience nonetheless. This year the Buddies abseiled down from the roof vent instead of arriving in their usual suitcase on the doorstep.

The Buddies bought some epsom salt snow and special Blessing Buddy Christmas trees (LED light-up plastic trees) for the children to play with since we don’t get real snow here in Australia and left them where our nativity pieces can be easily added to the play.

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Our first “What’s in the box?” activity also arrived and although it wasn’t in the official red sparkly box due to it’s size, this Christmas sensory play tub was a hit with the younger ones.

What did you start with your family today that adds to their store of special memories each year? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Christmas Blessings

IMG_9054We have been searching out our Blessing Buddies each day to find out how we will be blessing someone else rather than ourselves this Christmas. Rather than a new blessing every day we have chosen a few bigger blessings to work towards this time.

The two eldest girls and myself participated in “The Road To Bethlehem” which is a live nativity show that takes 30 minutes to progress through as groups move from scene to scene. We enjoyed selling cloth and news scrolls to the crowd and working on our funny banter. While we enjoyed it, there certainly was an element of work as we repeated the same scene over and over again for around 4500 people over 3 nights. It was good for the girls to be reminded that it wasn’t about them and that the purpose was to bless those coming to view the show, rather than what we could get out of it.IMG_8969 We cooked up a storm for a ladies high tea at our home which was a blast as we served 22 hard working women from our church as a way to thank and bless them for all they do throughout the year.IMG_8931 The children made take home gifts for the ladies. These snow covered luminaries were very effective and so easy. Jars painted with PVA glue and sprinkled with epsom salts sparkled and the electric tea lights gave a lovely glow to the tables. We found an old Christmas tree on the side of the road during verge collection and cut off all the branches and berries to make the napkin rings and jar decorations, as well as mini Christmas trees is pots.IMG_9045IMG_9078We will be dropping off biscuits to the pastoral team and workers in the church office today as a thank you to them. The children have created hand-made thank you cards to go with them. The Blessing Buddies did get into the choc-chips first though!IMG_8929My eldest son used branches from the park to put together the stable we used for our new nativity this year and the separate parts have been arriving daily with the Blessing Buddies.IMG_8943 Occasionally the blessing of the day includes the children and they were lucky enough to be able to eat the Blessing Buddies’ bowling balls.IMG_8950 “What’s in the box?” hasn’t been that much of a hit this year. The purpose of this in the past has been to give the youngest child (usually 18 months to 2 1/2 or 3) something new and interesting to play with while the older children work on the craft or blessing of the day. This year though the youngest is too young for it and has her own table activities and the next youngest (3 1/2) would rather do the same activities as the other children. Next year it will be back in full force as our little one will be the perfect age but I have let it slide for now in favour of our craft of the day. The pretend play cooking activity above would have been loved last year but just hasn’t hit the mark with the in-between ages this time.

What are you doing in your family to help them focus on blessing others this year?

For a tonne of acts of kindness blessing ideas see blessing buddy ideas, Christmas “What’s in the Box?” ideas are great for toddlers and we used many Christian craft links for our Advent craft count down. Ideas for family traditions for a Christ-centred Christmas are here.

Christmas Traditions 2015

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The Christmas season is in full swing for us as we begin our many special traditions again this year. As always, we have tried to keep the focus on Jesus and blessing others over this period, rather than on presents and “getting.”The Blessing Buddies have arrived with their acts of kindness  for others and the children are excitedly searching for them each morning to see what they are up to. (Full explanation, printable poem and many acts of kindness ideas here.)

We are opening one special Christmas book to read each evening. This year I have sewed 24 bags for the books that I can reuse year after year.

The child of the day rushes out each morning to open the advent calendar and place the nativity figure onto the stable. Rather than treats this year, our advent calendar has an envelope filled with a handful of Lego for each child to open on their appointed day.  I was able to buy a huge bag of secondhand Lego cheaply at an op shop and had my eldest make up little sets for each day.

The same child takes their turn to pull out the day’s Jesse tree reading. This year we are focussing on the symbols of Christmas, looking at their meanings and how they can help point us and others to God.

Decorating the tree was eagerly awaited as always and our youngest placed the star on top as is our tradition, despite the fact that Daddy had to hold her hand in place to do it.

Another morning search finds our “What’s in the box?” Christmas table activity tray for the day. These Montessori style trays are for the toddlers and young children to do while the older children work on more difficult crafts or activities.

After our morning devotion using the symbol of the day we look in the craft box to find a special Christmas activity for the morning. With carols in the background we create something special, often related to the blessing of the day and meant to be given away to bless others.

We will be cruising the canals admiring the Christmas lights soon and attending the living nativity in a couple of weeks, with one important difference this year – the girls are in it. Our high tea for the senior church ladies is all set for a couple of Saturday’s time and we have a full schedule leading up to Christmas.

Having asked the children some weeks ago what they remembered as special about Christmas in our family I was glad to see that they did recall most of the traditions we have started and were looking forward to doing them again. Hopefully they will look back on this family time with fond memories and a heart that is knitted to us and their siblings for life.

For a full list of all our Christmas tradition and family identity building ideas for the Christmas period, see this post.

Blessing Buddies; What have they been up to?

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Making flour footprints with an invitation to cook something tasty for the ladies who meet in our house once a month.

Since their arrival on the first of December, the children have been enjoying searching for the Blessing Buddies each morning and finding out what their act of kindness for the day is going to be. Our 2 1/2 year old is also loving searching for his special Christmas activity box each day.

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The Blessing Buddies were found on the front doorstep on Dec 1, along with the special sparkly box with the day’s toddler Christmas activity and supplies for the first act of kindness.

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Baking biscuits was messy but fun – 6 children in pairs baking 120 biscuits was a bit crazy but we did it!

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My favourite blessing so far. We went down to the local shops and surveyed the shopkeepers of the smaller stores, asking them to name their favourite chocolate bars. We then went into Coles and purchased their choices and delivered them back with a note from the Blessiing Buddies explaining the real reason for the Christmas season. Lots of fun seeing their faces when they received their chocolate. We deliberately waited until they were busy to stealthily (not so much!) place the bags on the counters and dash out again before any reward other than their smile could be forthcoming.

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The children were outraged that the boy Blessing Buddy was being mean! I thought it was funny but they could only focus on the injustice! They don’t seem so concerned when they are doing similar things to their own siblings!

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The end result of the previous blessing craft. These felt trees were very easy to do (hot glue gun the bits together for the young ones and sew them on for the older kids) and the end result was really stunning. They look a lot nicer in real life than the photograph shows. They will make lovely Grandparent gifts this year.

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The Blessing Buddy bead ball-pit! The kids thought it meant we were going to an indoor playground! Had to disappoint them there and make beaded animals and other creatures to give away instead.

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Our church is collecting food for Christmas hampers so we added to the collection.

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One of our Christmas traditions is to buy a new nativity scene each year. The Blessing Buddies bought this one and were found worshiping Jesus.

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We made Christmas tree cross ornaments to give to the ladies who attend our yearly Christmas high tea so the Buddies were found swinging from the Christmas tree. The odd decorations they are on are our Jesse tree symbols.

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One of our children has a December birthday so the blessing for the day was all about them. The Buddies were found hanging out of her birthday gift.

 

Blessing Buddies – 80 acts of kindness ideas for a Christian Elf on the shelf alternative

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The Blessing Buddies are the latest addition to our Christmas traditions and have come about in order to help us focus on blessing others throughout the Christmas season. We make an effort to ensure that we have a Christ-centred Christmas, designing our activities around the celebration of the birth of Jesus and continuing with some much-loved family traditions.

After seeing the Elf on the Shelf, Kindness Kids, Light ’em up, R.A.C.K. (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) and other ideas that are around, I combined several elements and came up with our Blessing Buddies. The children will love the surprise of having something to search for each day, the fun of finding them in a new pose, a daily act of kindness directed towards others to complete (big or small), a character quality to focus on and bible verse to start our day.

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The Blessing Buddies will be making their appearance on the first of December. A boy and girl bendable wooden doll will “arrive” in a package in our mailbox. A poem of explanation will be included to introduce the concept. The dolls are part of a wooden doll house family from Kmart. They came with a Mum, Dad and baby for $15. The suitcase came off someone’s verge during the local verge collection! I just fixed it and covered it with Christmas paper. Sorry, don’t know where to find those in a shop; maybe somewhere like the craft section in Spotlight or Bunnings where you buy the blank cardboard/MDF wood boxes and shapes for craft projects?

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(Free printable Blessing Buddies introduction poem here.)

Each morning the children will find the Blessing Buddies hidden around the house in a different pose that links to the act of kindness we will be carrying out that day. They will also have a note with the day’s character trait including bible verse and discussion questions and a bag containing all the materials necessary to complete the act of kindness.

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Click here for free printables bible verse, character quality & discussion points for the Blessing Buddies (Large file, please be patient)

(As always, please link to this post for printables, rather than reproducing my work elsewhere. Thanks.)

The Blessing Buddies should be a lot of fun as we seek to be aware of those around us by meeting their needs, helping them to know that God loves them or simply just bringing some joy into their day. I have created a master list of ideas for blessing others with some suggestions of ways to pose the Blessing Buddies.

80 Acts of Kindness ideas:

  1. Get permission to access the Pastor’s office at church and plaster it with notes of appreciation and individually wrapped chocolates or lollies. This would also work in Dad’s work office, a teacher’s office or anything similar. Pose the Blessing Buddies with notes of appreciation (something kind the kids did the day before), sitting in a box or basket of individually wrapped chocolates, sealed in an envelope with writing pens and pretty note papers spread around, in the act of writing a note or with post-it notes stuck all over them.
  2. Do an act of service around the house; yours or someone else’s. You may know a new Mum, pregnant lady, an elderly person or someone who is sick. Tidy up an area, clean the bathroom and toilet, finish all the fixing in the fixing box, sew buttons or darn socks, tidy the bookshelves, or clean out the garage. Pose the Blessing Buddies wrapped up mummy style with thread in the sewing box, hiding in a bucket of cleaning equipment, hanging from the broom, making soap sculptures or laying inside a roll of toilet paper partway unrolled down the hallway as if they have been rolling along as it unravels.
  3. Do your sibling’s chores for the day. Pose the Blessing Buddies taking a boat ride in the sink with cleaning supplies, buried in a pile of mess or riding on the vacuum cleaner.
  4. Invite a friend or family member to a live nativity reenactment. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding tickets to the production and a carrot for the camels, or riding on a toy camel.
  5. Use the nativity set (or a Christmas book) to tell the Christmas story to your brothers or sisters. Pose the Blessing Buddies in a nativity sensory tub (A nativity set in a low flat container of dried beans or similar with rocks, artificial trees, block buildings, manger, stable, farm animals etc.), feeding the animals in the nativity set or reading a Christmas book to the nativity set figures.
  6. Write to your sponsor child and/or send a Christmas gift. Pose the Blessing Buddies with a half written letter or with a sack full of miniature gifts.
  7. Make a meal for someone elderly or sick. Pose the Blessing Buddies on top of a tissue box, holding a tissue to their noses with lots of scrunched up tissues all about – sick Blessing Buddies.
  8. Bury treasure at the local playground, school or childcare sandpit. Use plastic gemstones, large fake diamonds, plastic gold coins, gold buttons etc. Leave a sign telling the local children what you have done. Pose the Blessing Buddies in your own backyard sandpit with a note or poem in hand asking your children to find the lost treasure themselves first (To be re-buried for other children in the park), riding in a ship in the bath looking for lost treasure or playing in a miniature sandpit (shallow box lid with white sand or salt.)
  9. Decorate your own mailbox with pictures and a gift for the mailman. (Arrange to wait for the mailman that day to ensure he gets it.) Pose the Blessing Buddies in the mailbox with decorating and gift supplies or sealed inside a large envelope.
  10. Tape coins to a vending machine; the emergency room at a hospital would be good. Pose the Blessing Buddies inside a money box or inside an open chip or confectionary wrapper with just the toes sticking out and a few crumbs lying next to it.
  11. Leave money for the merry-go-round in the shopping centre. The children could do jobs around the house to earn the money to do this. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a long list of jobs for the children to do titled “Will work for coins” with a pencil behind their ear. Include check boxes next to each job with money to be earned for each task, including a few treat “jobs” such as eat a cookie.
  12. Hide $2 coins in the kids’ toy section at the discount variety shop. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting inside a toy car going for a drive with some other toys or on a toy train on a train track with other toys on carriages behind.
  13. Go for a walk around the local area leaving Christmas lollies, chocolates or candy canes with a note of explanation; people may not eat them otherwise. Good places are bus stop seats, on the top of log fences or wherever people will see them easily. Pose the Blessing Buddies in a ballpit of lollies or riding a candy cane sled down the banister or stairs.
  14. Invite a lonely person/neighbor round for morning tea and bake special treats for them. Pose the Blessing Buddies making “snow” angels in 100’s and 1000’s spread on the bench or sitting in a teacup with teabags spread about.
  15. Gift and cards for piano teacher (school/ballet/sports teacher etc.) Pose the Blessing Buddies playing piano with sheet music set up in front, dressed in sports team colours/uniform with game snacks or wearing miniature bathers/ballet slippers or some other relevant item.
  16. Donate to your favourite charity, sponsor a child, buy a cow or well etc. through Compassion or another organisation who works with the poor overseas. Perhaps agree as a family to limit gift giving and use the money saved to give away. Pose the Blessing Buddies milking a toy cow with a tiny bowl of milk underneath or working with gardening tools
  17. Work at a Christmas day soup kitchen serving meals for the homeless. Pose the Blessing Buddies surrounded by veggies on the cutting board with a miniature knife in hand or sleeping in a tissue box with a tissue for a pillow and one over the top as a sheet with a note; I have a bed but some people don’t.
  18. Buy a newlywed or elderly couple a Christmas tree and decorate it for them. Pose the Blessing Buddies in a toy car with a miniature Christmas tree strapped to the roof (Use one branch/leaf from a regular size tree), standing decorated with bows and bells or hanging from the roof on a strand of tinsel.
  19. Decorate an elderly relative’s house or porch for them using their own decorations or yours. Let them know that you will come and pack it up again after Christmas. Pose the Blessing Buddies threading popcorn onto string, wrapped in Christmas lights or swinging on a tinsel swing (Thread a toilet roll on to make the seat.)
  20. Prepare Jesse tree symbols and readings for someone. Pose the Blessing Buddies hanging on the Christmas tree as if they were a decoration or as if constructing the symbols.
  21. Knock and run nativity (With poems of explanation for each one, secretly deliver 1 figure from the nativity each day to a neighbor, leading up to baby Jesus arriving on Christmas day. I have printables you can use for this – coming soon.) Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in the manger cross-legged in front of Jesus or with baby Jesus in their lap.
  22. Go on an emu hunt (rubbish collection) in a public area and wherever you go for the day. Pose the Blessing Buddies hiding inside a miniature bin, inside the bag bag (plastic bag holder) finding bags for the rubbish, standing next to a pile of trash or facing a waste paper basket partly filled with crumpled newspaper balls with several balls on the floor as if they have been throwing them into the bin.
  23. Leave a sandpit toy at the local play area with a note of explanation. Pose the Blessing Buddies wrapped inside a box with the new sandpit toy or making sandcastles in the sandbox outside.
  24. Chalk messages of thanks or encouragement on people’s driveways. (We love the beautiful flowers in your garden, thank you for being great neighbours, have a wonderful Christmas etc.)Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a stick of chalk with a message drawn on a mini blackboard or sitting on your own driveway with a message in chalk.
  25. Donate toys or books to a waiting room. Pose the Blessing Buddies inside a slinky toy in the process of “walking” down the stairs, playing a board game or having a cotton-ball snowball fight with other toys from behind a Duplo or block fort.
  26. Leave plastic dinosaurs all around a playground. Pose the Blessing Buddies squeezed inside the plastic tube that the animals come in, riding on the back of a plastic animal or feeding the dinosaurs leaves.
  27. Leave bags of marbles in a playground. Pose the Blessing Buddies playing a game of marbles or inside the bag with their heads poking out at the neck.
  28. Make care packs for the homeless. (Our church will be coordinating this for us.) Pose the Blessing Buddies with Blessing buddy care packs for the children – snacks for the car, special drink etc.
  29. New mother bags/gifts at hospital. Pose the Blessing Buddies building a nappy tower (roll nappies tightly and tie with an elastic band), wearing a miniature nappy (pin a piece of white fabric) or swaddled and sleeping in the dolls house cot.
  30. Pick out a gift for the Kmart wishing tree (gifts for disadvantaged kids.) The children could work to earn the money to spend on this. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting with a tiny gift as if ready to open it (the kind that hang as decorations on the Christmas tree), gift wrapped and surrounded by scissors, tape and off-cuts or have gift bows stuck all over the bathroom mirror with the blessing buddies attached to the mirror by one of the bows.
  31. Hide money in the supermarket shelves with a note for a shopper to discover. Pose the Blessing Buddies sandwiched between tins and boxes in the pantry or squeezed inside a pantry storage jar with their face and hands pressed against the glass peering out.
  32. Have a pre-Christmas clean-out and donate good quality toys or clothes to charity. Pose the Blessing Buddies spelling out a message in magnetic letters on the fridge or inside a building made from the kid’s construction set.
  33. Put together pyjama and care packages for the local women’s refuge. Pose the Blessing Buddies brushing their teeth on the bathroom sink with a message on the mirror in toothpaste or having a bath in the dolls house bath with mini face washer and soap, hair wrapped in towel.
  34. Write and send Christmas cards to friends and family. Include a family photo, tract, yearly wrap up letter and family update. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting with a camera, surrounded by photos of themselves up to various antics, with the camera and other teddies all set up for a group photo, in an open box of cards with pens, envelopes and stamps or with a letter written and addressed to the kids (from the Blessing Buddies) for them to open.
  35. Donate food to the local food bank or church food parcel. (Include some special Christmas foods.) Pose the Blessing Buddies balanced on top of a tin can pyramid or rolling cans down the stairs.
  36. Leave candy canes or treats on cars in a car park. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a note that says “I have hidden (however many) candy canes in this room. How quickly can you find them?” or hanging upside down from a candy-cane and ribbon swing or trapeze.
  37. Post or deliver a book about the true meaning of Christmas to someone. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting at the computer with the screen open to Book Depository or another online book retailer or reading a mini bible to the other teddies.
  38. Take Grandparents or friends on a drive to see the Christmas lights (Kids make invitations several days ahead) Wear PJ’s, play carols on the stereo and if 2 cars are needed, change combinations after each stop and talk to each other through walkie-talkies. Stop for a treat on the way or take hot chocolate in a thermos for the road. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding golden tickets to “Mum’s Minivan Christmas Lights Express” with a single hole-puncher to punch tickets as people enter the vehicle, sitting inside disposable coffee mugs with lids (for the hot chocolate) and special snacks to have on the way or having a marshmallow snowball fight.
  39. Tape a gift card to a shopping trolley. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a blessing buddies shopping list or a little bag with gift card inside.
  40. Take activity packs, crafts, balloons or colouring books to kids in hospital, a friend’s sick child or a disadvantaged family. Pose the Blessing Buddies surrounded by crayons with half-coloured picture in front of them, hanging under a large bunch of helium balloons or in a little basket under a single balloon made to look like a hot air balloon.
  41. Tape snack size popcorn, biscuits or chip packets to shopping trolleys. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting on the stove holding a wooden spoon and cooking up a “dinner” of Skittles/popcorn etc. in a small frying pan.
  42. Leave treat bags in all the teacher’s pigeonholes. (Clear this with someone in authority first.) Pose the Blessing Buddies with paper bags/baskets/boxes and craft materials to decorate or eating a chocolate; unwrapped with a chocolate smudge on face and chocolate crumbs around them.
  43. Wait at the bus stop and give the driver a coffee or homemade muffin or ask permission to jump on the bus and give all the passengers a flower or treat. Or just give them to the line of people waiting at your bus stop. Pose the Blessing Buddies riding on or in a toy bus, making a cup of coffee with instant coffee granules spilt across the bench or holding a bouquet of flowers.
  44. Give bubble mixture sets to kids in a public area. (The kind that are given out at weddings are pretty cheap.) Pose the Blessing Buddies holding the bubble blower, mixture open, with dribbles about.
  45. Fruit for firies: Decorate boxes and fill them with fresh fruit to deliver to the local fire station. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in the fruit bowl with a peeled banana in their lap as if eating it.
  46. Nuts for nurses: take a bowl or box of small nut snack bags and leave them on the bench at the hospital nurses station. Pose the Blessing Buddies wearing a nurses uniform, one doctoring the other with a miniature doctors kit or cracking nuts with a nut cracker.
  47. Host a high tea for all the little old ladies at church or anyone you know who would appreciate it. Perhaps invite all the ladies in your street as a way to get to know your neighbours. Make a little craft, treat or decoration for each lady to take home. Pose the Blessing Buddies making the take-home gift such as beaded angels, miniature Christmas puddings or rocky road etc.
  48. Wait outside the grocery store and help people carry their bags or hold doors open. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in the car with a drink bottle, snack &  lap blanket, wearing a badge; “I’m here to help,” or holding lots of tiny shopping bags (home-made paper bags or Barbie bags.)
  49. Put on a Christmas concert for family and friends or at a retirement village. Each child can sing a song, play an instrument, act out the Christmas story, tell Christmas jokes etc. Serve refreshments afterwards. Pose the Blessing Buddies playing a musical instrument (a tree decoration would be a good size), sitting at the piano with Christmas carol sheet music set up in front, reading a joke book or Christmas story or dressed in miniature nativity clothes (scraps of striped fabric, tinsel halo for angel.)
  50. Go through the McDonalds drive-through for icecream cones and pay for the order of the car behind you. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding an empty icecream cone and ice-cream scoop or riding in a line of toy cars with several other toys as if in a drive-through or stopped at a window of a take-away shop made from Lego.
  51. Blessing balls. Hang fillable baubles on Christmas trees in shop windows or at friend’s houses filled with edible treats or coins etc. Pose the Blessing Buddies squished inside a clear fillable bauble, hanging in the Christmas tree.
  52. Write love notes to leave in Daddy’s lunchbox and pack it for him with some extra special tasty treats. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in a lunch box with pen and paper or eating a muffin or sandwich (bite out, crumbs around.)
  53. Leave a very generous tip at a restaurant.Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting next the word “tip” spelled out with coins or   drinking from a glass using a bendy straw.
  54. Give gingerbread biscuit nativity scenes to Sunday school teachers or neighbours. Pose the Blessing Buddies asleep on the packet of biscuits with head on a marshmallow pillow.
  55. Make Mum or Dad breakfast in bed. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in the fridge on the egg carton. Colour or dye the shells of the eggs in the egg carton or write a message on the eggs (one letter on each.)
  56. Mailbox attack. Leave treats inside random mailboxes in the neighbourhood and/or decorate the mailboxes with handmade decorations. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting in a mixing bowl holding a mixing spoon with ingredients on the bench, making the crafts with scraps and equipment spread about, in your mailbox with the treats or dangling from a piece of tinsel wrapped round your mailbox (as if in the process of decorating it.)
  57. Make a list of things you love about someone and send it to them. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a long list of things the blessing buddies like about the kids.
  58. Send postcards or Christmas cards to friends who have moved away or people who used to go to your church. Pose the Blessing Buddies in the midst of writing a postcard or Christmas card to the kids themselves.
  59. Give popsicles to outdoor workers (in hot weather.) Pose the Blessing Buddies hiding inside one of the popsicle molds or eating their own miniature popsicle – made of felt?
  60. Conduct a Christmas chocolate survey at your local shopping centre. Write down the name of the shop and ask the cashiers to tell you their favourite chocolate. Purchase their choices and slide them into decorated bags with a tract and card and tag of explanation. Deliver them back to the cashiers anonymously if possible. Pose the Blessing Buddies holding a partially eaten chocolate bar with a smudge of chocolate on their face, looking through junk mail catalogues or holding a pre-printed survey page with a bunch of cut out bag tag poems of explanation (I have printables.) Have the Blessing Buddies favourites already written onto the survey page.
  61. Pass out stickers to children waiting in a doctor’s office. Pose the Blessing Buddies covered in stickers.
  62. Take board games to a nursing home and play games with the elderly. Pose the Blessing Buddies playing a game of Monopoly with some other toys.
  63. Decorate placemats for meals on wheels or your church’s food parcel ministry. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting at the dolls house table and chairs with dinner set out on the table.
  64. Hold a spa day at a nearby nursing home for residents: paint their nails and do their hair and make-up. Pose the Blessing Buddies with their hair in crazy designs or sitting underneath a message on the bathroom mirror written in lipstick, with the lipstick open next to them.
  65. Donate your gently used stuffed animals to a local firehouse or police station to give to children in emergencies. (Do they do this in Australia??) Go to op shops and choose nice stuffed toys to take or donate your own. Pose the Blessing Buddies  hidden in a large pile of stuffed animals with only their faces showing, camping out with other teddies in an A-frame tent (T/towel over string between chair legs?) or tucked up in bed with the other teddies.
  66. Leave notes/postcards/sticker pages in your favourite library book for the next child to find. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting on a pile of books with one open that they are reading to a bunch of toys or peeking out from between the books in the bookshelf.
  67. Decorate the rubbish bin for the collector with posters and a gift. (We would need to stake out the truck and give ours in person as they usually wouldn’t get out of the truck.) Pose the Blessing Buddies tight-rope walking or riding a flying fox between the 2 rubbish bins.
  68. Pay for the meal/coffee of the person behind you in a take away line. Pose the Blessing Buddies inside a hamburger box or take-out coffee cup.
  69. Buy a gift voucher for the person behind you in the supermarket check-out lane. Pose the Blessing Buddies in a big box of packing peanuts gift wrapped, holding the voucher, building a coin stack or hiding in Mum’s shopping bag.
  70. Leave a food parcel for someone in need; knock and run style. Pose the Blessing Buddies in the oven with cooking equipment, recipe and ingredients or reading recipe books with a mixing spoon and measuring cups in their hands.
  71. Start a Christmas book per day tradition – wrap 24 books in paper to be opened each day in the lead up to Christmas. Choose 1 today to read to your little brother or sister. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting on the books with a large ribbon tied over them and the stack, with scissors and wrapping paper and scraps as if just finishing wrapping up the books or bound head to toe in the ribbon used to wrap the book stack.
  72. Make a cake for Jesus and start Christmas morning by singing Happy Birthday to Him. Pose the Blessing Buddies with an electric tea-light decorated to look like miniature birthday cake with a lit candle on top or holding a party whistle and wearing a party hat.
  73. Sell stuff you no longer want or need and donate to your favourite charity or someone who needs it. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting inside a large heart shape made of coins.
  74. Babysit for a single Mum or a friend so that they have the opportunity to go Christmas shopping or out for the evening. Have the kids plan games/craft/activities for the children you are watching. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting on a couch cushion eating a bowl of popcorn with a TV remote control next to them or cutting out paper snowflakes with cuttings spread everywhere while sitting at a doll-house sized table and chairs.
  75. Weed a neighbor or elderly person’s garden. Pose the Blessing Buddies outdoors in the garden planting a row of lollipops.
  76. Organise a garden makeover for someone in need. Pose the Blessing Buddies next to a little pot of soil with candycanes growing out of it or holding a seed packet with “candy cane seeds” written on the side.
  77. Brave the cold (for those experiencing a white Christmas) to deliver hot chocolate to an outdoor worker or bell ringer. Pose the Blessing Buddies sitting on the top of a large mug filled with mini marshmallows holding a teaspoon. Place a tin of cocoa next to the mug.
  78. Brave the heat (for those of us in the middle of summer!) to deliver cold drinks to construction workers or anyone who needs to be outdoors for any length of time. Pose the Blessing Buddies having a picnic with some other dolls and teddies using a child’s tea set.
  79. Fill parking meters that have nearly run out. Pose the Blessing Buddies as if they are having a car race with some other toys (all driving their own vehicles) and a finish line sign set up.
  80. Bring in all the neighbour’s bins after the rubbish truck has been. Pose the Blessing Buddies climbing a rope up the side of the bin or abseiling down the side.

Beaded cross advent Christmas craft

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Photo credit: my 11 year old son!

Christmas is fast approaching and with it all of our advent crafts and projects. In line with our focus on blessing others throughout the month of December, we will be making these beaded crosses for all of the ladies who attend our high tea. They are economical and very simple and require only a few items to make.

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You need:

  • Two nails (One larger than the other)
  • Approximately 1 metre of thin wire (Make sure it is flexible – the wire I originally tried was too thick to easily bend around the nails)
  • Thread/ribbon for hanging
  • Beads of choice (Check that the diameter of the holes will fit on your wire.)

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Anchor the two nails together by winding the wire tightly several times diagonally around the point at which they cross. Leave the wire attached to the centre and thread a few beads on at a time, winding it around one section of a nail heading out from the centre. As you wind back towards the centre, cross the wire over the part you have just beaded to anchor it tightly in place. Don’t forget to make a small loop of wire at the top of the centre nail to attach the string for hanging.

It took me around 10 to 15 minutes to make one cross from scratch and anchoring the nails was a little fiddly so if you are doing this craft with young children it may be a good idea to anchor the nails for them ahead of time. I expect that it will take my children around 30 minutes, depending on how many beads they decide to add. Seed beads will obviously take a lot longer.

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You can vary the colour and size of beads you use and even the size of the nails for a different look. Small crosses would work well for bookmarks and larger crosses for Christmas tree decorations.