Australian Family Feud Party Game

IMG_1687Family Feud anyone? One of our yearly Christmas traditions is to host a high tea for some of the wonderful ladies from our church. As part of this event, we always play some get to know you/icebreaker type games for a bit of fun. This year we decided to try out Family Feud at home but after searching the web found that the answers were not very applicable to Christmas here in Australia. There’s not much snow around this time of year!

So we polled 100 volunteers (actually 110 but who’s counting) and came up with our own Aussie version. If you aren’t sure how to play Family Feud I’m sure you can find some old episodes online or here is a pretty clear explanation of how it works.

To get started, you will need to print off one set of the question and answers cards and another set of the answers chart below.

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Free printable free printable question and answers cards

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Free printable family feud answers chart

Cut some card strips and cover the answers. (Make sure they are not see-through.) I laminated the answers chart and some coloured card and cut it into strips, then just taped each end to the answers chart.

As you play the game you can peel off the relevant strip to reveal the answers and scores. Add up the points to find your winning team. There are 9 question and answer sets so you can do 8 rounds plus a tie-breaker if necessary. We found 3 rounds was enough spaced over the 2 hour high tea but it would depend on your event. Have fun!

 

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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

 

Christian Easter ideas for 2015

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Easter is here and with it the bombardment of chocolates and commercialism that threatens to take over any meaningful celebration. If you are looking for some Christian Easter activities and traditions that help make Easter a Christ-centred affair, take a look at this post or for Jesus trees, Lent ideas and other Christian Easter activities see here and lastly, my Pinterest board with some more activities is here.

Easter decorations

Our Easter space with books and objects that help direct our attention to the real meaning of this season. We used palm branches to act out the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The kids threw down blankets as cloaks as well as the branches and made crowd noises to help tell the story. It was a little chaotic but lots of fun.

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An up close view of our string crosses that we made this year. (Original idea and instructions here.) As we hammered the nails into the wood blocks we talked about Jesus being nailed to the cross and what that must have felt like, comparing the size of our nails with the nails that would have been used to pierce Jesus. My oldest son’s comment was “Children’s bibles always make the cross seem so pretty!” It doesn’t hurt our kids to get a better picture of what the events surrounding Easter were really all about. Giving them some understanding of what our sin really cost is so important, especially for those who grow up so saturated in bible stories that they grow immune to the importance and reality of it all.

Father’s Day 2013

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We try to make Father’s Day a special time of celebrating my wonderful husband and continuing the family traditions we have started over the years. One of these is that the children make something for Dad, rather than buying gifts. We want them to know that we value their handmade efforts and that spending a lot of money is not necessary to show someone that you love them. Having a lot of young children though means that it is sometimes difficult to come up with great ideas that everyone can participate in. We want it to be something that Daddy can use or enjoy, not something he cringes at as he imagines how embarrassing it is going to be to have to walk down the street wearing that!

 

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This fingerprint tree was the perfect gift for us. All the children were able to take part by placing their fingerprint on the branches. (We just used ink pads from our stamping sets.) I printed out a bible verse that reminds us of the blessing we have in our children and the honour it is to be a Father. Our latest family photo was added and we were done. The tree itself is a free printable available here. The whole thing was extremely quick and easy and Daddy can proudly display it at work.

Other posts you may be interested in:

Father’s Day: Traditions and home-made gift ideas for children

Father’s Day 2012

Advent and Christmas traditions

Christian Christmas traditions; memories for a lifetime

Father’s Day 2012: traditions and home-made gift ideas for children

Father’s Day was loads of fun yesterday and you would have thought it was Christmas by the level of excitement in the days leading up to it! We narrowed down our home-made gifts to a select couple and the children steadily added to the pile throughout the week with their own creations. As family tradition dictates we began the day with gift giving in Mummy and Daddy’s bed. With a little one to feed and church to get to, breakfast in bed wasn’t an option so as you can see, Daddy was already dressed!

Our all together gift was this photo frame with each child holding a letter to spell out Daddy. With a large number of children all needing to give gifts, we look for ways to make that easy. Our Mummy and Daddy shop works well, but for Father’s Day the rule is we have to make something and we usually try to find a project that everyone can do together. This fitted the bill nicely.

All that was involved was making a couple of card letters and taking the photos. The trickiest part was getting a baby and a 9 year old to look good at the same time and making sure that the letters were about the same size in each shot. No need to make three letter D’s though – one will do. It did take me a little while to work that out so thought I’d mention it! I found the idea here.

Everyone wanted to help make Daddy’s special Father’s Day breakfast, even the toddlers. Having kids in the kitchen can be a challenge but it is worthwhile teaching young ones to enjoy cooking. Cutting up bananas is something even my 2 1/2 can do as long as I’m not too particular about how even the slices are! My other 2 1/2 year old was busy putting away the “cutleries” from the dishwasher and setting out spoons on the table.

Our gift to the two Grandparents was a framed message saying Happy Father’s Day with the children spelling out Grandad and Grandpa with their bodies. Here’s “Dad” below to give you the idea. Having done it once, I strongly suggest you use a plain coloured background or just have them lay on the grass. The letters weren’t very straight but I couldn’t straighten them for cropping because of the striped picnic blanket background. Oh well, you live and learn! This idea came from here.

    

Both of these would make great birthday and Christmas gifts for any parent or Grandparent and are an inexpensive way to bless a special person in your life. Have fun building great family memories and showing those close to you how much they mean to you.

Coming of Age 13th Birthday

I had the privilege of attending a young lady’s coming of age 13th birthday recently. It was a memorable celebration and commemoration of this important milestone and transitional point in her life –  a rite of passage experience to help mark the first stage of a girl’s cross-over into womanhood. After reading “Raising A Modern Day Knight” and “Raising a Modern Day Princess” I have several ideas stored away for my own children’s coming of age ceremonies and have added some of the special things I saw at this event to my mental list.

The birthday girl and her friends spent a little time together first, with some games and gifts to celebrate their friendship. One-handed present wrapping was one of the games they enjoyed.

A delicious afternoon tea was served during the adult gift presentations. We all loved this ring tin sandwich idea.

One of the themes of the day was “The Proverbs 31 woman” with this charm bracelet given to the 13 year old by her parents. The charms were carefully chosen to represent each of the bible verses in Proverbs 31 and symbolise the qualities that a Godly woman possesses. It will be an ongoing reminder and symbol of her faith and the moral foundation that a Godly woman’s character is based on.

Another gift to mark the occasion was a beautiful hope chest (glory box). Guests were invited to contribute something to the chest to start building a collection in preparation for the 13 year old’s future life. “The Hope Chest; A Legacy of Love” by Rebekah Wilson includes ideas on how to use a hope chest and what you may like to include.

Continuing on with the Proverbs 31 theme, 5 of the women took a section each from the bible passage and presented a symbolic gift to go with each part, along with a bookmark with the bible verse printed on it. Many other beautiful gifts were given, with the women explaining their choices and reading out their words of wisdom as they were presented.

These gorgeous spoons were inscribed with “a heap of love, a spoonful of family, a pinch of friends and a dash of joy.”

This wonderful handicraft kit was put together by one of the ladies. She had made a couple of items herself and included the materials needed to complete several more little projects.

One of the lovely letters of wisdom. The box held hand-made doilies and table runners that had been handed down through several generations.

Some of the gifts could be used right away and some were to be put away for her future home.  Each one was chosen for a reason and the givers had been previously asked to include a letter explaining their choice and any symbolism involved, as well as sharing wisdom or encouragement for the future.

The celebration was a simple but memorable one and hopefully left the young lady knowing without a doubt that she is well-loved and supported by many around her and with a sense of excitement and joy as she looks forward to her future. Whether your event is small and simple or big and amazing, plan to mark these pivotal points as stepping-stones towards Godly womanhood (or manhood.) See this post for some links to interesting websites.

Raising a Modern Day Knight/Princess

Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood

Do you have a son on the verge of manhood? A daughter about to become a woman? Do they know what it means to be a man or woman in today’s society? When exactly do they become a man or woman and what marks this transition?

Robert Lewis, in his book “Raising a Modern Day Knight” identifies three key areas that are vital in this process of becoming a man; a biblically grounded definition of manhood, a directional process to help him get there and ceremonies to celebrate and commemorate important transitional points in a young man’s life.

Along with the role of the community and the church, Lewis emphasises the importance of parents who are actively involved in their children’s lives, fully present and doing all they can to provide excellent role models. He outlines 4 principles of manhood that form the cornerstones of the foundation of authentic manhood and presents ideas for a code of conduct; ethical standards from the moral law of God to guide our sons on their path to manhood.

The second half of the book is devoted to developing ceremonies to mark important transitional points throughout a young man’s life. He emphasises the incredible impact these ceremonies have and gives some excellent ideas for developing symbols and ceremonies of your own, the first of which is generally around the age of 13.

Raising a Modern-Day Princess

Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna have written a similar book for girls titled “Raising a Modern Day Princess” with ideas for creating a rite of passage experience to celebrate a young lady’s cross-over into womanhood. They aim to help girls see themselves as daughters of a heavenly Father (their King) and true modern-day princesses.

They discuss the importance of the Father’s role in their daughter’s lives and the opportunity Mothers have to act as mentors in the lives of our own daughters and other young ladies.

Jewish girls celebrate a bat mitzvah, Latinos a Quinceanera, Navajo girls go through a Kinaalda ceremony and American teenage girls may be involved in a Debutante or Purity ball. The authors offer some ideas for creating your own Modern Day Princess ceremonies (that may or may not include purity rings and other symbols of purity) and implementing traditions that could be passed down for generations. These ceremonies may include blessings, special gifts, feasts and outings and can take on many different forms to suit your family.

I would highly recommend both of these books. Young men are well covered in Robert Lewis’ book, however if you only have a girl I would recommend reading both. The ideas for boys gave me a great springboard for coming up with rites of passage ceremonies for my girls, with a different approach than I would otherwise have taken. (I did always think Boy Scout camps were way better than Girl Guide camps though!)

However you do it, please take the time to plan ahead so that you don’t miss these important milestones in your child’s life. They will be 13 before you know it and these ideas take time, planning and financial investment. I am excited to think about what we can put together for our own children and hope that these traditions will be one more building block that knits our family together and helps us to raise children who stand strong in their faith as they grow into Godly adults.

Other Resources:

“The Hope Chest; A Legacy of Love” by Rebekah Wilson is a book I haven’t read thoroughly yet, but comes recommended by a good friend of mine. As the name implies, it explains what a hope chest is and how they may be used. They could be readily included as part of a rite of passage ceremony.

Unfading beauty reading for  womanhood ceremony.

Fantastic blog account of an amazing manhood ceremony physical challenge that a Father and son completed. 12 stones with character qualities, mountain climbing, ring ideas.. I loved this.

A blessing example.

One family’s example of manhood ceremony scriptures and symbols.

I’ll be blogging next about a young lady’s rite of passage 13th birthday that I had the privilege of attending last weekend with a Proverbs 31 theme. Stay tuned!

Birthday Letter tradition and memory keeping

Our gorgeous 5 on Christmas morning 2011.

Special events are always a reminder to me of how fast time is flying. In the future I will treasure memories of these occasions and I have to remind myself to take the time to make a record. We think that we will never forget important details about our children but it is amazing how much fades with time and sometimes in a very short time!

A new baby, especially your first, prompts us to ask our own parents all sorts of questions about our own birth and early years. Unless your parents were record keepers, you have probably found that the details are sketchy and if you are one of many siblings, may be very hazy indeed!

We as Mothers often think we’ll remember those funny or special moments and family times but they do fade so easily. Even now the kids ask me things about their own birth (bought on by all the talk of the impending birth of their new baby brother) and I am unsure of some of the details or even which child it was. Luckily I have it all safely recorded and we can pull out their baby albums and have a read through together, which they thoroughly enjoy.

I have made it a real priority to at least get the first year of each child’s life into their own album with their diary of their pregnancy (short notes along the way, what the siblings have said etc.) birth story, measurements, first bath, first roll-over, when they first sat, stood and walked etc. I have also tried to take photos of all these milestones along the way.

I figure they’ll be able to share their own baby years with their children and their children’s children, even if for some reason I’m not around to share it with them. I’d like to think that when I’m gone these albums will give them a link to memories they may otherwise forget.

Sometimes you just need to capture the day-to-day events. Morning tea on the sandpit edge, holes in tights and all.

Even if scrapbooking is not your thing, take a moment every now and again to make a note (on the calendar or in a diary or special book) of each child’s milestones, habits, interests, favourite sayings, achievements, funny events, likes, dislikes etc. At each child’s birthday I use these notes to write out their “reflections” for the year. All the things that made that year memorable. I use the following headings to remind me of all the things I want to include; songs & sayings, food, eating, likes & dislikes, sleeping, toys, games & activities, school & achievements, outings & events, when I grow up, fears, brothers & sisters, books, clothes & friends.

My husband also sits down and writes a letter to each child on their birthday. What a treasured possession I am sure these letters will be to our children one day. Imagine having a letter from your Dad for every year of your life. Reflections, joys, events, happenings, expression of love and as they get older he may include words of wisdom, advice, blessings and prayers etc.

This is a wonderful way to ensure that they know you love and appreciate them and everything that  makes them who they are. They will know and have a record in writing of your love and feelings about them and the special things you shared along the way.

Put it on your “to do” list today!

Christmas traditions: Jesse tree symbols


As we continue to get organised for the advent season, I have put together a list of the items I want to collect for our Jesse tree this year. There are many different versions of the traditional readings (bible verses) for each day of December and the key characters to be included on the Jesse tree. The list below contains the ones we are focussing on this year and next year we will add completely different symbols, representing over time as many different parts of the bible as possible. I may end up swapping out a couple of these bible characters for others if I have trouble finding a suitable symbol.

Down the left are the “characters” and in brackets to the right are possible symbols for each. Readings can be found on so many different websites, I haven’t listed them here but I did include some links on my last Jesse tree post.

  • God (sun, Earth)
  • Adam & Eve (apple)
  • Noah (ark, dove, rainbow)
  • Abraham (tent, stars, camel)
  • Isaac (stick bundle, ram)
  • Jacob (ladder)
  • Joseph (coat, sack of grain)
  • Moses (burning bush, baby in basket, reeds)
  • Israelites (lamb)
  • God (10 commandments stone tablets)
  • Joshua (ram horn)
  • Gideon (clay pitcher, sword)
  • Samuel (crown, lamp)
  • David (shepherd’s crook, harp, 6 pointed star of David, sling shot)
  • Elijah (alter, raven)
  • Hezekiah (tent)
  • Isaiah (tongs, hot coal, scroll)
  • Jeremiah (tears, hand)
  • Habakkuk (watch tower)
  • Nehemiah (city wall, trowel)
  • John the Baptist (shell, fish)
  • Mary (white lily, letter M)
  • Elizabeth (Mother & child, letter E)
  • Zechariah (stylus & tablet)
  • Joseph (hammer, saw)
  • Magi (star, 3 gifts, 3 crowns)
  • Jesus (manger, star)
  • Christ (chi-rho symbol)

Christian families and Father Christmas

The children love to play with this nativity scene. In case you are wondering, baby Jesus is up in the hay loft.

I must admit, I hesitate to write this post knowing that many readers will disagree and perhaps even be offended. I apologise in advance to anyone who is offended but think that the topic is important enough to broach. I hope you will approach what I have to say with an open mind and make your own judgements based on biblical understanding and after prayerful consideration.

With Christmas decorations hitting the shops, I have turned my thoughts towards this year’s Christmas celebrations and plans. Is it possible to celebrate Christmas with Father Christmas or Santa Clause and still be honouring to God? Can we participate in all the pretend and story telling that goes along with it without lying to our children? How can it be ok to deliberately lead our children to believe that something is true when it clearly is not? The bible tells us that God is truth and Satan is the Father of lies. (John 8:44) Is it all just harmless pretend and imagination, or has it gone one step further than that?

We teach our children that being truthful and honest at all times is right and pleases God and tell them that pretending is fine as long as others know you are pretending. If our children report an event or happening to us that is not true, without making it clear that they are “telling us a story” or “pretending,” we treat this as lying and give appropriate consequences. I can’t reconcile that standard with telling them the traditional Santa tales, knowing that they fully believe every word of it to be true.

Why do many of us celebrate Christmas with the Father Christmas myths as a central part? For most of us, we grew up with it and loved every minute and our families (parents and extended family) may be upset if we decided to make a change. Many also seem to think that their children will miss out on the “magic” of Christmas. Some say they grew up with Santa and are still Christians so therefore there is no harm at all in doing it with their own children.

We are living in a time when reportedly up to 80% of those making decisions for Jesus walk away from the church or “backslide” as we often term it. Why take the chance with anything at all that could potentially harm our children’s faith?

We all know there will come a time when children will work out for themselves that Father Christmas isn’t real, but after years of hearing from trusted parents that he is real (and often that the Easter bunny and tooth fairy are also real), is the next step to question whether Jesus is real or just another pretend that Mum and Dad have told over the years?

At this time of year it’s hard to steer clear of the commercialism of Christmas and keep the focus on celebrating Jesus’ birth where it should be, without adding reindeer stories and Father Christmas into the mix.

We feel that we can still make Christmas a wonder-filled time of joy and fun without involving Father Christmas at all. We do give gifts, but the focus is on celebrating Jesus’ birthday and the tradition of gift giving started by the wise men at Christ’s birth. We have a tree, but it is a Jesse tree with the symbols on it related to bible stories. We spend time together making decorations and dressing the tree, eating special Christmas treats and listening to joyful Christian Christmas music. We have an advent wreath with candles to light as we read Christmas devotions and other special Christmas stories set aside for just this time of year. We cook together, hold family get-togethers, feasts and invite special visitors and are endeavouring to build many other Christmas traditions to knit us together as a family.

Our children love Christmas and look forward to it with as much joy, anticipation and excitement as I think I ever did and we can have the peace of mind and clear conscience of knowing that we are striving to teach them to love God with all of their mind, soul and strength and endeavouring not to steer their hearts and affections away from God in any way. Just because something is traditional, cultural, I personally grew up with it and society promotes it doesn’t mean it is right.

We do teach our children the legend of Saint Nicholas and some of the possible origins of the Father Christmas tales. We also teach them that children from other families believe Father Christmas is true and it is not for them to tell them otherwise.

I encourage you to think the issue through, talk it over with your spouse, pray about it, read your bible and come to a decision for your family that is Godly and right.