Twelve Gifts of Advent: Waiting for the Promised One

The word Advent comes from the Latin word that means “coming.” Traditionally, Advent is the season of waiting and preparing for the One who is coming. And as amazing as the Christmas story of the babe in the manger is, its meaning becomes a whole lot deeper when we understand the story that came first.

The story of creation and fall, and of the long waiting for the coming of the promised one.

I originally had the idea for this advent devotional a few years ago when we were doing resurrection eggs at Easter time. If you’ve never heard of resurrection eggs, they are Easter eggs in a carton, each with a small object inside. Each object helps tell a part of the Easter story. This simple way of telling the story was fantastic. It was hands on learning for my young son and so simple for me. Once the eggs were assembled, all we had to do each day was open one up and read the corresponding scripture.

This devotional works much in the same way. Each day, you open a gift. Inside the gift is an object that helps to tell the story of Advent – waiting for the coming of the promised one. The objects really help in remembering the story! Do all twelve days in a row, or spread them throughout the season – it’s up to you!


Here’s a video I made that shows everything I put in our boxes…


How to Make the Advent Boxes

Most of the items for the boxes can be found around your house, but for ones you may need to purchase I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. All you do is wrap up the object and add a tag with the corresponding Bible verse to be read.


Genesis 1

Globe ball


Genesis 3

Tree branch


Genesis 3:15



Genesis 12:1-3

People figurines


Isaiah 6:8



Isaiah 9:2-7

Battery operated twinkle lights


Isaiah 53

Life saver candy


Malachi 4:5-6



Luke 1:5-25

Angel ornament


Luke 1:26-33

Girl figurine


Luke 2:1-21

Baby doll


John 3:16; 19:17-18

Cross made from two sticks

Want to make this even easier?

I’ve put together an awesome resource for you! It’s everything you need to make these gift boxes a fun Advent tradition for your family.

Introducing.. Twelve Gifts of Advent: Waiting for the Promised One – a hands on family Bible study!

For only $5, you get more ideas and instructions, a devotional guide for each day, printable tags, and more!

Here’s an example of day one…

The devotional goes through each day, explaining the significance and making it really easy for you to lead your family to a fuller understanding of everything that came before the baby in the manger. There’s even printable images for you to use if you don’t have time to get physical objects together for the gift boxes!

And I wanted to make it super affordable for you, so for only 5 bucks, it’s a no brainer!

Advent Snacks (A Truth in the Tinsel Supplement) Days 19-24

Advent Snacks for Kids

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In order to extend the learning while doing Truth in the Tinsel, I wanted to come up with a simple supplement. After doing some brainstorming, I came up with Advent Snacks! They are simple snacks, themed after each day in of Truth in the Tinsel, that you can easily make with stuff you probably already have lying around.

These snacks are most definitely not food art! While I think those crazy awesome snacks and the people that make them are amazing, that is not something in my skill set – or time allotment! This is food that you’ll be able to whip together in a few minutes, making it so you can continue to nourish their spirits at the same time as you do their little bodies!

What if you don’t have Truth in the Tinsel? No problem! Christmas is Christmas, and you can just as easily use any or all of these snacks without the TNT eBook. However, if you haven’t given Truth in the Tinsel a shot, I highly recommend it! (You can read my review here)

Previous week’s snacks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


Alright, are you ready to see this week’s snacks? Let’s get started!

Day 19 – Shepherds


Advent Snacks day 19 - shepherds

To make a shepherd snack I had the idea to make a shepherd’s crook out of a soft pretzel. I was making these pretzels for a get together, so I figured it would be perfect to use a bit of the dough to make the crook. Well, it turned out a little plump! But it still worked out okay. You could also use homemade or store bought bread dough. Hm, breadstick shepherd’s crooks.. mmmmmm.

Day 20 – Temple


Advent snacks day 20 - temple

This temple snack was made using crackers for the base, pretzel rods for the columns, and string cheese for the roof.

Day 21 – Star


Advent snacks day 21 - star

To make this star snack, you’ll need one or two star cookie cutters. If you don’t have a star cookie cutter, I highly recommend this cookie cutter set. You get 101 cookie cutters for under 20 bucks. That’s what I call a deal! We use these cookie cutters for way more than just cookies! Snacks, play doh, art projects – there is a lot they are good for!

Anyways, that was a side note. To make this star plate I cut the white stars out of thinly sliced apple and the yellow star out of a cheese slice. Simple!

Day 22 – Wise Men


Advent Snacks day 22 - wise men

Most of the snacks so far have been at least fairly healthy, so I thought today we’d throw in a sweet! I cut this crown shape out of a cookie, adding a few gum drops for gems. It didn’t turn out the prettiest, but K recognized what it was right away so I’ll chalk that up to a win!

 Day 23 – Gifts


Advent Snacks day 23 - gifts

It took me a while to figure out how to make a snack to represent the gifts of the Wise Men, but I thought it ended up turning out pretty cute. The “gift” is made out of two club crackers and the ribbon is made out of string cheese.

Day 24 – Cross


Advent Snacks day 24 - cross

For the final snack to represent the cross, I was trying to think of something that would be a really cool snack. However, I finally decided that simple would actually be better in this case! So, all you need to make this cross snack is a few pretzel rods. If you want to serve more of a snack, you can make the two thieves’ crosses as well.

That’s all for Truth in the Tinsel snacks! I hope you had fun eating these yummy snacks with us!


Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

St Nicholas Day 2015

St. Nicholas Day 2015

When K was just a baby, we decided to add the celebration of St. Nicholas Day to our Advent traditions. We have loved observing St. Nick’s day as an alternative to “doing Santa.” We get to do some fun traditions, learn about history, and focus on giving like the real St. Nicholas did. I wrote more about celebrating St. Nick’s Day here.

This year was our third St. Nick’s day and, even though it is too late for you to try out this celebration this year, I still thought it would be fun to share what we did!

Stockings and A Special Breakfast


For St. Nicholas day, the main two things we have done (and plan to continue doing) are stocking gifts and a special breakfast. We do stockings on this day instead of Christmas morning and it has been a great way to spread out the gift giving a little bit. I usually fill the stockings with small gifts and some chocolate coins. You can read more about what was in our stockings this year here.


We also have a special breakfast that is a treat my mom used to make for Christmas – Scandinavian Kringler (or as we always called it, “kringle”). So yummy.


St. Nicholas Neighbor Treat Baskets

During the time St. Nicholas lived, there was a great famine and much of the surrounding area lived in poverty. One of the things that he was known for doing was placing baskets with grain, fruit, and other food on people’s doorsteps during the night, so that they would have food to eat.

A while back I had read about remembering this act of service by putting together baskets with treats in them to give to your neighbors. This year I decided we’d give it a try!

St Nicholas Day gift baskets

For our baskets, I found these awesome metal buckets for only a few dollars on clearance at Hobby Lobby. There were four left, so I decided we’d do four baskets this year.

Over the week, K and I had fun making some Christmas treats to put in our baskets. We made chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, Chex mix, and a loaf of bread for each basket. We packaged everything in fun treat bags I found at the dollar store.

I finished the baskets off with a paper on St. Nicholas and a coloring page for the kids in the family. Subscribe at the bottom of this post to gain access to the free printables.

We delivered our baskets to some of our neighbor friends on the morning of St. Nicholas Day.

St. Nicholas Day baskets

Shopping for the Food Bank

One of the sweetest things happened while we were preparing our gift baskets. I asked K who he would like to give the baskets to and was surprised when he didn’t immediately start rattling off the names of his friends.

He was obviously thinking hard on the question, so I asked “Maybe to some of your friends?” In kind of a confused voice he said mentioned two of his friends and said that he wanted to give the basket to them but, “they already have food to eat.”

Then it dawned on me. “Did you think we were giving these baskets to people who didn’t have any food?” I asked. He nodded his head yes. He was listening closer than I thought!

I explained to him that while I didn’t think we could give our baskets to someone who didn’t have any food, there was something we could do. I told him about food banks and asked him if he wanted to buy some food for one. He said yes and even wanted to use his own money!

St. Nicholas Day food bank

The day before St. Nicholas Day, we pulled the money out that he had saved in his wallet and counted it. While he is getting good at counting, the concept of a five dollar bill being equal to five one dollar bills is still a little foreign to him. At first he said he wanted to use all his money, but he quickly took that back! Then, he counted out six of his bills to use, keeping two for himself. I was impressed with the decision he made, giving generously, yet keeping a little for himself. He even said, “I’m going to have to get some more money!”

We left the saved money at home, and took his wallet to the grocery store. After roaming the aisles making his choices (aided a little bit in choosing healthier options), it was time to pay. I could feel the tension in him as he handed the money over, but in the end I had one joyful little giver.

The items he bought are loaded in a box, ready for us to drop off at the food bank next time we are out. The whole experience was such a fun time and great learning experience. I think this will become a new St. Nick’s day tradition!

PS Since he is still young enough to not know any better, I did take the little fella’s hard earned money and slipped it back in his wallet. 🙂

Do you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? What are your traditions?

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