How to Have a Christmas Story Book Party

christmas story night smIf you have younger children, and friends with kids, this party idea might be an easy way for you to organize a memorable Christmas get together that requires very little in the way of planning or money. This idea could also be used as a way to reach out to your neighbors at Christmastime.

WHEN: Some night a couple of days before Christmas. I’d suggest a starting time of 6 or 7 p.m. so that it’s clear you aren’t providing dinner for everyone.

WHAT TO WEAR: Tell your adult guests to dress super-casual and even suggest bringing their kids already dressed in their pajamas. You might also suggest the children bring a favorite blanket and pillow to be extra comfy!

christmas story night BOOKS

WHAT TO BRING: Tell each family to bring a favorite Christmas children’s story, perhaps something their family likes to read together each year.  To clarify what you’re asking for, provide a short list of possible stories (e.g. The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Legend of the Three Trees) and include the name of the story you will be reading to help avoid duplicates.

FOOD/DRINKS: Provide hot chocolate, milk and cookies.

ATMOSPHERE: Have piles of cozy blankets and pillows available so that everyone is as comfortable as possible. If you have a fireplace, light it up, or light candles for a warm glow. Put a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and water on the stove to help fill the house with a “Christmas-y” scent. Put instrumental Christmas music on very low in the background. (Not so loud that it interferes with the story telling!)

WHAT HAPPENS: As people arrive have them get hot chocolate and cookies and sit down in the living room. Start the evening by reading out-loud the Christmas story you’ve chose to share. Then invite the other families, one by one, to share their Christmas books. If there is a shyness issue, offer to read their book to the group for them. After the last story has been shared suggest that everyone pile into their cars and drive around to look at the lights! People can then just drive themselves home as they like.

EVANGELISM: If you have friends and families coming to your gathering that don’t know the Lord, consider sharing your testimony at the end of all the stories before going out to see the lights. Or, provide a little gift basket for each family that contains some Christmas cookies and a gospel message, and give them out just as everyone is getting into their cars.


Make your own Laundry Detergent

laundry1I’m using the homemade laundry detergent recipe for “Super Laundry Sauce for Dummies” from Say goodbye to $20 containers of detergent and wash 128 Loads of Laundry for about $1.76.

Here’s your supply and equipment list:

1 Entire Bar of Fels Naptha Soap*
3 c. water
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax Powder*
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda* (not Baking Soda)
2 Quart sized Mason Jars
A blender with a removable bottom

* NOTE * – WalMart apparently KNOWS that people are making this stuff, because you can find all three of these “unusual” ingredients sitting right next to each other in the laundry stain remover section.  SUPER EASY to pick up all three at once.

I used “Method #1” on this page, but I have a few tips to add to their instructions.

1. When I mixed my “pea sized” Fels Naptha bar and boiling water, the two did not fully incorporate but began to separate into two layers. I noticed this was happening, so I got a long teaspoon and stirred them up together… that’s all it took… the layer finally solidified the way it was supposed to.

2. The next day, after you add the remaining ingredients and the boiling water, BE VERY CAREFUL to get the rubber gasket lined up before turning the jar over. On my first jar I wasn’t careful with this and leaked scalding water on my hands. OUCH! On my second jar, as you can see from the picture below, I still must not have gotten them completely lined up because it began to ooze out a bit while I was whipping.


3. Be sure to keep your blender on the LOWEST SPEED until the Fels Naptha gel layer melts and falls down to the blender knives area. Do not turn your blender up to WHIP until those two have had a chance to combine for a while. Otherwise, you may bend your blender blades the way I did… Arrgh! 😛

4. To store my supplies for the next batch, I cut the tops off of the two boxes, down close to where the powder was, and that made each box small enough to fit into a gallon zip-top bag.


5. And finally, as you can see from the picture at the very top of this blog post, I used a piece of yarn to tie an old Tablespoon to my jar of laundry sauce for easy dispensing.

Happy laundering!

Ungrateful Pancakes

My kids complained about their pancakes this morning.   They were each staring at a steaming stack of 4 delicious, from scratch, pancakes with lightly crispy edges that were dripping with butter and hot, real, maple syrup.

But the older one whined that he wanted blueberry pancakes, and the younger one said the pancakes were too thin.

So… they are getting beans and rice exclusively for a day or two.

  • No treats — even though it’s Advent and there are chocolates in the box we will open during our devotions.
  • No snacks — even though we will be popping popcorn for a special Christmas movie tonight.

Through the rest of the weekend they will only have the sustenance needed for survival.

Building gratitude into children who live such blessed lives is not easy.  I guess real gratitude can only come from “suffering” because they certainly aren’t learning it from me telling them, “You should be grateful you have any food at all… there are children starving in other parts of the world…”  To them, that sounds like the “Waa waa waa waaaa…” of Charlie Brown adults.