The Names Of God Advent Calendar (Free PDF Download)

I call my daughter “Little-Bit.”  That right there should tell you something about her.  She’s a tiny little thing.   She’s almost two and is 25 pounds soaking wet.  My brother earned the word “Esquire” after his name.  That title could lead you to know more about my brother.  He worked hard to become a lawyer, he’s intellectual, he values education, he likes information, and he’s also very hard-headed and stubborn.


Names and titles tell us about people.  They give us insight into who they are, what they value, and their character.  Our God is so vast and so big – one name can’t be used to describe Him.  The Bible uses dozens of names and titles for Him.  Each name describes a particular characteristic or attribute of God.  They help us understand more about who He is: more about His power, His might, His love, His grace, and the depths of His heart.


One of my favorite names of God is El-Roi, which means “The God, who sees.” There have been times in my life when I’ve felt alone, forgotten, tossed aside.  It’s a reminder that God sees me during times I’ve felt hidden from the rest of the world.  He sees the depth of my pain, of my joys, of my fears, of my hopes.  He sees all the sides of me and loves me the same.


Advent is the idea of preparing for a notable event.  It has become synonymous with the month of December and the days leading up to Christmas.   What better way to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus than to get to know the One who sent Him. I created this advent calendar about 3 years ago.  I wanted something interactive for my kids but also something that would point us toward scripture and keep our focus on Christ during the holiday bustle.


I’ve taken 24 ornaments and written a name or attribute of God on each one.  We keep them in a vintage glass jar near our fireplace. Starting on December 1st, we pick an ornament each day to hang on the tree.  There’s no particular order, but before we hang it on the tree, we read the corresponding scripture and talk about what that specific name tells us about God and how we’ve seen evidence of His hands in our family over the past year. These ornaments are a different color than the rest of my ornaments so even though they are small they still stand out.  On Christmas day we wake up to presents under a tree filled with the awesomeness of God.


You can find a list of the names and verses here.

This tradition has grown with us over the years.  When I started it Cam couldn’t read and we spent a lot of time defining the words.  Each year, we add another layer to the principle and what it says about the heart of our Heavenly Father. This year, Cam will look up and read each verse for us.  My hope is that as the years continue to pass our conversations will continue to get deeper and our faith will continue to get stronger.


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The Grandparent Gift Guide

Is there a grandparent lotto?  If so, I hit the jackpot with my 4.  My grandparents have never missed a milestone: from birthdays, graduations, showers, my wedding, vacations, athletics, to big school performances, they were always there.  Oh, and did I mention they all live 1500 miles away?  Yeah, they showed up.  My grandparents provided an abundance of a lot of things: unconditional love, support, encouragement, humor, comfort, patience, life lessons, and most importantly treats.  There were (and still are!) always treats.  I’m 32 years old and when I just went to visit my nana she made my favorite meal and slipped me cash as she left.  I’m blessed to have 3 of the 4 still with me and have loved watching as they now play the role of the great-grandparent too.

It’s been fun to watch my parents and inlaws make the transition into grandparents too.  I’m convinced something happens in your brain when you become a grandparent.  When I was growing up my parents played by the rules – now it’s candy before dinner and board games past bedtime.

I take my gift giving pretty seriously.   If gift giving was a sport, I’d be on the ‘A team,’ no question.  I train all year for Christmas gift giving, making list, compiling ideas, saving cash.  When November rolls in, it’s open season.  Grandparents can be hard to buy for, at least I think so.  I mean how many handprint art pictures can they really want?

So here are 10 gift ideas for the grandparents in your life.  As you will notice, I tend to err on the side of sentimental.

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  1. Photo Books: There are so many different ways to go with this one.  You could do a book for the year in review, to celebrate a milestone (wedding, baby’s birth), or one that focuses on just pictures of grandparents and grandkids through the years, “grandpa and me.”  Shutterfly is my go to.  It’s user-friendly, they have tons of style choices, and you can often find a 40% off coupon.
  2. Photo Blankets: A couple of years ago Cam gave me a photo blanket for Christmas.  The blanket had just photos of me and him and when he gave it to me, he said: “this way you can always cuddle me, even when we aren’t together.” ( If your heart didn’t just melt a little, it’s probably made of stone.)  It’s my go-to blanket for sentimental reasons, but also because it’s super soft! Jimmy ordered from PrinterPIx.  There is currently a Groupon where I think it will cost you $7 before shipping.  (Groupon expires 11/18 at midnight – so no time to waste!)
  3. Keychain Artwork: Did you know you could have your child’s artwork made into a keychain?  Well, you can, and it’s pretty cute.  Here are three Etsy vendors that will make custom pieces for you, all with a different style. Option 1, Option 2, and Option 3.   My advice on Etsy is to order early.  If a vendor receives too many orders, they will close their shop to catch up and you could miss the Christmas ordering deadline.
  4. Silhouette Necklace:  This is a custom necklace, made from your child’s silhouette.  Unfortunately, the store I purchased from no longer makes them.  But I found two different Etsy vendors that offer them.  The first is a glass/metal pendant and the second is made from wood and has several different styles and color options.
  5. Handwriting Bracelet: You can have a bracelet made with a phrase or name of a loved one written in their handwriting.  It’s hard to picture, so here is the Etsy link, where you can see all the different varieties of this.  I’ve actually given this gift twice for two different reasons.  The first time I gave it to my grandma after my granddad passed away.  I took his signature from a card he wrote and had it put on a bracelet for her.  Last year, Cam wrote “I love YaYa (that’s what he calls my mom)” and I had that engraved on the bracelet.  Both were a hit.
  6. Updating Photo Frame: This is a twist on an old classic: the digital picture frame.  The problem with digital frames is that it plays the same pictures over and over again.  This particular product from Nixplay lets you upload pictures from social media, iCloud, or Dropbox remotely.  This is perfect for family members that don’t live locally.  You can upload pictures weekly/monthly and they can see what you and the kids are up to.
  7.  Family Tree Artwork: Grandparents leave a special legacy.  What better than a gift where they can see the fingerprints of that legacy?  Here are two of my favorites: Option 1 or Option 2.
  8. Initial Necklace: Sentimental and trendy – you know I’m in.  This is a great gift for moms too! There are lots of vendors that make these, you can find my favorites here and here.
  9. Grandchild & Grandparent Activity Set: From Uncommon Goods.  The cool thing about this gift is that it turns into a keepsake.  This card set has fun activities for grandparents and grandkids to do together and then reflect on the experience.  Once the entire pack is completed you are supposed to trade cards with each other and see what the other person said about the adventure.
  10. Letter kit: This gift is for grandparents who live a distance away.  It’s a monthly set of postcards with prompts for the grandchild to write old-fashioned letters to their grandparents.  It asks a few simple questions, has some fill in, and a place for a photo.  You can find them here.

Hopefully, this helps! Got another good idea? I’d love to hear it.  I’m always in the market for a good gift idea.  Happy shopping!


The Non-Toy Holiday Gift Guide (for all ages)

First off let me say I love toys.  My house is bursting with toys.  I’m not against toys.    I love watching my children explore the world of play.  That being said,  I also want my kids to know that there is more to gift giving than just toys.  Time spent and experiences have value too!  I love to give non-toy gifts to family and friends, I like the element of surprise, I like that it’s different from everything else they will be getting.  And I like that it last beyond Christmas or a birthday.

Here are 10 non-toy gift ideas:

  1. Memberships:  At first I was worried that my kids would get bored if we went to the same museum or zoo over and over again. But I’ve found that to be completely false.  Each time we go, we find something new or take something we’ve seen before to a deeper level.  Museums challenge our thinking and inspire us to create/invent/change.  I’m a big museum fan – you can read more about it here.
  • Kids: Zoo, Aquarium, Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History.
  • Adults: Gym, Costco, Amazon Prime, Thrive Market, Netflix

2. Subscription Boxes:  The gift that keeps giving.  My mom got a Kiwi Crate subscription for Cam a few years ago and it was a HUGE hit.  Each month he received a box with instructions for two age-tailored activities.  He loved it.  Nowadays you can find a subscription box for almost any interest – crafts, science, building, reading, traveling, cooking etc.  Don’t tell, but TWO members of my family are getting subscription boxes this year.

3.  Monthly One on One outings: There really isn’t anything that has more value than time spent.  It can be time spent with you or with someone important in their life.  I recently gave a bride & groom 12 pre-planned and paid for dates, one for each month of their first year of marriage.  The dates ranged from a coffee gift card to game night, to a Master Chef kitchen competition.

  • Kids: Movie dates, dinner dates, game nights, ice cream dates
  • Adults: Pre-planned date nights, coffee dates, dinner dates

4.  Classes:  Encouragement is one of the best things you can give someone but it can be tricky to show sometimes.  An easy way to encourage someone is to buy them a class to pursue something they are interested in or good at.

  • Kids: Dance, art lessons, musical instrument lessons, horseback riding, cooking classes, carpentry lessons.  There’s a class for everything.
  • Adults:  Same as above!

5. Family Board Games: There are too many to list.  Some of our favorites include Headbanz, Sequence, Catan, Ticket to Ride, and of course all the classics.

6. Experiences:  One of my most favorite gifts I’ve done was when I took my oldest for his 7th birthday to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Broadway for his birthday.  We both loved the show and it was such a special afternoon of just the two of us.

  • Kids: Tickets to a musical or show, Disney on Ice, amusement park tickets, plan a family camping trip, take a class together
  • Adults: A favorite concert, a show, rock climbing, skydiving

7. Magazine Subscription: Yes this is still a thing! And people still love getting mail!

  • Kids: Ranger Rick, Highlights, Ask – there are so many depending on what your kids are interested in.
  • Adults:  There are too many to list.  What is the recipient into?  I one time got my brother a golf magazine subscription.  And don’t forget the classics: Better Homes and Garden, Martha Steward Living, House Beautiful, Cooking Light.

8. Nature Up Close:  My mom gave Cam an ant farm recently.  I can’t tell you how many times I would catch us all just watching the ants work.  It was really so cool to see them build tunnels and move food.

  • Kids: Butterfly Kit, Ant Farm, Microscope, a bug hunting kit
  • Adults: Bird feeder + seed, Telescope, a bee house

9. A Gift to Charity: This one is age specific.  It would be hard to replace a young child’s gift with a charity donation but there are several organizations that donate to charity when you purchase their product.  It’s a gift with a purpose.

10. Homemade Coupon Book:  Everybody likes to feel a little power now and then.  Giving a coupon book, lets them hold all the cards – literally.  Letting kids stay up an extra 30 minutes, have a coffee date with just mom, choose tonight’s dinner, an ice cream run – be creative!

Do you have non-toy gift ideas?  Comment below so we can have the ULTIMATE list!



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