Monday, November 23, 2020

Our 2020 Advent Book Basket and Printable Labels {Plus Giveaway!}

Advent begins this upcoming Sunday! 

The length of Advent always varies from 22-28 days, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) and embracing four Sundays. The first day of Advent can fall as early as November 27th or as late as December 3rd. This year Advent begins on Sunday, November 29th.  

Every Advent our family counts down the days until Christmas with picture books, Advent Calendars, and the Jesse Tree. Years ago, when we didn't have enough Christmas themed picture books to wrap one for each day of Advent, I would check some Christmas books out from the library just before Advent began, using Christmas Mosaic as a guide. We have added many books to our home library since then, giving one Christmas themed book to each of our children on the feast of St. Nicholas, and our collection has definitely grown.  (You can find this year's St. Nick books here!) 

I currently keep all of our Christmas picture books on the bottom two shelves of a corner bookshelf upstairs in our school room... In the past I have filled our Advent basket with Christmas Mosaic titles and our children's 35 Favorite Christmas Picture Books. One year I picked twenty-six of MY favorites (although I still find new favorites to add to my list each year!) and one year I left the choosing up to my husband and our oldest daughter. We've had great lists the last few years too: 20172018 and 2019.

This year I branched out a bit from the usual and decided to include some other excellent Catholic books that I really wanted to pull off the shelf and read to my children this Advent.  Here is the list: 

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

November 29 - 1st Sunday of Advent: The Wonder Story - set up Advent Calendars and Jesse Tree
November 30 - Feast of St. Andrew: Old Testament Rhymes
December 4 - First Friday: In the Candles Glow
December 5 - First Saturday: The Baker's Dozen - write letters to Christ Child/Saint Nicholas, bake Speculaas or St. Nicholas Cookies, and decorate St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins to give to others

December 6 - 2nd Sunday of Advent - Feast of St. Nicholas: St. Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins - St. Nicholas Brunch
December 7 - Feast of St. Ambrose: The Attic Saint - Bake a Honeycomb Cake
December 8 - Immaculate Conception: Nikola and the Monk - Decorate Christ Candle
December 9 - Feast of St. Juan Diego: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Pop-Up Book)
December 11: The Christmas Cobwebs
December 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Bambinelli Sunday - Las Mananitas/Holy Mass at Dawn, Our Lady of Guadalupe Brunch, Prepare for Santa Lucia Day

December 13 - 3rd Sunday of Advent/Gaudete Sunday and Feast of St. Lucy: Lucia Saint of Light 
December 16 - Ember Wednesday: Catholic Nursery Rhymes
December 18 - O Adonai and Ember Friday: A Child's Rule of Life
December 19 - O Radix Jesse and Ember Saturday: Marta and the Manger Straw

December 20 - 4th Sunday of Advent - O Clavis David: Silent Night: The wonderful story of the beloved Christmas carol
December 21 - O Oriens and Winter Solstice: The Angels' Alphabet
December 22 - O Rex Gentium: Twas' the Evening of Christmas 
December 23 - O Emmanuel: The First Christmas
December 24 - Vigil of Christmas: The Wonder Days

About five or six years ago I switched to brown paper along with purple and pink ribbon, instead of the original purple and pink wrapping paper I would use years ago... Sometimes I use brown paper bags and sometimes I pick up a roll of brown craft paper from the craft store to use along with the ribbons I reuse every year and our homemade labels!

As always, we'll unwrap and read one book each night during Advent, following our family rosary. The rest of our book collection will be placed in additional baskets to read during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. 

If you'd like to use my little labels too, you can download my Advent Book Basket Labels for 2020 over at Dropbox.


Prize #1: Premium Fabric Felt Advent Calendar (value $34.95) 
**I'll share a few more pictures of this Advent Calendar soon, and how I'm planning to use it this year!**


Prize #2:  Three BRAND NEW books from Ignatius Press!

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Child's Christmas ABC Book

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.” - Isaiah 11:1

One of the books we choose as a gift for our children this year is the brand new release from TAN. I asked my husband to write a short review (not sponsored) to share with you all, along with some additional pictures I took, while I keep working on pulling together this year's Christmas Gift Guide and our annual Advent Giveaways. Thank you, Sean! 
Paul Thigpen and John Folley team up in 2020 to deliver a new, artistic, and meaningful Christmas book for children! The theme is an ABC Book as many parents have seen, except this one captures the events of the Incarnation in a smooth, easy to read storyline. From A to Z we follow the Holy Family and the Magi in short rhyming verses and ponder the illustrations. Some of the artwork includes inquisitive Christian symbolism providing opportunities for reflection to both children and adult readers. A Child’s Christmas ABC Book” is another meaningful way to enrich you and your child’s appreciation of the Incarnation this Christmas.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Christmas Books for the Feast of St. Nicholas {and a St. Nicholas Giveaway!}

"The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God's giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves." - St. Nicholas of Myra

The feast of St. Nicholas is just three weeks from today! On December 6th our children always wake up to find that the letters they wrote to the Holy Child and/or St. Nicholas have been taken and their (sometimes new/replaced) slippers have been filled with little treats, oranges, chocolate gold coinscandy canes, and often times a note from St. Nicholas.

Our children (and teens!) have also always received a new Christmas book as well, which has helped us build an amazing collection over the last twenty years. It will be so great to pass each of their collections down to them when they eventually start families of their own. 

The darling wooden St. Nicholas toys in the pictures are from Naturally Catholic and Almond Rod Toys.  

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This year my husband and I picked out a chapter book as well for each of our teens/young adults as well. I can't even tell you how excited I am that we get to have ALL NINE of our children home for ALL of Advent this year for the first time! I'm trying my best to focus on the little blessings in the midst of all the extra struggles of this crazy year... 

From left to right for our five eldest in order:

Here is the list of books we picked out for our children this year:

For Captain: 

"On the 1st day o Yuletide,
My true luve gied tae me,
A reid robin in a rowan tree."

Take a deep breath and prepare for a journey through all twelve days of Yuletide with a cast of skaters skooshin, lassies birlin, sheep a-shooglin and the all-important five gowden rings.

The stunningly beautiful illustrations bring this Scots version of the ever-popular Christmas song to life in vivid detail. Inspired by the traditional verse, this adaptation features easy-to-understand (and pronounce) Scots words and creatures, including hoolets (owls) and bonnie doos (beautiful doves).

For Ranger: 

"Radiating the wondrous spirit of the season, The Spider Who Saved Christmas rekindles an ancient legend, casting new light on the story we thought we knew. Created by New York Times Bestselling Author Raymond Arroyo (with illustrations by Randy Gallegos), The Spider Who Saved Christmas spins the enchanting faith-filled tale of Nephila, a cave-dwelling spider who plays a pivotal role central to the Christmas story. This instant classic reveals the origin of Christmas tinsel and reminds us that hope can always be found even in dark places where we least expect it."

Note: My husband was a little hesitant over the illustrations in this book. He thought they were a little dark/scary for our younger children, but it's an excellent story about a traditional legend and we love supporting Catholic authors and publishers, so one of our older boys will be receiving this book! 

For Twinkle Toes: 

(OOP - purchased second hand) 

"A Perfect Christmas reclaims the spirit of Christmas from the commercial secularized culture of the winter holidays that has almost obliterated the Christian meaning of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Author Dennis Eugene Engleman and illustrator Niko Chocheli have collaborated to restore St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) to his rightful place in the imagination of children, and perhaps their parents too! In this mystical and beautiful story, told in the classic manner of an Orthodox Russian folk tale, past and present collide as a modern child meets the real St.Nick. At the heart of this wonderful contemporary Christmas parable is a tale of compassion, shared love and family with a little of the real Saint Nicholas' life woven in, just enough to whet the appetite of the reader for more! The pages of A Perfect Christmas glow with the warmth of a bygone era when Christmas was filled with the mystery of the Incarnation, simple shared love, and grace." 

For Chiquita:

"The wonder of Christmas and the magic of learning the ABC’s are beautifully combined in this lavishly illustrated new title from author/illustrator team Paul Thigpen and John Folley. In A Child’s Christmas ABC Book, Thigpen’s engaging verse about the birth of Jesus will delight young ears with its musical rhymes and alliteration. Folley's enchanting illustrations, rooted deeply in traditional sacred art, are sure to charm young and old alike.

From “Angels in the air arrayed” to “Zion’s king forevermore,” you and your child can explore the Nativity story from A to Z. The lovely artistry of this book's words and images will make it a Christmas family favorite for generations to season: how important it is to be surrounded by love."

I think this is my favorite of all the new books I purchased this year.
I'll try and share additional pictures soon!


For Snuggles: 

"Inspired by the famous Christmas poem, "The Night Before Christmas," this picture book about Christmas in the Army is perfect for children of military families and anyone with loved ones serving overseas.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the base
Only sentries were stirring — they guarded the place.
The soldiers were sleeping and snoring away
As they dreamed of 'back home' on good Christmas Day...

One Christmas Eve at a military barracks in the Middle East, some homesick soldiers are paid a visit by Sergeant McClaus, the Santa of Soldiers. This lively and poignant tale is inspired by Clement C. Moore's classic yuletide poem."

For Rose: 

"This new children's Christmas book by bestselling author Anthony DeStefano tells the story of a mean-spirited, prideful old ox who has lost his sight both physically and spiritually but who nevertheless experiences the transformative power of God s grace after he is present at the birth of Jesus Christ in a humble stable in Bethlehem.

Illustrated by New York Times best-selling artist Richard Cowdrey, this new holiday book teaches children the true meaning of Christmas while explaining the central message of Christianity: that faith in Jesus leads us to resurrection and new life."

For Bud: 

"No gift is too small for Jesus when it is given with humility and love.
Joel is seven years old and is the son of the Kings' stableman. With his Dad, he is traveling with the Magi as they follow the star to Bethlehem, to meet the newborn King. All of them are bringing very special gifts, such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But Joel is the only one in the caravan who isn't carrying a gift for the new King. Since he knows how to whittle wood, Joel decides to carve a little camel for the baby. Soon he discovers that his humble gift is more special than all the others."

For Grace: 

Little flaps for little fingers!

"Telling the Christmas story to children for the first time ever is a privilege for parents and a gift to children. Where Is the Baby King?, the new hardcover book from Heather Henning and Alison Atkins, helps parents and teachers pass on this timeless story to their children and students with the help of bright illustrations and lift-the-flap images. This interactive book is an ideal introduction for children under five; colorful illustrations by Alison Atkins grab children’s attention, while Heather Henning’s storytelling is clear, simple, and memorable. Very young children will enjoy lifting the flaps and discovering new parts of the story, and as they grow older, they will grow in their understanding of the story behind the pictures. Thoughtfully laid out, concise, and durable, this book transforms an important educational moment into a hands-on adventure. Whether a child is hearing the Christmas story for the first time or just learning to read on their own, Where Is the Baby King? will help bring this story to life."

For Joy: 

"Share the story of the first Christmas with your little one! A classic story of The First Chrismas travels along with Mary and Joseph to the town of Bethlehem where baby Jesus is born. A simple story engages toddlers with lift-a-flap pages where they can learn and enjoy the traditional telling of Jesus's birth and the meaning of Christmas.
Share the story of The First Christmas with your little one with this Lift-a-Pop board book
Perfectly sized for little hands and fingers to open and close the flaps
Chunky, sturdy flaps are extra strong so your little one can open and close the durable pop-outs repeatedly 
Surprise and delight your baby or toddler with this charming story featuring classic artwork and surprises under each flap
Simple story as a first retelling to introduce the birth of Christ"

.: Giveaway :. 

Once again this year I will be hosting FOUR Advent and Christmas themed giveaways! Here is the first giveaway in preparation for the feast of St. Nicholas:

Prize #1 - Set of Five Cookie Stamps with Recipe Booklet 

Prize #3 - St. Lucy Special Edition Box

"A new Special Edition box for Christmas featuring St. Lucy. It has a gorgeous book on this popular saint, a beautiful statue and mug from "Little Drops of Water" and a chance to roll 100% beeswax candles! Fun and faith all inside with $4 donated to "Culture of Life Studies" from each box. Order by November 20th as quantities are very limited. Other surprises will be discovered in this box!"

sponsored by Saints Around the World (value $58.00)

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter box below:

You are welcome to download my St. Nicholas labels over at Dropbox with either Black or Green text...

And here is the link to my original St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins and the updated version I created last year
(You can find another option, an adaptation this original idea of mine, over at St. Nicholas Center.
I also just made an updated printable for this year which I will try and share soon!)

For additional Christmas book suggestions you can find some of our lists in the archives: 

Saint Nicholas & the Nine Gold Coins {Beautiful book!}

Christmas Mosaic: A Review & Featured Book List

35 Favorite Christmas Picture Books for Children

Feasts & Seasons :: Advent & Christmas Collection

Our 2019 Advent Book Basket and Printable Labels
{I'm planning to share our 2020 Basket and Labels soon!}

New Christmas Books for the Feast of St. Nicholas: 

2009, 20102011, 2012, 20132014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Stacks of Books on Christmas Morning or Epiphany: 

20132014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Even more St. Nicholas themed gifts can be found in these past posts filled with Christmas Gift Ideas & Stocking Stuffers from 2015, 201620172018 and 2019!