Thursday, December 25, 2014

Away in a Manger

We saw a live nativity performance when we celebrated Christmas a little early with our family in Pennsylvania. It was outside, at a dairy farm with (real) people and animals.  There were even angels on top of the barn roof, wise men with gifts and shepherds with sheep. I was trying to remember if I'd ever seen one like this, and I don't think I have. The message of Jesus Christ coming to earth was beautifully presented through Christmas songs and Bible readings.

One song in particular, I'd never heard before, was so beautiful I had to look it up when I got home. The lyrics speak about the night of Jesus' birth and the hopeless state our world was in before his arrival. The world would never be the same after that night. 

The Night Before Christmas
Brandon Heath

Empty manger, perfect stranger about to be born.
Into darkness, sadness, desperate madness, creation so torn.
We were so lost on earth, no peace, no worth, no way to escape.
In fear, no faith, no hope, no grace, and no light.
But that was the night before Christmas.

Warm hay, cold sweat, a mother, not yet, praying godspeed the dawn.
She looks to her man, holding her hand, they wonder how long. 
And the shepherds, wise men come to find them, and bow to a king.
One star above shining on love, so bright
it lit up the night before Christmas.

And the world didn't know, mercy was meek and so mild.
And the world didn't know that truth was as pure as a child.
The night before Christmas
The night before Christmas

And the world didn't know, redemption was sweet and so strong.
And the world didn't know salvation was writing a song.
The night before Christmas
The night before Christmas 
The night before Christmas

I can't help but identify with Mary, more than ever before in my life, as I'm 34 weeks pregnant, with my first son. I can't help but put myself in her place, anticipating giving birth, while traveling far from home. Only to arrive in Bethlehem and learn that there's no room in the inn. A barn meant for animals is the only place to take refuge in and this is where she will deliver a precious baby boy, the Son of God. Talk about the most unideal circumstances! No doctors, nurses, medical equipment or clean hospital bed. This would be an absolute nightmare for me. But it was all part of God's divine plan. 

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:7-14

Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, sent to earth as a baby, born to die for our sins, so that we could be reconciled to God. This is what Christmas is really about.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Mini Gift Baskets

Usually for Christmas, I like to think of a DIY gift craft or something I can make to give to extended family and friends. In the past, I've made soy teacup candles, sugar scrub, goodie bags, cinnamon honey butter, and hot chocolate.

This year, I didn't give myself enough time to make something and I've been a little busy preparing for baby's arrival :) I did manage to assemble these mini gift baskets.

I was inspired to do something with these red produce-type baskets that I found at Michael's craft store. They're just like the ones you buy fruits and veggies in at the farmers market.

And they're just big enough to hold hand soap from Bath and Body Works (my favorite), a kitchen tea towel and a small candle. 

I got a pack of large cellophane treat bags to wrap them in and paper confetti to put in the bottom of the baskets. 

Once I figured out how to fold the tea towels to fit neatly in the baskets, I set to work assembling these cute little packages. 

I used the ribbon that Bath and Body Works included with each hand soap purchase (and some great coupons!), and I added these cute little Christmas tags that I picked up for $1. 

Aren't they fun and festive? Something that anyone would like to receive. These would also make great favors or prizes at a party, teacher gifts, or seasonal thank-you gifts. I could even see these with a Valentine's Day theme.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Baby Shower Favor Bags

For our baby shower in Pennsylvania, at the Lederach Tea House, I wanted to make party favors. Just a little something to say thank you to guests, many of whom I would be meeting for the first time. I was inspired by these adorable doily paper favor bags, and thought they would be perfect for a tea themed baby shower.

I found adorable little white paper bags, small color doily's, rubber stamps and mini wooden clothespins at Hobby Lobby and Michael's craft stores (always use a coupon). To go inside the bags, I got a few different boxes of individually wrapped tea bags (in holiday flavors) and three types of chocolate candies (the caramel filled ones were the best!).

I stamped each bag with tiny baby footprints (how cute is that?!) and "thank you" at the bottom. 

Assembling them was so much fun. I just love the folded doily on top! I should really figure out how to turn favor-making into a business because I love doing this type of stuff. 

They looked perfect on the tables - which also had doily's at each place setting. It was meant to be! 

This is such a cute idea that could work for a ladies luncheon, tea party, birthday party, or even a wedding.