Tween-Friendly Christmas Activities

Remember the days when your little girl wore footie pajamas and pigtails? As our daughters grow older, they may no longer listen for reindeer on the roof, but they still value Christmas traditions and quality family time. Here are some ideas for making this Christmas season special for your growing tween.


Cake for breakfast—Girls love to bake! Invite your daughter to bake and decorate a birthday cake for Jesus. Then serve it for breakfast on Christmas morning!


Secret St. Nick—Give your tween a small budget for “secret” giving. Take her shopping and encourage her to pick out little gifts and goodies for neighbors or friends at school, then help her deliver them anonymously. Watch as she learns the joy of selfless giving!


Outdoor sports—Go ice skating, skiing, or sledding as a family. If you live in a warmer climate, go hiking or swimming over Christmas break. These simple family outings are often a child’s favorite memories over the years.


Crafty Christmas—Have fun searching Pinterest together for tween-friendly crafts such as these wooden stick snowflakes or no-sew holiday throw pillows. If you’re truly ambitious, consider selling your creations and giving the money to a ministry or charity of your daughter’s choice.


Decorate!—Buy colorful lights and string them around your daughter’s bedroom or homework area. Take her shopping at a home goods store to choose a few fun winter décor pieces she can add to the household decorations. This will encourage her love of design and give her a sense of ownership in your home.


Lights, camera, action—Encourage your daughter to create a Happy New Year video where she can highlight blessings from the past year, say thank you for the gifts she received, and share her goals for the coming year. Then send the video to friends and family as a special greeting from your tween.


However you choose to spend this holiday season, be sure to thank God for the gift of a growing daughter. Each day she is one step closer to becoming the woman God designed her to be!

Favorite Family Christmas Movies

You’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas… but have you seen these lesser-known Christmas films? For parents seeking family-friendly flicks this holiday season, here’s a short list of recommendations from your friends at Faithgirlz.


The Nativity Story—A must-see for Christian families this time of year, The Nativity Story is an accurate telling of the Bible’s account of Mary, Joseph, and the birth of the Christ child. Parents beware, young children might be frightened by the opening scene involving a raid by Roman soldiers, so use your discretion; yet be encouraged, there is no vulgar language or violence to filter. This beautiful film is an emotional and thought-provoking depiction of life in Bethlehem during the time of our Savior’s birth.


The Christmas Candle—Based on the book by Max Lucado, this story is set in the sleepy English town of Gladbury at the turn of the century, where townsfolk place all their faith in a “magic” Christmas candle. When a young minister arrives to challenge the town’s superstitions, he is forced to face his own shortcomings as together the people of Gladbury discover the true meaning of faith and Christmas miracles.


Saving Christmas—Starring Kirk Cameron, this family comedy aims to tackle the commercialization of Christmas by refocusing our hearts on what really matters most—faith, hope, and love.


The Christmas Shoes—Inspired by the popular song of the same title, this movie tells the story of a little boy wishing to buy a special pair of shoes for his dying mother. When the boy crosses paths with a workaholic lawyer (played by Rob Lowe), both characters discover the true meaning of life, love, and the holiday season.


Beauty and the Beet—Veggie Tales has quite a collection of Christmas movies to choose from, but here’s one you might not have thought of. Starring country music singer Kellie Pickler, Beauty and the Beet is not a Christmas tale per se, yet the story is set in snowy winter and features a theme of love and acceptance—which are certainly two starring characteristics of Jesus himself.


The Star—New in theaters this season, The Star is an animated depiction of the nativity story told from the point of view of the animals! It’s getting fantastic reviews from sacred and secular film critics alike. Take a break from all your Christmas preparations and head to the theater for this fun and biblically sound movie the whole family will enjoy.

DIY Advent Wreath

Advent is the special time of year when we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. One special way to symbolize this event is with an Advent candle wreath. Each Sunday of Advent, light one of the candles and say a prayer of thanks to God for sending His son to live on Earth and die in our place. You could also choose to read a passage from Scripture or complete your weekly devotional from Faithgirlz Advent Devotional.

Here is a simple step-by-step project to make your own Advent wreath. This is a fun and meaningful activity to do with your children, which will inspire them to focus on the true reason for the season.


What you’ll need:

  • Candle platform: This can be anything from a pie plate to a piece of wood to an old picture frame. It just needs to fit five candles and surrounding greenery.
  • Four candles: Traditionally the first candle is blue, although feel free to get creative! Choose any size candles you like; for this wreath, stand-alone candles are best (vs. tall tapers that need individual holders). Just keep in mind they need to last 28 days, so tea lights may not be the best option.
  • Greenery: A traditional wreath is made of evergreen needles, but you can choose artificial flower/greens, pine cones, even ribbon or Christmas ornaments. Make it your own!



How to assemble:

  1. Place the candles on your candle platform.
  2. Arrange the greenery around the candles.
  3. Display in a (safe) prominent place in your home.


How to enjoy:

Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 3 this year), light one candle every week. Invite your children to ask questions, share prayer requests, or name their blessings so that each lighting becomes a special time of reflection, gratitude and joy for your family.


Breaking Out of the Material Mold

I used to spend money like a deranged Rockefeller every time the holidays rolled by. The only way to go, in my opinion was all out, so I did. Anything less seemed like not keeping up with the season.

Indeed, one did not skimp at Christmas. If it had a designer label, was (about) the right size, and could be returned, I’d snap it up. The important thing was that come December 25th there were elaborate presents for everyone I knew under my tree. Going into hock this time of the year was expected, and all my friends reciprocated. I’m not quite sure how and when the custom started. (Was I the ring leader?) It was just something we all did.

Worse still, this all-consuming-shop-until-you-drop tradition clashed with the slow-down-and-savor-the-sights-and-wonder of the season…and won. So sharing the spirit of Christmas was totally out of the question. There was too much buying and wrapping to do.

Then, a couple of years ago, I decided to leave my job and go out on my own just as a shakeup hit the publishing world. As publishers pulled in their belts, my work slowed. And while I waited to hear about this book or that, my rainy day funds trickled down and evaporated. When Christmas was upon us, I had pretty much drained all my reserves. I thought this would be the worst Christmas of my life. But as it turned out, it was not only the best, but also made every holiday since (including this one) more meaningful.

See, because I had no money, I had to call friends and, with a face redder than Santa’s suit, announce there would be no presents. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.       To my surprise, though, collective sighs of relief greeted me. What’s more, I actually turned out a hero. Seems everyone’s pocketbooks had moths in them that year. So nobody really had money to burn. Yet no one wanted to be the first to come out and say so. That made me wonder how many times before I had inadvertently put pressure on friends to buy presents they couldn’t afford.

Lesson Number One: Being a good friend has nothing to do with buying expensive gifts.

It was then our group decided to break out of the material mold for good. We made a pact to stop the shopping frenzy, forgo the hoopla, and instead, spend some quality time together. We had a pot luck gab fest at my house instead. We drank mulled cider, and ate the tidbits everyone brought. And you know what? We each still got a pretty nice Christmas gift in the bargain. Only this time, it didn’t strap us financially …since the gift we gave was the gift of ourselves.

Lesson Number Two: Giving the gift of yourself is better than any you can buy in the store.

Canceling the Christmas gift-off proved better than I had imagined in other ways as well. It left me free to enjoy holiday happenings like Christmas tree lightings and the singing of the Messiah at the neighborhood high school.

Then, too, without all the pressures of gift-buying, I was able to concentrate more on what this holiday is intended to commemorate: the birth of Christ. I thought about how awesome it was that the King of Kings would even consider leaving his throne in heaven to come into a world like ours. I thought of Him being born a helpless baby, in a cold stable, without even a crib for His bed. I thought of the love He must have for us, and how that love shines far and away brighter than any bauble I could own or give. I thought about how His love will be the one present that’s as new tomorrow and every day after as it is on Christmas Day.

Lesson number three: God’s love is the best gift of all. It doesn’t break and it won’t wear out.

Indeed, stepping out of the material mold has taught me a lot. And as my friends and I get ready for our Annual No-Gifts-Allowed Get-together, I hope this new custom will be the norm for years to come. What’s more, last night, when I sat down to breathe in the scent of pine, and enjoy the twinkling lights, I thanked God that there was nothing but a tiny stable under my Christmas tree.

– Allia Zobel Nolan

Be sure to check out Allia’s newest Faithgirlz release, Whatever Is Lovely: a 90-Day Devotional!

This article is used by permission. copyright © 2016 Allia Zobel Nolan

The One Thing We Can’t Forget This Christmas

What We Can't Forget

I’m guessing there are at least 47 things on your mind right now, Mom.

And if you’re anything like me, you may very well forget about things number 48, 49, and 50.

We have our limits! (Wouldn’t you like to shout that out to the world a couple times today?!) We’re going to blow it on a few things. Burnt cookies, a missed dentist appointment, overdue library books, an important Christmas card, a crockpot that never got plugged in…

It’s okay. Really.

I’d love to step into your messy kitchen, laugh with you at the chaos and then reassure you that you don’t have to do every single thing well right now. You’re going to forget about a few things, you’ll fail in a few areas, you’ll compare yourself to pinterest or your best friend or your mom and you’ll fall short. But guess what… the world will keep turning, and no permanent damage will be done.

You don’t have to do it all!

There’s just the one thing. The one thing I’m afraid I’ll forget. The thing you might forget too, unless we remind each other, over and over again.

I’m afraid you and I will forget what’s real.

I’m afraid our lists will be full of things to do. Gifts to buy. Food to make. Chores to be done. I’m afraid our next few weeks will wear us out on that which is seen. When what is unseen is what is real.

…We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  —2 Corinthians 4:18

The thing about life here on earth is that we work constantly in the “seen.” We have to. It’s our God-given assignment.

We feed our families, we deal with money, homes, cars, clothes, and right now with Christmas gifts and decorations. That’s fine. We’ve got to be practical and deal with this stuff.

But our God calls us past what we see. These things are temporary. That’s why I can assure you in all confidence that if your clothes, meals, and decor are not pinterest-worthy, it’s no big deal.

But the ability to focus on true reality, to push past what the eye can see to what is eternal is what makes all the difference.

What does that look like for you? I’d love for you to share what you’re focusing on this Christmas. The possibilities are endless… as varied as each of our personalities and our own families.

  • It could mean turning the tv, phones, and tablets off in order to direct your family’s attention to the Scriptural account of our Savior’s birth. Sharing the beauty of the gospel with your little ones.
  • It could mean sharing with your children (on an age-appropriate level) the truth about persecuted believers across the world, then spending a few minutes in prayer for our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Maybe it means stepping away from your to-do list and snuggling with your husband or babies on the couch.
  • Or maybe it’s visiting a friend or relative in the hospital or retirement home.
  • Perhaps it’s spending time in prayer for our hurting, bleeding world. For the victims of terrorism. For the terrorists.
  • It could mean sending a missionary a care package. Financial support.

There’s no right or wrong list. It’s not a legalistic thing. All it’s about is redirecting our attention to the things that last forever.

And what are they?

Our God. His Word. People.

That’s it.

This world, it’s demands, and all the “stuff” will pass away.

I don’t want to waste my time serving what’s temporary. I’ll push through and deal with all that’s necessary — some of it fun, some of it not so fun.

But what I really want to remember this Christmas is to use my time, my resources, and my energy for what matters most. For all that’s real. For all that lasts forever.

You too?

by Jennifer Ebenhack

{This post first appeared at}

Faithgirlz – Holiday Gift Guides for Your Tweens

As temperatures continue to cool, we find ourselves closer and closer to Christmas Day!
While we all know the true reason for the season, it sure is fun to shower the ones we love with presents. Here are some gift ideas for the Faithgirlz on your list!

Find inspiration from the leading ladies of our fiction series. For the dramatic girl in your life, be sure to look at Sophie’s shopping list. Have an adventurous tween? Check out Riley Mae’s guide.  If you know an aspiring journalist, scroll to Samantha’s wish list. For an artistic soul, find fun ideas from Sadie.

Below each image you’ll also find a few Faithgirlz book suggestions. Merry Christmas!


Encourage star-powered performances with these gifts inspired by Sophie!

1. Selfie Booth ($59)
2. Guesstures ($14)
3. It’s a Drama Thing… Bag ($14)
4. Gold Glitter Nail Polish ($4)
5. Shine Necklace – Glimmer Girls Exclusive Pre-Order Gift (FREE with purchase of Glimmer Girls Books)
6. Sophie Series from Faithgirlz ($6)

FF-Gift-Guide-RileyMaeFuel an adventurous spirit with some of Riley Mae’s must-haves!

1. GoPro Accessories ($23)
2. Globe with Light Up Constellations ($69)
3. Handmade Wool Socks ($19)
4. Patterned Hiking Backpack ($34)
5. Selfie Stick ($11)
6. Riley Mae and the Good News Shoes Series from Faithgirlz ($7)


Capture the story and stay sharp with these gifts inspired by Samantha Sanderson.

1. Tablet/Computer ($49)
2. iPhone Add-On Camera Lenses ($39)
3. Banana Grams ($11)
4. Fingerless, Texting Gloves ($14)
5. Faithgirlz Messenger Bag ($17)
6. Samantha Sanderson Series from Faithgirlz ($8)

FF-Gift-Guide-SadiesSpark her creativity with artistic gifts Sadie would love!

1. 3-D Printing Pen ($99)
2. Water Color iPhone Case ($15)
3. Yarn Tree ($29)
4. Fine Line Pens in Roll-Up Case ($29)
5. From Sadie’s Sketchbook Series from Faithgirlz ($7)
6. Faithgirlz Journal {For Doodles, Dreams & Devotions} ($9)



Last! Be sure to include one of our new Faithgirlz Bibles with special features just for the great girl in your life!

*Note: These are merely inspirations to get your thoughts flowing! We do not endorse outside brands or products. Prices listed are approximate figures taken at the time this blog was posted.


Gifts for the Soul


Our tween daughters are bound to ask for the practical stuff, the fun stuff, and the frivolous stuff this Christmas.

Nothing wrong with that.

But the thing they may need most might not make it onto their list.

Gifts for the soul.

Gifts that challenge their minds, build their faith, and stretch them past our materialistic culture.

Our girls need to be taken to a deeper level, and Faithgirlz exists for that very purpose.

As you’re shopping this weekend, don’t forget to include some gifts for your daughter’s soul.

Whether she’s into fiction, DIY and real-life girl’s stuff, or needs a great new Bible or devotional, we’ve got some amazing resources, including the soon-to-be-released Glimmer Girls Series by Natalie Grant!

Check out the resources that could truly change your daughter’s life in our online store.

We pray these gifts will make a difference!

The Faithgirlz Bible Collection



Simply Awesome Holiday Crafts

Simply Awesome Holiday Crafts

Looking for something fun and festive to do with your kids during their time off in the week ahead?

Take a look at these sites, grab a few basic supplies and enjoy some creative together time!

Thanksgiving Paper Bag Turkey from

Paper-Bag Turkey

Ribbon Christmas Tree Ornaments from


51 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas from (Below are a couple favorites!)

Paint-dipped kitchen utensils from

Gift a foodie friend with these colorful paint-dipped kitchen utensils. Bonus point if you match her kitchen's color scheme! Get the tutorial at Cleverly Simple.

Ceramic Tile Coasters from

Refocus plain ceramic tiles as snappy coasters. Blogger Brittany Moser of made these Polaroid-inspired drink rests from color photos and square tiles (a steal at 15 cents apiece). First, trim a photo to 3 3/4"W x 3 1/4"H. Using a foam brush, spread Mod Podge on the back of the image; then position it on a tile, leaving a 1/4-inch border at the top and sides, and a 3/4-inch border at the bottom. Let dry for 30 minutes. Spread Mod Podge over the photo and exposed tile borders and let dry for one hour; repeat two to three more times. Spray with clear sealant and let dry for 24 hours. Finally, affix adhesive felt pads to the underside corners of your picture-perfect tiles. YOU HAVE: Color photographs Scissors YOU'LL NEED: 2" foam brush ($0.47, Mod Podge, 8 oz. ($7.98, 5 (4"-square) ceramic tiles ($0.15 each, Krylon Crystal Clear spray, 6 oz. ($6.61, Waxman 3/8" adhesive felt pads ($2.98,

The Guaranteed Cure for a Discontented Heart

The guaranteed cure for a discontented heart

It’s so easy to spot in our kids… entitlement, discontent, the constant longing for more.

One purchase at the store elicits, “Oh man, I wish I could have bought both things!”

One hour of tv is a surefire recipe for “What? That’s all?”

But dissatisfaction is no respecter of age. And we moms are just as susceptible to all forms of greed as our children.

The irony of the upcoming holidays is that we profess joy while scouring sales or envying another’s “perfect life,” always looking for the next thing to make us happy.

It doesn’t take much introspection to dismay ourselves. Could we really be this shallow? We conceal it more skillfully than our children, but our hearts tell us it’s true. Yes, we love Jesus. But couldn’t we have just this one other thing too?

It’s a poison, this discontent. None of us are immune, and there’s only one antidote.

A pure, sweet water, served from the simplest of cups, that promises to quench our thirst if we could just dare to believe it’s better than all the other exciting “drinks” with their gimmicky names and umbrellas and whipped creams and drizzles.


A refreshing realization that our cup is full.

That God pursued us with His goodness. That the Creator humbled Himself for us. That He loved us. Claimed us. Redeemed us from Satan and sin’s grasp.

A remembrance that through Christ, we are free.

Free from the love of money. Free from slavery to the flesh. Free to live and love with abandon. Free to dream God’s dreams instead of our own and to serve with humility, because we know that our Father sees what is done in secret and will reward openly for eternity.

Gratitude that God is Emmanuel, with us. That He’ll never leave or forsake us.

Gratitude that He sees the sparrow and lilies and us and all our needs. Gratitude that He is the God who provides.

This antidote is life-giving, energizing, transforming, and must be taken daily. Hourly. Moment-by-moment. And while results may vary, the greatest successes come to those who drink most deeply.

It’s not just a day. It’s not just a catchphrase. Thanks-giving changes the very course of our lives.

Instead of wearing ourselves out for more, for better, for cuter, for skinnier, for more successful, we can finally see what is and truly live.

We see that the gifts we’ve been given are precious. That they aren’t meant to be compared to the gifts He gave others, for they are perfect and meant for us right here and right now.

When we stop chasing what we don’t have and slow down long enough to see what is; when we take the time to really see, it won’t actually be so hard to feel it. To let go of the striving and find peace, joy, hope.

Gratitude. Remembering that He who owes us nothing has given us everything.

An antidote we’ll want to share with everyone around us in the season ahead. (Especially those sweet kiddos!)


by Jennifer Ebenhack



3 Ways to be Fully Present this Holiday Season

3 Ways to be Fully Present

It’s that time of year again… when everything begins building up.

The good news? We have a tiny little window right now to make decisions about how the weeks ahead will go. This is our chance to be intentional.

We could let stress take us in Martha’s direction and become “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41), or we can turn our eyes back upon Jesus.

We may not be able to completely eliminate the craziness, but there are still a few key ways we can be fully present during what is usually a very hectic time of the year.

First, remember that your family craves connection more than activity.

While a few holiday events help everyone get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations, too much hustle can lead to exhaustion and frustration rather than magical moments.

Find out which events are non-negotiable for your family, and then be sure to preserve time at home to connect.

Plan family game nights, movie nights, family devotions… something that will allow for down time together. Time for your kids to ask questions, share their hearts, or just be still with you.

Don’t miss out on deepening relationships with those you love most.

Secondly, make space for time alone with God.

You may be tempted to skip time in God’s Word and in His presence as evening sports or music practices go later and early mornings grow darker. But clearing time to feed your soul will change your perspective on everything.

No one but God’s Spirit can fill you up and equip you for the demands of each day. He alone brings order to chaos, strength to the weary, and a thankful heart to the cynical.

Dig into His Word, check out a book like Quieting Your Heart for the Holidaysand ask God to surprise you with His beauty in the days ahead.

Lastly, focus on God’s goodness instead of letting comparison steal your joy.

Sure, it’s tempting to compare your decorations, gifts, meals, activities, financial status, or achievements with everyone else’s over the holidays. And television, magazines, facebook, pinterest, instagram, and every other form of media makes it even more difficult not to expect perfection of yourself and your family.

But when our eyes are on ourselves or others, we miss the entire point of the season.

It’s all about Him. The One who gave His all for us. We are blessed.

This season above all others should humble us, should bring us to our knees with gratitude for His goodness.

Don’t let an improper focus rob you of the life and joy of the Savior we celebrate. It’s not about us at all. It’s about His grace.

Choose a Mary heart during a very Martha season! Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Let Him bless your loved ones through your presence in the weeks ahead.

by Jennifer Ebenhack




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