365 Days of Christmas is keeping the spirit alive
all year to enliven your world.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Five Free Christmas Countdown Banners

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Each year I am asked about the countdown banner (shown above) I use here at 365 Days of Christmas.  I love the countdowns; they're festive, fun, and oh so christmas-y.  Here are my Top Five Favorite Christmas Countdown Banners and, best of all, they are free.

These countdowns are not listed in any particular order.

  1. 57 different Christmas banner themes can be found at Ult-Tex.net.
  2. Noella Designs offers a variety of Christmas banner themes.
  3. You will be satisfied with the choices of Christmas banners at Satisfaction.comSatisfaction.com.
  4. The variety of countdowns found here are for Halloween and Christmas.
  5. Magical Christmas images at FoundMyself.com act as a countdown.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Types of Christmas Trees

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There can be a big difference between different types of Christmas trees. Some are not available in all areas, so where you live may be a factor in determining the types that you get to choose from.


Colorado Blue Spruce


This is one of the most popular trees among people who want living Christmas trees. The color can be blue but is more likely to be silver or gray. It grows in a conical shape naturally and so there is little need for pruning it. It tends to grow in Southern Canada and Northern USA but it can usually be found in most nurseries or retail tree lots.

Noble Fir

The Noble Fir has strong branches and stays fresh for a long time. The needles can look silvery although they are blue/green in color. It can be used to make wreaths and other decorations because the branches are so strong.


Douglas Fir



This is one of the most popular Christmas tree in the USA. It tends to be grown in the Pacific Northwest and is shipped all over the country and even to Asia. It has a pyramid shape and smells sweet.

Norway Spruce


This is a conical shaped tree which tends to drop needles easily so needs to be keep very well watered. It is dark green in color.

Virginia Pine

This tree has short soft needles and stout woody branches and is conical in shape. It is good for holding ornaments but the dark green needles can turn yellow in late fall which means it needs a tree colorant to keep it green. It is popular though and was originally the main tree for offer in the south east USA.

Eastern White Pine

This tree has a really nice cone shape and soft needles. It is blue or silvery green in color but the branches are not that strong so heavy ornaments do not work that well. The tree can turn yellow if it is old and so tree colorants may need to be used. It does not have much of a smell and therefore is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.


Arizona Cypress


This tree is commonly found along the east coast of south and south west areas of USA. It tends to be in cut-your-own places and has a lovely smell. It is tall and thin and and is pale green or gray green.

Scotch Pine

The color can vary quite a bit from bright green to dark green and even sometimes a blue green color. The branches are strong so great for hanging heavy decorations and the needles do not drop very much. It stays fresh for a long time. It also has a nice conical shape.

Eastern Red Cedar

This tree can dry out quickly which is why it tends to be sold at cut-your-own farms. It has a pretty cone shape and the colour varies from dark green to purple.


Fraser Fir



This is a strong tree which can hold heavy decorations and it grown in North Carolina. Its strength means that the branches are often used to make wreaths and other decorations. It keeps its needles well and they are dark green or even blueish on the top and silvery underneath. It has a nice smell and it is for this reason as well as the nice color which makes it one of the most popular trees.

Leyland Cypress

This tree is not fragrant and is often used as an ornamental landscape plant in England and South East USA. However, it has recently become more popular as a Christmas tree in this area of the USA. It is dark-green to gray in color and is a cone shape.

Balsam Fir

This tree is a pyramid shape and dark green. The needles tend to stay on the tree for a very long time and it has a nice smell. It is very popular in Canada as well as North USA.

What Christmas tree do you prefer?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Translation of the Words Merry Christmas

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Translation of the Words "Merry Christmas"
Look at "Merry Christmas" in various languages:
  • Africa - Een Plesierige Kerfees
  • Arabic - Milad Majid
  • China - (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun
  • Corsian - Pace e salute
  • Ethiopia - Melkin Yelidet Beaal
  • Finland - Hyvaa joulua
  • France -Joyeux Noel
  • German - Fröhliche Weihnachten
  • Greece - Kala Christouyenna
  • Hawaii - Mele Kalikimaka
  • India - Baradin ki shubh kamnaaye
  • Italy - Buone Feste Natalizie
  • Korea - Sung Tan Chuk Ha
  • Navajo - Merry Keshmish
  • Philippines - Maligayang Pasko
  • Poland - Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
  • Portugal - Boas Festas
  • Russia - Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
  • Spanish - Feliz Navidad
  • Sweden - God Jul
  • Wales - Nadolig Llawen
Other Ways to Say "Merry Christmas"
A translation of the words "Merry Christmas" is what the phrase means from language to language. In English, there are many phrases that you can use to wish someone a "Merry Christmas." Here are some phrases sorted by the type of greeting:
  • Happy: Happy Holidays, Happy Christmas, Have a Happy Yuletide
  • Holly: Holly Jolly Holidays; Holly, Jolly Christmas
  • Greetings: Christmas Greetings, Season's Greetings, Yuletide Greetings, Warm Greetings, Warm Holiday Greetings, Greetings of the Season, Holiday Greetings
  • Tidings: Good Tidings, Glad Tidings
  • For Fun: Jingle All the Way, Ho Ho Ho, Let it Snow, Have a Cool Yule

Saturday, September 8, 2012

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Christmas Celebration image

Christmas Thought of the Day - 9/8/12

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It is being present with those we love

that make the magic of the Christmas season.

Countdown to Christmas, Part Two

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There are so many good ideas for making the most of the month of December, so here is part two of Countdown to Christmas.

Here are different versions and adaptations of Countdown Down to Christmas:

Years ago, I started a family advent tradition at our house consisting of activities, good deeds, crafts, outings, and more to be done each day in December.  I wanted to focus on family, the spirit of giving, and, of course, Jesus.  I hoped to take the focus off all the commercialism and marketing schemes.  Thankfully, it worked.  Our family enjoys the activities as much -- or more -- than the gifts of Christmas morning.  Our advent tradition is a favorite of both mine and the kids. 

Some activity ideas:
  1. Go Christmas caroling.
  2. Have a hot chocolate bar for the kids and the neighborhood kids after a fun day of sled riding.
  3. Visit Santa Claus and have photos taken.
  4. Introduce the Elves for the Christmas season.*  Elf on the Shelf is a great tradition that we have done in our home for over five years. More information about the Elves in a later post.
  5. Host a family game night and invite another family.
  6. Bake cookies and other desserts for gifts (and the annual open house).
  7. Deliver cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc., to local fire fighters, police officers, and senior citizen centers.*
  8. Go to a Christmas tree farm to pick out the traditional family Christmas tree.
  9. Have a Christmas tree decorating party.  Invite the aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  Take lots of photographs.
  10. Go shopping for the annual Christmas ornament based on the children's likes and interests for this past year.  Each child gets to pick out a new ornament.
  11. Build a gingerbread house and gingerbread family.*
  12. Take the annual family Christmas photos.
  13. Write letters to Santa and take them to the post office.*
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.*
  15. Have a Christmas movie marathon.*
  16. Decorate the house with the help from the children.
  17. Let the kids create some Christmas cards for their teachers and grandparents.*
  18. Have a picnic dinner by the light of the Christmas tree.*
  19. Let the children decorate their own Christmas tree.*
  20. Host a Christmas craft party for your children and their friends.
  21. Have a Christmas wrapping party for the kids.
  22. Snuggle up and read Christmas stories.
  23. Have a Christmas scavenger hunt.
  24. Talk about Jesus and his birth and the true reason of Christmas.*
  25. Have kids go through their old toys to donate to a local charity. My kids love this part of Christmas.*
  26. Sleep under the Christmas tree.
  27. Go dollar store shopping with cousins.* 
  28. Help a family in need by shopping for food, necessities, and one gift for each member of the family.*
  29. Take a drive around town to see all the beautiful Christmas lights and outside decorations.*
  30. Make Christmas gifts, such as gifts in a jar, cross-stitch, ornaments.*
  31. Make What Are We Thankful For paper chain garland.*
  32. Learn about Christmas traditions in other countries.*
  33. Learn about Kwanzaa.* (My daughter wants to learn more about her heritage.)
  34. Read the Christmas story from the Bible (usually done on Christmas day).*
  35. Make Magic Reindeer Food.*
  36. Snowman making contest.
  37. Play a Christmas trivia game. Make your own game.  Many facts can be found online and at your local library.
  38. Attend Christmas Eve service at a local church.*
  39. See the awesome lights at Hartwood Acres.*
  40. Play Christmas games.
  41. Make and eat a red and green dinner.
  42. Go to the local Christmas parade.
  43. See the fabulous Christmas tree display at Kraynak's.*
  44. Participate in Operation Christmas Card.*
  45. Make Christmas gift tags from last year's Christmas cards.*
  46. Participate in Operation Shoebox.
  47. Participate in Operation Christmas Child.*
  48. Journal - Top 10 Christmas Carols, Top 5 Gifts of All Time, Most Favorite Christmas, What Does Christmas Mean to You.
  49. Let the kids decorate their rooms.
  50. Track Santa online.*
  51. Make a Christmas wish list.
  52. Offer to babysit for a single mother so she can go Christmas shopping without the kids.
  53. Make Christmas ornaments.*
  54. Make Christmas Countdown Tree.
  55. Scrapbook all the activities and chaos of the Christmas season.*
* denotes the traditions we do in our home.

Dollar Store Shopping
Each cousin draws a name from a hat and shops for that person. Then, we all gather at our house to wrap the gifts.  After a fun dinner of party foods, the kids open their gifts.

Magic Reindeer Food
Mix 1/4 cup oatmeal and sprinkle of red or green sugar crystals. Put in a small Ziploc bag or small baby food container.

Paper Chain Garland
Each day the kids write something they are thankful for and add the new "chain" to the garland.  Each person who visits during the holidays is asked to participate.

Wrapping Paper Party
The kids make their own wrapping paper.  Then, they wrap as many presents as possible.  They also create Christmas gift tags. Our wrapping has evolved over the years.

Add your own family traditions . . . and create new traditions.

You can choose to do only one activity a day or to do 3-4 activities each day.  For us, it depended on the mood of the kids.  The "extra" activities were listed on a piece of paper in my desk drawer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

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Based on the last post I wrote -- about Advent -- this article continues the idea of a countdown to Christmas.

There are many ways to commemorate the Christmas spirit throughout the month of December.  These ideas are based on doing a countdown from the first of December through Christmas Eve (unless otherwise noted).  The activities are for the whole family to enjoy together.

Christmas Books - Put 25 books (wrapped in Christmas paper, if you wish) in a basket.  Read a book each night before bed. There are many books about Christmas, the birth of Jesus, and the holiday season.

Advent Calendar - Open the door (drawer, box, etc.) and find a small surprise.  There are many many many versions of this type of calendar in the stores and online.

Jesse Tree - The Jesse Tree represents the family of Jesse, father of King David.  Out of this family line, God would take flesh and live among the people of Earth. The genealogy of Jesus, Matthew 1:1-17, names a person from each generation before Jesus' birth.  Make or add an ornament each day that represents the ancestors of Jesus.

Daily Scripture Readings (4 weeks)
    1. Luke 21:5-19
    2. Matthew 21:1-11
    3. Matthew 21:12-22
    4. Matthew 21:23-32
    5. Matthew 21:33-46
    6. Matthew 22:1-14
    7. Matthew 22:15-22
    8. Luke 1:57-68
    9. Matthew 22:23-33
    10. Matthew 22:34-46
    11. Matthew 23:1-12
    12. Matthew 23:13-26
    13. Matthew 23:27-39
    14. Matthew 24:1-14
    15. John 5:30-47
    16. Matthew 24:15-31
    17. Matthew 24:32-44
    18. Matthew 24:45-51
    19. Matthew 25:1-13
    20. Matthew 25:14-30
    21. Matthew 25:31-46
    22. John 3:16-21
    23. Luke 1:1-25
    24. Luke 1:26-38
    25. Luke 1:39-56
    26. Luke 1:57-66
    27. Luke 1:67-80
    28. Matthew 1:18-25

Community Cares
    1. Bake cookies, brownies, and other sweets, then deliver them to a local fire company &/or police station.
    2. Go Christmas caroling at a local senior citizen center.
    3. Do a Christmas craft with a local Head Start class.
    4. Shovel the sidewalk/driveway for an elderly neighbor.
    5. Help a local Boy Scout or Girl Scout group buy presents for a low-income family .
    6. Provide babysitting for a single parent so they can go shopping without the kids.
    7. Donate a Christmas tree to a local library.
    8. Donate money to your favorite charity.
    9. Help out at your local soup kitchen.
    10. Provide mittens, hats, & scarves to less fortunate classmates.
    11. Host a food drive for a local food bank.
    12. Volunteer your time at a local pet shelter.
    13. Host a Christmas book reading for kids at a local library.
    14. Help low-income families by making a gift to the Dollar Energy Fund via your local gas or electric company.
    15. Anonymously pay for the coffee/tea/pop/water for the next person in line.
    16. Invite a homeless person over for a home-cooked meal.
    17. Make ornaments with kids from your church to decorate the Christmas tree in the sanctuary.
    18. Spend time - getting to know a person and talking about past Christmases - with a person from a senior citizens center.
    19. Pamper a cancer patient with a stocking of beauty and health care products.
    20. Create Christmas art with the kids to hang in the local veterans center.
    21. Provide hot chocolate &/or mulled cider for local emergency room doctors, nurses, and staff.
    22. Be an elf (or Santa) and deliver small gifts to a local children's hospital.
    23. Donate a Bible to a youngster via the Angel Tree program.
    24. Visit and pray with those incarcerated at a local jail.
    25. Invite all the friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.,  - who have no place to go - over for Christmas dinner.
 Of course, you can combine more than one idea to create your own unique countdown.


1 merry thoughts
The month of December is filled with great anticipation so many families like to celebrate Christmas throughout the month of December instead of only on the 25th.

There are many ways to commerate Christmas beyond the one BIG day. Advent calendars -- or countdown to Christmas -- is a jolly and merry way to incorporate

The word advent means coming or arrival. The focus of the entire Christmas season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the anticipation of the return of Christ (second advent).

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas day.  It begins four Sundays before December 25th (sometimes the last weekend of November, sometimes the first Sunday in December).

Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that is observed at home as well as at church.  Advent is a natural time to involve children at home in activities that directly connect with worship at church.

The season of Advent represents the long years that the Israelites awaited the coming Savior.

At the heart of the Christian faith is the declaration that our Lord Jesus Christ became man for our salvation.  This affirmation is expressed succinctly in the term incarnation. This word is of Latin origin and simply means invested with flesh.  Simply put, Christmas is the celebration and observance of the incarnation. Such an event calls for rejoicing, bright lights, and happy gatherings. It also calls for reverence, reflection, and a deep sense of awe.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.

There are many different ways to observe the Advent time.  It is common in many homes to mark the days of Advent (or countdown to Christmas).

The next few days I will share various ways to celebrate Advent or -- like my family -- countdown to Christmas day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Christmas Around the World - Who is Santa? and Food Traditions

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Christmas Around The World

 Click on the image to see the full infographic.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Four Months Til Christmas & Meaning of Christmas

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This is simply one of the most beautiful moments that is seen on TV during the Christmas season.  Linus, of course, is quoting the Holy Bible, and yet, whether you in the Bible, God, Jesus, or not, you don't need to believe in any of it to get to the true core of the meaning of Christmas.  As he quotes --"Peace on Earth, and good will towards men."