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Christmas Jars!!!!

After reading the book,
“Christmas Jars”
I decided
that I wanted to take the opportunity with
my family to give as the Savior did.
I wanted my boys to have a selfless Christmas.
What an amazing year it turned out to be!
We read the book as a family
and then started filling jars for our neighbors.
Each jar contained 1 roll of pennies….
that was it!
We added a poem to the jar so that
the neighbor’s wouldn’t be left to wonder
what the purpose of a gift of 100 pennies meant.
Here’s the Poem:
A jar of pennies JUST FOR YOU . . .
we really went all out!
But the real meaning of this gift I
A pocket full of change, can be
a heavy thing to pack . . .
So just place it in this little jar,
and remember – NOT TO TAKE IT BACK!
When filled, this jar can CHANGE THE HEART of
someone who is in need.
The story is told in “Christmas Jars”
a book you’ll definitely want to read.
Jars are given in SECRET . . .
just where their CHRISTMAS JAR came from,
or the next place it may go.
So we hope this year you’ll FILL YOUR JAR,
To follow the Savior’s example,
and make Christmas HIS HOLIDAY!
May the TRUE meaning of Christmas be with
you throughout the year!
Tricia O. Smith
Here’s the PDF:
Green Gift Tag:
Here’s the PDF:
Gift Tag:
Here’s the PDF:
Gift Tag
Here’s the PDF for the Gift Tags:
I tied a ribbon to the neck of the jar
and added the gift tag.
This was one of my
favorite neighborhood gifts to give
because I knew it had the potential to
the lives of others in need.
It was truly a blessing for my family! …..

Nativity Story Cards

The Silent Night Memory Game

is a great way to talk to your “littles” about

the TRUE MEANING of Christmas.

I was able to use mine for a Primary Sharing Time.

When they got the match…

I had the child read the Story Card
that goes with that picture.

Here’s what they look like:

Each of the Memory Game Cards

will have a front and a back.

The back side of all of the cards will have

this picture:

The other side will have two of each of the other pictures
shown below.

This is what the Story Cards look like:

I keep these and when a match is made,

I hand it to the one who got the match to read.


Cards can be printed with a front and back side

and laminated,

or they can be printed and attached to

chipboard using Mod Podge and
a sponge brush to attach them.

You can use a wet erase marker to write

numbers on the stars of the back pieces
when the game is played in Primary.
When you’re done…just wipe them off
and start with a fresh set of numbers
every time you play.

Here’s the Memory Game Post:
Nativity Memory Game Blog Post

Nativity Story Cards PDF:

Nativity Story Cards Packet PDF

Nativity Story Card Mary Addition PDF

FHE – The Living Christ Week 8

My family just returned from a trip to Disneyland.  I LOVE Disneyland!  It’s such a magical place.  In fact, I think I love it more than my kids! 🙂  Anyway, sorry about last week.  I meant to have it all prepared but I think I am way overbooked this December!

However, this is it!!  The final week.  This lesson is a little longer than the others (just a few lines!) so that we can finish up this week.  Hopefully you will have it all memorized for Christmas Eve.  I have really enjoyed putting these lessons together.  We have really been able to focus on the Savior during these weeks leading up to Christmas.  We have shared stories, thoughts, and testimonies.  I hope you have done the same.

Here is your outline this week: The Living Christ Week 8

Opening Song:  “He Sent His Son” CS p. 34

Opening Prayer:

Scripture:  Luke 2:4-7  Talk about what these verses mean.  Discuss the meaning of Christmas.  You may even want to share the complete Christmas story here of the Savior’s birth.  Explain that while memorizing The Living Christ we have been talking about the life the Savior.  It began in a stable in Bethlehem.  We have talked about His life, His miracles and His example as we have studied The Living Christ.  Our testimonies have been strengthened and we have been able to learn more about our Savior.


Go over the first part of the Living Christ and begin memorizing the last lines.

1.  We testify that He will someday return to earth.  “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5).   (GAK 238)  –  Jesus was born, he lived and he died for us.  He will come back someday and everyone will know that He is our Savior.  Not everyone is lucky enough to know about Jesus Christ or to accept Him in their lives.  When He returns to the earth we will all know who He is and He will know each one of us individually.

2.  He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.  (GAK 120) –  Everyone will worship Him when He returns.  The picture is of Enoch and his people being taken up to Heaven.  It shows how they may have worshipped Him when they saw Him coming.  This gives us an idea of what it will be like when He comes again.

3.  Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts. (GAK 615) – This life is a time for us to try to follow His example.  By serving others and thinking of others first we show that we are trying to be like Him.

4.  We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. (GAK 608) – Our apostles today bear witness that He is the Living Christ.  During the time of our Savior’s life they did the same.  They were witnesses during His life and after His death.  We have been given prophets and apostles in our day that are special witnesses of our Savior.  This is why “The Living Christ” is so important and the reason we are working to memorize it.

5.  He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. (GAK 403) – Jesus Christ will rule as King when he returns.  He stands on the right hand of His Father which is our Heavenly Father.  This means that He does what His Father asks of Him.  If we follow His example we are doing what Heavenly Father wants us to do.

6.  He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. (GAK 315) – Jesus Christ brings hope to the world.  He died for all so that we can all be resurrected again and live with our Heavenly Father.

7.  His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. (GAK 502) – If we follow Him by being baptized and confirmed, then receive our endowment in the temple and then the sealing ordinance when we are married in the temple, we can become like Him.  We can find true happiness by keeping the commandments and following His path by preparing to go the temple.

8.  God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son. (GAK 240) – Christmas is a time to be thankful for our Savior.  We should be thinking of Him and His gift to us.  His life was given for us.  He was born, lived and died for us.  His was a gift of sacrifice and love.  Let’s remember Him this Christmas season as we celebrate His birth.


Make a birthday cake for the Savior and sing to Him.  Share with your children that the reason we give gifts is to remind us of the gift our Savior gave to us.  It is His birthday.  If you haven’t done the white stocking yet, you can do that now.  Get a stocking that is for the Savior.  Write down your gift to Him this year and put it into the stocking.  These could be things such as service you will complete this year, how you will help your testimony to grow, or kind things you can do for your family.

Closing Prayer:


You know Dasher and Dancer . . .

This is an idea that I actually got from Carrie in 2005.  I honestly can’t remember where she saw the idea but they are adorable!  There are nine reindeer here, lined up in order of appearance, with of course, Rudolph at the end.  I guess you could say he is at the front.  These are all made from wood that was super easy to cut out and stain and then paint.  They are attached to wooden stakes that you can get from Home Depot for pretty cheap.

Overall picture of Reindeer

Here is a close up of how it looks all put together.  You can use any wood you would like.  There are 4 pieces total, not counting the stake.  The main body, the cheek/mouth area, the nose, and the name plate.

After you cut the wood and before you paint it, be sure to chunk up the edges to give it an overall cuter appearance.

The antlers are just pieces of garland cut the same length and placed into 2 holes on top of the head body/head piece.  Make sure the hole is large enough to fit the wire end of the garland.  I hot glued mine into the holes so they wouldn’t fall out during rain or snow storms.

The name plate has vinyl lettering on it which has withstood the weather beautifully.  After staining and painting the wood pieces, scuff up the edges with sandpaper to finish it off.  The scarfs are just cut from fabric I had at my house, or you can go and buy $1.00 scarfs at the dollar store.  I also looked for fabric at the D.I. and found some to complete my scarfs.

If I have missed explaining anything, feel free to ask me.

Enjoy and have fun making them.  If you are a super person you could make them in time for this year, otherwise just plan on it being for next year.

Here is the pattern for the Reindeer as requested.  This is not a professional one as you will be able to tell.  However, I have included the measurements so that when you piece and tape the body pattern together you can make sure the height is the right size.

FHE – The Living Christ Week 6

As promised, if you are following our schedule we will finish memorizing the week of Christmas!  How impressive will it be to sit around and recite The Living Christ on Christmas Eve???  I’m so excited we have made it this far.  I am working on a flip chart.  I think I am on to a way I can accomplish that! 🙂  Hopefully that will happen this week.  I am also working on my advent calendar to share.  This is such an exciting time of year.  There is so much to be taught and so much fun to be had doing it!!

As I was thinking about how I could fit everything in, I decided that will do our Living Christ lessons on Sunday.  That way we can still have fun Family Nights and activities all month but we won’t lose our focus.  I will try to post the three remaining lessons by Saturday evening so that you can do the same if you choose to.

This week’s lesson is a great kick off to the Christmas season.  The focus is on Joseph Smith’s testimony of the Savior.  The Living Christ Week 6

Opening Song:  This is My Beloved Son   CS p. 76

Opening Prayer:

Scripture:  D&C 110: 3-4  Ask your family who this talking about.  Discuss what the scripture means and why it is important to read it this time of year.


1.  Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote – Talk about what it would have been like to actually have the Savior appear to you.  Talk about how that might strengthen your testimony and how it would have felt.

2.“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: -What does this tell us about the Savior?

3.  “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).  – What does it mean to be the advocate with the Father?

Advocate with the Father (Elder Russell M. Nelson)

Jesus is our Advocate with the Father (see 1 Jn. 2:1D&C 29:5D&C 32:3D&C 45:3D&C 110:4). The word advocate comes from Latin roots meaning a “voice for” or “one who pleads for another.” Other related terms are used in scripture, such as mediator (see 1 Tim. 2:52 Ne. 2:28D&C 76:69). From the Book of Mormon we learn that this responsibility to mediate, or make intercession, was foreseen before His birth: “[Jesus] shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved” (2 Ne. 2:9).

This mission was clearly evident in the compassionate intercessory prayer of Jesus. In your mind, picture Him kneeling in fervent supplication. Listen to the beautiful language of His prayer. Sense His feeling for His weighty responsibility as mediator:

“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

“Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

“I pray for them” (John 17:6–9).

He is also known as the Mediator of the new testament, or new covenant (see Heb. 9:15Heb. 12:24). Comprehending Him as our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator with the Father gives us assurance of His unequaled understanding, justice, and mercy (see Alma 7:12).

4.  Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! – Share your testimony of the Savior.  Ask them what a testimony is and encourage them to think about their own testimony.  This month there will be a lot of discussion around the birth of the Savior and His life.  Encourage family members to think about their testimony and write it down.  (You may want to start a new tradition this year and have each child write their testimony to hang on the tree – refer to this post for more info


Review from the beginning and begin to memorize the new section.   If you choose to write testimonies you can do that here as well.

Closing Prayer:


Time for Families – The Gift

As I was trying to think about what to do for Family Night, I remembered one of our traditions and thought it was a perfect opportunity to get it done this year.  The only gift we have under our tree every year (until Christmas morning that is) is a red box with The Nelsen Family written on the outside of it.  One of the greatest gifts that we have is our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Each year we write (the little ones tell us what to write) our testimony on a piece of paper with the date and put it inside an ornament with our picture that we hang on the tree.  When we take the tree down, we put the testimony into the box with those from past years.  It is really neat to look back on years past to see how our testimonies have grown.

This is how it looks hanging on the tree.  The kids love to see their pictures on our Christmas tree!

For Family Night you can discuss what gifts the kids want to get this year.  Then talk about what gifts that you have that you don’t open on Christmas morning.  Teach them that a testimony is a gift from our Savior so that we can know him always and feel close to him.  This time of year it is important to remember Him and what he did for us.  Then, depending on the ages of your kids, you can discuss what a testimony is and how you get one.  Then take time for each of you to write your testimonies and put them under the tree or hang them on the tree to remind them of this gift through the season.  You can even just roll them up like a scroll and tie them on the tree with red ribbon.  The clear bags can be found at Walmart or other party stores that carry wedding supplies.

Fun Friday – Christmas Jars Gift

For those of you that have not read the books “Christmas Jars” and “Christmas Jars Reunion” by Jason Wright, stop reading this immediately and go purchase them both at Deseret Book or Seagull Book.  Once in a while you read a book that changes you somehow, that makes you a better person or at least makes you want to be a better person.   I feel like I want to change the world with my one little Christmas Jar!  I was surprised to see my friend’s name in the dedication of the first book.  She is an amazing person and I think the world of her.  This is for you and Cameron Christa.  We think of him often and remember his incredible spirit and love for others.

This year I have decided that I am going to give all of my siblings a book for Christmas.  There is a child’s version of this book out as well called “Penny’s Christmas Jar Miracle”.  I plan on giving  this book and a jar to each of my siblings for Christmas (I hope they aren’t reading this!) in hopes to start a new tradition.  Each year we struggle with what to give each other.  We usually give family gifts.  It seems some years that we give just to give, without much thought.  This year on Christmas Eve I want us to read the book together and talk about the jars.  Then, rather than give each other gifts next year, I would like us to fill our Christmas Jars and share our experiences in giving them away.  I am looking forward to hearing how each family shared their jar with someone in need.  In the Christmas Jar Reunion it says “One jar, one birth, one Savior”.  Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?  Our Savior.

I also decided to give jars as neighbor gifts this year.  I created a tag Christmas Jar Label  (version 1) and Christmas Jar Label (version 2)to attach to the jar that includes the book cover (so they will know where the idea came from) and a little poem explaining what the jar is.  Imagine what would happen if everyone had a Christmas Jar to share with someone in need.

These books will bring a spirit of selfless giving into your holiday season guaranteed.  I am planning on reading them to my older children along with the child’s book.  What a great tradition idea (thanks Jason Wright!) and I can’t think of a better way to show our love for our Heavenly Father than to help one of his children in need.  Happy Holidays!

What's On The Menu? – Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

My oldest son was in the mood to fix dessert for the family last night.  I told him he could pick what ever he wanted and he decided on a new recipe.  We REALLY loved it.  Remember to have plenty of vanilla ice cream to serve with this.  One 9×9 pan was enough for our family of 7 for one serving each.  He made two pans so we will some more tonight!  Another reason why I like this recipe is it’s all made in the pan you bake it in.  No mixing bowls to clean up afterward.  This is also a GREAT food storage recipe as it uses everything you have in your storage.  No store bough items.  LOVED IT!!

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

1 cup flour                         2 Tbl oil

3/4 cup sugar                  1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbl cocoa                       1 cup chopped nuts (opt)

2 tsp baking powder     1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt                      1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup milk                     1 3/4 cup super hot water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, sugar, 2 Tbl cocoa, baking powder, and salt in an ungreased 9 inch square pan.  Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla with a fork until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Spread batter evenly in the pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.  Pour hot water over batter.  Bake for 40 minutes.  While warm, sppon into desert dishes and top with lots of ice cream.  Spoon sauce from pan onto each serving.  Note: sauce will thicken as it cools.

What's on the menu? – Christmas Casserole

I’m so sorry I’m a little late with this post!  The only explanation I can give is that it is the holiday season and time got away from me! 🙂  I did want to share a recipe for a breakfast casserole that my family loves.  There are many breakfast casserole recipes out there and most of them are delicious but time consuming.  My in laws make this every year and we love it.


Christmas Morning Casserole


Bake 1 pkg. frozen hashbrowns at 450 for 20 minutes uncovered.

Pour 1/4 c. melted butter over the hashbrowns.  Then add 6 beaten eggs, 2 c. grated cheese (4 cheese mix is best), sausage (as much as you would like), and salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour.


Very simple and really yummy!  It makes breakfast on Christmas morning a piece of cake!

Time For Families – The White Stocking

This is one of my favorite traditions I like to do for our FHE close to Christmas.  It is also great for Visiting Teaching too.  We hang a white stocking that belongs to Jesus among our other stockings.  You can even hang it on the tree if you would like.  If this is your first year, then give everyone a small paper and have them write what their gift to Jesus will be for the next year.  Fold them up and place them in the white stocking to hang during the Christmas season.  Next year, on a Monday night, or even on the Eve of Christmas, take out the gifts and let everyone read what their gift is and then talk about if they were able to truely give this gift to Christ.  I love this idea because it puts the focus on giving and also on Christ.

We have made some papers you can write on, and also if you want to use this idea for a great Visiting teaching idea, there is a small letter as well that your family to sign their name to.

White Stocking Gift Tags.pdf

Merry Christmas to all our My Heart & Home friends and family!