“This coupon entitles Mary and Kim to a special treat at Santa’s Supermarket.”
“This coupon and a hug for Grandma entitle Amy to something fun-fun-fun at Santa’s Supermarket.”
My husband and I printed instructions and cut out coupons, preparing for a special Christmas party at our house. This was our first Christmas without at least one of our six children at home, and we were planning something different for the nine grandchildren who would come over to see us. We wanted to share in the fun of the “Santa Claus scene” on Christmas morning.
We framed the doorway between the living room and hallway with Christmas greenery and set a card table there for a counter. Above it, a large sign advertised “Santa’s Supermarket.” We assembled the gifts for each family group in a spare room, and on Christmas Grandpa became chief clerk. Because they weren’t going under the tree, the gifts didn’t have to be wrapped. But one small gift, wrapped in gold paper, was placed under the tree for each family; it contained an inexpensive wallet with a fistful of Santa’s coupons.
Excitement and curiosity ran high as each person came to redeem his coupons with gifts. We tried to make our gifts practical: clothing, a toy, and a little money as separate gifts for each grandchild; a Church book for each adult, food storage supplies and some extravagance for each family (like ten pounds of sugar!), and other gifts of individual value.
The party was a great success, with a surprise bonus for me: my husband had put one coupon for me in each of the wallets! And we chalked up another special Christmas with our family. , Ogden, Utah
Choosing Children’s Books
Parents or grandparents who are shopping for the readers in their family may be adding a treasure to the entire family library by a well-made choice. But sometimes selecting a children’s book—particularly a religious book—can be confusing. Here are some guidelines to consider:
1. What is the author’s point of view? Is the book consistent with the teachings of the Bible? Think back to the books you read as a child. One of the most surprising things is that you do remember them. Your children will remember theirs, so make sure they don’t contain information to be unlearned later.
2. Is it right for your child? A young child will lose patience with a book that is too complex. An older one will reject an oversimplified approach. Is it clear and adequate in its treatment of the subject matter?
3. Is it written in a clear, interesting manner? Test it by reading a few sentences out loud. Is the language smooth and vivid? Are the sentences varied or monotonously similar? A related consideration is whether the child will read it himself or have it read to him—his listening vocabulary is much larger than either his reading or speaking vocabulary.
4. Are the illustrations appropriate? A book which tells the Biblical story of Jesus’ baptism may backfire if the illustrations show John pouring water on Jesus’ head. Also, children sometimes look at pictures for hours, so action and detail—but not clutter—are vital. The style of the artist must set the mood for the text. Cartoon art is not suitable for religious books.
5. Will it last? The cheapest book isn’t always the best buy since a child will read a well-loved book ragged. Check the binding for durability, the print for adequate size and spacing, and the paper for nonglare qualities. Good margins and spaces between the lines—not to mention an attractive cover!—all make a book more inviting. , Provo, Utah
Sorting out the family tree can sometimes be a puzzle, so why not make a real puzzle out of it by creating a jigsaw? The design can be your very own, but for starters you might want to draw a family “tree” and place pictures of family members on their respective “branches.”
Have the completed chart photographed, mount the whole picture on heavy cardboard, and then use a jigsaw or a very sharp knife to cut around the various people on the chart. (Relatives could be labeled—i.e., Aunt Maude, Grandfather Oldham—before you cut them out.) Then assemble the puzzle again and set it in a cardboard framework with a backing similar to toy puzzles now on the market.
The whole point of this exercise is to let the children assemble the puzzle, and in the process familiarize themselves with their progenitors.
The same idea with immediate members could be used as a Christmas greeting card. An eight-by-ten inch photograph in black and white or color could comfortably include as many as twenty people. Be sure to pose the group so that you can cut around the edge of each figure in the picture to make the puzzle pieces. A side benefit is that this photo-puzzle also becomes a record of one year in a family’s growth. , Murray, Utah
Our Gifts for the Savior
One of our most spiritual family home evenings was held at Christmas time two years ago. We began with a lesson on the birth of Christ and talked about the gifts he had given us, then discussed some of the gifts we could give him. We decided that we would each give a Christmas gift to Jesus, an acknowledgement of our appreciation for his gifts to us of repentance, forgiveness, and the Atonement. Our gifts would be a promise to reach some specific self-improvement goal.
Earlier that day I had purchased some special little boxes, and I gave one to each family member. Each wrote down his gift—his goal—on a piece of paper, put it in the box, gift-wrapped it, and placed it under the tree.
On Christmas Eve we each opened our own box and read aloud to the rest of the family our gift for the Savior. I promised to fast more faithfully, and I have kept that promise; my husband, Michael, resolved to read the scriptures; our twelve-year-old would say his prayers morning and night; our nine-year-old would try to stop fighting with her brother and sisters; and our five-year-old would help her mother more.
They were not spectacular gifts, but they were sincerely and lovingly offered. We all benefitted during the next year from that special home evening. , Salt Lake City, Utah