Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Why our family believes in Santa Claus

How we prioritize the birth of Jesus and celebrate with Santa Claus

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here. This post is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Elf on the Shelf or any of its products.

I originally wrote these words in December of 2013. My kids were 4 and almost 1 that Christmas. Now they are 12 and almost 9. We have had a conversation about Santa with our oldest who now enjoys sharing Santa with her little brother. Our Santa holidays are winding down, but I don’t regret them one bit. This post explains why.

Santa Claus. The jolly figure incites a variety of feelings in various folks. Some insist that they won’t let their kids believe in Santa. They contend that they won’t lie to their children or that Santa isn’t the reason for the season. Others insist that Santa is a huge part of their Christmas celebration and even as adults they believe in him to some degree.

What Santa is like at our house

Around my house, my kids believe in Santa Claus. However, they also know the full truth of the Christmas season. Well, at least the 4-year-old does, but the baby will learn about Jesus’ birthday one of these days, too. The Santa that exists around here is one who brings some gifts on Christmas morning. He is one we go to visit at the mall and smile for a photo. He is one for whom we leave out cookies and milk. Our Santa is one who leaves a letter for the kiddos and sometimes sends a video message. And that’s pretty much our extent of celebrating with Santa.  

We don’t threaten that if behavior isn’t good then he won’t bring gifts. We expect good behavior year-round just because that’s what is expected. Our children must learn obedience as simply the right thing to do. We have a trust relationship in that way. We won’t lead them astray if they follow our instructions. (That’s the theory, anyway. The practice is just that — practice!)

My history with Santa

My husband and I both grew up believing in Santa. I very distinctly remember finding out that he wasn’t real. My mom was drying my hair. I asked her if Santa really existed. I think she tried to change the subject, but I was as persistent with my questions then as a child as I am now as a journalist. She told me gently that he was pretend. It didn’t traumatize me at all. I just understood that I was old enough to know and be in on the other side of the fun secret. I understood the tradition of Santa as well. In fact, I continued to leave out milk and cookies for him into my teen years and quite enjoyed doing so.  

One of my family’s traditions of Santa included a letter from him. I do remember noticing that his handwriting looked a lot like my mom’s the year before I found out the truth. (Thank goodness for computers! I now type the letters for my kiddos.) My mom was creative and I looked forward to those letters, even after I knew the truth.

The real meaning of Christmas

So, I will let my children continue to believe in Santa Claus as long as they can. While we didn’t really introduce Santa to my daughter from the start in a very tangible way, she learned about him and fell in love with him. But she also learned about Jesus’ birth and fell in love with Him. That’s the most important part. In our slew of Christmas books, the vast majority focus on the birth of Jesus. My daughter can tell you all about how Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn and that a bright star lead shepherds to find Him. For example, last week we were outside after dark and she saw a bright star. She thought that was the Star of David.

Even better to me, my child fully understands why the birth of Jesus is so great. We read the story of Jesus’ birth the other day. Then she turned to me and said, “Now let’s read the other story of when Jesus grows up and goes back up into heaven.” She gets it as much as a 4-year-old can get it. Believing in Santa and the fun that comes with that belief hasn’t impeded on her understanding the true meaning of Christmas.

We also very much enjoy the VeggieTales story of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas, in whom Santa is rooted, is a testament to giving to those in need. That gives us a chance to talk about giving gifts as a celebration of Jesus’ birth. We talk about how Santa is good. After all, what I like most about Santa is his spirit. He has a spirit of kindness and generosity. He has a touch of magic with flying reindeer, laying his finger beside his nose and disappearing. And he has a spirit of fun and laughter with his jolly “Ho, ho, hos!” Santa offers a wonderment that enhances a Christmas season with little ones.

The future

One of these days, my children will learn the truth. We’ll talk about it. I’ll answer any questions they have and I will tell them some of these very things. I will tell them that the spirit of Santa is very real in spite of his lack of corporeal form. I’ll tell them that they are now old enough to be in on the secret and help share in the wonderment of the little ones that come after them. And we’ll continue any holiday traditions they enjoy. At the end of the conversation, they will still trust me. I am their mother. A trusting relationship is of the utmost importance to me.

Even by now, my almost 11-month-old knows he can trust me to take care of his needs. If he’s crying in his crib, he stops as soon as I enter the room. He’s learned I’m on it and will take care of him. Believing in Santa and later learning the truth isn’t going to change the innate trust and relationship we’ve built.

And so this year, my kiddos will believe in Santa Claus. I make no apologies for that and am not ashamed of that. I look forward to the excitement that will come in picking cookies to leave out for him and see what he’s brought come Christmas morning.

An update from the present (2021)

In the years since I first wrote this post, some things have changed. My kids have gotten older. When she was 10, my oldest had a few experiences that led her to believe maybe Santa wasn’t real. My husband and I took her out to dinner to her favorite restaurant and we chatted one-on-one.

She wasn’t devastated. Of course she had some questions, but she was fine about it. And she was super excited to help continue the spirit of Santa with her younger brother.

My youngest will be 9 in a couple of months. I know it won’t be much longer until we’ll have a similar conversation with him. We have had some great family memories made over these past few Christmases that I am thankful for.

A few years ago, we also introduced our version of Elf on the Shelf. Much like Santa, the elf isn’t about monitoring behavior in our family. He is about having some clean fun. (Check out “14 Ways we made Elf on the Shelf work for our family” for more info. You can also find some elf pose ideas and a free Santa letter printable.)

How we’ve kept Jesus the focus of Christmas

We have also worked to make sure that from the beginning our kids knew Christmas was more about celebrating the birth of Jesus. One of the first ways we did this was by reading a Bible verse or two a day from Dec. 1 through 25 that led through the birth of Jesus. Each night, we’d review what had happened in the story so far. (Check out “8 Simple Christmas traditions to bring your family closer” for more info on how we did the verses as well as free printable verses your family can use.)

The verse tradition has grown into a devotion time each evening in December. We started with “A Family Christmas, Volume 1” and are now moving on to “A Family Christmas, Volume 2.” Both books have 5-minutes daily devotions for Dec. 1 through 25 to go through the Christmas story.

Marriage advice: keep a sense of a humor

Laughter is important for a happy marriage

For 22 years now, I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart. We are together more than we are apart, especially since we both work from home and share a home office. In fact, I’m typing this blog post at my desk while he’s at his desk a few feet away working on his computer. (Don’t ask me to explain what he’s doing, because I don’t understand most of his work as an IT security consultant!) We’ve learned lots of things through our couple of decades being hitched and we’ve got all sorts of marriage advice to dole out.

In fact, for this post, I asked my husband for some of his marriage advice or what we do well in our relationship. He gave me a few ideas like communicating well or working from home together, which I’ve written about. And then he mentioned a sense of humor. I’ve not talked about that so much, and I think I’ve been failing you guys in that regard. A sense of humor is a big part of a happy marriage.

You don’t take yourselves too seriously.

I’m human. My husband’s human. Neither of us are perfect. We mess up and make mistakes. Laughing about some of these mistakes keeps us from taking the mess ups too seriously. Obviously, some things aren’t funny no matter what. But other things really are.

Probably one of the things we laugh about most is miscommunication. When it comes to marriage advice, you must address miscommunication, because it happens!

For example, a couple of weeks ago, my husband was telling me about an article he read. Some homeowners put a rude note on their door about Halloween. My husband commented that people replied saying the homeowners might as well hang their own TP.

Now, typed out, you know that “TP” stands for “toilet paper.” Spoken aloud, however, as we were in the midst of folding towels and telling the kids to get ready for bed, my mind went to “teepee.” I didn’t get the joke. I thought maybe if those people were skipping Halloween, they were going straight to Thanksgiving and putting up a teepee to honor the Native Americans. But that didn’t really make sense. And who hangs a teepee anyway?

My husband noted my confusion. In just a few words, we cleared up my mistake and then laughed so hard I had tears rolling down my cheeks about my error.

While this was a small miscommunication of basically no consequence on our marriage, it is just one example of times we learn to laugh together at ourselves. Had my husband rudely laughed at me and declared I was stupid, then I wouldn’t have found it funny at all. But we’ve both learned to laugh at ourselves over small mistakes like this one. And even better, we can laugh at them together. You know the saying, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you.” That applies tenfold in a marriage. It ought to be found in marriage advice books.

There have also been times that I haven’t found humor in my mistakes, and my husband has helped me see that humor – in a kind and gentle way. It helps me not take myself too seriously. Life is too short for that!

A sense of humor gives you perspective.

Sometimes little stuff can seem like big stuff, but keeping a sense of humor about it keeps things in perspective. To keep your marriage happy, you’ve got to have that perspective when things go sideways.

My husband and I started our marriage learning the importance of a sense of humor. We were so excited to be married and going on a honeymoon together that we drove to our destination without thinking that cars need gas. Our car had a full tank when we left, and neither of us paid any mind to the gas gauge as we went.

We puttered into the visitor’s center just before our destination on gas fumes. It was a moment that could have been rife with tension. Instead, we figured out how to get to a gas station, fill up the car and keep going. Pretty quickly, we laughed at ourselves for not having thought to get gas. In the grand scheme of life, that extra half hour we spent dealing with a car with no gas was a teeny, tiny blip. It wasn’t worth being mad at each other about. And it certainly gave us a memorable moment!

Sometimes in the small moments that can seem irritating, we need to take a minute to regroup and even laugh. If nothing earth-shattering is going on, is it really worth arguing about? Why not laugh instead of snap?

Laughter is good for the soul.

Research shows laughter is good for your health. I know from experience that laughter is good for the soul, and that goes for the soul of your marriage as well. Sometimes you need that laughter more than others. During those times, the best marriage advice is to find ways to laugh together.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, my husband was fresh out of surgery for a rotator cuff repair. In fact, the day after my husband’s surgery, my children’s school announced the switch to virtual learning. I was overwhelmed to think of managing his care and their school. It was stressful.

While it got a bit easier as time went by and he was able to do more for himself, it was still a lot to deal with – especially considering we were also dealing with the stress and anxiety of a global pandemic. Though we couldn’t change the circumstances, we could take time to laugh together. So, we watched stand-up comedy together many evenings before bed and laughed.

We found “Dry Bar Comedy,” which is stand-up comedy with clean humor, and we’d laugh together before going to bed. It was a stress reliever we needed individually, but also as a couple. Health issues alone are a challenge to a marriage. Any time one of you has to be the caretaker, it’s a different dynamic. Laughing together helped us feel normal and relieved stress. It was a win all around.

Laughing together brings you closer.

You might have heard the person you look at first when you’re laughing is who you like the most. The could be true, but research has shown for sure that laughing together with someone else makes you feel closer to that person. Seriously. Truthfully, for this marriage advice, I didn’t know there was scientific evidence to back it up until I was researching for this blog post after I wrote this subheading. But I knew it to be true from my relationship with my husband.

We do a variety of things that make me feel closer to him and laughing together is one of them. At any given time, we are juggling various responsibilities and stressors. Life can bog us down, but when we laugh together even in the midst of challenging times, I feel closer to him. It doesn’t even have to be humor related to what we’re dealing with (though we’ve done that, too). It just is spending time together and realizing that life can get hard and crazy but together we can still have fun.

And nobody makes me laugh or truly understands my humor like my husband does. The man knows good puns and dad jokes crack me up. He knows that I laugh way too much at talking animal videos. Sometimes we need laughter to break tension, relieve stress and remind us that we are connected.

You create inside jokes.

Nothing feels worse than being left out of an inside joke with other people. But nothing feels better than being part of an inside joke with someone else. While it’s fun to smile or laugh together at an inside joke, it works well for your marriage because it makes you feel connected. It reminds you that you have a whole history with this person — in a good way.

My husband and I have a few inside jokes that have happened through the years. They evolve naturally. One of perhaps the oddest ones happened years ago before we even had children (and our oldest is 12!). We were walking into Target behind a couple of high schoolers. We overheard part of their conversation that went like this:

Teen 1: I wish I was like Nellie.

Teen 2: I wish I was Nellie.

(And then here comes the kicker.)

Teen 1: I wish my name was Nellie.

I’d guess you aren’t riotously laughing at that exchange right now, but the seriousness of their discussion and that the ultimate wish was to just have a different name made us laugh. We have brought that up at random times. That’s how the best inside jokes are. They aren’t so funny to someone who wasn’t there at the time, but they are to you.

In your marriage, it’s the small stuff like this that brings you closer together, makes you feel good and helps you remember why you love this person.

A Family Christmas devotion book, volume 2

25 Days of 5-minute family Christmas devotionals for older children

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

The Christmas season is a busy one. As we work to keep up with everything on our to-do lists, we can miss out on connecting with our families. That’s why a family Christmas devotion book is a great way to help families connect and remember the reason for the season. And having devotionals that only take about five minutes is even better!

And that’s why I put together the original “A Family Christmas” devotion book. It released last year and is filled with 5-minute devotions for Dec. 1 through 25. The first volume was written simply for young children to really understand. This year, my own family was ready to go a bit deeper and so “A Family Christmas, Volume 2” was born.

How the family Christmas devotion books are the same

Both devotion books help families connect throughout the Christmas season in only five minutes a day. With one or two daily Bible verses from Dec. 1 through 25, you’ll read through the Christmas story. Each day includes follow-up questions and a prayer as well.

Volumes 1 and 2 both offer flexibility for whatever works best for your family. Take turns reading the verses, the questions and saying the prayer. Or have one person do it each night. Talk as much or as little as your family wants to. Some days you may talk longer and other days you may not.

Both of the family Christmas devotion books have questions designed to help your family apply the lessons of the Christmas story to your own lives. My family had some great discussions as a result of these questions last Christmas!

The devotion book is great for dinnertime, your children’s bedtime or whenever works best for your family. Both volumes of “A Family Christmas” are written with busy families in mind — because my family is busy during December, too. My goal was to write a simple Christmas devotion book that we could use for a few minutes a day to connect with one another, slow down and keep our focus on Jesus. And that’s what both devotion books are all about.

How the family Christmas devotion books are different

The original “A Family Christmas” devotion book is geared toward preschool through early elementary children. The Bible verses all come from the International Children’s Bible. Each day has one or two questions. The prayers are straightforward and simple. My own family often added to our discussions, which is how the book is designed.

“A Family Christmas, Volume 2,” is geared toward upper elementary through teens. It still has a Bible verse or two a day to go through the Christmas story, but the verses come from the New International Version. Daily there are a couple of questions and a bit of additional text as well. Each day also has a new section called “Go Deeper” that includes more in-depth questions for your family to delve into.

While both books ask questions to apply the lessons of the Christmas story to our own lives, volume 2 goes a bit deeper. For example, some days include questions about why God did things a certain way in the Christmas story. The questions let older kids get into discussions about the significance of certain elements of the Christmas story while also relating it to their own lives.

What formats are available

When “A Family Christmas” released last year, I released it only for Kindle. But with “A Family Christmas, Volume 2,” I wanted to give the option for a paperback version. So I added a paperback version for both through Amazon!

And, here’s the other good news. The Kindle version is a part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service. If you aren’t familiar with Kindle Unlimited, for a monthly fee, you have access to more than a million books that you can read on your Kindle or through the Kindle app on your device. (My son and husband use the Kindle app on their tablets. I use the Kindle app on my phone when I’m away from home.) You can have up to 10 titles at a time.

My husband gifted me with Kindle Unlimited for Christmas a few years ago. I was a bit dubious, but I love it and continue to subscribe. I’m an avid reader and I’ve never had an issue with finding something to read.

However, if you aren’t sure, you get free 30-day trial. I mean, technically, you could sign up in time for December to read either volume of “A Family Christmas” for free. And then if you don’t like it, you can cancel. But it is really a great service to have if you like to read. The selections include children’s books as well. My entire family has found books to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Connecting at Christmastime

Overall, both volumes of the “A Family Christmas” devotion book are written to help your family connect at Christmastime. It’s a great way to be intentional about spending time together throughout December.

Don’t miss these other ideas for your family this Christmas season as well! If your family isn’t ready for a devotion book, yet, be sure to check out “8 Simple Christmas traditions to bring your family closer.” It includes a free printable version of Bible verses for kids to go through the Christmas story in the month of December.

Looking for more from Families with Grace? Don’t miss our products page that includes lots of FREE resources as well!

2-ingredient meatball pocket recipe

An appetizer, side or snack you can make in minutes!

My daughter is more adventurous in the kitchen than I am. I tend to go by recipes. She tends to use recipes and get creative as well. I love her creations and willingness to try things. (She’s made some delicious microwave fudge recipes this way!) Over the summer, she found a picture of meatball pockets that didn’t have a recipe with it. So, she came up with it on her own. The results were this super easy, yummy meatball pocket recipe you can make in minutes!

These meatball pockets can be a snack, appetizer or side. We used it as a side dish to go along with Spaghetti-Os. (I know. We are super fancy like that!) I also like that even my 8-year-old could easily help us with this recipe.

I also love that this meatball pocket recipe is only two ingredients: canned crescent rolls and frozen meatballs. You can serve them with pizza or marinara sauce. (But I can also tell you that they taste good dipped in Spaghetti-Os!)

How to make the meatball pockets

I chose homestyle meatballs for this recipe. My family isn’t big on anything spicy, so these were great for us. They were flavorful without being spicy or peppery. You can pick meatballs based on your family’s tastes. You can also use homemade meatballs if you would rather.

No matter what kind of meatball you use, they need to be thawed. If you are using fresh, homemade ones, you’re good to go. If you are using frozen ones, pop 16 of them in the microwave on thaw or 50% power to get them to about room temperature.

Preheat your oven according to the directions on the crescent roll package.

While the meatballs are thawing and oven is preheating, open the crescent rolls. (I cannot open canned crescent rolls. It scares me way too much, so my husband or 8-year-old son open them!) Unroll the sheets and gently break the rolls apart at the perforation into their triangle shape.

Then use a sharp knife to cut the triangles in half, so you have halves of the usual crescent roll size. (NOTE: You can make these with whole crescent rolls if you want them to be bigger or more bread-y. We tried both ways and like them either way.)

Next, plop a meatball in the center of the halved crescent triangle and fold the crescent roll dough around the meatball. Pinch it closed as much as possible.

When they are enclosed in dough, place the meatball pockets a baking sheet. I put parchment paper on my baking sheets to make for easier clean-up. If you don’t use parchment paper, follow the directions on the crescent rolls. The crescent rolls I used said they should be baked on ungreased baking sheets. Space the meatball pockets a couple of inches apart.

Place them in your preheated oven and bake them for 9 to 12 minutes until the crescent roll dough has become golden brown and they are heated through.

Serve the meatball pockets warm with marinara or pizza sauce for dipping, if desired. You end up with 16 meatball pockets per can of crescent rolls. Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat in the microwave.

2-ingredient meatball pocket recipe


  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • 16 Frozen homestyle meatballs or other flavor of your choice
  • Marinara or pizza sauce if desired


  • Preheat the oven according to the directions on the crescent rolls.
  • Thaw the frozen meatballs in the microwave on the thaw setting or at 50% power.
  • Open the can of crescent rolls and unroll the dough. Gently pull it apart at the perforations to form eight triangles.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut each triangle in half.
  • Put a meatball in the center of each triangle of crescent roll dough and pinch the dough all around the meatball.
  • Place the meatball pockets 2 inches apart on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or ungreased.
  • Bake in the oven for 9 to 12 minutes until the crescent roll dough is golden brown.
  • Serve warm with marinara or pizza sauce if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.

3 New Thanksgiving traditions to start

Relaxing Thanksgiving evening traditions you and your family will love!

I’m a fan of traditions for my family, but only traditions we enjoy and are simple. I’ve shared some of our traditions before like for Valentine’s Day, Christmas and even birthdays, but let’s talk Thanksgiving traditions.

The biggest Thanksgiving tradition for most families is having a big dinner together. So I’m not going to include that one. But, I do encourage you to think outside of the box if it’s time to do so. Maybe nobody in your family really enjoys that big dinner. Go for something smaller instead. Maybe you have Thanksgiving tacos or pasta. Do what works best for you!

Sports may be another Thanksgiving tradition for many families, but they aren’t for my family. We don’t watch or play sports, so I’m also not including sports. But if your family loves a big game of tag football before dinner, have at it!

Instead, I’ve got three ideas for families in all ages and stages that are simple and great for quality time together. Pick one, two or all three and start a new Thanksgiving tradition this year!

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Have a Thanksgiving Day parade watching party

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It’s my all-time favorite. To me, this parade is as essential to Thanksgiving as turkey is! When I was younger, I could easily watch the parade live and then head off to dinner with my family. But once I was an adult and making food to take to Thanksgiving dinner, that got trickier.

A few years ago, I decided that instead of trying to catch glimpses of the parade in the midst of making food and making the kids get dressed, that we’d start a new tradition. Now I record the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on our DVR and we don’t watch it live. I don’t know why it took so long for me to change this tradition, but watching the parade later means I can fast forward through some of the performances and commercials.

I can also relax, because we watch it Thanksgiving evening after everything is finished. The first year we did this, we had Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws and then invited my parents over for snacks in the evening to watch the parade. If you are juggling various family gatherings, this can be a great option to get to see everyone without having multiple Thanksgiving dinners.

These days, it’s just my husband and kiddos who join with me for this parade watching party. Sometimes we put on our PJs. We have some snacks, because we’re not usually hungry enough for a full dinner.

Plan a family game night

Personally, I think there is never a wrong time to have a game night. So why not make it one of your new Thanksgiving traditions?! My family loves playing games together. Pick whatever games your family likes most from card games to board games to any other tabletop game.

Here are some of our favorites:

No reading required
No reading required
No reading required
No reading required
Some reading required

Watch a movie together

When I was a kid, one of our Thanksgiving traditions was to go see a movie on Thanksgiving late afternoon. I remember the year my big cousin took me to see “My Girl” at the theater and it made me cry. I think he might have shed some tears as well!

You can venture out to the movie theater together. Usually a new family friendly movie or two comes out around Thanksgiving. Or stay home and watch a movie together. I’m much more in the stay-at-home camp these days, especially with the pandemic still going on. But you can find lots of good options for movies or even shows to watch together.

If movies aren’t so much your thing but you like the idea of spending time together in a fictional world on Thanksgiving evening, check out these family read aloud chapter books.

Whatever you decide to go with, snuggle together in comfy clothes, enjoy some snacks and make memories just being together.

Snack ideas for all of it

Whether you’re watching the parade, playing games or watching movies together, you are going to want some snacks to nosh on. Last year, I tried a new cheeseball recipe for us and it’s become a favorite. It’s so easy that I make it even when it isn’t Thanksgiving. Flavored with ranch and cheese, you really can’t go wrong with this Parmesan Ranch Cheeseball recipe.

You soften your cream cheese a bit, add in Parmesan cheese and ranch seasoning mix. Stir it together and pop it in the fridge. Easy peasy!


Parmesan Ranch Cheeseball


  • 8 oz. cream cheese slightly softened
  • 1 envelope of ranch seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese You'll want fresh and not canned for this.
  • Chopped pecans or walnuts optional


  • In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, ranch seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Mix until it is creamy, smooth and well combined.
  • Transfer it to a smaller bowl and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  • Use a spatula or clean hands to turn it out onto a platter and shape into a ball.
  • If desired, you can "roll" the cheeseball carefully in chopped pecans or walnuts. (I never do this because my husband isn't a fan of nuts on cheeseballs.)
  • Serve with yummy crackers.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers.
Serve up this yummy parmesan ranch cheeseball with your favorite crackers and/or pretzels. (NOTE: This is half of the recipe, because I was making it for a midweek snack for our family.)

Along with the Parmesan Ranch Cheeseball, I’ve got some other great ideas for snacks that can almost all be made at least one day ahead of time. Because I know my Thanksgiving evening you aren’t going to want to do any more cooking. Just pull these premade snacks out and enjoy your family time!

Savory snacks

Festive popcorn: Kick microwave popcorn up a notch by melting and coating it with candy melts. It’s festive and yummy!

Protein-packed banana bread: :Loaded with extra protein thanks to Greek yogurt, this slightly sweet bread is a great snack.

Pantry salsa: With a few canned ingredients, you can put together a homemade salsa to pair with tortilla chips for a delicious Thanksgiving evening snack.

Oat and honey granola: I’ve been making this granola for years. It’s delicious for snacks (and breakfasts and desserts). You can crumble it into yogurt or ice-cream if you feel so inclined.

Pepperoni pizza pinwheels: A canned pizza crust topped with cheese and pepperoni then rolled and sliced creates a satisfying snack that we serve for dinner around here sometimes.

Pumpkin bread: This yummy and slightly sweet pumpkin bread recipe makes two loaves. Serve one at Thanksgiving dinner and the other for Thanksgiving evening!

BLT pizza: A crescent roll crust topped with BLT toppings makes this easy and savory dish. While I usually make it fresh, I have also eaten it leftover straight from the fridge. So you could definitely make it a day ahead.

Sweet snacks

Mint chocolate chip mousse: It’s light, airy and minty. It’s a great sweet treat to snack on after a day of heavy foods.

Toffee cookies: Chewy yet crunchy, these toffee cookies are my most requested cookie for family gatherings.

Microwave fudge made 5 ways: My daughter started making this fudge a few months ago and it’s become a favorite. Easily make chocolate, cherry cordial, mint chocolate, brownie batter or toffee bar fudge in your microwave in minutes.

Butterscotch haystacks: Butterscotch chips and chow mein noodles are all you need for this delicious sweet and crunchy snack.

Peanut butter cookies: You really can’t go wrong with cookies and these peanut butter cookies are my second most requested cookie!

Air fryer doughnuts: Canned biscuits cooked in the air fryer and then covered in cinnamon sugar are a decadent treat. You can make them ahead of time or serve them warm!

Whipped pudding pie: Pies are such a part of Thanksgiving dinner, but this whipped pudding pie doesn’t need to bake and is much lighter. It only has 4 ingredients and can be made sugar free as well.

Peanut butter honey nut clusters: These cereal treats are easily made in the microwave with honey nut “O” cereal, peanut butter and honey.

Fudgy boxed mix brownies: Turn a boxed brownie mix into fudgy brownie goodness with this easy hack that you’ll use over and over.

Connecting with Grace: A Mother and Daughter Shared Journal

A giveaway of a faith-based way for moms and daughters to connect

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A couple of years ago, my daughter and I discovered shared journals. We fell in love with the idea of being able to write back-and-forth to each other. It was a great way to connect, but we were disappointed that we couldn’t find one like us: a bit serious and a bit silly. So, we decided to create own. Thus the idea for “Connecting with Grace” was born.

And now “Connecting with Grace” is completed and ready just in time for the Christmas season!

What is a mother and daughter shared journal?

A mother and daughter shared journal is a journal that a mom and daughter both write in. Instead of all blank pages, however, the journal includes writing prompts and questions to get the conversation flowing. The mom and daughter then pass the journal back and forth to each other after they’ve written in it.

Lexi and I usually leave it on the other one’s bed for them to see it. We read what the other one wrote and then write as well. Sometimes we make comments specifically on what the other one wrote, but mostly we move on to the next prompt.

Mother and daughter journals can be a great way to connect without having to sit and talk face-to-face. It gives you a chance to think about your words before you write them. You can be more contemplative and honest. Though Lexi and I both enjoy writing, the benefit of a mother and daughter shared journal is that the writing prompts make sure we have something to talk about each time we write so we don’t get repetitive or somehow run out of things to say.

How “Connecting with Grace” is different

Faith is a big part of our lives, so we wanted to have a mother and daughter shared journal that included a faith component. But at the same time, we didn’t want something all serious, all the time. Because we are a mix of serious and silly. And sometimes we are seriously silly!

When we were working on “Connecting with Grace,” we wanted to make it something we would love and use. Most prompts include a Bible verse. A few have inspirational quotes instead. And each topic has a page for a mother and a page for a daughter. (If you have more than one daughter you want to do this with, you can always use “Connecting with Grace” with a separate journal or notebook as well.)

The 50 different prompts include topics like school, the Bible, relationships, friendships, womanhood and more. We also added in some blank journal pages throughout that you can use for whatever you most want to do. And there are five Q&A sections throughout to help you get to know each other even better.

Lexi and I know each other well, so we tried to come up with things that we didn’t actually know about each other. We worked well together in writing questions. For example, Lexi let me know when my questions sounded too much like a Sunday School teacher!

We also didn’t want to add pressure to busy schedules, so we didn’t date the journal in any way. That way you can complete on your own timeframe. We have written in ours daily sometimes and weekly other times. It really just depends on what’s going on in our lives.

Another component we really wanted to include was ideas for one-on-one time together. We’ve called them “Face-to-face with Grace” and included 10 of them throughout the book. Because while we love the idea of getting to share with one another through writing, we also think it’s important to be intentional about spending time together.

Where to buy “Connecting with Grace”

Right now “Connecting with Grace” is available on Amazon as a paperback for $12. It is part of Amazon Prime, so it will ship quickly and free to you if you are an Amazon Prime member. The journal is 8.5 x 11 inches so you have plenty of space to write. We went with white paper to make writing with any writing utensil easy to show up.

A chance to win a “Connecting with Grace” gift basket

We’re so excited to share “Connecting with Grace” with the world. So, we are doing a giveaway to get it into the hands of a lucky winner. And we’re adding in some other items for a perfect mother and daughter bonding gift basket!

(This giveaway is in no way sponsored by the makers of the products we are including in the gift basket along with our book.)

Along with a paperback copy of “Connecting with Grace,” the winner will also receive the following:

A set of 6 magnetic inspirational bookmarks to use for marking your page in “Connecting with Grace” and extras for any other book you’re reading.

A set of 4 glittery ink pens you can use to write in “Connecting with Grace.”

A box of Russel Stover chocolates to snack on while you’re journaling. (Or any other time, because there’s never a bad time for chocolate!)

A blank journal you can use to make additional notes, include a second (or more) daughter or even just to write your insights for “Connecting with Grace” in case you don’t want to write in the journal itself.

Giveaway entry

In order to enter the giveaway, you MUST “like” Families with Grace on Facebook and complete the giveaway form (below). You can earn extra entries by signing up for the Families with Grace email list (which will also give you a free copy of the 7-Day Acts of Grace Challenge Devotion AND 10 Ways to Start Living as a Family with Grace Now!), follow Families with Grace on Instagram, follow Families with Grace on Twitter and follow Families with Grace on Pinterest. Just indicate those options on the giveaway form. (You do not have to be new to Families with Grace to participate!)

The giveaway starts at 12 a.m. EST on Nov. 2, 2021 and ends at 12 a.m. EST on Nov. 15, 2021. A winner will be randomly selected and, once confirmed that they fulfilled the mandatory guideline of “liking” Families with Grace on Facebook, will be announced on the Families with Grace Facebook page by 2 p.m. EST on Nov. 16, 2021.

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