As our family grows (both our immediate family and our extended family), it becomes more and more expensive and time-consuming to shop for Christmas gifts. Plus, when each child receives multiple gifts from us and from their extended family, the house quickly becomes cluttered with way too much stuff.
We like to do a lot more family presents these days rather than a ton of individual gifts. Not only does it cut down on shopping time, expense, and clutter, but it also helps us to prioritize spending time together.
When we purchase a gift that the whole family can enjoy, we are encouraging quality time together, which is so much more important than just giving and receiving a bunch of stuff.
We've also agreed with the our siblings that we will give gifts to each other's entire family rather than purchasing something individually for each niece and nephew (there are a lot and none of us can really afford it.) Giving family gifts provides all of us with the opportunity to express thoughtfulness for each other without breaking the bank.
Here are 10 unique gift ideas for the entire family to enjoy.
Disclosure: I was provided with products to facilitate this post. Some of the links included are affiliate links.
This is the perfect gift for the competitive family who is always playing together. Rather than dropping a nice chunk to go play a game of laser tag, they will be able to play any time they want in their own back yard. ArmoGear Laser Battle comes with vests and guns (you can purchase either a 2 player game or a 4 player game.)
2. Family movie night package
Set up the family with everything they need for a family movie night: a popcorn popper, bowls, a cozy blanket, and an Amazon Prime video subscription.
3. Family game night package
If your budget is tight, family games are always a hit! I've included some of my favorite family game suggestions below.
And favorite games for the little ones:
4. Ice cream night!
This soft serve ice cream maker is a huge hit with families! Pair it with some bowls and ice cream toppings.
5. Indoor snowball fight
Want to bring the most unique gift to the party? How about supplies for an indoor snowball fight?
6. Outdoor activities
The most clutter free gift for families is a gift that stays outside! Treat the kids to hours of outdoor fun with one of these outdoor toys:
7. Camping Gear
For the outdoor loving family, a gift of camping gear makes a unique and thoughtful gift.
8. Game room/Play room gear
Another great family gift is an item for the game room (or play room if the kids are still little.) Some good ideas below:
9. Slam Ball
This game is one that my extended family members love playing together. It is highly competitive, offering loads of fun for the adults and kids alike!
“Mom, this is…amazing.” That's what my oldest son told me about this set of audio dramas. These audio depictions of Biblical events are an investment into the spiritual life of your children, and are so enjoyable for the whole family to listen to together.
In this article: Scripture based prayers for the homemaker who feels overwhelmed.
Discombobulated. (How do you like that word?)
These are all words that have defined how I feel about homemaking at some point or another. That last one has been especially apropos lately, and the only word I could find to describe how I feel inside.
Do you ever feel:
You are not alone!
I think most if not all of us feel that way sometimes. Many are the days I have found myself in tears, wondering what on earth I could do differently.
Sometimes there are solutions that help free up my time so I don’t feel overwhelmed (3 Ways to Simplify Homemaking When You're Overwhelmed), sometimes I need better systems and routines (a letter to the wife with the filthy house), but very often I have come to realize that there’s not a whole lot I can do to change the fact that I feel so overwhelmed.
I am constantly tuning up and tweaking things to make things go as smoothly as I can, but the fact of the matter is that life is not always smooth or easy and many of the circumstances that make the road bumpy are out of my control.
So even though I recommend being wise with our routines and learning ways to take the overwhelm out of homemaking, it’s even more important to recognize our need for the Lord. Circumstances beyond our control remind us the He is in control.
We ought to spend more time seeking his face and casting ourselves upon Him in complete dependence than we do in trying to control our circumstances to become less overwhelming.
With that in mind, I want to share some Biblically based prayers for the homemaker who feels overwhelmed:
1. Pray that your thoughts would be clear and undistracted.
When you don’t know where to start or how to organize your day, pray that God would direct your steps and give you wisdom to know how to prioritize things.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
2. Pray for physical health and strength.
If you suffer from any type of chronic illness, you are well aware that the brain fog and fatigue that accompany it contribute to feeling completely overwhelmed. When you can’t think clearly and when you’re always behind on the housework because you are physically unable to take care of it, things can become so out of control that you don’t even know where to begin.
Pray that God would grant you just enough strength to do what He wants you to do today (and remember that might look different than what you would like to get done today.)
Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
3. Pray that you will be diligent in your work.
Perhaps you’re behind and overwhelmed because you just haven’t been as diligent as you ought and now things have piled up. Pray that the Holy Spirit would remind you to be diligent today as you take care of your home and family.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. (Proverbs 13:4)
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. (Proverbs 10:4)
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
4. Pray that you will not be distracted by things that do not matter.
So many things fight for our attention throughout the day. Some of them are important, some not so important, and some are somewhere in between. As you seek the Lord above all, all of the other things will fall into place. Pray that you would remember to focus on Him above all else and not to stress about the rest.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:33-34)
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
5. Call out to the Lord in complete dependence upon him.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Family time is important to my husband and me. Spending quality time with our children is one way we can get to know them better, show them how much we love them, and bond our hearts together.
But life is so busy that spending time together doesn't always come easily! The daily necessities of life take up so much of our time that time spent together often consists of folding laundry together on mom and dad's bed. And while there's most definitely a place for that kind of time spent together, it's also good to have focused, set-aside time together where we're not distracted by the next item on our to-do list.
A weekend getaway is a fantastic way for us to spend distraction-free time doing nothing other than making memories as a family.
Since we live only a few hours from the Smoky Mountains, a convenient place for us to take a weekend getaway is in the friendly town of Sevierville, Tennessee.
Located in eastern Tennessee, Sevierville is in a centralized location to much of the eastern United States. Its location, combined with the wide variety of family-oriented activities it offers, makes it a perfect destination for a family weekend getaway.
Watch the video for a speed version of our own kid-friendly weekend getaway in Sevierville, then read all the details below.
(Full disclosure: This trip was sponsored by the city of Sevierville. Our accommodations and attraction tickets were provided to facilitate this post.)
FULL TRIP DETAILS:
Arrive at our destination.
Since Sevierville is only a few hours away from us, it's easy for us just to hop on up there after my husband gets off work. Staying over on Thursday night maximizes the time we get to spend enjoying our weekend. Being there on Friday morning gives us HOURS more time to spend enjoying the day instead of spending travel time that day.
We stayed at the Oak Haven Resort, which offers cabins suitable for various family sizes. I prefer staying in a cabin when we travel as a family for several reasons:
Our cabin at Oak Haven Resort
The view from our cabin
What kinds of things does Oak Haven Resort offer? A lot!
The cabin was equipped with a game room downstairs which included arcade games, a pool table, Foosball, ping pong, and a hot tub on the porch. One small touch that was greatly appreciated by the smallest of our crew was a set of Mega Blocks. Since our 2 year old is not old enough to play ping pong or Foosball, and since the 4 year old wasn't all that interested, they were perfectly content to play with Mega Blocks any time we were staying at the cabin.
Resort guests also have access to a playground, a basketball court, a swimming pool, a lake with catch-and-release fishing privileges, and several walking trails.
We arrived into town about 5 pm on Thursday, stopped at Chipotle for a quick supper, and spent the rest of the evening enjoying our cabin before bed.
Friday, 8:30 AM
We had a busy day planned, so we ate out at Flapjack's Pancake Cabin for breakfast. The food there is so good! We definitely plan on making a trip here for breakfast any time we are in Sevierville.
Waiting for our yummy omelets and pancakes
Friday, 10:00 AM
After breakfast we headed over to Rainforest Adventures. I'd heard a lot about it on previous trips to Sevierville, but we had never had the chance to take the kids.
Being the homeschooled nerds they are, they were telling me all sorts of interesting things about the animals that I didn't even know. My least favorite part was the snakes, and I scooted past them as quickly as I could. I didn't want to even look at them! The kids didn't seem to have a problem with them, though. They were posing for pictures in front of them just so they could watch me squirm.
There was also a petting zoo out back where the kids fed goats, donkeys, and sheep.
Feeding a baby goat at the petting zoo
Friday, 12 PM
After we finished at Rainforest Adventures we went to Sevier Air Trampoline Park and Ninja Warrior Course. Friday morning was an amazing time to go! The Sevierville schools were already in session, so my homeschooled kids basically had the whole place to themselves! Since it was so empty, the staff went ahead and gave everyone unlimited arm bands, which meant we didn't have to worry about leaving right after our hour time slot was up.
I was really impressed with the park. There were lots of activities to keep everyone busy. Our whole family was able to jump and enjoy the activities together.
Enjoying one of the many activities at Sevier Air Trampoline Park and Ninja Warrior Course| Photo credit: Chad Branton
Friday, 1 PM
Next it was time to feed the hungry crew! We ate lunch at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen. It's a little on the pricey side, so plan your budget accordingly if you have a large family to feed, but the southern fare was delicious, and the portions were huge!
Enjoying a fluffy southern biscuit at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen
Friday, 3 PM
The plan at this point was to spend the rest of the day at Nascar Speed Park, which the kids had greatly been looking forward to, but it had begun to rain while we were inside the restaurant, and the little ones were starting to get tired anyway.
But we're flexible!
We headed back to the cabin instead, where we all took a nap, then we took advantage of the game room and hot tub for the rest of the evening.
I popped some hamburger patties into the oven for an easy supper, and we all just relaxed and hung out together until bedtime.
Relaxing at the cabin
Saturday, 10 AM
Option A: One fun way to spend your weekend in Sevierville is to get a day pass to Wilderness at the Smokies Wild WaterDome indoor water park. Since it's open year round, this is a great way to have some family fun regardless of the weather.
Option B: (What we did)
Since we hadn't taken the kids to the Nascar Speedpark the day before, we spent most of the morning there. There are go-kart tracks for just about every age (the only one who didn't ride was our 2 year old.)
Her first ever go-kart ride
They also have a whole bunch of kiddie rides. The oldest 2 kids drove go-karts all day, and the younger 2 went back and forth between driving go-karts and riding rides.
Enjoying one of the kiddie rides
As it got closer to lunch time, the heat was beginning to get to us, so we headed back to the cabin to get some lunch and cool off.
After lunch, we headed outside to explore the nature trails at the resort.
(Our original plan for this day was to spend some time hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but the kids (and adults) really didn't want to skip going to the Nascar Speedpark. However, we did also want to get in some nature time, so we opted to explore the nature trails at Oak Haven Resort instead.
After a stop by the playground and basketball court, the little ones were sufficiently worn out, so we headed back to the cabin for a nap.
Little ones enjoying the playground
Daddy and the boys enjoying basketball
While the little ones were resting, I put some dinner in the crock pot and enjoyed putting my feet up to read while it cooked.
Saturday, 6 PM
We had planned to spend the evening enjoying a Smokies baseball game together, but it had begun to rain while the kids were taking their naps.
We waited until the last minute, but it was still pretty wet outside when it was time to leave for the game, so we opted to stay in out of the rain.
We spent more time enjoying the game room at the cabin. Finally the weather dried up, so we decided to take advantage of the unlimited arm bands we still had from the Nascar Speedpark.
It was getting dark and late by this time, but it was vacation, so why not?!
The kids enjoyed several more rides before we finally headed back.
Night time ride at Nascar Speedpark
Waiting for one last ride on the Scrambler at Nascar Speedpark
Everyone was sighing those “happy, tired, satisfied” sighs.
Check out from Oak Haven Resort was not until 11:00 the next day, which meant we could still sleep in before we headed for home.
It had been a wonderful, much-needed time away to relax and enjoy each other's company.
Many thanks to visitsevierville.com for planning a perfect itinerary for our family. Click here to check out the Visit Sevierville website for ideas on planning your own kid-friendly weekend getaway to Sevierville, Tennessee.
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It was an ordinary evening. I was unloading the dishwasher while dinner was heating up on the stove. My toddler was “helping” me, while the older kids were reading books to their younger siblings at the table. As I worked, I enjoyed chatting on the phone with my husband during his drive home from work.
I stopped to take it all in, and I realized I was having the time of my life!
It wasn't a special holiday. Everything that was going on was very ordinary, but I was enjoying myself immensely!
I could have this much joy every day if I would only choose to.
When I'm cooking an “ordinary” supper, I can stop and thank the Lord that I have food to prepare for my family and a stove on which to prepare it.
When I'm doing an “ordinary” dishwasher unloading, I can be thankful I have the luxury of owning a dishwasher.
When I'm changing an “ordinary” diaper I can be thankful for these little ones God has entrusted to me.
If I stop and think about the blessings God has given me, the ordinary things seem so much more special.
Just since that evening a few days ago, I have tried to stop and think throughout the day about God's blessings and to make a conscious choice to enjoy what He has given me – not just on the special days.
What will you enjoy today, my friend? The enchanting smell of a candle? The sound of beautiful music on the radio? The way the sunlight looks as it sends its rays through a window? The love of your family on this ordinary day?
Stop. Look. Listen. Enjoy.
Everything we have is a gift from God. He loves us, and has given us “richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
So let's enjoy what He's given.
Other Christian homemaing posts you may like:
Do you desire a deeper prayer life? Do you know you should be praying more, but aren't quite sure what to pray for?
As father's day approaches, I've been thinking about some specific ways I can pray for my husband, the father of my children.
The more specific we are in our prayers, the more specifically God can answer them!
Coming straight from scripture, here are 10 ways to pray for your children's father:
1. Pray that he will be a man of integrity.
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)
2. Pray that he will teach his children gently yet faithfully.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
3. Pray that he would encourage rather than discourage his children.
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
4. Pray that he will lovingly discipline his children.
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)
5. Pray that he will teach his children the truth of God's Word.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)
6. Pray that he will train each of his children according to their unique needs.
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
7. Pray that he will lead his children in serving the Lord.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
8. Pray that he will notice opportunities through daily activities to teach his children God's Word.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deutoronomy 6:6-7)
9. Pray that he will be strong in the Lord and always keep his spiritual armor on.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:10-18)
10. Pray he will remember that his children are a blessing and a gift from God.
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)
I've designed a printable that you can use with your prayer journal or as a stand-alone list. My email subscribers have instant access to the download.
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I sat up and groggily rubbed my eyes, then reached for my phone to check the time. Wow! I'd slept really late!
And yet, I wasn't all that surprised. My kids are all great sleepers, and considering the fact that we'd all been a little under the weather, I had gone to bed the night before assuming we would all sleep in.
I sat propped up in the bed trying to get myself completely awake, and after a couple minutes I heard the kids beginning to stir. I knew they'd all be up soon.
The first sleepy-eyed child came tiptoeing into my room soon after, and I was looking forward to a couple minutes of snuggling before we began the day.
But he seemed timid about climbing into the bed. “What's the matter?” I asked.
“Is the baby sleeping your bed?” he questioned in reply.
“No…” I answered, somewhat puzzled.
“Well, where is she? She's not in her crib.” He had a confused look on his face.
“Of course she is. She was in our bed, but Daddy moved her to her crib when he left for work.”
“No!” he shook his head emphatically. “It's just her blanket in there.”
“Well she must be under it,” I answered, knowing there had to be some logical explanation as to where she was.
“There's no way! It's just wadded up small in the corner of the crib!”
Confused, I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, pulled on my bathrobe, and made my way to the girls' room.
EMPTY. Her crib was most definitely empty.
Still half-asleep, I was trying to make some sense of where she could be.
She doesn't know how to climb out.
The “k” word briefly crossed my mind, but that didn't really make any sense. There's absolutely zero possibility that family or friends would take her, and it didn't seem likely that a random stranger would break into the house, pick up my baby out of her crib, and then LOCK THE DOOR back when they left (yes, I had checked by this time to see if anything looked fishy about the door.)
BUT WHERE WAS SHE???
I went around and checked in the beds of all the kids who were still sleeping.
I checked every nook and cranny of the house.
I checked the beds again.
I checked the nooks and crannies again.
While I was checking, I knew that the only reasonable explanation was that my husband had taken her to work. But taking your toddler to work isn't exactly standard procedure, and he certainly hadn't said anything to me about it.
Once I had determined that she was nowhere in the house, I picked up the phone and dialed my husband's number.
I knew that this phone call would either satisfy my curiosity as to why he had taken the baby to work or else it would usher in sheer terror for our family.
As I was dialing, I heard one of the kids holler from the kitchen, “Dad took the Suburban to work! And the diaper bag is gone!”
It seemed my little detectives were coming to the same conclusion I was.
I knew as soon as I heard the “Hey” on the other end that he was expecting me to call.
“Did……you…take the baby to work??” I asked inquisitively, knowing by now that the answer was yes, but still incredibly confused as to why.
“Yeah. Did you get some sleep?” he nonchalantly replied.
“Well…yes…but…why did you take the baby to work?”
“I knew you hadn't slept well all week. I really didn't think she was going to get back to sleep and I wanted you to be able to get some more sleep.”
It was all true. I hadn't slept well all week thanks to a lovely head cold and neither had the baby. We'd both been awakened early that morning as my husband was getting ready for work. I brought her into my bed hoping I could snuggle her back to sleep, but she was very restless.
Once my husband was ready for work, he picked her up and took her back to bed. “You're not going to get any sleep this way,” he told me.
Only he apparently wasn't putting her in bed; he was taking her to work with him.
“Why didn't you tell me?” I asked over the phone.
“Because I didn't want you worrying about whether she was okay or whether I was able to get my work done with her here. I knew you'd sleep better if you didn't have anything on your mind. And I knew you'd know where she was when you woke up. So anyway, now I'll bring her back home.”
So now as she rests comfortably back in her bed, and I sit here reflecting on the events of this morning, I ask myself what point I'm trying to make by telling this story.
And I guess it's this:
I was able to stay calm and assume that my husband probably had her at work even though I couldn't think of a good reason why at the time.
And he was able to make a decision like that, knowing that my reaction would be pretty much exactly what it was.
Because we trust one another. And we trust one another because we know each other well. And we know each other well because we work hard at it!
These are all things we have to do to make sure we know each other well.
Daddy combing my hair
In conclusion, I have two things to be thankful for this weekend.