Countdown to Christmas by Amy Puetz
Posted by Melanie in Book and Product Reviews, Family Life

A few years ago, we used the book Jotham’s Journey during the Advent season to build up anticipation for Christmas. The children loved it, so the next year, we used the sequel, Bartholomew’s Passage. That one seemed a bit more contrived to me, but it was still a lot of fun for the children and it forced us to sit down and spend time with the children each night of a very busy season — and if you aren’t using the holidays to pass on the real stories of what God has done to your children, why, you are missing a great deal of the point of holidays! When I saw Amy Puetz (pronounced Pitts) had a new book for the Advent season, I was dying to try it!

Countdown to Christmas: Memory Making Stories & Activities for Every Day from December 1st to the 25th has a story for each of those days leading up to Christmas. I loved them! The last two days are the Christmas story taken from Scripture. The stories are nearly all from the 1800s and early 1900s, so sometimes the language is a bit challenging, but we find our children don’t have any problem when we read aloud with expression and explain as necessary. There are some classic stories from beloved authors like Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, Florence Kingsley, writer of several of the books Lamplighter has reprinted, and Margaret Sidney, of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Others have never been reprinted until now. I found them to be very good character-building stories and touching, as well. These stories will inspire some great conversations!

 Hal and I decided long ago that we would not do Santa Claus in our house, although I have quite happy memories of the practice as a child and even thought Santa was a theophany — an appearance of Christ. We just couldn’t imagine telling our children about someone who was omniscient, omnipotent (how else could he make toys for so many children) and omnipresent (or he couldn’t deliver toys to every child in the world over one night), then one day tell them, “Well, Santa’s not really real, but this other story, about a God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, He’s real.” And the evidence for God isn’t even as obvious to a child as a room full of toys. So, I was very concerned to see if Countdown to Christmas would work for our family. I was very happy with it! There were a very few stories that concerned legends about Saint Nicholas or the Baboushka, but they were historical stories that I will feel very comfortable telling my children, “Listen to this old legend folks in Italy used to tell their children at Christmas.”

More Than Stories

Countdown to Christmas has a lot more than stories, though! Each day has carols, or quizzes, or riddles, or crafts, or recipes! I really liked that there was a recipe for a traditional pudding when there was a pudding story, because that is the first thing my guys would ask, “What is that like? Can we make some?” One day had traditional children’s games from the time period. I was intrigued; these were things I had heard about in my reading of period books, but I didn’t know what they were referring to. Again, my children will love this.  

The crafts ranged from the quite easy to the pretty difficult, so some will appeal to children of one age and others another. I liked that that there wasn’t too much to do any one day. Sometimes I hesitate to start something with my children because I know we won’t be able to keep it up, but Amy makes it very plain that you can pick and choose and substitute as you like. Altogether, there’s just a nice mixture of activities – active and quiet, crafts and games, paper activities and cooking. I think we’ll like it a lot and our family is looking forward to starting it December 1st!

I really like that it starts December 1st, too. Every year, I am so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, that it’s not until Thanksgiving is over that I start thinking about Christmas. Well, by the time my attention turns that direction, I’m already late in starting many of the Advent programs. Arrgghh! Starting late is no way to reduce stress! Amy’s book lets us get done with Thanksgiving, then turn calmly to preparation for Christmas.

A Great Deal!

If, like me, you are excited to find something that’s not just fun, but enriches your children’s hearts and minds in the Advent season, I encourage you to head out to Amy Puetz’s website and order a copy right now! Amy says that if you order it by Wednesday, you can be sure to have it in time to start on the 1st! And… Amy has graciously offered us a discount code to get 20% off! You can use the discount code C2CAmy to get $5 off this terrific resource!

I want to be sure to mention, too, that Amy Puetz is a homeschool graduate herself and has tons of great resources at her site. As the mother of now two little girls in addition to my six growing men, I am completely intrigued by her Costumes with Character book and I’ll be doing a full review of it soon. If you have girls that want to dress up historically, check out this great concept! And a bonus! Amy said the C2CAmy discount code will work on this book, too!

Countdown to Christmas: Memory Making Stories & Activities for Every Day from December 1st to the 25th, Amy Puetz, A to Z Designs, 2010, 152 pages. Read a sample chapter here. Order from

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for our always honest review.