Christmas Star From Afar is a pre-Christmas gift that is sure to put your children’s focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The game ($34.95, www.starfromafar.com) was developed by Natalie Ard, a mom searching for a fun advent activity her family could enjoy. “We have blended the fun of an advent calendar with beautiful and durable pieces that allow for creativity in how you play the game and celebrate the holiday season.” The game encourages children to go on a hunt for their Star, similar to that of the Wise Men. Every day the Star is hidden and the children participate in a fun hide-and-seek game to locate it. Once they have found their Star they move all Three Wise Men to its location. On Christmas morning the Three Wise Men reach their final destination when the Star is found at the stable with the newborn baby Jesus. The game includes a hard cover book, a wooden Star, a full wooden Nativity scene that matches the artwork of the book, and scripture to use throughout the month. “I love watching my children look high and low for their Star every morning, hearing their squeals of excitement when the first child has spotted it, and knowing they are being reminded daily of Jesus’ birth,” said Ard. “This Christmas activity has given me a chance to show my children that Christmas is not about the presents they receive, or Santa, or snowmen. Christmas is about the greatest gift of all – our gift of Hope and Love.”
Playmobil takes Advent Calendars to a new level. Pique the interest of your child who loves fire engines with the Fire Rescue Operation advent calendar and card game ($24.99) or there is also the Christmas Room ($24.99 )and Christmas Forest ($29.99) themed calendars as well- all designed for children 18 months and up. Playmobil also has a line of interlocking ornaments including Christmas Angels, designed for kids ages 4 to 10 ($17.99) Learn more at www.playmobil.us.
Unique Christmas Greetings
Share a Christmas greeting in both print and braille while supporting The Hadley School for the Blind. Founded in 1920, The Hadley School for the Blind’s mission is to promote independent living through lifelong, distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired, their families and blindness service providers. Based in Winnetka, IL and the world’s largest educator of braille, Hadley serves nearly 10,000 students in all 50 states and 100 countries each year and thousands more through Seminars@Hadley, free “just in time” webinars on a variety of vision-related topics. This year’s cards feature an old-fashioned embossed sled resting against a snowy fence. The cards carry the greeting, “Wishing you peace, happiness and the spirit of the season” in both print and braille (Box of 25 for $35). Coordinating gift tags are also available ($20 for a pack of 20) as well as notecards featuring original watercolor artwork inspired by nature scenes at The Hadley School sensory garden. Order cards and learn more at www.hadley.edu or call 800-323-4238.
An Alabama Christmas
For the friend or family member who holds Alabama close to their heart, you can’t go wrong with this Alabama embroidered pillow that showcases cities and landmarks across the state. Embroidered entirely by hand, it takes 40+ hours to make one! (Cat Studio, $168 Gus Mayer)
Share your love of our state with a friend by giving them an Alabama cross ornament ($12.00) from Alabama based www.higherlove.us. The ornament depicts in original artwork Alabama churches, the State flag, bird and flower, plus the “Heart of Alabama.” The cross is also available in larger sizes as a wall ornament. Available on line and at Alpha Church Supply & Gifts in Homewood.
For the Alabama or Auburn fan on your list who loves to cook or grill, Sozo’s Trading Post in Avondale has the gift for you. The store offers both Alabama and Auburn aprons ($28 full, $18 half) handmade by Theona’s Girls, women and young girls in Haiti with hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. Shop at Sozo’s Tuesday through Saturday, 4 41st Street South in Birmingham next to the Mazer building or visit www.sozotrading.org.
Christmas Comfort & Style
Wild Birds Unlimited in Hoover has everything a bird watcher could need and more! Check out these colorful and complex sock patterns made in a small family owned knitting mill in Vermont. The company line of Solmate Socks is, “Life is too short for matching socks.”($18.99-$32.99)
Caring for Creatures Great & Small
These intricately designed bird houses are the work of brothers Jerry and Larry Glass of Star Mississippi. The houses boast hand cut, stone wash cypress shingles, solid copper roofs and trim pieces, as well as ventilation, drainage and cleanouts to Audubon specifications. The houses range in price from $66 to 143.00 and are available at Wild Birds Unlimited Hoover, www.wbu.com/birmingham.
Wild Birds also has Butterfly houses ($65.99) that give your garden a beautiful accent piece while also proving a shelter and place of rest for butterflies. See these great gifts and more at 1580 Montgomery Highway, 35216.