christmas books!

Happy to have Janssen of Everyday Reading here today! She’s making it so easy for us today by sharing her favorite Holiday books based on topic!holiday books for kids

I love Christmas books of all kinds, whether they make my little girls giggle uproariously or they’re the kind of quiet nativity stories for reading around a cozy fire by the light of the Christmas tree. On some December days we want Christmas classics, and other days we want new releases about Santa.

No matter what kind of books you’re looking to add to your collection this year, one of these (and probably several of these!) will be just what you and your family will love.


  1. Little Santa by Jon Agee. Santa grew up in the North Pole, where he delights in the cold and snow, but his family isn’t so convinced. In fact, they want to move to Florida! This fun story about Santa’s childhood and how he ended up living at the North Pole with the elves and reindeer is a delight.
  2. My Pen Pal, Santa by Melissa Stanton and Jennifer A. Bell. Plenty of children write Christmas letters to Santa, but how many of them send off a letter in January? When Ava writes Santa to inquire about the cookies he left uneaten, it sparks a year’s worth of correspondence between the two.
  3. A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clarke Moore and Carter Goodrich. Spin-offs of the classic Christmas poem are a dime a dozen, but I’m inclined to think this is the best one. On one page, you get a stanza of the original poem, while on the opposite page, there is a stanza about a little boy who sneaks out of bed, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa. This book was made to be read aloud by two voices!
  4. Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera. Every Christmas, Sophie’s holiday-loving Aunt disappears on a mysterious business trip when the big day arrives. After years of wondering, Sophie takes matters into her own hands and smuggles herself along in a box and discovers exactly what her aunt is up to.


  1. Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry. When Mr. Willowby’s grand Christmas tree arrives, it’s just a wee bit too tall. So the top gets lopped off. Surprisingly, it makes a perfect tree for the upstairs maid. But. . .it’s just a bit too tall for her too.
  2. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney. In the spring, Ruthie accompanied her father to mark the perfect Christmas tree for the town’s celebration, but when the time comes to cut it down, her father has gone off to war and there’s no word of him. So Ruthie and her mother must do it themselves.
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. How could you talk bout Christmas books without including this one? Read the book first and then watch the movie as a family. Don’t forget the popcorn.
  4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. In this gorgeous wordless story, a little boy builds a snowman during the day and then is delighted to discover that night that the snowman has come to life. He shows the snowman around his home, and then the snowman take him on adventure to see the world.



  1. Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft. I love the beautiful, warm illustrations of this book and the sweet retelling of the nativity story, with Kind Ox in the stable making room for one animal seeking shelter after another, until finally Mary and Joseph appear, hoping there is just a little more room for them too.
  2. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. A little mouse is on the hunt for a cozy new home and when he stumbles on the nativity scene near the Christmas tree, it seems like just the place for a tiny mouse to live. But when he overhears the Christmas story being retold, he realizes who belongs in the tiny manger.
  3. On This Special Night by Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez. A mother cat and her small kitten watch a parade of animals pass by, each following a bright star in the heavens, until eventually they decide to make the journey themselves to see where everyone is going.
  4. Listen to the Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall, Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. Maybe Bethlehem wasn’t quite so silent on the night of Christ’s birth, with angels singing, animals bleeting, mooing and baaing, and the flap of sandals on the dirt streets.



  1. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer. There aren’t many children who don’t love Olivia (or adults, for that matter!), and this one is just so perfectly Chrsistmas-y, from the frantic waiting for Santa’s arrival to the sweet quiet moments as a family.
  2. Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty and Jef Kaminsky. Ernest B. Spinosaurus has had something of a challenging year, behavior-wise. But he is desperate for a Jurassic X10 scooter, so he writes Santa a letter to explain how he really has been quite good. But one letter might not do the trick. Maybe seventeen will?
  3. Here Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda. The exchanges between Cat and the off-screen narrator in this story of hilarious. The narrator wants to know if anyone will really be fooled by Cat’s strategy to dress up as Santa and then give himself exactly the gifts he wants. Couldn’t Cat maybe get into the holiday spirit in a better way?
  4. The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole. What could go wrong with a plan to bring home a small turkey, fatten it up with table scraps and then eat it for Christmas dinner? Well, when you live in a tiny 19th-century New York City tenement, the answer is “just about everything.”
And if you want even more ideas for great Christmas books, I’ve put together my annual Christmas Book Countdown list (a book for every day between Dec 1 and 24) with even more suggestions.
Need more ideas? Here are our favorite, favorite year round books that will be perfect additions to your collections, starting with our must-buy Oliver Jeffers’ new ABC book that will have you and your kids cracking up :
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nativity puppets

The Nativity is for sure the most loved (and touched) element to our holiday decor each year. We’ve found poor baby Jesus in some pretty precarious places. As much as we love having beautiful set, we always find ourselves needing something more durable that the kids can love on. Here’s this year’s, Popsicle Stick Puppets!
Nativity Puppets Start with tongue-depressor size popsicle sticks. You can get these at the grocery store — no need for an extra craft store trip! Our boys are on the younger side so we had them paint the majority of the stick and then we finished off the details: presents for the three wise men, a shepherd hook, a halo for the angel, a belt for Mary and a beard for Joseph. Nativity Puppets These details not only make them cuter, but it makes teaching the story — and asking questions — that much easier. Nativity Puppets

It has been such a loved set that it literally goes everywhere. We stuck a little washi tape manger up on the window (with a star too) to keep the story rolling.Nativity Puppets With multiple stick characters this is a great activity for siblings in the back seat. The conversations are entertaining to say the least!Nativity Puppets This quick little craft has proven to be a tender and sweet opportunity to teach more about the origins of Christmas. We’ve been watching this quick film (find it on our sidebar, too!) with them and the craft made it easy to remind our kids how loved they are, and that they can be good and important to the world, no matter their circumstances.

Here’s a few kid friendly nativity sets we found around the web if you’re looking!

kid friendly nativity

Left to Right: 1. These wood pyramid nativities are so gorgeous! Solid wood and they come in lots of different varieties. // 2. Melissa and Doug pulls through for a sturdy, detailed set.  // 3. This modern Alessi sculpture makes us smile. It’s so happy and bright! // 4. This peg doll set is so gorgeous in person. The round animals are so darling, too! // 5. This hand-drawn wood block set is perfect for young kids. // 6. A handmade felt set that are soft enough to sleep with, since we know someone’s going to ask. // 7. A giant bamboo set that the whole family can get a piece of.

holiday best

Photos by Lindsey Orton.

Holiday Best is perhaps our favorite topic to research for Threads. Seeing our boys all dressed up in their suits and ties, or their cozy sweaters and slacks, nothing is cuter. We’ve found suit shopping for little guys goes two ways: cheap, itchy, piling fabric that wears well once, or expensive high quality dry-clean only fabric that makes it hard to purchase knowing it will be too short and too small in a matter of months. Even still we tend to lean toward the higher-end selection knowing that big brothers have little brothers, and little brothers have cousins and friends, and the circle of life goes on and on.

Our picks for suits this year have to be Appaman. Not only do the suits feel as nice as dad’s, but they are machine washable! Even sized-up as Hayes is wearing below, still fits great, and makes us happy knowing that it will fit great as it becomes more slim, and arms and legs grow.

Appaman Washable Suit Appaman Washable Suit Appaman Washable Suit

They come in a huge variety of fabrics and textures. Burgundy velvet? Got it. Three piece grey pinstriped, yep. See the whole collection of suits and single pieces here!


holiday gift guide: for mom

We love putting these together for everyone on our list, but sometimes mama’s gotta get a little something-something, too! Here’s our picks:

holiday gift guide for mom

1. There is something so nostalgic about rose, it’s a scent we attribute to our grandmothers, but when we found this Olivine Love + Roses body mist and read all the benefits, we see why our Grandmas made rose a part of their beauty routines. This is hydrating, anti-aging, a mood lifter, and so many other things. Read all about it here.

2. Williams-Sonoma’s GoldTouch line is so gorgeous. Gold bake ware! Not only is it gold, but it also touts that it’s more resistant to scratching and cleans super easily. We’ll take it! We also love the diamond pattern on these cooking sheets, which allows for air-flow through the sheet making for more even baking. Also, did we mention gold?

3. Now that Little Giraffe has made adult-wear with their super soft blanket material, we can’t get enough. They have robes (seen above!), blankets, and more, and this new snow leopard pattern is so chic and luxe!

4. We have been toying with the idea of switching to organic or all natural beauty products, it seems so daunting – if any of you readers have any tips, let us know! – but we love getting lost at the Organic Pharmacy. So many cool options that are teasing us to buy. These brushes are beautiful and long-lasting.

5. We’ve shared Anna Bee before, but we can’t help but share a few more times because this everyday necklace has stood the test of time. Still looks brand new, and gets so many compliments!

6. Another great personalized option is Pinhole Press’es calendars. Upload all your favorite photos into their site and then drag and drop on to the calendar as you like. They’ll think of you every time they look at it!

7. Sometimes all mom needs to take some time for herself is an excuse. This bath soak from the Bathory is pretty enough to sit out on the counter, so eventually she’s going to have to use it. The detoxifying properties and essential oil scents are a home run.

8. We love the idea of upgrading something practical like silverware to something more elegant and high quality. Ikea works great, but this set will make her feel pampered with each use.

9. Whether you need a diaper bag, a weekend getaway duffel, or something to tote all your gym clothes, we love JuJuBe’s oversized bags! Planning a get away with this weekender will be the perfect way to chase the post holiday blues away.

first eye exam

By Emily.

I started noticing my three-year-old Callum sitting too close to the TV, holding books and iPads inches from his face, squinting at people, and literally closing his eyes when he ran -as if keeping them open didn’t improve the situation at all. So, when LensCrafters reached out to see if we wanted to learn a bit more about healthy eye care I was ready to hear more! They invited Cal to get a good old eye exam and I asked one hundred questions while they worked. Nicole and Sunny came for moral support and her usual crazy amazing photography. Ready to go on this wild adventure with us?Lenscrafters Eye Exam

My first concern was that Cal was too young to sit still, or sight read small letters from far away. LensCrafters has a new AccuExam system that is perfect for little kids because it’s digital and quick. It analyzes sight and can reproduce it on a screen so parents can see exactly what the child sees. Lenscrafters Eye ExamThey recommend that children receive their first exam at 6 months and then again at age 3. They told us that by 1st grade only 7% of kids have had a comprehensive eye exam even though 1 in 4 have a vision related condition. Crazy!Lenscrafters Eye Exam

Even though Cal rocked the machines and was able to give answers and sat so still my heart almost burst with pride, LensCrafters still had their doctor check out his eyes the old fashioned way.

Lenscrafters Eye Exam

The result? A standard case of farsightedness. They said that it is pretty normal in kids his age but to keep an eye on it and continue to receive eye care as he gets older. It was so reassuring to hear that his eyes were healthy and that he was on the right track! I had nightmares of him having headaches and blurred vision and me totally over looking it, so I was definitely relieved.

Lenscrafters Eye Exam

Even though he was off the glasses hook, we still had to try some on. LensCrafters also has a system called myLook where you can upload a picture of your face and see as many frames as you want and how they’ll look before making a decision. Since selecting their own frames is a key in them wanting to wear them, this seems like a great time saver, especially for moms with multiple crazy kids who would have to come along!

Lenscrafters Eye ExamLenscrafters Eye Exam   Lenscrafters Eye Exam

For those of you who were like me, and sensing something might be off, here are the red flags to look for via Dr. Mark Jacquot, Clinical Director of Vision Care at LensCrafters:

  • If your child squints or blinks often, especially when trying to look at something far or up close, it is likely that he/she has a refractive error preventing their eyes from focusing well. The most common refractive errors are astigmatism, or dual focuses inside the eye, myopia, or nearsightedness, and hyperopia, or farsightedness.
  • Tilting their head while looking at a picture or a TV screen may show your child’s unconscious attempt to adjust an angle and find a clearer picture. This often happens when vision in one eye is significantly lower than in the other or when eyes are slightly misaligned.
  •  If your child experiences trouble following an object with his or her eyes, it is a telling sight that the problems lies in the area of visual tracking, a condition which can be mistakenly diagnosed as dyslexia.
  •  Rubbing of the eyes when not sleepy may indicate dry eye, especially if he/she spends several hours a day looking at laptop, iPad, etc.
  • Recurrent headaches at the end of the day may indicate different problems from hyperopia and astigmatism to strabismus, which is an eye turn that is either constant or intermittent. Consulting your eye doctor is a crucial step.

We were grateful to be able to take this step with so much help and guidance along the way, if your kiddo is ready for their first eye exam or you have any concerns about their vision, we recommend LensCrafters whole-heartedly! Nothing is better than relief and peace of mind.