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In Inspiration on
December 6, 2017

‘Tis the season of advent

This coming Sunday marked the start of Advent. Growing up, living with my grandparents, I have fond memories of this time of year. Every night at dinner (6:30 sharp) my grandma would light the advent candle, which was displayed in the kitchen, and would be the focal point at our dinner table. I loved what it stood for and I loved waiting for the next week, where she would light the next candle. It was something special that I was a part of and wanted to carry on as a tradition in our family as well. To me, celebrating advent is a great reminder of what the season is truly all about.

The season of Advent lasts the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a celebration of the time we are waiting and preparing for the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The season of advent starts this year on December 3rd and ends on Christmas Eve.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees. On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolize the eternal life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath—an evergreen circle with four colored candles surrounding a white one in the middle—is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lit one at a time, each Sunday leading up until Christmas. The first candle is the candle of “hope” or “expectation.” On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the center white candle is lit, which is called the “Christ Candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the Word, has come.

The candle colors and their meaning:

Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent, symbolizing repentance and fasting. Purple is also the color of royalty and the sovereignty of Christ.

Pink is also one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday of Advent. Pink represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration.

White is the color of Advent representing purity and light. Many of the advent wreaths contain a 5th candle, the white candle. This is lit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The white candle represents Jesus Christ, who is our sinless, spotless, pure Savior. He is the light come into a dark and dying world. Also, those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.


I did not have a ‘traditional’ round advent wreath, so I decided to go a little non-traditional this year. Being that I have a one year old, who could very easily get his hands on these candles, I decided to go with this metal taper candle holder, which could be kept high on our kitchen counter, being visible from all angles of our living space. I filled the inside of the box with evergreen to represent the eternal life that Jesus brings.

I look forward to lighting the candles each night at dinner with my family gathered around the table and being reminded of what this month is really about. As Advent draws closer, another candle will be lit. With each candle that is light, the darkness will disappear more and more. The advent wreath helps us to spiritually connect the story that surrounds the birth of Jesus, which ultimately leads to our salvation! Thank you Jesus for your promise.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Would love to hear from you!

In Lifestyle on
November 27, 2017

It’s beginning to look like a lot like Christmas

This past weekend we went to Wintergreen Tree Farms in Lafayette, NJ. This was our first time trying out a new tree farm, since the last 3 years we went to Hidden Pond in Mendham. It was a nice change of scenery and felt good to change things up a bit. It didn’t take us long to find a tree, mainly because we didn’t want to walk too far 😉 TJ pointed at the first tree we walked up to and jokingly said, “this is it!” We found a tree very close by and that was it. We aren’t picky people. All the trees were beautiful. Here’s a little glimpse into our day! 

In Budgeting on
December 18, 2016

15 Ways To Make Christmas Shopping Affordable

It’s that crazy, fun, festive time of the year. Everyone’s out and about searching for the perfect gift to give their loved ones. Do you find this time of year to be relaxing and enjoyable or stressful and overwhelming? If you answered the latter, is it because you are wondering where the money will come from when buying all of these gifts? Well… you are not alone! I am here to give you some easy and practical tips so that you can save money this holiday season. Let the stress-free shopping begin!


If you are an online shopper, this website is now your new best friend. You will get cold hard cash back for shopping at some of your favorite stores, including Kohls, Amazon, Macys, Groupon, Ebay, to name a few. They give back up to 8% on purchases! It’s awesome!

2. Using coupons

Coupons really do help you save money! Save coupons from the Sunday paper or ones that come in the mail such as Bed Bath & Beyond or Buy Buy Baby. They can come in handy now! Or if you are more tech-savvy, you can use digital coupons. My favorite is the app SnipSnap. Always check for a coupon before paying. Chances are, there will be one available!

3. Shop the sales

Take advantage of those Black Friday deals! Most stores advertise their sales a few days early or can be found online the week before. Also take advantage of the free shipping offered on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

4. Write a list and stick to it

This will keep you accountable and on target. Remember the goal is to save money.

5. Start holiday shopping early

This way you aren’t rushing last minute and buying a gift that wasn’t thought through or was a rushed decision. But don’t buy too early or you can miss out on the good holiday sales.

6. Create a Christmas budget

Write out a list of whom you need to buy for and how much money you have to spend. Allocate a certain amount of money to each person that fits within your budget. Now make into a game/challenge: to get the best deal for that amount. If you spent under what you allotted, that’s more money in your pocket. (PS: Who said Christmas shopping can’t be fun)

7. Order holiday cards early

Prices tend to go up around Christmas. Shutterfly and other online sites tend to do discounts in October that you can take advantage of. If you are a Kohl’s credit card customer, every year around this time you will get a $20 free gift to Shutterfly. I use this to buy our cards or a personalized calendar for my mom!

8. Sign up for ShopKicks

This is one of my favorite mobile apps. You get free cash for walking into stores. Some stores allow you to scan items for extra points. This app really does work, believe me!

9. Use cash back credit cards

My husband and I use credit cards where we get back rewards. One of our cards gives us flight miles and the other card we have gives us back cash! Every few months we cash it in and do something fun! (Side note: if you have credit cards, make sure to pay them off every month in full)

10. Buy wrapping paper and gift wrap at the end of the season

I always buy gift-wrapping supplies after the holidays because they go on clearance. Buy them later and save them for next year! It will save you around 70%.

11. Cluster shop

Buy multiple things from one place. If you see that multiple items on your Christmas list can be purchased from the same place, order them all at once. This way you can take advantage of free shipping or sales such as $25 off $100 or more.

12. Cash back deals

Kohls is famous for this one! I love when they have their “for every $50 spent you get back $10” sales. These deals are great for big buys, such as Kitchen Aids or top appliances because you can get $60+ back. You can use this money to knock off the rest of your list!


If you budget on a 4 week schedule; use your fifth week paycheck as free cash! My husband and I have a budget based on 4 weeks so we take our last “free” paycheck and designate it to Christmas! This happens 4-5 times a year when there are 5 weeks that fall within the month. Score!

14. Use Groupon

Groupon has some great deals. They list items or deals that are up to 70% off. Sometimes, I get a little addicted. Speaking of, I just ordered two items off it tonight! Whoops…

15. Don’t go into debt

Did I have to go there? Of course I did! I’m the money guru after all 😉 But seriously, only buy what you have the money to buy! Everyone’s budget is different. Make the most of what you got! Remember it’s not about the money; it’s about the heart behind it.

Did you actually make it down to the end? Did I babble on too long? Haha, maybe so… but I hope you found these 15 tips to be helpful! I really do think that you will have a fun, easy and affordable Christmas shopping experience this year! Happy Holidays, everyone!


This post was first seen here on Society Letters.