I had this idea of what our first Truth In The Tinsel swap would look like: a Google document, organized Facebook page, moms, coffee, cookies, hugs, prayer, and bags upon bags of craft supplies being exchanged.
What actually happened?
Interest: I started a thread on Facebook, asking who was interested in using hands-on crafts and activities everyday in December to lead our littles to Jesus. Since there were 24 days, we needed 24 kids. When I realized we could get enough kids signed up, we decided it was feasible this year. I stuck with local moms and dads, since shipping wasn’t going to work for us.
Sign-up: I started another Facebook thread for the official sign-up. I tagged all the moms who had expressed interest. We came up short, so I decided to take on extra crafts. There was so much excitement, I couldn’t bear to cancel it.
Craft logistics: Instead of gathering up supplies for all 24 different crafts, each mom would make 24 baggies of only one craft. Since half our families had 2-3 kids participating, we decided that mommies of more than one kid would make more crafts…because they were using more crafts. One mama signed up three kids. So she chose three different days. (Without the swap, she would be gathering supplies for 24 crafts x 3 girls. With the swap, she gathered supplies for 3 crafts x 24 kids. Much less expensive and easier to assemble.)
Craft sign-up: my plan was photos of each craft bag with necessary materials and a Google document.
Our reality was that I listed the craft supplies and had moms choose their days by commenting on a Facebook post. It got a bit confusing, but we muddled through it.
Then, I realized I had counted families who hadn’t actually signed up, and I was going to be making LOTS of craft bags on my own. Thankfully, a few of the moms shared our group and we got enough moms signed up to fill all our gaps! Last minute, but we did it!
Craft exceptions: one of the days requires flour. When I realized my daughter and some other kids in the group had gluten allergies, I took that craft out of the swap and made every mom responsible for her own dough. Plus, the goal was to keep costs low and buying 24 cups of flour was not budget-friendly.
Craft assembly: each mom was responsible to find materials for the crafts she chose, but I encouraged everyone to ask if they needed something. I didn’t want money to be a reason for any kid not being able to participate. We had a Facebook group to help one another with supplies, ask questions about the materials, and keep everyone informed. I also posted the link for the e-book in the group and let everyone know when it went on sale!
Swap party: we set a day and time for the swap party. I created an event inside of the group and invited everyone. We agreed that anyone who couldn’t make it to the party needed to drop off materials at my house before the party. At the party, we were going to swap all our materials and fellowship.
Then, I had to cancel the party.
Swap party alternative: seriously, we had to cancel the party. My date wasn’t working out. I decided to have all the moms drop off materials on my porch. My plan was to divvy up all the goodies and have everyone pick-up the next day.
Everyone dropped off well before the deadline, either on my porch or in my church parking lot after Sunday service, so I had plenty of time to separate all the crafts for each family.
I went really fancy. ; )
Aldi paper sacks with magic marker names written at the top. I also wrote the number of kids participating, so they would be sure to get the right number of crafts in return.
Pick-up: I posted as soon as I was done assembling the bags, adding some extra materials that had been donated, and a packet of templates…every mom bought the book, of course, but some moms didn’t have a way to print the templates.
Turned out most of our families didn’t live in our town, but lived elsewhere. Many of the families wouldn’t get to start until Day 3 if we did pick-up off my porch.
So I made the decision to deliver all the bags. I gathered addresses, loaded up my girls, and we drove around dropping Aldi sacks on front porches and meeting in workplace parking lots. One mama had to come get her bag off my porch, because I ran out of time before Adelaide needed to eat again and we ended up being very sick the next day.
Someone donated the gas money to cover my little adventure. I wasn’t expecting that at all, but it was such a sweet thing.
So, our swap went nothing like we planned, but every mom had her materials for 24 days of Advent and I am still in shock that we actually did it!
I’ve been wanting to host a swap for 5 years, and we finally did it! As my mom always says, “Done is better than perfect.”
And as the photos are pouring into our Facebook group of our kids learning the Christmas story from Isaiah’s prophecy to Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am in awe at how paper, felt, pipe cleaners, and clothespins point our children to the purpose of this season. An entire month of focusing on God’s greatest gift to us.
I’m definitely hosting a Truth In The Tinsel swap again next year. I’ll just be sure to start earlier and do a survey about the party date and time. Logistics are always tricky with something new. But as long as we learn from the kinks, we can count it all joy.
Speaking of joy…
It’s not too late to grab a copy of the e-book and join thousands of families doing Truth In The Tinsel! You can even purchase printable ornaments if crafts aren’t your thing. Your kids will love the Scripture, games, and questions for each day. And you’ll be blessed seeing your littles so excited about Jesus.
Keep your eyes open for more posts about our very first Truth In The Tinsel group. Such an amazing time of year! Merry CHRISTmas from Little House In The City!