This Year’s Advent & Christmas Book Baskets {with a little peek at our plans!}

by | Dec 3, 2012 | Advent and Christmas, Advent Book Basket, Christmas 2012, Christmas Picture Books | 39 comments

I hope you all had a blessed first Sunday of Advent!  Our day was beautiful and peaceful, despite the excessively rainy weather, flood warnings, and Captain coming down with an awful stomach virus… We made the best of it and (thankfully) by the end of the day he was feeling much better.  Deo Gratias! 

As you probably noticed in my last post, I did end up wrapping some of our Advent and Christmas themed picture books in purple, pink and gold paper for the children to unwrap each day during Advent and over the twelve days of Christmas, like we have done for the past few years now.  I usually wait until Christmas morning to add the twelve books wrapped in gold for the twelve days of Christmas, but since Advent is short this year, and I had extra room in the basket, I went ahead and included them as well.  I then piled the remaining books in a few additional baskets and moved them to the living room so they are readily available.   

Our collection has grown so much over the past years, and I was having such a hard time choosing books to wrap!  How was I going to decide which ones to focus on this year?!?  I finally gave up and asked all the kids to choose four favorites each off the shelf and bring them to me… They were all very excited and I ended up with a nice big stack of 25 books, since someone (Rose) apparently snuck in an extra!

Here is the list of books we will be reading through this year as a family:

Note: The ones marked with an * are the ones that I choose for this year, and the books listed in bold are new additions to our collection that I’ve purchased on sale here and there, including a few new ones on Black Friday…

December 2 (First Sunday of Advent) ~ Waiting for Christmas: A Story about the Advent Calendar
*Decorate for Advent with Advent Calendars, Advent Wreath, Jesse Tree, etc…  Set out Manger for Baby Jesus and all of our Christmas Books.   Bless the Advent Wreath during nighttime prayers.  Choose names for Christkindl

December 3The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition
*Celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Xavier

December 4The Christmas Cobwebs

December 5The Baker’s Dozen: A St. Nicholas Tale
*Bake St. Nicholas Cookies (We will probably try the recipe in the book this year!) 

December 6 (Feast of St. Nicholas) ~ The Miracle of Saint Nicholas
*Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas

December 7 (Feast of St. Ambrose) ~  The Little Fir Tree
*Decorate our Christ Candle for Christmas

December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) ~ *Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
*Cut Down Christmas Tree after Mass 

December 9 (Second Sunday of Advent) ~ *Our Lady of Guadalupe (pop-up)
* Feast of St. Juan Diego; possibly have our Our Lady of Guadalupe Tea

December 10 (Feast of Our Lady of Loreto) ~  An Orange for Frankie

December 11Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel

December 12 (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) ~ The Legend of the Christmas Rose
*Begin Christmas Rose Novena

December 13 (Feast of St. Lucy) ~ Lucia, Saint of Light
*Celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy

December 14Waiting for Noel: An Advent Story

December 15 (Rose’s Birthday) ~ *The Mitten 20th Anniversary Edition
* Birthday Party for Rose!

December 16 (Gaudete Sunday) ~ The Night of Las Posadas

December 17 ~ The Miraculous Child: A Christmas Folktale from Old Russia
*O Wisdom…  (View all our O Antiphon Plans here.)

December 18 ~ Home for Christmas
*O Adonai, and Ruler of the House…

December 19 (Bud’s Birthday) ~ *Snowman at Night
*Birthday Party for Bud! 
*O Root of Jesse…

December 20The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus’ Birth
*Bake Cookies for Christmas to give as gifts 
*O Key of David – Key Lime Pie and Sparkling Drinks with Dinner

December 21One Christmas Dawn
*O Dayspring… Hot Cocoa in thermoses and drive around to see Christmas lights in town after dark, then head to friends home for a Christmas Yule Party!  

December 22 ~ *The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher
*Bake and Decorate Cut-out Cookies.
*O King of the Gentiles…

December 23 (Fourth Sunday of Advent) ~ The Donkey’s Dream
*Bake Starlight Cookies
*O Emmanuel… 

December 24 (Christmas Eve) ~ *A Christmas Manger (Punch-out-and-play Books) 
*Gingerbread House Decorating Party and Midnight Mass

The following are wrapped in gold paper for the 12 Days of Christmas:

December 25 (Christmas Day) ~ The Nativity by Ruth Sanderson

December 26 (Feast of St. Stephen) ~ *Good King Wenceslas (pub. 2012)

December 27 (Feast of St. John the Apostle) ~ Stephen’s Feast

December 28 (Feast of the Holy Innocents) ~ Angela and the Baby Jesus

December 29 (St. Thomas Becket) ~ *S is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet

December 30Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

December 31The Little Match Girl

January 1 (Feast of the Circumcision) ~ *Who’s Hiding: A Christmas Lift the Flap

January 2 ~  Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker

January 3Christmas in the Barn

January 4*The Third Gift (I ended up changing my mind and adding this here, getting this new Our Lady of Guadalupe book instead.  The Third Gift looks wonderful, I just wanted something a little more “girly” for her and this books looks perfect for our little Chiquita!) 

January 5The Last Straw

January 6 (Feast of Epiphany) ~ *Babushka and the Three Kings

In Addition to the favorites listed above, here are the rest of 
Our Additional Books for Advent and Christmas:

Advent and Christmas Chapter Books:
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Chronicle
Destination: Bethlehem
The Catholic Christmas Book of Cherished Christmas Customs
The Story of Holly and Ivy
The Thirteen Days of Christmas
The Trees Kneel at Christmas

Early Advent:
Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas
The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas, An Austin Family Story

Feast of St. Nicholas:
A Gift from St. Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
St. Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas
The Church Mouse of Saint Nicholas
The Legend of Saint Nicholas
The Real Santa Claus: Legends of Saint Nicholas

Feast of the Immaculate Conception: 
Mary, Mother of Jesus

Feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Saint Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe(Coloring Book)
The Lady of Guadalupe
The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe Empress of the Americas

Feast of St. Lucia: 
Bells of Santa Lucia
Hanna’s Christmas
Kirsten’s Surprise: A Christmas Story
Lucia Morning in Sweden
Lucia, Child of Light: The History And Traditions of Sweden’s Lucia Celebration

The Christmas Story:
All for the Newborn Baby
Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers
Christmas in the Barn
Christmas Night Fair and Bright
Father and Son: A Nativity Story
Little Star
One Winter’s Night
The Birds of Bethlehem
The Christmas Bell
The Christmas Bird
The First Christmas
The Stable Where Jesus Was Born
The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale
The Very First Christmas
There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve

Christmas Books Inspired by Music:
Good King Wenceslas
O Holy Night
The Huron Carol

Christmas Around the World: 
Baboushka: A Christmas Folktale from Russia
Christmas Around the World
Marta and the Manger Straw: A Christmas Tradition form Poland
Pablo’s Christmas

Historical Christmas Books:
An Early American Christmas
Christmas in the Trenches

Legends, Inspirational Stories and Other Miscellaneous Books:

A Small Miracle
Night Tree
On Christmas Eve
Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey
Santa’s Favorite Story
Shoemaker Martin
The Christmas Candle

Just for Fun:

Golfer’s Night Before Christmas , A
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas Crafts and Baking:
Christmas Cooking (Activities)

The Twelve Days of Christmas:
Twelve Days of Christmas Stained Glass Coloring Book
The Twelve Days of Christmas

Feast of Epiphany:
We Three Kings

And a Basket of Board Books for our Littlest Ones:

Wishing you all a very Blessed Advent!


  1. Anonymous

    This is our first year to wrap the books for Advent, I'm so glad you've shared this tradition and always add what books you use. My youngest was absolutely thrilled to open his book last night and have me read it to the family. I plan to 'add' books to our collection, using your list as a reference, during the 12 Days of Christmas.

  2. Anonymous

    Can you tell us about the nativity figures on your mantle? They are breathtakingly beautiful!

  3. Anonymous

    Do you usually purchase your books new, so they will last longer? I generally pick ours up here or there, (randomly as I come across them, or else I have to pay shipping costs) used, and they don't hold up as well. Plus, when my kids have access to alot, they tend to mistreat them. (They go to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (Montessori based) Atrium, so hopefully they are becoming "normalized" as a result. In the meantime I'd appreciate any advice on keeping the books sorted and in place! Do you have any tips on managing the home library? Colby

  4. Anonymous

    I should probably just go to the Barnes and Noble store, and see if I can find some good after Christmas sales, on nice sturdy hardback books, for next year! I like Amazon, because it's easier, but the shipping is definitely a factor. It adds to the cost, so I pay for the convenience. Colby

  5. Anonymous

    Btw, I just found your link for bookcloseouts. I'll have to check that out! It really pays to shop smart, and it sure helps to be able to do that from home 🙂 I get very flustered when I try to shop with the kids in tow. (My head spins as they all clamor "look at this, look at this" from every direction, and I always end up spending more.)

  6. Jamie Jo

    I love books, and am trying to resist the temptation to order all the ones I don't have!! This is such a great resource Jessica!!

    Your living room looks beautiful!

    I did wrap our books this year, not in purple, but, hey, they are wrapped!! It's funny how new it makes the books, the kids are excited to open our old books!! (we havent' seen them since last Christmas, but you know what I mean)
    We needed to do some different things this year, with the older kids, well, getting older and the younger ones needing the excitement of it all!

  7. Jessica Gordon

    You know I was just looking at that book and wondered if it would be good. I wanted to see if our library had it so I could preview it before spending the money. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you! I actually purchased the Holy Family Statues at Costco back in 2010. (It's a little blurry, but you can see them in this post.) I think I only paid $28 for the set, including the background/mirror!

    The angels were also from Costco, and though I did see them a number of years ago, I couldn't purchase them at the time, as much as I loved them. I was so excited this past summer when a dear woman from our parish gave me the set! They have been sitting on top of my bookcase that hold's all of our saints and feast day books. They match our Holy Family Statues too nicely to not display them together for Advent and Christmas!

  9. Jessica Gordon

    Hi Colby! I've started answering this comment a couple times today and both times I was pulled away from the computer. 🙂

    Yes, I do usually purchase our books new – though I try and find them at 30-40% off at least. I also try and go with hardcovers when I can. When I do purchase used books, I look for ones that are in "Very Good to Like New" Condition when possible.

    My oldest two boys (actually all my boys for that matter) are so great at taking care of our books… the girls are a completely different story, but we are working on it!

    I bought a few bookshelves last March (I never did post pictures of them all assembled, since that was when my girls came down with pneumonia) and I have one in the hallway that has most of our Catholic Children's Books – 3 shelves have saint books, 1/2 shelf has Easter books, and 1 1/2 shelves are for our Christmas Collection.

    The bookshelf in the Boys room is where they have all their books and quite a few of the history chapter books (bethlehem books, etc), the girls have a bookshelf in their room with all their books and (up until last week when I couldn't stand the books shoved on the shelves any longer) all the preschool books (I just moved them to a bookshelf in the nursery (up high, other than all the board and fabric books) and the rest of our books are in the school room and my bedroom/closet. Sometime I will try and take a few pictures.

    In order to try and keep the shelves organized I do use Book Baskets frequently, rotaing the books by the season and what we are studying at any particular time – I just switched out all our "Election" themed books for books on "The Civil War" (hmmm…. rather fitting!) … 😉

  10. Jessica Gordon

    I have gotten some great books at amazing prices from book closeouts! 🙂

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply! I would love to centralize all our books. They are in the so-called "book room", a little room upstairs off of ours, but now it serves also as a bedroom, and is crowded and haphazard. (I also have a box of books that are falling apart, and one history book is all loose pages!) I can't bear to throw them out, but many are past repair. It makes sense to buy new, or in as good a condition as possible.

    I have learned the hard way, but I am learning! I'm replacing them as I can. I am also kind of obsessive compulsive about the way books are put away on the shelves. It's not a Dewy Decimal system or anything, but it pertains to my own brand of order. You'd never know it though, to see the rest of the house! LOL

    Thanks for taking the time to share all these resources (book ideas, etc.)

  12. Maxine

    You have such a wonderful collection of Christmas/Advent books! Ours are all in storage this year due to temporary living arrangements and they are what the kids miss most of all their stored belongings. We found a few good ones at the library and I plan on scouring Half Price Books for a few more. Have a blessed Advent!

  13. Anonymous

    Hello Jessica, would you know where your wood nativity block set is made?

  14. Sarah

    Silly question here, but where do you find purple wrapping paper?? I just went to every store looking for it and had no luck! BTW, you are truly amazing and I love all your ideas. Thanks!

  15. Tiffany

    Popping over to wish you and your sweet family a joyful and peaceful Advent…Come, Lord Jesus! Love those photos you captured of the children looking at the books…Their expressions are priceless:) I still use one of your older book lists, by the day. That is a helpful schedule to follow! Thank you for all you share:)

  16. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you Jamie! It is simply decorated with a few things, but it does feel so nice and cozy! I love this time of year!!

    And don't you just love that! There is something so special about unwrapping a book, even if it is one you have read many times! And it's even more special for the kids to know that their mom or dad is going to read it with all of them. This little tradition is creating some of the best memories!

    The purple and pink paper is fun, but not necessary at all! Any wrapping paper would work just fine. In fact I almost bought fabric to make reusable bags – to try and save some money in the long run – but after seeing Bud's excitement as he tore off the paper, I'm so glad I didn't! 🙂

  17. Jessica Gordon

    Where it is made? As in which country? Or are you looking for a link to the company that makes them? I wasn't sure, so I had the kids pull the ladder back out so I could look at the box! 🙂

    My set was made in Germany by HABA. It doesn't look like they make it anymore, and the link I have was updated with a version made by Constructive Playthings. I'm not sure where the updated set is made.

  18. Jessica Gordon

    Not at all! I use to have a hard time finding it too, and need to remember to mention that in my planning posts next year! I've always been able to find it at Target! They also have a Purple Paper with Pink Dots that works great for the third week two. This year, being a shorter Advent, I didn't quite use two rolls of the purple and still have some of the one roll of pink leftover as well.

    I'm sorry you had to spend so much time looking!!

  19. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you Tiffany! I hope you and your family have a very blessed Advent too!

  20. Anonymous

    The book is charming; it's a story of the celebration of Las Posadas in Mexico. Hope your library has it! I think it's worth reading.

    I got Madeline's Christmas for $1 at Half Price Books, but it's not at all religious (it features a magician.)

    Another I do recommend (if you're looking for new ones, because I didn't notice it on the list) is The Little Lamb of Bethlehem by Margaret Tempest. It's put out by the Medici Society (written in 1957). They have another one about Christmas too in the same vein, but it has fallen apart so I can't reference it!

    One we picked up at a library book sale (but is now going on Amazon today for $150) is For Every Child A Star by Thomas Yeomans, illustrated by Tomie De Paola. Maybe your library would have it? It's set in the Holy Land, at the time of Christ's birth. Worth reading, but not paying $150 for!

    Our selection is by no means comprehensive; there are endless possibilities out there! You've done a good job of narrowing them down, and compiling the list. Thanks again 🙂 Have a blessed Advent, and happy reading!

  21. Anonymous

    What an awesome list! Thank you Jessica. Glad you guys are feeling better.

  22. Jamie Jo

    Oh, I know, there's something about ripping into something, that adds to the excitement! I'm planning on using some of the ripped paper pieces, and leftovers for collages…makes it not as wasteful, right? (not really) Paper is pretty cheap, huge double sided roll, that will last for years at Sam's Club for 9 something!

    The big kids always beat me to reading to the littles, They read yesterday's book and I felt a little disappointed inside, but then, watching my Bridget snuggle with her big brother, was so precious.

  23. Anonymous

    WHERE did you get that AWESOME block set? I've been looking for something like that for my daughter. I love it!

  24. Erin

    Where did you get purple wrapping paper?? I wrapped up books for the first time this year, and all I could find was purple and pink tissue paper, which is a little bit transparent… so I have been telling the kids, "Don't peek!" Ha ha… wrapping them up adds some excitement; we wrapped some of ours, some from the library, and the rest will be put out a few at a time over the next few weeks. Thanks for sharing the fun idea!

  25. Erin

    Okay, so I should have read the other comments first to see that you already answered this! Ahh, Target, maybe one day our town will have one!

  26. Jennifer Elia

    Great book list. I am going to try over the next year to buy some more of these and do the wrapping of the books next year. Any idea why the St Lucia books are so expensive? Geesh. You'd think they we printed in gold. Maybe they will be better prices off season. I wanted to get a new one for this year (last year we read the Kirsten on) but it's just not happening.

    Have a blessed Advent.

  27. Anonymous

    Thank you! Yes, I did mean country.
    With prayers,

  28. T

    I found purple and pink wrapping paper at the dollar store.

  29. Jessica Gordon

    I know! Do watch for them during the summer months, they can be found much more affordably. Which St Lucia books do you have already?

  30. Jessica Gordon

    In the meantime maybe your library has some of them?

  31. Jessica Gordon

    How big were the rolls at the dollar store? Did you end up needing very many rolls? I will have to check there next time!

  32. Eliana

    Lovely selection of books here–would love to read many of them if I have children someday! In the meantime, here are some more Christmas books which your family might enjoy. My apologies if I have listed any by mistake that you already own!

    The Animals' Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum, Illustrated by Jim Robison (counting book)
    Robin Finds Christmas by Molly Brett
    The First Night by B.G. Hennessy (easy to read picture book)
    The Mouse in the Manger by Rev. Gennaro L. Gentile
    Cherubim by Dolly Biehl Evans (your girls might really like this one)
    Stations of the Nativity (a beautiful family devotion)
    Poor Gabriella by Victoria Forrester (beautifully illustrated)
    The Children's ABC Christmas by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack (funny poem about a Christmas pageant)
    Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
    The Saturday Evening Post Christmas Book by Norman Rockwell (1976)
    The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas (charming book of Christmas recipes and reflections for the family–strongly recommended as a gift for mom! Has recipes for every character of the Nativity story.)
    Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens (for older children)
    The Family Book of Christmas Songs and Stories
    101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith (the pre-Disney original book ends with the puppies returning home on Christmas Eve)

    I know this post is about Christmas books, not videos, but I thought I might mention a few that you may or may not be familiar with:

    Scrooge (the musical) starring Albert Finney (this one is so much fun and charming, but is does have a few scary moments, and a few British swear words which are not very noticeable without captions, but because of this you may want to preview it first yourselves)
    A Christmas Carol, starring George C. Scott (a more serious version of the story, better for older children)
    The Little Drummer Boy by Rankin and Bass
    The Nativity story (good for older children, but there is a somewhat discrete birth scene for John the Baptist, which you may want to preview)
    A Child's Christmas in Wales (old-fashioned Christmas fun)
    Babes in Toyland (Disney version, has some immodest gypsies dancing at the beginning of the gypsy scene which you may want to skip)
    Babes in Toyland (Laurel and Hardy)
    George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (depending on how you feel about ballet costumes, modesty may be an issue here)

    Animated (good for little ones)
    Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect
    A Star for Jeremy
    Three Christmas Classics (Christmas Is / The City That Forgot About Christmas / The Stableboy's Christmas)
    Precious Moments: Timmy's Christmas
    Martin the Cobbler
    Michael the Visitor
    Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey
    Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (if you allow a little Santa just for fun, as long as he's not the focus of Christmas and kids celebrate St. Nicholas instead)
    Mickey's Christmas Carol (my brothers and I watched this one over and over as kids)
    Legend of the Christmas Flower: The Classic Tale of the Poinsettia

    For children's CD's/tapes I would recommend
    A Christmas Carol by Focus on the Family Radio Theater
    Wee Sing for Christmas
    Classical Kids: Hallelujah Handel
    Adventures in Odyssey: Joy to the World, an International Christmas Adventure

    Veni Emmanuel!

  33. Jennifer Elia

    We only have the Kirsten book. I tried the local library system and the New York City Public Library (you would think with millions of people there would be something). But, NOTHING! I was so excited when we got the New York City Library card through my husband's work, but so far I haven't found anything that I have been looking for.

    I do have the UNICEF Celebrations Around the World book that has a couple of pages on St Lucia Day, I guess we will use that for this year.

  34. Kim

    Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful resources with us. Your living room looks so warm and inviting. I was wondering where you got that train table for your living room. I would love to have a pretty train table as a coffee table, especially one with storage.

  35. Jessica Gordon

    I have been really happy with the train table! I purchased it as a Christmas Gift last year, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find it available anywhere this year…

  36. Anonymous

    Hello! I realize this post was from last year, but I just needed to say thank you for generously sharing your book lists! I stumbled across your site while searching for books to read during the advent season and here you have gathered a trove of information. My husband and I were blessed with our first child this year and I am so excited to celebrate our first Christmas as a family. Although she's much too young for many of these books, I still hope to establish wonderful traditions full of Light and Love starting with her very first Christmas. Thank you again for your help.


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