Simplifying Christmas | Simple Family Memory Making

Simplifying Christmas
Do you break out in hives just thinking about the craziness and chaos that comes with Christmas? It doesn’t have to be that way. Inspirational authors Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer share about Christmas’ past in their new novella collection Where Treetops Glisten. Their three stories “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” will take you back to war-time 1942, 1943, and 1944. The authors have also teamed up to give tips on simplifying Christmas this year! Join us  December 1-6 on Not Quite Amish Living for the Simplifying Christmas series.

Simple Family Memory Making

by Tricia Goyer


Christmas for the Goyers mean large family gatherings. My husband, John, came up with this simple and interactive idea.
Below is the Scripture passage of the birth of Jesus. Notice some of the words are bolded. Each of the bolded words have a “sound effect” that go with them.



Print out the story and the sound effects on slips of paper and have family members draw them from a jar. Then as the Bible story is read, everyone must pay attention and say their sound effect at the right time.

When a bolded word in the story is spoken, reader must pause to allow the participant assigned the word to call out their part. For instance, when the word Jesus is read, pause to allow the assigned participant to call out, “God Saves.”

This allows for reader and listeners to participate in the Christmas story. Feel free to change the call out phrase to fit the audience of participants.

It’s a fun way to share the Bible Story and get family members of all ages involved!



Gabriel = Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Joseph = a righteous man & daddy
Mary = blessed among women
Jesus = God saves
Birth = ouchie ouchie
Immanuel = God is with us
Baby = wwaahhh!
Census = More Taxes
Bethlehem = Town of David
David = Heart after God
Manger = Chomp Chomp Chomp
Shepherds = baaa baaa
Herod = I am evil (in an evil voice)
Wise men = hmmmm (stroking chin)

The Story: The Birth Of Jesus

(from The Message)

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”

Mary was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But Gabriel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to Gabriel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God. And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said, “ Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. “

Then Gabriel left her.

Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, displeased but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While Joseph was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. Gabriel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and give birth to a son; they will name him Immanuel.

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what Gabriel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.

There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, Gabriel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. The shepherds were terrified. Gabriel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David‘s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once Gabriel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what Gabriel had said about this baby. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem—this was during Herod‘s kingship—a band of wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.”

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this baby. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

Instructed by Herod, the wise men set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star the wise men had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the baby. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

The wise men entered the house and saw the baby in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then the wise men opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, the wise men were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

After the wise men were gone, Gabriel showed up again in Joseph‘s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the baby and his mother Mary and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this baby, and wants to kill him.”

Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the baby and his mother Mary under cover of darkness.

They were out of Bethlehem and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod‘s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”

Download the story and sound effect key and read the Christmas story as a family!


christmas story characters

Where Treetops Glisten Gift Basket Giveaway!


Waterbrook Multnomah has created three wonderful gift baskets to give away to readers! To enter to win this basket, please fill out the Rafflecopter forms found on Tricia Goyer’s blogSarah Sundin’s blog and Cara Putman’s Facebook page!

WTG apron book

Each basket contains:

Copy of Where Treetops Glisten
Christmas DVD – Holiday Inn Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire
Christmas CD (includes all the book title songs) – “A Jolly Christmas” Frank Sinatra
Apron made from vintage pattern
Recipe cards from each character

About Tricia Goyer


Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 5.54.26 PMUSA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and “Lead Your Family Like Jesus,” (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like and She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children. You can find out more about Tricia at


About Where Treetops Glisten


Where Treetops GlistenThe crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime.

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas.

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

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Tricia Goyer (77 Posts)

Tricia is the author of more than 30 books and has published more than 500 articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won the Historical Novel of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005. Tricia's co-written novel, The Swiss Courier, was a nominee for the Christy Awards.


  1. Great idea and it will get everyone involved. I love it when the church puts on a play of the Christmas story. This year we are having a live nativity Saturday evening. It will be a drive through. A lot of work has gone into making this possible.
    Inside the church we will have a display of different nativites the members are bringing in . We will be serving beverages, including hot chocolate and cookies.
    Where Tree Tops Glisten sounds like a must read. I love it that each story has the title of a Christmas song. Even the book title. One would not forget the book title while searching for it in the store.
    Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy your Christmas story.

  2. What a cute idea! And the printable is adorable!

  3. Charlotte Dixon says:

    Love this idea!


  1. […] To read the story and find a cute printable with the sound effects key, go to the Not Quite Amish blog. […]

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