The Giving Tree

Over the past few years I have followed my beautiful cousin Aubrey’s journey in finding the Spirit of Christmas through service. Her ideas have given me inspiration to create better traditions for my family during the holidays. I hope that by sharing her story, others may be uplifted and inspired, and be able to make their futures bright. Here is her story about creating the #PaxtonGivingTree in green below.

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!

   “Three years ago on Christmas day 2013, after all the presents were unwrapped and the day was coming to an end, I turned to my husband and said, “I still don’t feel like it’s Christmas.” I remember all month long waiting for the spirit of Christmas to come, and it didn’t. There wasn’t anything really different that year. Christmas was the same day it had always been. I’d listened to the same Christmas music and ate the same treats that I love, so I knew that the problem was with me.


It was a busy time for our family. We had just added daughter #3 to our ranks the month prior, and I’m sure I was exhausted and caught up in figuring out how to run a whole new family dynamic…let’s be honest, 3 kids is hard! But it broke my heart that, because of my attitude, I had not only taken the true meaning of the holiday away from myself, but in doing so I was doing a disservice to my children.


So when December 2014 rolled around I was determined to make our house feel the spirit of the holiday! And the best way that I knew how to do that was by serving others. That year a friend and I had come up with an adorable advent calendar in the shape of a tree. I called it our Paxton Giving Tree! I put a little treat and a service opportunity in each box for each day of December leading up to Christmas. My girls were so excited to have a fun new way to count down to the holiday and I was excited to get the spirit of the holiday in our home, and it WORKED! Christmas 2014 was the best Christmas that I could remember having with my little family! Not only were we thinking about and serving others, but we were EXCITED about doing it! I knew that this was the start of a very fun and exciting tradition for our family!


This year, as I’m sitting down and coming up with ways that my family can serve others in December, I can’t help but think back over the last two years and the many awesome experiences we’ve shared as a family.

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Doing a litter walk around the neighborhood.

I think my very favorite one came just this last summer during July. All summer long the girls had been asking to do a bake sale. I suggested that we could maybe do one, but wouldn’t it be fun if we decided that with the money we earned from it we could put toward helping out a family this coming Christmas for our Paxton Giving Tree tradition. My kids responses made me very happy! This is how it went.


Madison (7): But why would we need money for that?

Me: Well buying things for Christmas costs money, and there are some families that don’t have enough to get extra things at Christmas time. We could help with that.

Madison: But mom you don’t need money to have Christmas…isn’t it just about love and family? That’s the important thing.

Kennedie(5): And celebrating that Jesus was born!

Reagan(3): And Santa! (Haha we’re still working on that one)

This was the best conversation ever! It was totally a mom win moment! I’m so grateful that my kids know what Christmas is really about…even in July!

I truly feel like my kids are learning not only what the true meaning of Christmas is, but also what it means to love and serve others. It has taught them many lessons about others who are less fortunate, and they have compassion for others that I know has come as a direct blessing of our tradition.


I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Supporting a local food drive by gathering supplies for those in need.

Like I said, this month I’m sitting down and making a list of things that we can do during our December service, but I would LOVE to hear any ideas that others may have! Please share! Also, if you want to keep posted about what my family will be doing this year, you are welcome to search the tag #paxtongivingtree on Facebook or Instagram.”

Isn’t this amazing? What a beautiful example Aubrey is to her kids about being Christlike. I love how involved her little children are in this wonderful tradition. Here are few more pictures and ideas for acts of service you could perform for your family’s giving tree.

I love this giving tree idea!What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Taking cookies and thank you notes to their primary teachers.
I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Leaving thank you notes for the mail carrier and trash collectors.
I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Placing quarters in all of the vending machines!

The possibilities are endless! Be Creative!

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!

For more inspiration to come closer to Christ this holiday season check out this video in preparation for the #LightTheWorld initiative.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless!

PS: If you want to check out Aubrey’s cute shop for girl’s hairbows, check her out on

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!


Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

  • Scroll down for the August visiting teaching handouts.
  • If you are looking for a handout for the September visiting teaching message you can check it out hereimage

The August Visiting Teaching Message  is titled Nurturing Families Together. This message has so many wonderful quotes, and inspired several handouts for your choosing. If you like these ideas, and would like an email notification when the new Visiting Teaching Handouts are available, please Subscribe! If you are viewing this on a Computer you can enter your email into the side bar, or if you are viewing on a cell phone you can access the subscribe option by tapping the pull down menu at the top of the page. Thank you for joining our community!

In this month’s message, President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

“The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service,”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click The Home is God’s Laboratory for the Free Printable Download of the above handout.

I love the story Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared about the love that his father had for his mother. I won’t spoil it, I will let you read it, but his father shows an excellent example of love and service. After such a grand sacrifice, his wife must have known without a doubt that he loved her.

Sometimes it’s a culmination of the little things that help show love towards a spouse. My husband is not fond of Country Music, but he knows that I love it. When we are in the car together, he switches the radio to the Country Station. This small gesture goes a long way, and I can feel his love as he puts my desires before his own.

When we love someone, it is natural to want to serve them, and vise versa. I find that serving others helps break down barriers and allows you to love them in a way you didn’t before. I remember camping one year, and there was an individual who offended me. After crying on my bed a little, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me forgive him. Immediately, I remembered a General Conference talk titled Your Mission Will Change Everything by Elder David F. Evans Of the Seventy. He told a story about President Hinkley when he was on his mission and feeling discouraged. President Hinkley’s Father wrote him a letter and said,

“You want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause, and bend your efforts to helping people”

I gained my composure and set out to serve this person. He was in charge of dinner that night, so I offered my help. As I served him my heart was softened. I was able to see him in a different way. I was able to learn how much work he had put into making this event happen. I quickly realized that the words he said that had offended me previously were not a direct attack at me, but rather a result of extreme exhaustion from his lack of sleep and hard work. I was able to forgive him and gained a love toward him instead. When we give Service to someone, we naturally learn to Love them.  When we Love someone, we naturally want to give Service to them. It is a beautiful cycle.

Here is a peak of the handout using the above quote about Love and Service by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout.

Love and Service Visiting Teaching Handout.

The handout will look something like this when it is all put together.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Have your sisters combine the sprite and cranberry juice for a sweet summer refreshment.

Another quote that I loved from this months message was:

A “husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”

This is a quote taken from The Family A Proclamation to the World, so what better way to present it than with a picture of a loving family.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

I thought it would be perfect to include a First Aid Kit or a “Love and Care” Kit with this Handout. I found a great tutorial on how to make some cute ones here at the Some of This & Some of That Blog.

Aren’t these adorable? I just love these!

For your Free Printable Download of this Handout click the link below.

VT Handout Aug 2016 Love and Care

Okay, Here is one last handout idea using the following quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

“Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord.”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click the link below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout

VT handout Aug 2016 Faithful

You could easily include either of the following candies with this handout.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Ring Pops
Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Hershey’s Kisses

Happy Visiting Teaching! Hope you liked these ideas!

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