GIVEAWAY: Total Christmas Makeover

Gwen Smith Blog, Giveaways 154 Comments

It’s FRIDAY! And I have a GUEST POST and BOOK GIVEAWAY to share with you today! {Woohoo! High five and high five!}

It’s my honor to feature a post by my beautiful, Bible-teaching friend Melissa Spoelstra from her wonderful new devotional book, Total Christmas Makeover. I’m not gonna lie, the cover of this book alone gets me excited. Is it not PERFECT!?! {I just love a good book cover.} Beyond the insanely cute cover, though, is page after page of depth, Scripture, and honest inspiration that will have you pondering God’s goodness and the miracle of Christmas in fresh and compelling ways.

Now, hunker down and breathe in fresh seasonal mercy as you read from the pages of Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra…


Total Christmas Makeover

When my husband and I got married, we found that our Christmas rituals had some similarities but also quite a few distinctions. My family get-togethers included lots of people overtaking a home and the chaotic opening of gifts, all occurring at once in the room. We had different types of food each year such as shrimp, pizza, turkey, or ham as main dishes.

With so many people gathering, we ate all over the house.

Sometimes the routine changed from year to year with different foods, paper plates, and varied formats. One year we might read the Christmas story as a family, and other times we would attend a church service together. I can’t recall it always looking the same.

At my husband’s family gatherings, Christmas included a perfectly set table, dim lights, and a more formal meal with traditional dishes served. Chaos would not have described anything that went on in his family home during celebrations. Things were orderly, and people were sentimental about the customs being observed each year.

When it comes to our own family Christmas rituals, the most important thing isn’t the mode of expression as much as the heart behind it all.

Whether your family celebrates formally with firm traditions or more chaotically with varied ways to remember Christ’s birth, the key is to remember the why in our observances. Why do we decorate, shop, bake, throw parties, and gather as families during the holidays? We do so to remember Christ.

Our Savior left eternity in heaven and stepped into time. He put on flesh and came humbly to earth as a baby. He came to restore the relationship with God that sin had marred. Jesus came to teach us about our Father—His love, His grace, His holiness, and then to pay the ultimate price to bridge the gap sin created between us.

All of this was for us, and this is why we celebrate.

When the rituals lose their original intent of helping us remember Christ, we need to rediscover their meaning.

Perhaps some holiday rituals need to be revived or pursued more wholeheartedly, while we should hold others loosely and possibly replace them with new ideas. Since many of our Christmas traditions are fun and don’t need to be hyper-spiritual, we don’t want the commercialized hoopla to cause us to miss the true message of Christmas.

A Christmas Makeover doesn’t mean throwing out all our traditions and habits over the holiday season and exchanging them for new ones. However, it might mean

  • prioritizing the traditions that point us to Christ’s birth;
  • rediscovering the intent behind the practices we treasure;
  • incorporating some new rituals that will help us share God’s message of love with those around us.

Rituals have always been one of the key markers of biblical celebration. When the Israelites left Egypt, God instructed them to hold an annual remembrance and honor the traditions of sacrifice, rest, and preparing special foods that held meaning for them. They were to eat bread without yeast to recall the time when they had to leave in such a hurry there was no time for the bread to rise. The Israelites ate bitter herbs to remember their time of slavery and roasted lamb to commemorate the night the death angel passed over their homes because the blood of an animal was over their doorpost.

God ordained special holy days from generation to generation so His people would not forget His mighty acts. Most Gentile Christians don’t celebrate Passover because Christ came as a fulfillment to the foreshadowing of Passover. Jesus shed His own blood as a covering for our sin so that we would not be separated from God. The Gospel of John records, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29).

Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

At Christmas, we celebrate His birth while at Easter we remember His death and resurrection.

Our holiday rituals are a time to reflect upon Him. Jesus was born to die so that we could have a restored relationship with God. Our Christmas traditions play a part in our remembrance of Him in the midst of our busy schedules, demanding jobs, health challenges, and relational conflicts. We change our routine to include decorations, special events, additional church gatherings, preparing special foods, gift selections, and perhaps a family devotion or special reading. All of this is not to make us stressed out or overwhelmed but to help us remember Christ. So we must contemplate carefully which activities help us focus on God and which stress us out for no good reason.

Every tradition doesn’t have to be inherently spiritual, but we must not forget the Savior whose birth we celebrate because we are so busy with candy and cookies. My husband and I found a new normal with our own family. We include both casual and formal elements in our celebrations and other rituals that change over time. When our children were small we read a family devotion for each day in December that included special ornaments. As our kids became teenagers who weren’t home every night, we switched to taking turns with teenager-led Christmas devotions that include a craft or creative activity once a week. Sometimes our rituals stay tried and true, and other times they change with age and culture. Any practice can become rote or lose its original intent so we must evaluate often to be sure our focus is on Christ to make sure He doesn’t become forgotten in the midst of Christmas mayhem.


Lord, help me to keep my focus on You this Christmas season. I don’t want to forget the importance of Your birth. Help me to remember You often as I prepare to celebrate Your coming to earth. Help me to discern which traditions I should incorporate this year that will draw my attention continually on You and teach me to let go of anything distracting me from the true meaning of Christmas. Thank You for being my Passover Lamb and taking away my sin through Your blood. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Congratulations to our giveaway winners: Jeanne Epley and Sharon Mascilac!


Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the First Corinthians: Living Love When We DisagreeJoseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible studies and the Mom’s Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at


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Comments 154

  1. Exactly! It’s so easy to get caught up in our own Christmas traditions & forget that those aren’t really the point and can be flexible.

    I think this book will be a good reminder (or eye-opener) for this season!

    I just finished doing one of Melissa studies with about 15 ladies, so I need to check this out next & mention it to them!

  2. We remember the true meaning of Christmas every year.. I am blessed to have a wonderful Christ following husband and family. We are striving to set good examples for our grandchildren…. Thank you for letting me see how it looks from the outside sometimes!

  3. Love the title… is so true for many of us…..widowed and remarried…moved to another Country….leaving so many loved ones behind….but the Lord is always with me and I carry on the Advent practice that we did as a family….this helps me stay focused on the reason we celebrate. ~Merry Christmas!~

  4. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love celebrating Christ’s birthday with beautiful lights & decorations & a ‘birthday’ party for Him!
    This book sounds like a great read!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Oh how I need a Christmas “reboot”…I remember when I loved Christmas as a child, but now I just find myself going thru the motions, just trying to survive all the commercialism.

  6. hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I love Christmas now even better than I used to ,now that I know the true Meaning of Christmas. it really makes a difference.

  7. I love the title of this book. What is truly needed is a TOTAL MAKEOVER for this WORLD, with all the violence and pain , it’s time to realize we need to put CHRIST, back into CHRISTMAS.

  8. I love all of Melissa’s teaching. I would love a Christmas makeover. While my husband and I both do our bible studies and devotions I would love this Christmas season to be a time when we do them together.

  9. I would love to win this book. Christmas is the birth of our wonderful Savior and King. How can we give Him more glory during this busy season?

  10. Personal grow always leads to a “makeover” of sorts. Christmas is a perfect time to do some introspective soul searching and grow in our life and walk with the Lord. Merry Christmas.

  11. Merry Christmas. I would love to have our family put even more focus on Jesus, who this holiday is truly about. I would love to witness of what Christmas is all about. This book sounds like that it would be very helpful. God Bless.

  12. I miss simpler Christmases with the focus on Jesus, where it should be! It seems to be in stores earlier every year with more and more pressure to spend. Thank you for the reminders to us all and for a chance to win a copy of this book.

  13. I would love to have one of these books to share with my family on Christmas! We love all being together during this time of year and especially starting out our money in a devotion together! This would be a great addition to our morning study!

  14. I was raised where the slogan, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, was repeated throughout the season visually and verbally. Living in the midst of a busy family with busy lives, I am looking forward to a spiritual “Total Christmas Makeover”. Thank you for offering this Giveaway~! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  15. I loved it when a group from the church would go caroling at the homes of the elderly and shut-ins and gather back at the church for cocoa and cookies. I wish women today could enjoy the season more instead of being so stressed. I’m not sure when or why getting ready for Christmas changed so much. I’m 84 years old and I’ve seen many changes. The Baby came to save us. We must remember that.

  16. This books looks really interesting and I would love to win this. I know the feeling of different ways of celebrating Christmas, that is why this book really peaks my interest. I am also curious if the date of the 20 of November is when you will be picking the winner, is that what I read?
    Merry Christmas!!

  17. I remember growing up we didn’t have a lot but knowing what the real reason why we celebrated Christmas was enough. We enjoyed just getting together for a meal. Now my parents are deceased and one sister we don’t get together anymore. But still knowing the real reason that we celebrate, Our Lord’s birth is enough.

  18. Having lost my husband this past August, Christmas will be a little less bright; but, my spirit is lifted just knowing that he is enjoying his first Christmas with the Lord. Your words have inspired me to create a new ritual to remember all my loved ones, but especially Our Lord, in a special way at Christmas. Thank you for the boost!

    1. Susan, I know many are facing the holiday as the first Christmas without a loved one. Thanks for reminding all of us what Christmas is really about – God sent His Son so we can spend eternity with Him.

  19. I totally agree that we should not ever forget WHY we celebrate Christmas. In my family my dad always made sure that the kids knew what Christmas was all about and it was not Santa. Thank you for this devotion today and I pray that everyone who reads it will evaluate their life this Christmas season and make sure they are celebrating for the RIGHT reason.

    Merry CHRISTmas!

  20. Blending Amish and “English” Christmas traditions has been quite a challenge over these past twenty one years. I have asked my husband to join me in returning to a few traditions that seem to have drifted away over the years. Attending Christmas Eve service is a highlight for me and, one year, it was abruptly exchanged for time with his family. I realize no disrespect is intended, but, their card playing and loud conversation gathering doesn’t seem right to me. I wish to return to that quiet church service and retain Christmas day for family time. I’ve also re-instated a few traditional activities this season: caroling by a community bonfire; visiting a 1700’s era chapel; taking a candle light tour. His schedule often prevents him from attending, but he is happy to see me go with a friend. Compromise sometimes comes hard & giving up what we want to do is difficult. But, being that our focus is the same – celebrating Jesus’ birth – we are called to make the touch decisions; and, those decisions should be ones that bring us nearer to our living, loving Lord.

  21. Loved reading this. I can tell it’s going to be a book that I love and use all the time. Thank you so much for your work for God. May He bless you in all you need.

  22. What a better way to bring in the Christmas season than with a beautiful devotional! Best of luck to everyone and God bless you all!!

  23. I would be delighted with the cover also — it is special. AND, I would totally love to be the proud owner of this book so I could read it and share it.

  24. Oh my goodness….Christmas is such a celebration of our sweet Savior Jesus!
    I was raised in a Jewish family that never spoke of Jesus so when He called me I came running. I am thankful every day for my friend who brought me to Jesus. I praise and worship the gift thats given to us every day. Merry Christmas!

  25. It is very difficult to organize time with families when there is so much family. When my husband & I got married, I learned very quickly that we celebrate Christmas Eve with his family AND Christmas Eve with my dad and siblings. And the two points of destination were two hours apart. Ouch! And bah humbug! My Christmas spirit deflated rather quickly. We made it work by going to his folks’ home earlier in the day and my dad’s later. Now that my dad has passed and I have my mother living with us whom is on dialysis three days a week, much has changed for us. We are older now and my husband is a pastor so this is a busy time of year for us. We keep our focus on the birth of Jesus. Tonight we will begin our Advent reading. We try not to allow the chaos that traditionally comes with this season to deter our spirit or dampen our disposition and we keep our eyes and hearts on that which is holy. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. Us gals try and get it figured out so it works for everyone- a difficult task at times. God bless you!

    1. I love how you are starting your advent reading today! Rituals can help us draw near to Jesus in the midst of all the Christmas trappings. I’m married to a pastor too so I relate with your challenges. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I love Christmas traditions in any form. This serves to remind of my past family traditions and to encourage my daughter to develop them in her family!
    Thank you

  27. This book sounds like exactly what I need! Christmas is so special with all of the celebrations and get-togethers that are so much fun and filled with love. I am especially looking forward to meeting my new grand daughter this Christmas!

  28. Being raised in a family that did not celebrate Holidays, I’ve never developed any type of Christmas tradition. Remaining single, at age 57, perhaps it’s time to begin

  29. Love this.. something I try to emphasize to my preschool children and families there would be no CHRISTmas if we didn’t have Jesus.. it would just be mas.. God bless you ~

  30. Beautiful devotion! Focusing on why we celebrate, and who we celebrate brings us to a true state of serenity!

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  31. Thank you for reminding me to choose things this Christmas to keep my focus on Christ ! I could use this book ! It is a daily task of putting Jesus before me and not letting the things of this world overtake.


  33. This entire reading gave me goose bumps! Thank you my Saviour and King for coming to earth to redeem us from our sin. Merry Christmas indeed!

  34. A great reminder to us all. In the everyday hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, sometimes we lose focus on the True Meaning of CHRISTmas. A Nana to 9 beautiful Grandchildren, 4 of which live with me, it gets pretty loud and joyously crazy at my house. It’s my responsibility to not only remind myself, but teach them also the True meaning of Christmas.
    Wishing you and everyone a very Merry Christmas!

  35. I would love to read this book and put some new “traditions” into place to keep us focused on what the real reason for this season is all about.. Not focus on worldly traditions to simply make others happy…Its all about our Savior!

  36. Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. It is filled with family, food and a ton of laughter. We started giving “white elephant”/fun gifts to take the pressure off. It has resulted in just enjoying being together and laughing until we cry.
    This Christmas means more to me this year. After being divorced 15 years, God brought me the man I have been praying for. We are looking at what new traditions we can start together. And I’m excited to see what happens.

  37. Every year, my family stuffs too many “traditions” and “have-to’s” into the Christmas season. I have been searching for a way to lead us back to a simpler, Christ-focused Christmas. I think I may have just found a start, with your book – can’t wait to read it!

  38. What a story! And boy, oh boy are our stories similar! Keeping Jesus as the true meaning of Christmas is a top priority. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas.

  39. What a beautiful & inviting introduction to your book. I thought the book would be about changing all traditions not Christ related. However, it’s about picking & choosing what is most important & how better to remember Christ’s birth. Thank you. Can’t wait to read it!

  40. Remembering the true reason for the season is the most important. Thanks for the reminder to keep Christ’s birth the focus. Also the wonderful traditions and memories of the holidays with family. Merry Christmas!!

  41. My heart is for Christ to shine in me. I am far from where I need to be but His light shines brightly in my home as I put my Christmas tree up. A true statement of his light and reminder to surrender and be still and God will shine in me too.

  42. Fun fun fun
    I love the suspense of maybe winning this fun book, oh how exciting it would be to actually get the email that I won☺️

  43. You brought tears to my eyes. You describe our family ! I would do love this book and I am going to print t!his and give it to my children because we have lost our traditional Christmas. With this i hope we bring it back its not just about baking and opening presents it is about Jesus birth. Thank you !

  44. You brought tears to my eyes. You describe our family ! I would do love this book and I am going to print t!his and give it to my children because we have lost our traditional Christmas. With this i hope we bring it back its not just about baking and opening presently it is about Jesus birth. Thank you !

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