If you work in children's ministry, it is more than likely that your budget is very small. And when you are trying to do all the things that need to be done (services, activities, games, programs, etc) that budget can disappear rapidly. But there are some things that you can do that will help stretch your dollar as far as possible.
First, plan in advance. If you want to be able to get the best prices on things, you generally have to shop early. Last minute deals are always a possibility, but they are often hit and miss. Try to have a plan of what your big events for the year will be at least a year in advance. Then you can be constantly on the look out for bargains for those events.
Second, hunt for bargains. It is never too early to shop for supplies. If you know that every year, you are going to need a craft for Christmas, then shop for that craft during the after Christmas sales in your area. You will probably be able to get a craft that you would not have been able to afford otherwise for much less than you had hoped to spend. The same can be done after every holiday. If you have an Easter program every year, shop for the next year's items right after Easter. If space is an issue (as it is with many of us), look for only the bigger ticket items. If something you wanted to use was cost prohibitive prior to Easter, it will probably be at least 50-75% off right after Easter. Remember, in nearly any department store, there is a clearance section. Make a habit of checking it out. You may come across an amazing deal that you would have otherwise missed.
Third, compile a list of places (online or in stores) where you can get the best prices on everything from curriculum - to decorations. I have a list that is about four pages long of free or low cost programming, websites, and other ideas that I would be willing to share with anyone interested. Simply comment below with your email and I'll send it to you.
Finally, connect with other children's workers/pastors/directors in your area and share your curriculum and ideas. Every year, we all buy curriculum and supplies for any given program that we are doing. But after we use it, it generally sits on our shelves collecting dust. If you team up with other churches and share your curriculum everyone wins. Not only does the curriculum get more use, but you also get to connect with other people who love sharing the love of Jesus with children in your area. It is an absolute win/win.
We all have to be good stewards of the resources that God has given us. But there are ways to make those resources stretch if we are willing to do a little extra work.
Until next week, as my Dad says, "Be blessed, and be a blessing!"