Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Christmas Time is Near...

I love Christmas.  It is, by far, my favorite holiday.  However, in ministry, it is an extremely chaotic time of year. And you start planning for it in January (yes...January), so Christmas prep is sort of always on the back burner throughout the year.  However, there are a few things you can do, to hopefully lessen the chaos and make this very special time of year a bit less stressful.

Don't plan many activities during the month of December.  At my church we do three things in December and only one is not during a regular service time.  The Christmas Musical, our Angel Brunch, and a Birthday Party for Jesus. 

The Angel Brunch is held on a Saturday and it is literally a brunch where the children bring their Grandparents (or a Grandparent they adopt for the day if their own are not available).  We do an angel craft, have someone dress up like an angel for pictures, play angel themed games, and the "Angel" reads a special Christmas Story to the kids.  It's not work intensive, but it is a lot of fun and the families always enjoy this special time.  It generally lasts no longer than an hour and a half, so it doesn't take up much of the people's time during this busy time of year. 

Our Birthday Party for Jesus is always the Sunday right before Christmas.  That particular Sunday is one of the most unpredictable of the year as far as numbers are concerned because sometimes you may have far fewer kids (they have left to visit family) or you may have far more children (those in town to visit family).  This birthday party is great because it works whether you have 10 kids or 50 kids.  On this day, we have an actual birthday party and try to incorporate as many different things that would be done at any child's birthday party.  We have party games, goodie bags for each child (filled with "Happy Birthday Jesus" items when we can), prizes, music, cupcakes or birthday cake and more.  We also include a time to tell the Christmas story in some way.  In fact, all of the games tell parts of the Christmas Story as much as possible.  For example, instead of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" we might play "Put Baby Jesus in the Manger".  If we play musical chairs, all the music will be Christmas Carols of some sort.  You can find lots of games this fit this idea on Pinterest.   The Christmas Story might be told through a video, by having the kids act it out, or various other ways.  We will have been studying the Christmas Story prior to the party so this is a review more than a full blown lesson.  But, here is my thinking about this party...if we would give a party to a child to celebrate their birthday, how much more appropriate is it to plan a Birthday Party for the Savior of the World.  It's fun and it reinforces that Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus' birthday.  It is one of my favorite days of the year in Children's Church. Also, if you happen to be gone on this Sunday, this is an easy Sunday to have your volunteers lead.  Make sure they have all the supplies and that everything is ready to go, but they can easily fill in on this day if needed.  Even the most shy volunteer generally is ok leading a game even when they might not feel comfortable teaching a full blown lesson.     

About the Christmas musical/program:  If you are doing a Christmas program or musical, my advice is to schedule the performance on the first Sunday of December.  It might seem early for a program, but most of the time, if you wait longer to do it, you will start clashing with the practices and programs the children have at school.  Doing the program early keeps the schedule clashing to a minimum and  will also put your biggest event behind you early on.  Christmas musicals/programs take more time and effort than most people realize and if you do yours early, you will have time to recuperate before you begin celebrating with your family.

That's all for now.  Until next week! 

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