It seems like we are just getting kids back to school and fall programming is underway, and yet it’s time to start planning for Christmas! How can time be moving so very quickly?
While Christmas programming might be back on track for some churches, it is very likely things will continue to be a combination of in-church, at-home, or some iteration of both for many churches. Regardless of where your church falls, it’s crucial to provide parents with simple and meaningful ways to connect to Christmas this year.
Included in this article are 10 suggestions to engage the families in your community during this upcoming Christmas season.
1. Create a Family Christmas Pageant
Families can find items around their house to dress up as angels, animals, shepherds, or wise people and then act out the story of Christ’s birth. They could join with other families via Zoom to share parts of the story. They could also record a Zoom Christmas Pageant with a few families and share the recording with other families. This can also involve friends, neighbors, and extended family members.
2. Star Story
Families can create a special glittery star and use it to share the story of the night Jesus was born. They can use glue and glitter directly on a cardboard star, or they can find sparkly paper at a local craft store and cut out a star. Encourage families to be creative—they can even mount the star on a dowel rod or ruler.
Once the star is created, they can sit together and share the story of Jesus’ birth by each telling a part of the story as they hold the star. Once the family tells the story as they remember it, a family member can read the story from the Bible. The special star can then be used as a decoration on a Christmas tree, or somewhere else in the home. They can also choose to share the star with a neighbor and tell them the Christmas story as they pass it on.
3. What Christmas Means to Me
Using a smartphone or another recording device, invite each family member to record themselves sharing what Christmas means to them. Some questions to use as prompts can include: What is the meaning of Christmas? Why do we celebrate? What are favorite memories of Christmastime? What does Jesus mean to you? Can you share any favorite family traditions?
This is a fun activity that can also include extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Once all of the recordings are made, have someone edit them together. This special video montage can be shared in a variety of ways and ultimately teach more people about Jesus and Christmas.
4. Birthday Party in a Bag
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and who doesn’t love a birthday party? Create birthday gift bags to distribute to the families in your program. If budget is an issue, put out a call from members of the congregation to donate needed items. Consider including birthday paper plates, streamers, boxed cake mix, frosting, candles, balloons, and noisemakers. You can create a fun invitation using an online source to send out birthday party invitations where the families are invited to come to church to pick up their party bags.
5. Baking Ornaments
Another simple activity for families is making ornaments from applesauce and cinnamon. They smell so good, and the kids can get creative. Encourage families to set a baking day on the calendar and share pictures of their creations. You could even make this into a Pinterest Nailed It or Failed it challenge!
Invite parents to record their kids singing a line of a Christmas carol. Each child can record a line, or siblings can record together. Ask for all videos to be submitted to your team in plenty of time to blend them all together to create an incredible video compilation of beloved Christmas songs.
Depending on the size of your program, consider opening up the invitation to the entire congregation and include your church’s choir(s) as well. The video can then be played at church or sent to members to watch at home.
7. Mitten Tree
Families can help others by having a designated Mitten Tree on their front porch or in their yard. They can invite friends and neighbors to donate brand-new mittens, scarves, and hats to community members in need. Deliveries can be brought to their homes and hung on the tree. A ‘tree’ can be a coat rack, artificial Christmas tree, or something else fun families create.
Set a designated day for families to come and drop off donations at your church. You can then distribute them where needed. Other clothing items can also be collected such as coats, shoes, and socks.
8. Light Up the Night
Provide each family with supplies to create their own luminary kits to light the way for Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve. You will need luminary bags (these can range from simple brown or white lunch bags to bags specifically made for luminaria candles that have designs punched into the bags), battery-operated votive candles, one per bag. Invite families to line their driveways or sidewalks with the luminary bags, each separated by a few feet.
When it gets dark outside on Christmas Eve, the candles can be illuminated to create a path of light to welcome the birth of Christ. Families can sing Silent Night as they light their candles.
9. Prayer Calendar
Many families enjoy a countdown to Christmas and may even use an Advent calendar for this purpose. A unique way to change that up would be to create a family prayer calendar. Each day, for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, families can focus on prayers to God for neighbors, family members, their own needs, and then celebrating the birth of Jesus.
10. Meal Packing Event
Create a Pack the Pantry event where lists of needed food items are shared with families. They can then work together to purchase, pack, and deliver the items to your church or directly to a local food pantry you may be partnering with. Another way to involve families in this special way of giving back is to provide them with the supplies and invite them to pack them at home and then deliver the packed boxes.
Wrapping Up the Gift of Christmas
The Christmas season is a time of hope, peace, love, and joy. The families of your church community can grow closer together as they connect to Christmas this year. Providing families with encouragement and easy activities for engagement will provide them with special Christmas memories.
May God bless you this season, and may God bless all of the families you serve!