Christmas really is the most wonderful time of year! The lights illuminating the streets, the sounds of carols creeping into cosy living rooms and the special food.
With a wealth of festive treats to bring all our local and wider families together, it’s a gift of an opportunity that’s not to be missed, especially when we can take the best things about Christmas which everyone loves, to openly point the way to the ‘reason for the season’ – Jesus!
I’ve been involved in children’s & families ministry for a long time now, and with all the creative ideas that we’ve tried to implement, there have always been a few firm favourites that we revisit year after year.
I’m not suggesting you try all of these (it may well be your first year trying anything like this!) but I hope and pray that you might find something in the list below that inspires and motivates you to try something new. It could well be the first time some of the families you reach have even heard what the heart of Christmas is all about! Wouldn’t that be worth the risk?
This can be loads of fun. All ages come to church dressed up as a character from the nativity story. The Christmas story is retold, and all the characters get involved even if there are five Marys! Bible Society have produced various Nativity scripts which include a talk and other resources and a story booklet as a take home gift!
Christingle can be done in all kinds of settings from a whole school to a family craft morning or a stand-alone service. Here’s how to make a Christingle on the Children’s Society website. We have had fun making a giant Christingle with people dressed up as we have gone through the meanings of the various parts and given a talk about Jesus being the light of the world. The use of a ‘relighting’ candle adds that extra wow! We once had red wool going all around and across the church as we talked about God’s love for the world.
Outdoor family carols
For many years we have gathered for Carols in our shopping precinct. We had a couple of trailers which our band would play from and the kids did some ‘freeze frames’ of the story during a retelling. We also used puppets to sing a reflective song. One year we gave all the children at our local school a stone. They painted #followthestar on the back and then the stones were hidden around the community. The children then went looking for the stones and tried to see how many they could find and post on our social media pages. We gave prizes to the children who had found the most stones and had a star theme for our event including someone dressed up as a star. ‘Reach for the stars’ being the theme to accompany a message with a drama of different celebrities and then focusing on Jesus as the greatest star! We’ve used a giant cracker for the talk and giant presents with children hidden in them to reveal a reading. Refreshments, artificial snow and various nibbles and little gifts for the children have all made this memorable and an annual community event.
Nativity treasure hunt
One year we did a treasure hunt for the youth where we had a number of the congregation dressed up around the community and the young people had to go and find them. They had some picture clues to help. They then finished up at the church for hot chocolate.
This is a great time to do all kinds of Christmas craft. We’ve done a number of women’s craft evenings at Christmas with drinks, nibbles, sometimes a short talk and lots of lovely crafts or wreath making – a great outreach event for toddler group mums and other contacts in our community.
Family craft mornings
We’ve done Christmas family craft mornings with crafts/construction for all ages, toys for little ones and refreshments and then gathered at the end for a video of the Christmas story often using the Bible Society’s Impossible Promise or Hope Together’s Happyland Nativity – The Christmas story.
One time we converted every room in our church building into a part of the Christmas story with adults dressed up as characters from the story. In each room there would be things to see and sounds to go with that part of the story as well as crafts to make. Families moved along the trail looking and taking part. Once everyone gathered in the main church we celebrated the story together with a video, puppets and songs.
Puppets are great at communicating the gospel message and are fun for all ages. We built puppets into our Christmas Eve family service and then created a full musical to tell the Christmas story and the reason for Jesus coming to earth. Each year we have challenged the team to get more and more creative and now do a full black-light performance. This has now become a tradition for many of the families in our community to come and watch the puppets and this has been the start for some of finding out more about what a relationship with Jesus is all about.
Last year we gave every child at our local school a Real Advent Calendar. Various members of our congregation funded this. We also have served refreshments at the school’s Christmas Fair and served them in other ways. Our puppets were again a big hit singing carols during the fair. The school children come and sing to the older members of the community as well as coming as a whole school for a Christingle celebration.
Whatever you do with the children and families at Christmas this year, I pray you have lots of fun and that people of all ages will understand the real meaning for this season!