Five simple ideas that will connect with families over Christmas
Sarah from the Children and Youth Support team offers five simple ideas that will help churches connect with families over the Christmas period.
Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year to engage and welcome families into our churches! From my experience, Christmas is the biggest opportunity to draw new families in from the local community.
As a time when families come together, the list of things on offer is long – ice skating, light trails, fairs, craft events, celebrities switching on lights with a big fake button…the list goes on and on. Churches can do the same to welcome families. Even if you don’t have any resources, that’s okay – there are many ways to use the resources you already have and activities you are already doing. It can be as simple as inviting families to services in January, building on the existing things you already do as a church.
Here are five simple ideas I have tried that could be helpful for you to explore while planning your events:
1. A live Nativity trail
This is a fun way for families to interact with the Christmas story and your whole church will enjoy it. Station people around the church and/or grounds, dressed as different characters from the Christmas story (Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels, the innkeeper etc.). The characters tell the Christmas story as families go round completing the trail in Bethlehem (when I did this, we only had three volunteers so I ended up being an angel, Mary and a wise man, switching between the roles as the groups went round with some costume changes!). Think creatively about how each station will look – I know some churches have even hired a donkey. The best thing is that families hear the message of Christmas and young children get to explore the stories of each character.
2. Christmas craft afternoon (crafternoon!)
Craft is one of the most exciting things you can offer families over the Christmas period. Gather young families, even your toddler group, for a Christmas craft afternoon or morning.
There are so many craft ideas on the internet you can use: glitter crafts, Christmas decorations, nativity crafts (Baker Ross is great), or biscuit decorating are just a few to try searching for. Go for it with the glitter. Use any resources you have already before thinking about buying – you never know what could be in the back of a cupboard.
Offer parents a hot beverage and some Christmas treats during the event, and everyone will have the best time. These events are a good opportunity to show families what your church offers for them and what other Christmas services are happening as well.
3. ‘Christmas at home’ care packages
Christmas can be hard for families, especially with the social pressure of having a “perfect Christmas”. It can also be hard to run events for families due to a lack of volunteers, or capacity to fit anything else in on top of what your church has already planned. Delivering or offering Christmas-styled care packages to families that might need them is a great way to build relationships and support those who struggle.
A Christmas pack for families might include a couple of craft ideas/ingredients, a Christmas treat and a resource that tells the Christmas story (this could be the same resource handed out at events), along with some food for them to enjoy over Christmas. Your budget and/or generosity of church members will determine what you can do with this idea! Calling on the whole church to donate certain items is a great way to engage them in local mission, with a tangible impact.
4. Christmas sing-along
Have you ever thought of gathering families in your church for a singalong? It’s so much fun. You don’t need a live band – it can be done using YouTube clips or a backing track. For toddlers, you could even do a teddy bear Christmas singalong, where they can bring their favourite teddies to join in the fun as well. Serve mince pies and Christmas biscuits afterwards.
5. Gift wrap drop-in
My final idea is a gift-wrapping workshop. It’s simple, but helpful for families who are struggling over the Christmas period. All you do is run a drop-in over a few hours offering to wrap presents for families. Ask your church to donate wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, gift bags and tape. During the event, play some peaceful Christmas music and offer hot chocolate and refreshments, to create those opportunities for conversation whilst people wait for their presents to be wrapped.
These are some ideas to help you make your Christmas plans welcoming for families. It’s okay to keep it simple, or build on what your church already offers. Be creative, be family focused and have fun as you finalise your plans as a church to bring the good news of Jesus’ birth to the families around your area.
If you want to know about any of these ideas in detail, I have resources ready to go – contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to chat or grab a coffee to hear what you’re planning!
This article was first published on Mighty Leaders, our online learning community for anyone involved in children and youth ministry. Read the original piece and get more ideas and inspiration on Mighty Leaders here: 5 simple activity ideas that will connect with families over Christmas