Now, as a Children's Minister (here forward known as a "CM" cause I'm getting really tired of typing in Children's Minster in every post) I know just how hectic Christmas can be. So, here is few tips from me to you.
1. Christmas gifts can be crazy expensive. So, shop for presents and crafts early...or LATE!
If you're like me and you like to do something special for your kids, be it gifts or a special craft, I recommend buying things early in the year or just after Christmas.
So, what do I mean by shopping early/late? Well, I'm glad you asked.
I recommend shopping early...aka the early fall. Granted, at this time you won't find much Christmas related stuff, but you can get some awesome things like pencils and bubbles at a reasonable price.
Or you can follow my second recommendation and shop late.
Usually all major retailers/websites will have an after Christmas sale. The only drawback with this is that things tend to be picked over, but if you get in the action early you can have some great things set aside in the cabinet for next year...just be sure to remember where you put it all!
Speaking of bulk always try to buy a few extras since everyone and their aunt, uncle, sister, and brother seems to show up at Christmas.
I recommend using websites like Oriental Trading where you can order in large quantities. However, if you do ignore my advice, and shop in season instead of out, please bear in mind that shipping may take longer due to the Christmas rush. So, as I said, ORDER EARLY! Or else you will be in a panic that you won't have the gift bags for your class Christmas party, and you will then receive your stuff around 7:00 the night before you needed them. Save yourself the stress and shop smart people. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. lol
2. If you plan on doing a Christmas party...pageant...play...concert...basically anything that involves other church leaders...please make sure everyone is clear on the plan and the scheduling.
Ok, this is a short one.
We have inadvertently caused unneeded stress by simply not making sure everyone knew what we were doing for Christmas. We've had Christmas play practices scheduled on Christmas party days...and Christmas pageants Scheduled when the worship leaders had no clue what we were doing, or how He need to direct the service. Just take it from me, make sure everyone who needs to be aware of the goings on is aware. It will save everyone from some unnecessary holiday stress.
3.Speaking of Christmas plays/pageants...
I love performing. I grew up being on stage every time I could...if it was a church play or a ballet recital I was absolutely there. So, naturally I got unwillingly drafted into being the director of the Children's Christmas Pageant. haha Weeeellllll....let's just say I learned a LOT those first two years. But to condense all of my hard learned wisdom down into as small of segment as possible I will give you four basic tips.
A. Make sure to get an early start. There is a lot more to a Christmas pageant thanhaha
running a few lines on a stage. You...YOURSELF...need to know the material better than your surly shepherds and sulking angels. Otherwise you will have NO clue what to do...and you will end up with surly shepherds and sulking angels.
Speaking of misbehaving biblical characters...in one play we did my niece and nephew played the artistically challenging roles of donkey and cow. Basically their job was to sit for 10 minutes...well that just wasn't enough for them. My niece, who was 5 then, was apparently a narcoleptic cow, because she fell asleep while sitting on all fours...but she stayed in that position the entire time. Well, as if that wasn't funny enough my nephew, who was four at the time, stood up and started dancing...he then began throwing hay at Mary as she sang. HAHA Needless to say that video will be used as blackmail for many years to come.
So, back on topic.
B. Make sure allllll of your fellow Children's Ministers, stage moms, costume & set designers...etc. know what the plan is. No matter if it's a big or small production it can't be a one person show.
C. Try to play to your kids strengths. If they're bad public speakers a 10 page play is probably not going to be doing their talent any justice. Maybe a short concert or a dance would be more suited to them.
The same goes to assigning parts. If a child wants to play The Virgin Mary "Sooooo bad!" Yet, can't work up the nerve to read a Bible verse aloud in class...well you get the idea. You'll be saving their feelings and your sanity in the long run.
D. Have fun. Who cares if someone forgets their lines or your angel choir sounds a bit like a flock of seagulls? Kids are adorable people with love your performance even more with it's flaws. So, have fun with it! Don't get so caught up in the show that you forget your tiny performers who are putting their heart into this. Cause that's where the magic truly happens. People will be more touched by an innocent heart than a perfect performance anyway.
And finally I will finish with this last tip.
4. Don't forget to have fun!
Christmas can be a hectic time for everyone between church stuff and home stuff it can be too much for the best of us, but give yourself grace...as well as the others around you. Christmas is meant to be a time where our faith shines the brightest, not burns the weakest. Do your best, and leave the rest up to God. If that means that a present goes unwrapped just remember that they made bags for a reason. :)
Merry "After" Christmas And A Happy New Year! From my classroom to yours!