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PARTY AIM: To explore the Christmas story and what it means, and to have lots of fun in doing so.
BACKGROUND: This party is designed for use in a variety of contexts, for example Sunday schools, after-school clubs and evening social clubs, so you’ll need to select the elements that are most appropriate for you. Make sure you include the Bible story. It’s important to tell it as you might have children at the party who have never heard the real biblical story before.
Organise an activity that everyone can join in with as they arrive at the party. This could be a simple game or a communal art activity. Set out a long piece of lining paper and some art materials, encouraging the children to create something Christmassy together.
You will need: a mixing bowl; a cushion; a scroll of paper; a map or satnav; a toy sheep; a halo; a star decoration; a gold dish or box; boxes; Christmas wrapping paper; scissors; sticky tape; printouts of Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 2:1-12 Before the party, place each of the eight items listed above in a box and wrap each box with wrapping paper. Hide the wrapped boxes around your venue, making some easier to find than others.
Challenge the children to find the eight boxes and bring them back to you. Once they’ve all been found, unwrap the boxes and consider what they all mean. Some children might guess that they represent the Christmas story (if not, drop some hints!). Try to guess together what the correct order should be.
Give out copies of the Bible text and ask the group to match the items to the story. Then break the children into smaller groups (or stay together if your group is small).
Give each group one or two of the items and encourage them to come up with a dramatic retelling for that part of the story. They can be funny or serious! Ask the leaders to circulate and help any groups that need assistance.
Once everyone is ready, put the dramas together to create your own Nativity play.
Chat about the children’s favourite parts of the story for a minute or so. Did they learn anything new? Share what the Christmas story means to you.
OPTION 1: Baking
You will need: ingredients for a basic gingerbread recipe; baking equipment; access to an oven; cover-up and clean-up equipment; paper bags; icing and other biscuit decorations (optional)
Before the session, gather all the ingredients and equipment you’ll need for your chosen recipe (remembering to include ingredients for those with special dietary requirements).
Guide the children through how to make the dough, then roll it out and cut it into shapes. They could do this by hand or with cookie cutters (these are available cheaply online or in kitchen supply shops).
As you work, chat about Christmas.
Discuss what the children are going to do over the festive period and, if you’re doing this after the story, about what they think the Christmas story means. Then bake the biscuits and put them on cooling racks.
If you have time after the biscuits have cooled, decorate them with icing and other decorations. Then put them in paper bags ready for the children to take home.
OPTION 2: Storytelling
You will need: the props and Bible passag- es from ‘Bible story’; art materials; sound recording equipment; smartphones Challenge the children to retell the Christ- mas story in a way that suits their creative skills. They could come up with a modern- day drama but should use the props from ‘Bible story’. Alternatively, they could draw a comic strip of the story or retell it as if it were a radio programme or TV news report. Let the children use their creativity and see what they come up with! (Ensure that you follow your church’s safeguarding policy when taking pictures or filming the children in your group.)
OPTION 3: Singing
You will need: recordings of various Christmas songs (with or without printouts of the lyrics) or access to a music stream- ing service; musical instruments
Let the children choose their favourite Christmas songs from the ones you have provided or search your music streaming service to find the songs they like. As you search, discuss how accurately they tell the Christmas story, if at all. Do they even mention Jesus?
Choose one to learn together. Download the lyrics, learn the words and tune, and then have a go at singing as a choir. If you have musical instruments, get the children to play them alongside the singing. You could even work out simple harmonies.
Choose some games to play from the suggestions on page 59. Alternatively, play this adapted party classic.
SPLITTING PASS THE PARCEL
You will need: eight small prizes (such as Christmas chocolate or a wooden novelty); wrapping paper; scissors; sticky tape; music and the means to play it
Wrap each small prize individually before the party. Group them together into four pairs and wrap each pair up, so that you have
four parcels. Add another layer of paper to each parcel, then group them together into two pairs and wrap each pair up, so that you have two parcels. Add another layer to each parcel, then wrap them up together. Then add a couple more layers of wrapping.
Sit the children in a circle and play pass the parcel in the usual way. When two presents are revealed, pass them around the circle in opposite directions. Keep doing this until you have eight parcels going around the circle!
You could also add forfeits or challenges between the layers, but put the same ones in all the parcels. That way the children can compete against each other when they have the same challenge!
Choose some craft ideas from the suggestions on page 60 (or here).
Food is an important element at every party, so provide some refreshments for the children (and for the adults as they drop off and pick up their children). Make sure that you follow food hygiene and allergy guidelines. There may be people in your congregation who are happy to make food in advance for you to serve at your party.
Make sure you finish well. Say goodbye to each child by name if possible and ensure that everyone knows about the other events your church is staging over Christmas, as well as ongoing events that will be happen- ing when the term restarts in January.
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