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BACKGROUND: A family Christmas event allows everyone to engage with the good news together, providing opportunities for further discussion about what it means that Jesus came to live with his people.
You will need: stickers with the character names on them
Give each guest a character sticker. Read the story aloud, and when each character is mentioned, the relevant people should stand up and make the following sound effects:
Mary: tuneful humming
Angels: choral singing
Baby Jesus: baby crying
Wise men: say “Interesting!” and tap their temple
Mary, a teenage girl, was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter. One day, an angel called Gabriel visited her and told her she would have a baby and that he would be called Jesus. The angel said Jesus was going to be the king and saviour of the world!
A few months later, Mary had to travel with Joseph to his hometown, Bethlehem. It was very busy and there wasn’t anywhere to stay. Mary just wanted a bed to sleep in! The only place available was where the animals lived. It was smelly and noisy. It wasn’t somewhere a saviour should be born.
Mary soon went into labour, but when baby Jesus was born there wasn’t a clean cot for him; only the animals’ feeding trough. The king of the world was laid down in the hay.
Meanwhile, some shepherds were looking after their sheep in nearby fields. Nobody liked the shepherds because they were poor and a bit smelly. But a group of angels came and sang loudly to announce Jesus’ birth to these shepherds. They went quickly to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
A long way to the east, some wise men saw a star. They knew the meanings behind the stars, and this one told them that the king of the world had been born. They set out on their camels and travelled hundreds of miles just to see Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The good news of Jesus’s birth was for everyone. It was for the shepherds who were poor and smelly, and for the wise men who travelled far with presents. This good news is for us, too. It’s good news because Jesus brings peace, hope and joy in the midst of mess, pain and tears.
Jesus is the best Christmas present because his birth changes everything!
OPTION 1: Movie bingo
You will need: bingo sheets (see below); pens Before the event, make bingo sheets with the names of various Christmas films (eg Elf, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone). Make sure you have a mix of old and new films so that all the generations can join in.
Give out the sheets. Challenge everyone to find one person who has seen each film. The first to complete the whole sheet is the winner.
OPTION 2: Logos
You will need: brand logos; pens; paper Before the event, find some famous logos and use a computer program to delete the brand name. Print the pictures and stick them around the room. Challenge everyone to work out which products the logos represent.
OPTION 3: Photo booth
You will need: photographer; props
Before the event, collect Christmas props (eg hats, decorations, cakes) and set up a photo booth area. Encourage people to have their festive photograph taken.
Make sure you follow your church’s safe- guarding policy with regard to taking photos. Work out a way for families to receive their photos as a memento of the event.
OPTION 1: Snowman dress-up
You will need: snowman props
Working in small teams (or families), guests should dress one team member up as a snowman. Decide who is the best-dressed snowman!
OPTION 2: Santa limbo
You will need: a rope; Santa hat; music Ask volunteers to stretch the rope between them. Take turns to limbo underneath the rope wearing the Santa hat. The rope is lowered each time until there is a winner.
OPTION 3: Christmas intros
You will need: festive songs; pens; paper Play the introduction from each Christmas song. In teams, guess the name of the song. The winners are the ones with the most correct answers.
OPTION 1: Christmas cards
You will need: blank cards; pens; decorations; glue sticks
Encourage the group to make a card for Jesus using the decorations you have provided. Chat together about the message they might write to him inside.
OPTION 2: Bunting
You will need: fabric or paper triangles; craft materials; glue; string
Give each guest a triangle and encourage them to decorate them however they like. Then string all the triangles together to create bunting. After the party, take it to a local care home and wish the residents a happy Christmas.
OPTION 3: Gingerbread reindeer
You will need: ready made gingerbread figures; black and white icing; small red sweets
Turn the gingerbread figures upside-down to make a reindeer shape. Use the icing to decorate the reindeer face and antlers with a red sweet as the nose.
ADDITIONAL IDEAS (if time)
OPTION 1: Christmas awards
You will need: certificates for the award categories; a ballot box
Before the session, pick categories for some fun awards, such as ‘Cutest baby’, ‘Best teller of cracker jokes’, ‘Best Christmas jumper’ or ‘Most angelic singing voice’. Make up certificates for these categories.
Give each guest the list and ask them to write who they would vote for to win each award. Count up the votes and announce the winners!
OPTION 2: Christmas karaoke
You will need: festive song backing tracks Use YouTube or a music streaming service to find backing tracks for various Christmas songs. Hold a Christmas karaoke contest or simply enjoy singing along to some Christmas favourites together.
OPTION 3: Christmas bring and share Before the event, invite all the guests to bring a contribution towards a buffet meal.
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