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Volunteer Gifts on a Budget

Volunteer Gifts on a Budget

Do you find yourself in this position every year wondering what to get your volunteers for Christmas that is simple and meaningful while still affordable?

Here are my top picks:

 

 #1 Christmas Music.

Give this gift early in the month so they can enjoy it all season long.  Here’s a great option for under $5.  If you order online through Amazon you can email it directly to them to download.  Anthem Lights “Simple Little Christmas”

 

#2 Wrap It Up Package

I have given this gift before and it was a big hit! One roll of wrapping paper with one disposable tape/dispenser and you are set with a gift they are sure to use this year!

 

#3 Wipe Off Board

This gift can be customized for each volunteer if you’d like or keep it simple and make them all the same.  All you need is a picture frame, decorative paper and a dry erase marker.  Insert the decorative paper in the frame and give with a dry erase marker.  (Before handing out leave a message or a verse.) In the card you can let them know this can be used for anything from menu’s, to do lists, grocery lists or a verse of the day/week.

 

#4 Poinsettia & Poem

Poinsettia’s are a bright and beautiful Christmas gift.  Pair with this heartfelt poem and it’s perfect!

 

 

#5 Gift Card

A simple $5 – $10 gift card is always appreciated!

 

 

DIY Christmas Countdown Party Craft

DIY Christmas Countdown Party Craft

It’s Christmas time! I LOVE Christmas when so many hearts are receptive to Christ.

This is the time of year when so many people turn their focus to God, even those who do routinely attend worship.  It is the prime time for outreach, for sharing the message of salvation.  I like to host children’s events just for them while giving parents time to do some Christmas shopping.  I also like to encourage events for the whole family to spend time together during the holiday season.  This year’s theme… “Santa’s Workshop,” and it can be held either way. Regardless of which way you go, children’s party or family event, make sure to promote! Get the word out about your event.

I recommend having a feature “item” that is the main draw. This could be a play, concert, meal or unique craft. Gingerbread house building is a popular one. For our Santa’s workshop this year, kids were excited to use a hammer and nails to make there very own Christmas countdown.  More on this in a minute.

What do we do at Santa’s workshop?

  • Holiday Singing
  • Devotional
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Snacking (of course!)

For family events, set up centers so families can come and go, participating in the different parts of the event at their own speed.  Have a devotional center with times posted for when you start the story each time.  You will want this area to be very comfortable and inviting, maybe even offer hot chocolate to sip on while listening.  Set up a place for families to take their pictures.  You could even have someone stationed at this spot to take the pictures and offer to email them the picture immediately.  This way, you get their email address to follow up. Craft stations may be as simple as coloring a picture or gluing cotton balls to Santa’s beard.  Go all out and make elf slime!  Games?  Oh the fun you can have!  Check out Pinterest if you can’t think of anything.

Now for a children’t event, it will probably look a little different. They can’t really wonder around on their own.  Here’s what my party looked like:

  1.  As kids were arriving, we made elf slime. Kids can’t get enough of slime! (I made a few extra ahead of time for those that arrived late.)
  2. Make Christmas countdown trees
  3. Pass out snacks to eat during story
  4. Christmas story time
  5. Game: Word game (Stick one card with a holiday word or picture on it onto child’s forehead. Other kids give clues to help them guess the word.)

I was prepared! If we finished early, we were heading to the playground.

I didn’t forget! I told you I’d tell you about the Christmas countdown trees. Here’s a video showing you just how it’s done.  They are easy and something kids will keep.  I did not do this, but I wish I had given kids a sticker to put on the back with the church name and the year.  You do want adults (or high school kids) to help. My older kids did great, but a few younger ones still needed help. (I had 2nd – 5th grades).  Also, I did not end up giving my kids all the countdown numbers, instead, I just gave them two blank presents that I laminated along with a dry erase marker to easily change days left until Christmas.  Here’s a link to the countdown presents if you want to use them.

Make sure to recruit plenty of help for your event. Kids always need help whether it is with cutting, tying knots, or getting snacks… This is one of the best times of the year for kids so as a church, we want to help make it memorable when it comes to God’s family.  I’d love to hear what you have done for your parties each year. I’m always looking for new ideas.

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas

Christmas is all about the presents and the parties, right?  Kids sit on Santa’s lap and share their biggest wants. They play fun games at holiday parties, look at Christmas light displays and more.  But how much Christ do they get at Christmas? I know Jesus was not actually born on Christmas day, probably not even in winter, but this is the one time of year that most of the world focuses on Jesus so I believe it is a great time to remind our kids of the greatest gift our Heavenly Father ever gave us, His Son!

Refocusing My Child’s Heart at Christmas is a guided play dough lesson for kids. There is a downloadable play dough mat, play dough recipes, suggestions for reinforcing the spirit of Christmas this season as well as information on the science behind the way I teach. Kids learn best through play!  I explain a little about this for your knowledge.  The guided lesson is just that.  I share the story of the birth of Christ while guiding kids through play dough creations to help put this message to memory.  It’s fun AND they learn!

My goal is to spread the message of Christ all across America. I want every child to know God, love God and share God. Help me get the story of Christ’s birth into the hearts and minds of children by sharing this with parents, grandparents, children’s ministry leaders, bible class teachers and more.  It’s free!  Really! There’s not sales pitch hidden in the content. It’s just a message that everyone should hear, especially at Christmas. It’s not some professionally edited video. Nope. It’s just a low key teaching of the greatest gift ever given.

Learn more here.

For added fun, I found an Advent holiday Play-Doh set.

Creative Storytelling – The Witch of Endor

Creative Storytelling – The Witch of Endor

Creative Storytelling of The Witch of Endor to engage kids in God’s word and etching His lessons into their minds to pull from when they need it most in life.

This October I have been sharing scary bible stories with my kindergarten through fifth grade bible class on Wednesday nights. The goal is always to get kids excited about God!  When they are excited about this, they learn who God is, they develop a love for God and they have a natural desire to share God with friends.  One week they learned about “The Witch of Endor.”  Real live witches in the bible? Yes!  The bible really does have it all! Of course, I make sure to remind them that God said to stay away from witchcraft!  It was not and is not acceptable to our God!

You will have children’s full attention as you make a crystal ball to tell the story.  You can use ANY size container you want.  In fact, when doing this activity for a large group, I had a large bowl.  After telling the story ask questions to make sure they were paying attention.  We want them going away with God’s word more so than the crystal ball. Then watch the excitement on their little faces when you let them try this activity on their own.  I bought some small containers from the grocery story (like you see in the picture).  They come with lids so you can even put the water in the bowls before class.  I put the dry ice in each cup though and told any child that touched the dry ice they would lose theirs. Every child got their own string and groups shared the soapy suds.  (Dry ice can usually be purchased at large grocery stores.  You have to ask for it though.)

For the rest of their lives, when they see this activity, I bet they think of the “Witch of Endor.” And what lesson can they learn from this?  King Saul had turned his back on God.  He only called on God when he was afraid, so God was not there this time.  King Saul was so afraid that he chose to sin even more by seeking out a witch to conjure up Samuel from the dead.  King Saul did not get the answer he wanted either.  He learned that he and his sons would die, and that’s just what happened.  We need to be obedient to God, always.  The bible tells us that sin leads to death. Sure, we will all mess up from time to time and God will forgive us, but we should not call on God only in times of trouble.  That’s not a good relationship.  And when we are afraid, do not make matters worse by adding sin into the mix.  That’s just asking for more trouble.  Trust and obey God. Grow a real relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you.  It’s an awesome lesson to learn any time of the year, but it is especially fun at Halloween.

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If you enjoyed this article, check out the Pumpkin Prayer.

Easy Pumpkin Prayer Craft for Kids

Easy Pumpkin Prayer Craft for Kids

I wish I had pictures of the kids making these to go along with the Pumpkin Prayer! They had more fun than I expected.

This month has been all about taking Halloween and turning our focus towards God.  Yesterday the kids sat in a circle while they listened to the Pumpkin Prayer and watched as the Jack-O-Lantern was carved.  I cheated. Before getting with the kids, I had already cut the top off and cleaned out the inside leaving just enough to pull out for that part of the prayer.  If I had thought about it, I would have roasted the seeds and let the kids eat them while listening and watching.  I cut the eyes as we talked about “opening our eyes” to see God’s love and cut the mouth as we talked about “sharing” God’s word.  You get the idea.  And at the end, I placed a flashing LED light inside for the kids to see our lights shining for God in all we say and do!

Then it was their turn.  No, I was not too comfortable with the idea of handing a bunch of elementary kids sharp objects… so I passed out miniature pumpkins and these awesome acrylic paint markers so the kids could draw their Jack-O-Lanterns to take home with the Pumpkin Prayer.  (And down the road they can use the markers to make prayer rocks or story stones.)  Then I emailed the Pumpkin Prayer to the parents suggesting that as a family they carve pumpkins as they go through the prayer.  We will see how many give it a shot!

 

Halloween and God: An Opportunity for Outreach

Halloween and God: An Opportunity for Outreach

Halloween brings about some pretty interesting debates among churches.  Regardless of whether or not you believe Halloween should be celebrated as a Christian, we can all agree that kids come out in slews for this popular holiday.  These kids are the churched and the unchurched.  The way I see it, Halloween is another opportunity to share God with those who otherwise would not be available for you to share otherwise.

Parents look for safe venues to take their kids for Halloween and churches often times make their way to the top of the list!  How can we as a church make this an amazing outreach opportunity?  What can we do to motivate our children to bring their friends to learn about God?  How can we open the eyes of the unchurched to see God while enlightening our churched children?  Here are just a few ideas!

  • Trunk-or-Treat: Have a number of members, or ministries within the congregation, decorate a trunk that goes along with a bible story or message. Some great examples The Witch of Endor, Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones, All 10 Plagues, Noah’s Ark, or F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God).  The ideas are endless!  Kids can simply travel from trunk to trunk for treats or better yet, have an activity at each one along with a treat.  Each year, I have a FROG trunk and the kids hit a mallet on wood to make flies leap into the frogs mouth.  Another trunk we have is Fishers of Men where the kids “fish” for their treat.  And another I plan on trying soon is The Witch of Endor where kids “pick” the witches nose to pull out snot (just slime).  Be creative!  (By the way, we do not compete with Halloween.  Ours is always prior to the holiday itself.)
  • Fall Festival: This may be combined with Trunk-or-Treat or stand alone.  Rent a bounce house, perhaps a train ride or a simple hay ride.  Offer hot dogs and chips. Then have games spread out for kids.  They can toss glow necklaces around pumpkin stems, bob for apples, and more.  Pinterest is full of great activities for a festival!
  • Jack-O-Lantern Carving: Invite families to come carve a Jack-O-Lantern followed by a short devotional about the Pumpkin Prayer while having snacks.  Have several start times on a Saturday and have fun!
  • Midweek “Scary Bible Stories” Classes throughout the month of October: Post signs and send out Facebook advertisements to the community.  Bring your flashlight to class, turn out all the lights, let kids gather in a circle under a sheet while you tell a scary bible story by flashlight.  They love this!  After story time, review the story and remind them that they do not need to be afraid because they have God!  Then, wrap up with a fun group game.

Whatever exciting method you choose to reach the community this Halloween, don’t forget one of the most important parts- get contact information so you can follow up!  One year we held a drawing for a $50 grocery card.  This year we are handing out a book, “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark,” with a cute little flashlight from Oriental Trading.  To qualify, they must be provide their name, kids name(s) and grade levels along with an email address.  This way, I can send an email once a month (not much more so we do not annoy) with a message of encouragement and information on upcoming events as well as Bible Class Topics for kids and parents.

 

Print your own copy of “Scary Bible Stories to Tell in the Dark” and make as many copies as you’d like.  (Subscribe here to download. Members received a link in their email recently, but email me if you don’t see it.)

Download a copy of the Pumpkin Prayer.

 Purchase mini flashlights from Oriental Trading Co (Note: You will need to add an AA battery to each one.  I did not realize this when I ordered but once I put it in, I love them!)