Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easter Brunch

Several years ago (in a small church we pastored) we mixed up the "traditional" Easter basket up (so to speak). We held an early Easter morning service (not quite sunrise, but almost) and then hosted an Easter Brunch. We wound up doing it several years. It was a nice change of pace and fit the needs of our church members. It was a chance for those who didn't live near their families to spend the time with friends and church family. It gave church members an opportunity to invite those who normally wouldn't come to a Sunday morning service (even on Easter).   This is also a great idea for a small group or Sunday School class.

I am posting some of my favorite ideas. Some I've used. Some I'm intending to use. Someday :<)


You can't have an Easter Brunch without the food. I suggest you use the KISS method (Keep It Simple Sweetie). On the other hand, you do want to make it special. I have to say that most years I prepared all the food with a few helpers. I admit it. I do enjoy it. But if I were to be honest I loved the year the Men's Ministry prepared Brunch. I just decorated the tables. Consider "outsourcing" if you need to. Gather those around who love to do this sort of thing and assign certain dishes.

You can't beat a good Egg Casserole. My suggestion would be to make it several smaller pans. Eggs behave better in smaller servings. You don't want crispy edges and runny center.

You can always go the Cracker Barrel route. This Amish recipe for a Breakfast Casserole has all those country flavors in one dish. Or just dig out your favorite Hashbrown Casserole and purchase a couple of large hams.

Maybe you want something sweet. While I enjoy a good pancake breakfast as the next gal, pancakes always aren't as practical if you are trying to serve the multitude (all by yourself). Here is a recipe for a French Toast Casserole that will serve many and many more.

If your folks are traditionalists and nothing will do but a good ole fashioned breakfast, here are some tips about making perfect scrambled eggs.  Set your ladies to making biscuits and gravy and there you go! Here is a good recipe for Biscuits and Gravy from If you can help it don't use gravy from a can.

And then there are all the extras that a good brunch buffet needs. Muffins, sweet breads, bagels and cream cheese. And don't forget the fresh fruit platter. Here is a good site on preparing fruit trays and fruit salads for a crowd.

If you are like me and appreciate a visual here is a Youtube video I found on preparing a fruit platter.

And another one.

After you have your menu planned be sure your church kitchen is stocked with butter, jellies and jams, coffee and tea makings. If you want it to be extra special make a call for some homemade jellies and jams. Folks will be thrilled to pull out their homemade apple butter and strawberry preserves to add to the feast.

Table Decor

I encourage you to look around first and see what you have. I love the idea of putting "hostesses" in charge of a table. They are responsible for decorating their own tables. It is amazing what kind of creativity will burst out of your ladies. But, if you want a cohesive look to your brunch (or you are worried about all that creativity) here are a few general ideas.

While I have no problem with bunnies and eggs I do my best not to make those things the focus of Easter. I do, however, like this idea of making decorative Easter Eggs. I think they would be darling made with photocopied bits of hymns (Amazing Grace, Old Rugged Cross) and tucked into bird nests (which is one of my ideas below).

The Birds of The Air (this is what I plan on doing in our fellowship hall next week)
Begin by digging up every birdhouse or birdcage you can find. Purchase Bird nests (Hobby Lobby) or make your own. (how cool is that). You can use ceramic birds (I have some little white ceramic ones I found at Gordman's very inexpensively) and decorative feathers as fillers. I think blue tablecloths would be lovely. I also like the idea of using branches and foliage from the great outdoors. We'll see how that turns out. I don't want a fire hazard. Speaking of fire hazard, I plan on using dozens of little clear votives.

Behold! The Lamb of God
This might be a little more difficult. But put a call out for any sheep or lamb figurines or stuffed animals. Here is a little craft that would be cute for one of your children's groups to make just for the occasion.  You can accent with spring flowers.  Oriental Trading has some pretty cute lambs. Just type lamb in the search box.

This is all about the party. And fun. Make your own pinwheels. You can certainly purchase them, but making your own will allow you to use some pretty cute color combinations. Put your pinwheels in flower pots (stuffed with foam and Easter grass). Use brightly colored table cloths and hang paper lanterns above. Make table runners with butcher paper and let your children's church group write messages of Good News! (He Lives! He's Alive!, etc.)

Fields of Flowers
Invite everyone to bring a vase of flowers from their own gardens. Depending on your location and what's blooming this one could be interesting :<) Right now our Dogwoods are blooming. How pretty would it be to have pitchers of dogwood blossoms set on an Easter table!

Don't forget about the kids! Take a cue from the restaurants and provide some activity pages for the kids (along with crayons). This site has some nice printable Easter activities.

Hopefully, some of my ideas have sparked some more ideas :<)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snowy Mason Jars with Epsom Salt

I just found the cutest idea. A few years ago I posted A Snowy Evening. It just gives ideas about decorating your sanctuary and fellowship hall based on Robert Frost's poem "Walking Through the Woods on A Snowy Evening."

Anyhoo. Today I came across this idea of using Epsom salt in Mason jars to create snowy candle holder. How cute is that! And how easy! We are having our church Christmas party Sunday evening and I have been fretting over my lack of creative energy. Yay! I have a bag of epsom salts and a box full of empty mason jars.

Just thought I'd share :<)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Outreach Party Coming Up!

So I'm planning an outreach party for kids to take place in a few weeks at church. I want to show the newest Veggie Tales Christmas movie on the big screen, crank up our commerical popcorn machine and inflate the bounce house. I also am going to incorporate some of the ideas I posted in my Candy Cane Craze blog, with a few additons with some cute stuff I found on Pinterest. Is anybody else having a Christmas Party for the kids at your church? And what good ideas can you give me. We want to use this as an outreach event as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Video Storybook Tutorial

This post is specifically for Jen :<) She wrote the nicest comment seeking additional instructions concerning my Christmas Video Storybook Idea (scroll down a bit) and I lost the comment somehow! Bad Blogger! I am still learning to navigate my updated Blogger dashboard. It's much easier to use, but I need a redo button...or an undo button. Or maybe a "please clean up my blogging mess" button.

Anyhoo. Jen asked for a link to one of the Video Storybooks. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy to upload. I will do my best to search some more (I have peoples who might have a copy). I'm sure that I have one (or three) in storage. But until I can track one down and I will at least lay it all out the best I can.

1. Decide what video program you want to use. Or better yet, find a person proficient in some sort of video making program and utilize them. I know Windows Movie Maker is easy to use, but there is nothing easier than good ole Power Point. If you have Photo Shop skills you will be able to do all kinds of wonderful things with your storybook. I have some more thoughts on this further down.

2. Pick out a story, book or poem to use. Be sure that it is not too long or too short. Take into account the number of children you have. You can fill in with teens or adults or even have some children play more than one part if you can. I am going to pretend I am turning the following short story (under #4) into a Video StoryBook. It isn't anything I would use for real, but I can use it to explain my methods (hopefully).

3. Go through your story and make a list of characters needed. This story only has a few. Papa, Mamma, Fred & Jessie. If I had more children than that I could use a few of them as Frost Fairies (in the first paragraph) stars & moon (second paragraph), and the Mouse. In fact, those parts would be good for little kids. Then make a list of the children you have available. If you have more characters than parts, recruit teens, adults or double cast. Assign parts. You won't have to worry about any singing or acting skills...they just need to be willing to get a picture taken.

4. Now is the time to sit down with your book and break it up into scenes.
 Remember that each scene will be an individual picture.

What Happened Christmas Eve
by Oliver Herfold

(Scene 1) It was Christmas Eve and the frost fairies were busy getting ready for Christmas Day. First of all they spread the loveliest white snow carpet over the rough, bare ground; then they hung the bushes and trees with icicles that flashed like diamonds in the moonlight. Later on, they planned to draw beautiful frost pictures on the window panes, to surprise the little children in the morning. Picture of little girls dressed as fairies hanging icicles on a Christmas Tree.

(Scene 2) The stars shone brightly and the moon sent floods of light in every nook and corner. How could any one think of sleeping when there was such a glory outside! Picture of stars and moon.

(Scene 3) Jessie and Fred had gone to bed very early so they might be the first to shout "Merry Christmas!" but their eyes would not stay shut."Oh dear! It must be 'most morning," said Fred; "let us creep softly down stairs and maybe we'll catch Santa Claus before he rides off." Picture of Fred and Jessie lying in bed with covers up to their chins looking very excited - If the bed is not doable take a close up on them lying down in sleeping bags.

(Scene 4) Hand in hand they tiptoed to the dining-room and peeped out the big window - surely, surely, that was something climbing up the roof of cousin Nellie's house; it must be old Santa. Fred gave a chuckle of delight; to be sure the reindeer were very queer looking objects, and the sleigh such a funny shape, but the children were satisfied. Two Choices: They can be tiptoeing down a flight of stairs or peering out of a window.

(Scene 5) The old fir tree, whose high branches almost touched the roof, knew all about those shadows, but it was so old no one could ever understand a word of the many tales it told. Picture of an old tree.

(Scene 6) "There's something scratching on the door," whispered Jessie; but it was only a mouse, who had sniffed the delightful odors of the Christmas goodies and was trying his best to find a way into the pantry and test them with his sharp teeth. Picture of a little mouse.

(Scene 7) "Come," said Jessie, "we'll turn to icicles if we stay here much, longer"; so up-stairs they quickly scampered. Picture of the boys scampering back up the stairs.

(Scene 8) Papa had been to town on an errand, so it was quite late when he came home. As he was hunting in his pockets for his key, he heard a pitiful cry, and looking down he saw a big, white cat carrying a tiny kitten in her mouth. "Poor thing," said papa, "you shall come inside till morning." Papa (wearing an overcoat) holding a cat and kitten (this will be trickier,  but it can be done!)

(Scene 9) Santa Claus had been there with the nicest wagon for Fred and a warm, seal-skin cap that lay right in the middle of it. When papa left the room, puss and her kitty were curled up comfortably on the rug singing their sleepy song. Picture of kitty curled up on the rug with a red wagon behind it.
(Scene 10)The sun was shining brightly in the dining-room window when Jessie and Fred made their appearance; then Fred just laughed with delight, for right in the crown of his new cap lay the cutest white kitten, with big, blue eyes and wee pink nose, while standing close by as if to guard her darling from danger, was good old mother puss.
"I never had a live Christmas present before," said Fred, "now I know Santa Claus read the letter I threw up the chimney because I told him to bring me a kitten and here it is." Picture of Fred and Jessie sitting in front of the Christmas Tree.
(Scene 11)Papa smiled and looked at mamma, and then everybody said "Merry Christmas" at once.
Picture of the whole family smiling in front of the Christmas Tree.

Cover and Ending: Don't forget to take a picture of whatever you want at the beginning and the ending of your Storybook. We also used a few pictures for credits (actors, photographer, director, helpers, etc.) and a bloopers section. Everyone always got a big kick out of that.

5. Now that I have my scenes selected I am going to go back and decide on Props and Costume materials for each scene. Make a list of what you need and circulate it. You would be surprised what you will be able to come up with using your church family as a resource. Just a little side note: If you are using a story with animals use solid colored sweats and decorate the face with face paint if you don't have the costumes you need.

6. Set up a photo session. You will need a good camera or someone who has a good camera and won't mind taking pictures for you. I've been blessed to always have a good photographer in our congregations. What you need to do now is just stage every scene. Make adequate notes while everything is happening. And have a good helper (or three). Just start at Scene 1 and go from there.  A word to the wise: You might set up a movie or some other activity in a corner. This process takes longer than a minute and kids get restless.

7. Make your movie. I'm sorry I don't know as much about the technical side of this. I always have someone help me with this...make friends with a Techy. I know I said this before, but having some Photo Shop skills is a blessing. There is also a free photo shop program online called Gimp.  You can take things away, add backgrounds, add picture effects. Just be sure to have your scenes the way you want them before inserting them into your slide or movie. Also, pick out some background music and a narrator. I have read the story and had the sound guy play a CD in the background or (my favorite) we pulled out the big guns and recorded someone reading the story. You are able to add music and sound to the Windows Movie Maker.

8. Make several copies. This might sound a little odd coming from me. After all, I can't seem to find any of my extra copies of the Video Storybooks we have done. But when it counted I knew I had a few on hand. The worst feeling in the world is to have worked so hard on something and then to lose it or have something happen to your computer. One or two years we made extra copies to give to the kids who "stared" in our production.

I hope this helps. Again, don't hesitate to ask any questions. I will try and help the best I can!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leftover Madness

I know it's a bit late to be posting any kind of Thanksgiving ideas, but I wanted to share our church's plans for this year. We are going to be having our church Thanksgiving Dinner the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We are calling it "Leftover Madness." Since my family is traveling out of town on Thanksgiving I already have my pile of decorations ready to take to the church for table decorating. This is also a perfect time to start gathering your decorating supplies for next year. Our local Hobby Lobby had all of their fall decorations 90% this week. I got a ceramic Pilgrim Lady (originally 17.99) for $1.98 (tax included). I saw lots of people with carts full of fall flowers. You can find more Thanksgiving ideas here at my Celebration of Thanks post.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving Bible Lessons Links for Kids & Youth

I have been searching around the web  for ideas for a special Thanksgiving Event for church for my little group of kids. Here are some of my favorite links for object lessons or devotions. I thought while I was digging I would pass my them along to you! I also have a few games that I will post later when I get them better organized. Don't forget to look at the Thanksgiving Blessing Mix  idea I have on my blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Pumpkin Praise Party!

I love Pumpkins! And what better time of year to add a bit of Pumpkin Fun to your Children's Program. Many of these activities can be used for multiple ages and activities.

First of all, let me give just a quick "shout out" to Pinterest. I am a bit addicted. It is a perfect spot for an idea girl like myself. I even have a "Pumpkin Board." 

For those of you who are new to computer and blog navigation, just click on the blue links. They will take you to some pretty cool ideas.

The Message

First, let's start with the basics. You always need to include a Gospel message in any activity you provide. I have a copy of The Pumpkin Patch Parable.

Here is the book's description. 
This charming story for children illustrates how a loving farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a simply glorious sight. Liz Curtis Higgs weaves a beautiful parable as the farmer picks out a special pumpkin from his garden, and scoops out all the messy "goo" to make room for his light to shine from inside. In the same way, God's transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light. Liz Cutis Higgs originally created this parable as a way to share the Good News with her own precious children each harvest season. After 10 years, she has touched children everywhere! Recommended for ages 3 to 7.

This poem is a great object lesson to use while carving a pumpkin. 

"Pumpkin Prayer"

{cut off top of pumpkin}
Lord, open my mind so I can learn new things about you.

{remove innards}
Remove the things in my life that don’t please you.
Forgive the wrong things I do and help me to forgive others.

{cut open eyes}
Open my eyes to see the beauty you’ve made in the world around me.

{cut out nose}
I’m sorry for the times I’ve turned my nose at the good food you provide.

{cut out mouth}
Let everything I say please You.

{light the candle}
Lord, help me show your light to others through the things I do. Amen
By: Liz Curtis Higgs
Annie's Homepage has this pumpkin lesson here.
Carve a pumpkin or two using a Christian Theme. This site has all sorts of free resources.


Think Orange! Use orange table cloths, balloons, streamers, etc. Put pumpkins everywhere.  

Here are some cute DIY ideas for Fall decorating. You could even use candy pumpkins instead of the candy corn in the large votives shown. 

Use white and orange twinkle lights to add extra fun to your space.

I love a mason jar. Here is an idea for a Canning Jar Pumpkin Light

Crafty Fun

Make this stand up pumpkin from

Here is a another pumpkin carving prayer with a printout from

This little pumpkin book from is really cute. 

Set up a Pumpkin Decorating Center. Put small pumpkins and markers in a center and allow kids to decorate their own mini pumpkins.

The has this cute garden pumpkin to make.

I found 3 great pumpkin crafts at Here is a paperbag pumpkin. Or use this pumpkin parable craft to go along with your lesson. This Pumpkin Prayer minibook is perfect to make and take. has this pumpkin hat to make. 

Games, Centers & More

I found this Pop Goes The Pumpkin Game at I'm going to be using this one for sure this year. 

Ring the Pumpkin
Line up three large pumpkins to form a ring toss. Make sure they have stems! Use embroidery hoops. Mark a throwing line on the floor and take turns trying to ring a pumpkin stem. Smaller children can attempt to ring an entire large pumpkin with a hula hoop.

Pumpkin Race
You need two large pumpkins and two sticks. The racers, line up on the starting line with the pumpkins turned on their sides. The racers use the stick to roll the pumpkins to the finish line. Be sure to leave plenty of room. The pumpkins will roll in every direction! For added variety have them use hands instead of sticks or roll small pumpkins, instead.

Pumpkin Bowling
Select several small pumpkins about four to six inches in diameter. You need extras in case a few split or break. Place plastic (children's set) of bowling pins several feet away. You could also use small plastic decorator pumpkins.

Pumpkin Hot Potato
Play hot potato with a pumpkin instead of a potato!

Guess the Pumpkins
Fill a jar with those cute little candy pumpkins (usually found near the candy corn). Have the kids guess how many pumpkins are in the jar. Be sure to count the pumpkins ahead of time :<)

Pumpkin Over and Under
Divide the kids into two teams. Give the front child in the line a small pumpkin. The first child passes the pumpkin over his head to the child behind him. The second child passes it between his legs to the next child. The pumpkin continues to be passed over-under to the last child in line, who runs to the front of the line with the pumpkin. You can continue until every child has run to the front of the line with the pumpkin and the first child is back in front again.

Here is a tutorial on how to make your own Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss. 

Print out these Pumpkin Bingo Cards from Bingo is always fun!

Make up a recipe or two for Pumpkin Pie playdough. Add pumpkin shaped cookie cutters to the other playdough toys. I have used this recipe for years, whether it be for teaching or at home.

Pumpkin Pie Playdough
This smells great, so remind small children that it is not for eating.

5 1/2 cups
2 cups salt
8 teaspoons cream of tartar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (1 1/12 ounce) container pumpkin pie spice
Orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
4 cups water

Mix all of the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in an
airtight container.

Have a pumpkin decorating contest. Before the event, advertise the contest and send home tips, rules and prize information. Allow one pumpkin per family.
Pumpkin Eats

Pumpkin Pizza
Here is a recipe from for little Pumpkin Pizzas. You could easily make this into a large pizza for a crowd.

Make a Pumpkin Shaped Veggie tray. You will just go crazy over these veggie tray designs from
Individual Pumpkins
(10 servings)
3 cups miniature marshmallows
¼ cup margaring
red and yellow food coloring
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
Vegetable oil cooking spray (Pam)
10 green gumdrops
Warm the margarine and the marshmallows in a large pan over low heat until the marshmallows melt. Use the food coloring to tint the mixture orange. Gradually fold in the Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Lightly coat each child’s fingers with  the cooking spray. When the mixture has cooled sufficiently, give each child ½ cup of the mixture to form into a pumpkin shape. Press the green gumdrop into the top for a stem. Set on waxed paper until firm.

Here is a recipe from for Individual Pumpkin Pies to make right at the event. 

Make this Pumpkin Dip.

Rice Krispy Treats are for every occasion! Make these cute Krispy pumpkins. 

The Treat Bag

Send home a little treat bag. You can give this in lieu of handing out candy for prizes or just because. You can purchase treat bags or make your own. I usually design my own treat bag toppers. Here is a tutorial for one you can make yourself. It uses photoshop, but I don't have photoshop. I use my print shop program or even Microsoft word. One of these days I'll post my own tutorial. :<) You can always just your scrapbooking supplies to make your toppers.

Or these bags would make pretty great treat bags. 

This is an adorable fall treat holder idea. 

A easy idea is to stamp or stencil a pumpkin on a plain little lunch sack and then tie with raffia. 

You can include: 
  • The Pumpkin Prayer
  • candy
  • Pencils decorated with pumpkins
  • Make pencil toppers to send home from this tutorial from 
  • small toys from the dollar tree 
  •   When all else fails has some great Christian pumpkin items to purchase. I just typed Christian Pumpkin in the search box. It brought up lots of products.
Have a great event!