Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Christmas Program


We've been in little churches and big churches. We've had little budgets and big budgets. I think a big mistake some churches make is to decide that they don't have enough kids or resources for a Christmas program of some sort. I'm about to give you a list of things you can do if you find yourself with a small group, little money and maybe even little time. I've done it all and I can tell you that folks were just as touched by our little efforts as they would have been by the big mama jama productions (which I've done those too!)



1. Bells. I'm not talking about the big gorgeous bells that take talent to perfect. I'm talking about a set of colored handbells that only requires a child to know his or her colors. Talk about an instant program! A bell choir of this nature only takes a few practices. I have included a youtube video of such a performance (after this post)...This is not one of my groups, but you get the picture. A word to the wise...The kids in the video are ringing their bells bottom up...In my opinion I feel that they have a better tone by ringing them bottom down, also you need to set rules or the bells go back in the box. They cannot mess with the dinger or you will find yourself with bells you can't use. I have carried around my set of bells through four churches and 15 years...they are a wonderful asset.

Here is a link to purchase bells:
http://www.gospelpublishing.com/store/startitem.cfm?item=080282
This site also includes a brief video explaining how to use the bells.


2. Little Drummer Boys. This will actually take more time outside your practice time. You will need to either make drums or purchase inexpensive toy drums. We have made our drums out of coffee cans, paint cans or even those plastic goody buckets you can find at Christmas. We spray painted them and made a parchment paper cover. The sticks we made from dowel rods. Here is a link for directions to drum making.
http://www.satisfied-mind.com/make/drum.htm - I've used these instructions and found they made really cute drums.
Now you need to find an arrangement to Little Drummer Boy. I've the same one several times
Kids Christmas: 10 Christmas Songs for Kids CDEmi Cmg Distribution / 2006 / Compact disc - you can find it at christianbook.com
So you've got your drums, your music and now you need a few enthusiastic drummer boys. I can tell you that this is always a big hit with the boys. They think their pretty cool! The CD I use is split-track so I have had someone sing the solo or I have just used the original track...which is really well done.

3. Ribbon Twirlers. This is for the girls. Find a song you like...I used O Come, O Come Emmanuel from the same CD as the Little Drummer Boy. I created a little ribbon twirling routine that was easy to learn and they twirled away! As for the ribbon twirlers, I have done two things. You can purchase them at: orientaltrading.com (look under ribbon sticks in the search box and it will give you some choices) or ustoys.com (keyword is magic streamers). The magic streamers at Us Toys are really pretty, but order an extra set...they do tear easily.
You can also make some using dowel rods (spray painted) and craft ribbon. I have done both and found that was too busy making drums and liked the ordering option.

4. Video Storybook. You do need a little time, some computer skills and a camera for this one. But I guarantee instant ooo's and ahh's. Find a Christmas Storybook. I have used The Crippled Lamb and When Christmas Came. Sit down with the book and decide what kind of scenes and how many you need to use. Write a list of props, costumes...everything you will need for each scene. The beauty of this idea is that you can have just a few people who can play multiple parts. Next you will need to have a photo shoot. Acting out each scene against a white background. Now here is the trickier part. Adobe PhotoShop. Do this yourself or find someone to take all of characters out of the white backdrop and onto picture book graphics. I know it sounds complicated if you aren't techy. I have used power point and video editing software. Technically, I am fairly techy (no pun intended), but I happen to have a mom who does some of this stuff as part of her job...she also works in a media department at a Bible College...lucky me. One year we had a freelance photographer who attended our church take all the pics and created the storybook pages for me..I just put them on power point. If you do have some techy folks in your congregation take advantage of that....I happen to have some resources that make it extra special. As far as the presentation, I have read the story live or we have had someone read it for us, recorded it and added it to the video. One day I will upload one we have done so you can see the finished product. If you have none of these capabilities except for power point and maybe a CD player there is an easier way. Take candid shots of church folks and your kids, make a power point presentation and put it to song as a Christmas Video album. Another option to the storybook idea is to use a simple Christmas poem...I am going to do the storyboard for a Christmas Cowboy poem my mom's church is doing this year. Big fun!

4. Christmas ABC's. If your eyes are rolling back into your head after my last idea and you long for the traditional Christmas Pageant days try reciting the Christmas ABC's. There are several versions and work really well for a Sunday School pageant.
http://www.alphabet-soup.net/chris/abcchrist.html
http://www.polishcenter.org/Christmas/christmas_abc.htm
http://www.our.homewithgod.com/mkcathy/MerryChristmas/abc.html

There are many more so just take a look and see which one you like the best. You can make up cute posters or even sandwich boards for the ABC's.

5. Ornaments. Have kids make ornaments to pass out to the congregation. I have done this almost every year...even when I had a bigger production. But you can do as a stand alone treat. For example, one year we made the pipe cleaner and bead candy canes, attached a little poem to them, handed them out and sat on the stage in our finest while someone read the Legend of the Candy Cane. Here are a few links for that idea.
http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Candy-Cane-Lori-Walburg/dp/0310212472 - you can purchase this book at about any Christianbook store, but here it is at amazon.com...it's nice to be able to read the reviews, etc.
There is also a DVD or VHS of the story at amazon...I haven't seen it, but it is based on the above book...you could show it as an option to reading it.
http://www.homeschooled-kids.com/candycanelegend.html - you could create a whole "to do". This link has not only a brief lesson on the candy cane, but recipes, craft ideas, etc.
http://crafts.kaboose.com/candy-cane-ornament.html - the candy cane ornament craft.
Or http://www.hobbylobby.com/site3/pdfprojects/HL-212.pdf
Candy Cane poem
http://dltk-holidays.com/xmas/candy_cane_poem.htm

6. Happy Birthday Jesus. All you need is one for this next idea. Find a wagon, a birthday cake and a recording of "Happy Birthday Jesus." Or if you can't find it, just use a Christmas song you like. Let a child pull the wagon with the birthday cake up the aisle to the music. When he or she reaches the front have everyone sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Really precious...You can do this even if you have a whole program at the very end.

7. Nativity. If you just have a few and want something really simple and easy; do a live nativity scene..all you really need is Mary and Joseph and maybe a few others. Print out lyrics (or use your video projector or overhead) to carols and have a carol sing while your live nativity is on stage. Unpredictable with small children, but always really sweet. You can even do candlelight caroling with it as well.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

These are ALL ADORABLE and DO-ABLE IDEAS~ I THANK YOU for sharing! I think these would work for our small Sunday School of tiny ones to teens! THANKS for the GREAT ideas! God Bless You!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the wagon and birthday cake. This coulde be used with almost any Christmas play. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! It is always so difficult to determine what to do since we never have a steady attendance in our Sunday School. So many of these ideas work well without worry about who might not show.

Anonymous said...

Just want to share a simple new Christmas song that would fit into a lot of different programs. Here it is on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3K2DqrJEgU&feature=plcp

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the ideas! Think we will make and hand out an ornament during our Christmas program. Each year we do a powerpoint of the Christmas story for our Christmas program. One night we get together and get our children dressed in angel and shepherd outfits. Then we take a picture of our group of angels and our group of shepherds. On another night we meet and take pictures of Mary, Joseph, wisemen and several stable scenes in an old barn. The scripture from Luke is read for the showing of this at the end Christmas program. Works well.(I have collected old robes, sheets and material strips throughout the years for the costumes.)
Thanks again!