I’ve been part of the North Georgia United Methodist Church’s Children’s Ministry Institute this fall. One of the exercises is for everyone to bring an item to share (program, event, activity, children’s sermon, etc.) With 32 in attendance, the stack of shared goodness was almost two inches thick. Around our tables, we had almost an hour to give more details and logistics about the item brought by each member of our table.

After we excitedly began sharing around my table, we started putting some of the items together that would work for a Messy Family Christmas event. My table colleagues asked me to share, so these are the stations we’ll be enjoying for our 2019 Messy Family Christmas coming up this December:

#1 – Decorating gift bags (inside each bag is a list of upcoming Kids events)
Need: gift bags; Christmas stickers; Markers; Crayons
Plan: Write name on the bag to hold their goodies from the evening
Talk about: Jesus is the sweetest name I know. Be sure to add kid’s names to bags before leaving the station.
#2 – Stove Top Potpourri (the smells of Christmas)
Need: Whole oranges (1 per child); Cinnamon sticks (2-3 per child); Whole cloves (1 Tablespoon per child); Clear cellophane bag (1 per child); Direction card (1 per child); String to tie directions to bag
Plan: Set up an assembly line with each item available for the children to make a potpourri bag for their family. Remind them to continue to use it over the Holidays and keep adding water.
Talk about: Start with talking about the smells of Christmas. Smells remind us of certain things (let the kids talk about smells and what they associate with that smell.)
The apostle Paul uses our sensitivity to smell in describing the effect that Christians have on others.
“God considers us to be the sweet smell that Christ Jesus is spreading among people who are being saved and people who are dying.” 2 Corinthians 2:15 Paul is reminding us that our behavior gives off an aroma that creates an impression on other people for Christ. (Thank you Melanie Adams of Carrollton First UMC for sharing the idea!)
#3 – Christmas Kabob (the tastes of Christmas)
Need: Wooden skewer; marshmallows; gumdrops; ribbon; Ziploc bag
Plan: Skewer a kabob of gumdrop, marshmallow, gumdrop, marshmallow. Wrap in Ziploc bag and tie with a ribbon.
Talk about: Jesus is the sweetest name I know! What are some sweet things you like to taste at Christmas?
#4 – Roasted marshmallows (the taste and smell of Christmas)
Need: Large marshmallows; Wooden sticks; Sterno cans; Lighter
Plan: Roast a marshmallow on a stick and eat.
Talk about: Talk about the foods of Christmas. What would Baby Jesus eat? What Christmas foods are their favorites? (Every Messy Family event should have an opportunity for a sense of danger! Thank you Kate Morris of Acworth UMC for sharing the entire set-up!)
#5 – Christmas Cards (the touch of Christmas)
Need: Unused Christmas cards; ink pens
Plan: Make a Christmas card to send to a church shut-in (church family); family member
Talk about: Talk about the way Christmas is a good time to remember how special friends and family are, because Jesus didn’t just appear by magic – he was born into a family.
#6 – Darlene with Barnyard Friends (the sights of Christmas) She has a large plastic Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Then surrounds it with all kinds of REAL ANIMALS that can be touched and pet from a stable like sheep, chickens, etc. (Darlene and I have known each other for years from weekday Preschool world.)
#7 – Rhythm Ribbons for Christmas carols (the sounds of Christmas)
Need: Dancing ribbon sticks
Plan: Dance to the music you hear
Talk about: Talk about the songs of Christmas and ask the kids what are their favorites.
#8 – Gingerbread Nativity (the taste of Christmas)
Need: Graham crackers; Meringue Powder (adds stiffness); Animal crackers; Shallow plates with sides; Holy family cookies (Pepperidge Farm); Candies; Chocolate chips; Shredded wheat bars
Plan: Invite children to decorate their stables
Talk about: Talk about how God created the animals in the stable. Ask the children if they have animals and pets. How does God take care of the animals and how does God ask them to take care of their animals and creation.

With only thirty minutes of stations, we limit the number to eight. Thirty minutes of worship put together with an emcee and mostly video segments including the story told by children will make for a multi-sensory experience in song with the dancing ribbons, story, and games. Thirty minutes of a simple soup supper with bread and water brings us all to a place of fellowship and relationship-building. Closing out with an all-hands together benediction.
Anything you would add?

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might.” 2 Samuel 6:14