Messy Church events are the best for inviting guests, self-directed family time, and rolling out the red carpet of hospitality to begin a new church season like Advent. With our Advent theme based on The Grinch, we opened the Sunday afternoon of the first day of Advent and will engage in the practices to grow our hearts for Jesus through Christmas Eve. Holy practices of learning, playing, praying, singing, laughing, creating, chatting, sharing, eating, and serving together as God’s people. We set up the room in zones with round tables in the center, rectangle-table stations along two walls, and the meal tables along the other two walls.

Registration included signing up to bring either a crock pot of soup, 2 large bags of rolls, set up, or clean up. The schedule looked like this:
4-4:45pm             Stations (engaging all 5 senses)
4:45-5:15pm       Service – 2 songs; interactive children’s moment #bettertogether  Grinch/isolated heart shrinks/together heart grows (learning)
5:15-5:40pm       Soup/Bread dinner (tablelife)
5:40pm-6pm      Nativity Bingo w/prizes at dinner tables (lingering at the table)
6pm                    Closing – Family Prayer

2 Meal Lines  – red table covering
Crock pots with soup & ladles, Bio-paper bowls, spoons, shredded cheese, toppings, etc., napkins
10 Meal Tables – green table covering, sit 8/table; labeled each table to dismiss for food line with each letter to spell G-R-I-N-C-H M-A-X
Conversation starters on tables
Bread rolls in center of each table on red/green paper plate

Messy Advent stations – tables along the walls; white table covering

Bag table
“Max, grab a bag. We’ll come back for the rest. Of course, when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘you.’” – The Grinch
Instructions: Grab a bag. Write your name on it. Decorate it with stickers and use it to carry all your take-home goodies.
Ask: What is your favorite thing about Christmas?
Supplies: brown gift bags, peppermint stickers, sharpies

S’mores Jars
“I’m all toasty inside.” – The Grinch
Instructions: Make s’mores with the supplies.
Ask: What is your favorite Christmas food?
Supplies: Sterno in glass jars, bamboo skewers, marshmallows, lighter, chocolate bars (2 rectangles per keeps the mess at a minimum), paper plates, graham crackers

Christmas Cards
“No one should be alone on Christmas.” – Cindy Lou Who
Instructions: Write a note of Christmas encouragement to someone special and sign your name inside the Christmas card. Place a stamp on the envelope in the upper right hand corner. Now it’s ready to mail!
Ask: Who are your favorite people to spend time with?
Supplies: Nativity Christmas cards, gel pens, winter postal stamps (This year’s Otter is super cute!)

Heart Ornament
“It’s because I’m green, isn’t it?” – The Grinch
Instructions: Write the name of Jesus on the green paper strip. Roll it up and place inside the heart. Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas. CHRIST-MUCH. CHRIST-MOST.
Ask: When we follow Jesus we give Him our heart AND our mind. What do you know about Jesus? Do you want to know more? Let me tell you….
Supplies: plastic heart ornaments, green paper, gel pens

Photo Station
“Are you having a holly, jolly Christmas?” – The Grinch
Instructions: Use the props and ask someone to take your family picture. (Getting into the habit of talking to other people.)
Supplies: Leftover Christmas wrapping paper, tape, Grinch photo props

Snowball making
“What’s that stench? It’s fantastic.” – The Grinch
Instructions: Make a snowball with the playdoh. Flatten it out and add a pinch of glitter and a drop of peppermint oil. Mix it well with your hands. Place it in the jar/bag to take home. Enjoy a peppermint candy. (Goodbye pumpkin spice, hello minter!)
Ask: What is your favorite Christmas smell?
Supplies: Candy canes, white playdoh, glitter, paper plates, peppermint essential oil, Ziploc bags

Who Hair Station
“Blast the Christmas music…It’s joyful and triumphant.” – The Grinch
Instructions: Use the supplies provided to prepare your hair properly as a Who.
Ask: What do you think would be the most fun part of being a Who?
Supplies: Red pipe cleaners, rubber bands, brush, hand mirrors, chair (Two youth ladies took this station to a whole new level as they worked together and chatted with the youngers!)

Face/Hand Painting
Supplies: 2 chairs, face paint, paper plates, paint brush, demo sheet of possibilities (bow, heart, manger, candy, candy cane, etc.)

Nativity Bingo
Use Christmas cereal, mini marshmallows, or M&Ms for playing pieces; Nativity Bingo sheets
Prizes – consumables(for dessert) such as Little Debbie Christmas Trees, Girl Scout Cookies, Confetti Cannons, etc.