Here are five things you can do now to take down the intensity of Advent making this sacred season less overwhelming for you in ministry with children and families.
- Prepare Christmas cards for your church families before October 15th, then mail the first week of December. Personal Christmas cards to your church families will give you a big bang for your buck and relationships.
a. Purchase deeply discounted Christmas cards from Big Lots, Ollie’s, etc. with Baby Jesus or nativity images only. Write a short Christmas letter about your family and how you’ve seen God’s goodness and faithfulness in your home, your work, and your world. Overbuy to have extras for guests who offer their contact info between mid October and Christmas Eve. I invite the 3rd-5th graders to write a personal Christmas card to their parents and other church leaders at October/November’s CLUB345.
b. Take a picture of your team or church staff dressed up/ugly Christmas sweater or wrapped in Christmas paper (check out the pics down a preschool hallway for inspiration) or tangled in Christmas lights based on your Advent theme for the season. Prepare like you would family photos adding a blessing.
c. Enlist the beautiful handwriting of a senior adult or two to hand address the envelopes, affix the Christmas stamps, and prepare by mid-October, hand signing each one to make it personal.
- Ask your personal family, “What three things will make Christmas Christmas for you?” This gives you the prioritized task list ahead of time to set the Advent table with your personal family as you are setting the table for your church families. We ask this on Team Reilly every year around this time leaving the list on the fridge. Last call is November 1st to give time for ordering and planning.
- Place your order for your take-home resources now like a pop-up Advent calendar, craft supplies for your family Advent event, and anything else you need for Advent AND January. If you’re handing out birthday candles to attach to cards on Christmas Eve so families can put the candle in a Christmas dessert on THE day, purchase the candles, glue dots, prepare a cardstock notecard, and invite a ladies or men’s group to put them together at their October/November meeting time.
- Decide and prepare or order your team’s volunteer/staff appreciation gift now. Consider possible supply chain issues and guard your head space. Consumables? Gift cards? Handmade items? Don’t wait. Unsure? Type “gift” in the search bar on 2-3 kidmin Facebook groups for inspiration and make your decision. Plan to gift by mid-December to be sure to reach everyone before THE day.
- Pull out the large laundry baskets and label what event the supplies inside are for to stage throughout Advent/January. Locate a space on campus where you can begin to stage supplies for all the specials which is safe and secure. I typically pull out the floor-length table clothes and begin using the space under the Welcome Center tables for Advent/January labeled staging since we share space with other ministries.
BONUS: I love all things Advent, but can get easily overwhelmed with every great idea I see. I fill a google doc labeled “Advent Ideas” with links and pics of all those great ideas to look through next September.
I’m praying for you. Not only are you preparing for this year’s Advent, but you’re also looking ahead to the possibilities of 2023. Set aside some time now to plan for Advent, so you have the margin to set aside some head space for 2023 dreaming AND some Advent time with your own family.
BONUS PLUS: Get those sizes together now for the family Christmas jammies so when they show up on the shelves you are ready!
“Silent night. Holy night. All is calm….”