Once Upon a Christmas

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Use this rehearsal-free family
production to celebrate Christmas this year…

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With weeks of rehearsals, complex set designs, and elaborate
costumes, the traditional Christmas pageant isn’t for everyone. So
at this busy time of year, try doing something different to involve
entire families in a Christmas production that’s rehearsed and
completed in one night–with an important role for every
participant.

Step-by-Step Easy Prep

Nothing’s easier than an entire production done in one night, but
you’ll need to prepare well to pull it off. Follow these
steps.

• Starring Roles-Recruit four dramatic people who
can play the lead roles: Mary, Joseph, an angel, and a shepherd.
Gather simple costumes for these actors.

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• Supporting Cast-You’ll need helpers in each
room, so plan according to the number of people you’re expecting.
Also recruit volunteers as greeters, guides to take families to
rooms, musicians if necessary, tech support, and snack-reception
helpers.

• Room by Room-You’ll need three rooms with table
space for ornament making. Families will meet here to make their
ornaments and to learn their cues for the production.

• Tickets, Please-For planning purposes, ask
families to pick up free tickets to your one-night production so
you can have enough supplies and food on hand.

• Opening Night-Schedule your production at a
time that’s complementary to younger children’s schedules, such as
Saturday morning or early evening. When families arrive, have
greeters give each family a sticker for the room they’ll go to,
such as stars for the “It’s a Boy!” room, angels for the “A
Heavenly Announcement” room, and sheep for the “Follow That Star”
room. Simply distribute one-third of the families to each
room.

• Scene by Scene-Once families arrive in their
designated rooms, give them approximately 30 minutes to learn their
songs and story cues and create their ornaments.

• The Show Must Go On!-When families are finished
in their designated rooms, have them all gather in your sanctuary
or a large meeting area. Play Christmas music as families travel
into this area. Then introduce the evening and the three accounts
everyone will present of Jesus’ birth. Invite each actor on stage
and any families who’d like to join the actor to help tell their
story. Encourage all families to participate in the story’s motions
and the accompanying song.

• After the Show-Invite families to your
fellowship hall for a reception. Recruit a photographer to take
pictures of each participating family and use the photos as a
follow-up tool. After your event, upload the photos into a SmileBox
template (available November 15th at smilebox.com)
and then email or post the photos on your church Web site for
families to have a keepsake from the evening.

ROOM 1

It’s a Boy!

After a long journey to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph experienced
indescribable joy as they held the newborn Jesus in their arms.
Families in this room will create a nativity ornament, practice
“Silent Night,” and prepare their part of the story about the
special night Jesus was born.

Nativity Ornament

What you’ll need: Yellow paint, paintbrushes,
scissors, glitter, potpourri, glue, and a downloadable nativity
scene photocopied onto card stock (available by clicking
here
). Each person will also need five cinnamon sticks, 6
inches of ribbon, and a small wooden or cardboard star.

What families do: Paint a small wooden star with
yellow paint and sprinkle glitter over the wet paint. Glue five
cinnamon sticks into the shape of a house. As the glue and paint
dry, cut out the nativity scene and glue it to the dried
cinnamon-stick stable.

Glue potpourri onto the sides of the stable for a rustic look-and
nice smell. Then glue the star to the top of the stable. Insert a
6-inch piece of ribbon through the top of the stable. Tie the
ribbon in a knot for hanging the nativity ornament.

A Special Night

Mary and Joseph can practice this interactive story with families.
Encourage families to join Mary and Joseph on stage to help lead
the audience in the actions in parentheses.

Joseph: Mary and I made a long journey to
Bethlehem to be counted for the census
(count on their
fingers).

Mary: I was so tired and anxious to arrive in
Bethlehem
(females only say, “Are we there yet?”).

Joseph: I knew Mary was tired and the time
was nearing for baby Jesus to be born. I needed to find a place for
us to stay, so I knocked on the door of a hotel
(males motion
a knocking gesture). I asked the innkeeper, “Do you have any
room?” But the man shook his head
(shake their heads, no).
So I went to another hotel and knocked (all the males knock). I
asked again if we could stay the night and again the answer
was
(everyone says, “No”).

Mary: I told Joseph I’d be happy just to have
a place to lie down. One of the innkeepers was kind enough to offer
us some room in his stable. So there among the cows
(everyone
“moos”), sheep (everyone “baas”), and donkeys
(everyone “whinnies”), baby Jesus was born (everyone says,
“ahhhh”).

Joseph: Mary wrapped Jesus in warm clothes
and laid him in a manger
(all females pantomime wrapping a
baby and laying him down). Later that night we had visitors
arrive to see the most special baby in the world
(everyone
says, “ahhhh”).

Mary: Joseph and I knew God had given us a
special gift that night, and we made a promise to be the best
parents to baby Jesus
(everyone rocks a baby to sleep).

Joseph: Let’s sing “Silent Night” to remember
the special night Jesus was born.

(Lead everyone in singing “Silent Night.”)
     

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