Alternative Holiday Celebrations to Keep Your Church Safe

The 2020 holiday season is nearly upon us. This year’s unique restrictions make it difficult for churches to celebrate in a traditional manner. Just like with other aspects of church life–weekly services, small group meetings, outreach ministries, and more–we need to get creative with how we handle holiday celebrations.

With ChurchStaq, in addition to the world-class software that allows you to efficiently manage all aspects of ministry–powerful connection tools, a customizable app, and arguably the best church giving solution on the market–we are continually thinking about how churches can effectively utilize these tools in a real-world context.

Keeping that in mind, here are some holiday event ideas that your church can implement this year. Take and use these ideas to celebrate 2020-style: finding creative ways to nurture meaningful connections with your church community.

Fall Celebrations – “Trunk or Treat” alternatives for your church.

Going door-to-door collecting treats in the traditional trick-or-treat fashion seems unlikely for most families this year. If you’re like many of our church partners, seeking to facilitate fun trick-or-treat alternatives, the “trunk-or-treat” approach is typically a great option. It could still work in 2020. Consider these options, as you plan for your Fall celebrations.

Drive-thru “Trunk-or-Treat” – Plan a time for church members to all gather in the church parking lot for a parade of Harvest-season fun! Costumed kids stay in the car while their (also costumed) parents drive them through the designated candy pickup spots, operated by enthusiastic church staff members and volunteers (all of whom will of course have appropriate safety masks and gloves). You can use rich push notifications, available as a part of your custom Church App from Pushpay, to remind families of the upcoming festivities.

Bonus Ideas – Add Fall-themed coloring pages, trivia, easy-to-sanitize games (Ring Toss from the back passenger window?), costume contests with individual and group winners, and as many decorations as you can muster (church parking lot turned spooky forest?) for a truly spectacular, and safe, Autumn celebration.

Church Dinners – Church potlucks, reimagined for 2020.

Breaking bread as a church family is a fundamental experience for virtually every community. Especially around the holidays. How do we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even the New Year over a meal, while keeping each other safe? Try these ideas, as you rethink your church’s fellowship meals.

Virtual Church Picnic – Gather your church members in a digital meeting space and share a meal. A meeting platform like Zoom will allow you to see everyone’s smiling, mask-free, faces. It’s not exactly the same as an in-person meal, but it’s the safest way to get everyone in the same “room.” To make it even more special (and further encourage attendance), send everyone a food delivery gift card so they can order a meal.

Bonus Idea – To make an event like this more personal, try the breakout room feature on the virtual meeting software to split up everyone into smaller groups for discussion and prayer. Groups of 2-3 families seems to work best for comfortable conversations.

Small Group Meals – If church logistics (and local guidelines) allow, instead of doing a traditional church-wide holiday meal, encourage and equip your Small Groups to be the place where Thanksgiving or Christmas are celebrated over dinner. As an extra precaution, make these events BYO, “bring your own.” Or, utilize a caterer that can provide boxed/individually portioned meals. Celebrating a holiday meal together in the context of Small Groups combines the special connection of in-person fellowship with, but with the ability to maintain safe spacing.

Christmas Programs – Nativities, cantatas, and carols…from a distance.

Music is such a special aspect of the Advent and Christmas seasons. Don’t we all look forward to singing our favorite carols, hymns, and Psalms? This year could provide some challenges to your church’s Christmas music tradition. Here are some ideas for how to take a creative approach to Church Christmas Programs.

Virtual Caroling – Whether your church family has a tradition of caroling door-to-door, your choir presents a beautiful program of Christmas music, or you’re in need of a new idea because 2020 has curbed all the others, virtual caroling could be the way to go. The beauty of this activity is there are a variety of approaches.

If your church has a robust production team, you can record a number of vocalists and musicians separately–utilizing their own computer webcams at home–and then editing the various videos together for a harmonious presentation. This approach is labor-intensive but rewarding.

A simpler approach would be to gather a group of carolers (masked and safely spaced, of course) to live stream a performance of traditional Christmas songs. Folks from anywhere in the world could tune in to hear. The 2020 version of door-to-door caroling.

Children’s Programs – Sad the kids won’t be able to perform the annual Nativity play? Well, maybe they still can. Have families create their own versions at home. Homemade costumes, (blankets and sheets make great tunics and cloaks), a simple manger scene in the living room, and have a family pet as a stand-in for farm animals. Snap a photograph and you’ve got a fun and interactive Christmas activity.

Families can simplify by taking a picture of their little ones in costume. Or, take a short video of the children reciting their lines or a passage of scripture. Then, compile all these videos and photos for a virtual Children’s Church Nativity Program.

2020 has presented more than its fair share of challenges. Your church’s holiday celebrations don’t have to be a casualty. With these creative ideas, you can still have robust, enjoyable, and people-focused Autumn, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Year celebrations.

Does managing the logistics of ministry and staying connected with your people seem even more daunting as we approach the hectic close to a hectic year? Are you prepared to execute on your end-of-year giving campaign? Pushpay and Church Community Builder exist to bring people together by strengthening community, connection, and belonging. We’re now better than ever with our all-in-one solution, ChurchStaq. Talk to an expert today to see how ChurchStaq can help you do more efficient and effective ministry.

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