By: Sandy Safford

Looking Ahead_0

Looking for some new ideas for the coming church season? This column, which we hope to include in each issue of the Advocate, is intended to give you some resources to consider for the months ahead. Maybe it will just remind you of something you haven’t tried in a while. Maybe it will kick start a whole new idea for your ministry for children, youth, adults, or multigenerations.

Happy planning!

These ornaments can be created in a Sunday School or all-church Advent gathering. Or they can be assembled and given to members of the congregation on a Sunday in Advent or on Christmas Eve.


What You Need for Each Participant:

• Glass or plastic ball ornament with removable top
• Items to represent the Christmas story:

—Small white feather (angel)
—Strip of blue fabric (Mary)
—Strip of burlap (Joseph)
—Pieces of straw (Stable/Manger)
—Cotton ball (Shepherds)

  • Unsharpened pencil (used to push items into the ornament)
  • Printed, hole-punched tag with story
  • Ribbon tied through the card and the ornament to form hanger

How to Do It
If the ornaments are being filled during a group activity, have all items available on the table.  As you tell the Christmas story, pause from time to time, inviting participants to add the item that represents that part of the story to their ornament.

  •  Remove the top of the ornament and set it aside.
  • Use the pencil to help push each item into the ball ornament, being extra careful if the ornaments are glass (they do break easily!)
  • Once the five items listed above are added, show participants how to place the top back on the ornament.
  • String the ribbon through the ornament top and the story card, knotting it at the top to form a loop to hang on the tree.
  • Encourage participants to use their ornaments and the items inside to retell the story to others!

Card 1Side 1:

CHRISTmas Story
An angel visits the virgin Mary and the carpenter Joseph and tells them they will have a special baby, Jesus, God’s own Son.  When the baby is born, Angels announce the good news to shepherds. They hurry to the stable to worship Jesus, God with us!



Card 2_1Side 2
Small white feather=angel
Strip of blue fabric =Mary
Strip of burlap=Joseph
Pieces of straw =Stable/Manger
Cotton ball =Shepherds



A Christmas Eve Storybook and Activity for Children
The treasure box is a wonderful way to engage children at a Christmas Eve Worship Service. The activity is based on Mary’s Treasure Box by Carolyn Kramlich, illustrated by Walter Porter. You can use it in one of these ways:

1. Invite a storyteller in costume to tell the story, using the items in the Wooden Box as she describes them.
What You Need
The storybook (available on Amazon)
—Wooden box
—A piece of straw, a reed/wooden flute, and sheep wool, rolled in a piece of white cloth
—A gold bracelet, a small box of “frankincense” and a shiny container for “myrrh.”

How to Do It
—Place the gold, frankincense, and myrrh on the bottom of the box
—Place the materials wrapped in white cloth on top of the gold, francincense and myrth
The storyteller uses the treasure box and its contents as props in telling the story to the group.

2. Give each child a treasure box and invite them to discover what’s inside as they listen to you read the story to them.  They can either be seated in front of the church or with their families.

What You Need
The storybook (available from Amazon)
A treasure box for each child.   It should be a cardboard box with a handle, decorated with stars, if you choose (you can order these boxes online, delivered flat)
A sticker for each box (see below)
Contents for each box: A small piece of cloth with cotton, straw and a white feather (in place of the flute) wrapped in it;  a plastic bag that contains a cotton ball with scent or dried spices; a small bag with gold coins and/or gold rings

Make copies of the following words on stickers.  Or copy on regular paper, cut out and glue to box.

Card 3




Interested in sharing your Ministry Ideas for Lent/Easter, Pentecost, Summer Ministry, World Communion Sunday, or Advent/Christmas/Epiphany?  Send your overview in a word document with contact info. to

Sandy Safford has served as a Christian Educator for 25 years serving a variety of churches in Utah and Colorado. Currently a Commissioned Ruling Elder serving Byers Community Church as pastor in a rural Presbyterian Church (USA) in eastern Colorado. Also serve as a Partner and Consultant for FAITHSENSE Consultants for Educational Ministries, LLP.