It’s almost December, and for many of you, that means it’s time to Jingle Jam! We decided to ask one of our favorite kids ministry leaders, Emily Williamson, to share exactly how she prepares for a Christmas party big enough for every family at The Church at Tuscaloosa.
How is Jingle Jam making a difference in your ministry?
We truly believe that what happens at home is more important than what happens at church. Family Experiences, like Jingle Jam and Easter Jam, help families create core memories together while equipping parents to help their kids develop an everyday faith that lasts. We had over 300 people come to Jingle Jam last year and experience Christmas in a whole new way. We sang songs, played crazy games, laughed until our sides hurt, and heard the Christmas story told in a way that engaged every age. One family’s first interaction with us was at Jingle Jam. They felt so loved and wanted to be a part of what we were doing that it led them to walk in the doors the very next Sunday. A year later, they are still here, and the second grader does everything she can to ensure they don’t miss a Sunday. It’s remarkable to see so many kids whose faith and desire to follow God affect the actions and faith of their families at home. And that’s just one story.
Why is décor an important part of the Jingle Jam experience? How many people does it take it decorate your space?
The décor for Jingle Jam is a way to enhance the experience. It’s the difference between someone handing you a gift that has not been wrapped versus someone handing you a gift that has been wrapped and has a bow on it. It’s the wow factor. There’s a level of excellence and care that is felt and seen when there is décor. The décor is also a way to transport people to a fun, new world. Since Jingle Jam kicks off the Christmas season at our church, it begins the Christmas transformation of the building.
There are about 5 of us, including me, who help decorate, and three of them are middle school girls. They love it! They are hard workers and truly love being a part of something big. Sometimes, we’re all 5 decorating and other times, it’s just two of us, but we make it work.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who has never decorated for a Jingle Jam before and feels overwhelmed?
A little can go a long way. Don’t stress over what other people are doing. Their space is different than yours, their team is different than yours, and most likely, their budget is different than yours. You can do a lot with paper and push pins, trust me. And don’t do this alone! I know you hear that all the time. This is my 6th Jingle Jam to be a part of as a full-time staff member. This is only my 2nd time not completely decorating alone. I tried for FAR too many years doing it alone. It’s overwhelming and drains all the excitement out of it. It usually lands me in the fetal position and in tears. It’s been a game-changer to have help! I only had one other person helping me last year, but this year, it’s grown by 3. So it’s still not a big team of people, but remember, a little can go a long way!
Here are some fun, practical decorating ideas to make your Jingle Jam the best one yet!
- -Use candy canes made out of pool noodles to line the sidewalk of the main entrance. (See Picture 1 below)
- -Borrow Inflatables from people in your church!
- -Rent a snow machine!
- -Make a balloon arch. (See Picture 2)
- -Try setting up hot chocolate and coffee with greenery and lights around the coffee bar as a way to show hospitality and create a natural way for people to connect with each other.
- -Create a photo booth with a bench or couch with a pillow and rug, and add a balloon arch behind it! This is a great way to provide families with pictures and increase awareness of your church on social media as families share their pictures. (See Picture 3)
- -Jingle Jam includes game ideas in the “Create the Environment” document that you can use in hallways!
- -We also did a Balloon Christmas tree arch that was a hit! (See Picture 4)
- -One 6x9ft “Deck the Halls” banner in the middle of the stage. It will act as a small curtain to create a backstage for the smaller props and the prizes.
- -Decorate 4 large panels to look like parts of the house that people typically decorate. ie: A front door, a fireplace with a mantel, a Christmas tree, and the side of the house with a window. (See Pictures 5 – 8)
- -Put lots of wrapped presents (or empty boxes) on the stage to create depth!
- -Across the front of the stage, in between our steps, will be a large paper holly garland. (See Picture 9)
- -Tables with small wrapped presents on them for the centerpieces.
- -Buffet line for the pancake breakfast with sausage, bacon, and eggs. Milk and orange juice for drinks.
- -Have people stationed outside the auditorium to pass out Parent Cue Advent Calendars and Jingle Jam ornaments to each family.
Whether you have a team of 3 people or 30 people and a budget of $30 or $300, you can create a great experience to engage families by thinking outside of the box, using what you have, and inviting people in your church to contribute to creating the environment! If you want to learn more about how to create a Christmas experience for the whole family, check out Jingle Jam today!