An Early Christmas Present
They say you can never be too prepared! That is never truer than with Advent, Christmas and your youth ministry.
To help you get ahead of the game this year and perhaps bring some sparkle and glitter to your youth work, we have put together a package brimming with games, creative ideas, bible studies and social action ideas that will leave you wanting to pull off the wrapping and getting stuck in.
These ideas will work with your large night youth club or your small cell groups, there should be something for everyone.
You are free to use any and all of these ideas and then please let us know how it went, we would love to share in the Christmas joy with you and your youth group.
Any questions or queries do get in touch:
Why not have a session creating Handmade Christmas presents with your group. Perhaps you could make enough to be given out at your local old people’s home or woman’s refuge as well as them being a great gift for a family member.
- Bird Food Ornaments (Saltwater Kids): http://www.saltwater-kids.com/2010/12/thrifty-gifts-bird-seed-ornaments-for.html
- Peg Doll Holy Family (Sugar Bee Crafts): http://www.sugarbeecrafts.com/2014/11/diy-nativity-projects.html#_a5y_p=3008967
- DIY Lantern (Craft Tricks): https://craftricks.com/lantern-with-christmas-lights/
- Star Making (The Beat That My Heart Skipped): http://thebeatthatmyheartskipped.co.uk/index.php/2009/12/08/diy-origami-star-decorations/
Hand-made Nativity Scenes:
Why not have a session creating your own youth group nativity scene. You could use it to decorate in your youth space or put it up somewhere in church, if you create it at the beginning of advent then you will have it with you as you talk about this story for the rest of the Christmas period.
Colouring with God:
www.colouringwithgod.co.uk is a wonderful website created by Lorien, who is “a wife, mum and compulsive doodler from Australia”. It’s full of beautifully created bible verses all ready for you to colour in. She has a selection of Christmas cards £2.50 for eight, however you can also download and print off her other designs from between £1-£6 depending on the amount you want to copy. http://www.colouringwithgod.co.uk/product/licence/ She also has a book with all her designs in for £6.99.
You could use any of these designs as a meditation with groups of young people. Just read the verse in the bible first and then talk through what stands about it, then encourage them to colour in the relevant design or create their own design based on the passage.
Nativity Story (with M&Ms)
Why not finish a session of your youth group, either after an evening of fun and games or after looking at the story of the wise men and comparing the bible version with our playgroup nativity story and seeing what the differences might be.
All you need is a handful of M&Ms for each person and this little print out taken from Valerie Bybee blog of Christmas ideas.
Perhaps you could even give them away to your young people as a Christmas present.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Using Christmas wrapping paper, old cards, sweet wrappers and all the ‘trappings’ of our commercial Christmas, can you create you own mosaic picture of one scene from the nativity story, or a picture about what Christmas actually means to you.
This is an American website full of fantastic short films and sketches, that you can buy and download. You can view the whole movie first before you buy it and they have a huge selection from Christmas and Easter to themed ones such as – ‘God’s Chisel’, have a look at this film first if you have never seen any of theirs before. https://skitguys.com/videos/item/gods-chisel
The Nativity Story:
This is a wonderful retelling of story of Mary and Joseph and their journey towards Jesus’ birth. Watching this with any group of young people with popcorn and pizza is a perfect way to spend a Christmassy session.
What’s in the Bible:
This is aimed at children but you could still use it with young people as it explains helpfully what Christmas is all about. It may be perfect for young people who don’t know much about the Christian faith or as an easy way to dispel some of the myths that we have picked up over the years about Christmas.
'What is advent?' Film
A fun YouTube film explaining what advent is all about – worth watching more than once but as its only 2 minutes long it’s not too hard! Use it to introduce the whole season of Advent.
Born Among us:
This is a resource based on images of the nativity from around the world and is a very powerful way of engaging young people with Christmas in different cultures. The material is written with schools in mind but don’t be put off by that, when its used with teenagers of all ages the effects have been very powerful, particularly for those who are visual learners or not very wordy.
Devotion on Peace:
Here is a lovely little 5-minute encouragement from the website “Student Devos”, to either give out to your young people or lead with them in a ‘God slot’ moment or reflection at the end of your session. This one is all about Peace but there are links to a couple more at the end of the article if you liked this one, for example, “Stressed? God’s got your back” or “Kicking the habit of fear”. They may even be helpful for yourself and any other leaders in your group.
Advent with Luke and Matthew:
Here are two ready to use advent bible studies looking at Luke ad Matthew's accounts of the Christmas story.
The Luke session encourages your group too look at make a list of the characters that appear in the gospel account and then to compare the two songs that are sung, one by Mary and the other by Zechariah. It finished with a nativity making craft.
The Mathew session looks at the characters found in this gospel version but then compares it to the children's nativity play that all junior schools put on for parents are this time of year and what is part of the true representation of the bible account and what is not.
Devotions for everyday:
Youth ministry 360 are an American website with lots of recourses. They have produced a daily devotions book for teenagers for the 25 days of advent and you can download the first few days to have a look before you buy. Try it out and see if it will scratch where your young people are itching.
What about creating the whole of the Nativity story through Instagram? Read the Luke and or Matthew accounts (they differ slightly - you only get the kings in Matthew for example) and then see if you can re-create the time line of the story only using photos! The young people could go out on the street (don’t forget safeguarding and risk assessments for this) to capture shots or could you do the whole thing using your meeting space and the young people in it.
Reverse Advent Calendar:
Here is a great idea to do with your youth group or encourage them to take it home and create one with their family.
The concept is based around the idea of instead of just receiving gifts at Christmas we can give out of all our resources and give back to those who have very little.
Check out the website, there is a video to help you set up and a list of all you will need. You could do it as your youth group and encourage the young people bring in something each week and fill up your box, then find our local foodbank and take a few of them down there is hand in all your goodies, they always have a lot of donations over Christmas so if you wait till the New year they would be more grateful – check with your local foodbank first.
Birmingham City Mission – Toys for Christmas
“Every Christmas BCM distributes gifts to over 2,500 children in our city who would otherwise not receive presents. It is a mammoth task that relies on the generosity of many people who give toys, energy and time to ensure each child referred to us receives a sack of gifts on Christmas morning.”
So, this Christmas why not get your youth group to get involved in this, people could club together with their pocket money or allowance and buy a toy for a child, maybe whatever the young people raise your church could match?
Operation Christmas Child
If you haven’t heard of Operation Christmas Child it’s an organisation that for years have been taking shoe boxes full of toys and goodies to children around the world who would have no presents at Christmas otherwise. Their website has changed over the years so if you can’t get to a shop and buy bits for your show box you can now create your own box on line and pick from their ‘shop’. Perhaps you could do this together as a youth group with everyone bringing in a £1 and then creating your box together – follow the link for more information. https://shoeboxworld.co.uk/shoeboxworld/?_ga=2.58558121.202426940.1504607138-1081706622.1504100424#shoebox/girl/10-14 (build your own shoe box)
Christmas “Would you rather?” Game:
Would you rather: have a snowball for a head or 100 jingle bells for hair?
Would you rather: Be the angel at the top of the tree or Jack in the box?
These and other crazy statements are a great icebreaker or Christmas party opener you could even use them roufd your Christmas dinner table.
Just a silly game for your Christmas party
Here’s another one.
14 fun games to play
And these are just plan silly fun.
75 Advent activities:
If you are stuck for advent ideas to encourage your young people to be more Christmas focused throughout Advent, this blog is a good place to start. Some of these ideas are aimed at children but we all know that young people enjoy any excuse to play.
Two years ago, as a family we bought an advent spiral and it has bought such a wonderful dimension to our advent journey. It’s a wooden spiral with holes for candles which you can light one for each day during advent. This is a lovely blog and then a link to one place to you can a spiral but there will be others on the market. You could use this as part of your walk through advent with your group as a way of opening or closing each session.
Link to buy a Spiral: http://www.babipur.co.uk/grimm-s-natural-wooden-spiral.html
Another activity would be to buy some air-drying clay and ask the young people to make their own spiral but with 5 candles in, one for each Sunday in advent, then one for Christmas day – see the ‘Christmas wreath’ idea for more ways to use this crafty with your group.
What about giving your young people something to do at home with their family throughout advent. The God Adventure website have published a “25 ways to be Thankful” one for every day of advent – easy to print off and give out, you don’t have to include the candle.
Why not make an Advent wreath for with your group and every time you meet during advent light the next candle and say one of the prayers together – start an advent tradition with your youth group.
Some ready-to-use Resources
There are some great ready-to-use resources out there for Advent/Christmas.
Here's a few you could try:
Advent Bible Studies
These poems were written by John Yates a member of Holy Trinity, Lickey