You will need:
- envelopes/bags/boxes (one for each child)
- cotton wool
- stars (could be plastic/wood/cardboard/stickers/whatever you can get hold of)
- tea lights (or other candles)
Total cost: varies depending on numbers and suppliers. I got enough for 150 children for £6.40.
Choose how you are going to tell the story. This could be the traditional placing the figures in the crib scene. It could be acting out the story (either children or adults, either rehearsed or ‘from scratch’). If you’re short of time to prepare, it could just be reading a book or showing a DVD.
When the children arrive, give them their envelope (or bag or box) and explain that they’re going to be collecting the story during the service. After each section of the story, invite the children to come and collect the next item:
- After Jesus’ birth: straw, for the stable.
- After the shepherds: cotton wool, for the sheep.
- After the wise men: the star.
Finally, invite them to collect their candle. Light everybody’s candle, and talk about Jesus being the Light of the World.
After the candles are blown out and put into the envelopes, invite the children to take away their envelope and use it to tell the story again on Christmas day, and to share the story with other people. If you have materials left over, you could invite the children to make another set to give to someone as a gift.
“Look what I got/made/collected at church” is a great way for children to open up conversations about Jesus with their family and friends. It’s a fun and non-threatening way for them to share and explore their faith with the adults and other children in their lives.