I went to three Christmas parties over the weekend, one of which I hosted. The one at home was far & away my favorite because it was the first opportunity we’d had to have the church staff over for a purely social evening.
If you’ve ever served on staff at a small church, then you know that Sunday is really not a “day of rest” for you and perhaps not for your family, either. Creating an uplifting worship service, crafting a thoughtful sermon or lesson, and corralling kids in the Children’s Ministry takes a lot of preparation and a lot of energy. Each Christmas Jay & I try to give the staff the gift of one gathering they need only come and enjoy, with no lesson planning, kid watching, music selecting, or newsletter typing required!
We keep it informal even though I pull out my punch bowl and stemware to add to the sparkle and fun of the occasion. The menu is pretty traditional, with deep fried turkey, roasted pork loin, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, corn, yeast rolls, chocolate cake and Italian cream cake being my go-tos most years. You can read a little about my favorite ways to prep ahead here.
I also like to have the table looking festive with a fun centerpiece. In past years we’ve eaten at one long up table, seating up to 18 people if all of the children of staff members came along, which allowed me to do long runner-type centerpieces of candy or greenery or ribbons and candles. This year (in the new house) we sat at two tables, with the adults in the dining room and the kids in the kitchen, so I needed a different approach. I also like to have a little gift for each staff member. If you’ve already seen my Candy Bouquets, you can probably guess where this is going.
That’s right! I made mug-sized candy bouquets, but switched up my materials. I couldn’t find rolls of colored cellophane in our new, smaller hometown, so I used tissue paper instead. The skewers were not where I thought I’d unpacked them, but I found some plastic appetizer forks that worked beautifully for my design. Then when I went shopping for the treats I found some “Million Dollar” Candy Bars that allowed us to tell the staff “Thanks a Million” for all they do for us and the church.
Instructions for assembling a candy bouquet are available here.
I originally wasn’t going to worry about a centerpiece for the kitchen, but as I was setting the tables I decided (at the last minute) that it desperately needed a little something. Remembering my Thanksgiving centerpiece, I pulled out a clear vase and emergency candle, then filled the space with green & white hard candy mints. I perched the vase on a saucer with a Christmas border and called it good.
We had a lovely time with the church staff and enjoyed some laughs playing that game I’d seen circulating on social media…the one where you unravel a huge ball of plastic wrap to get to the prizes buried inside. There are lots of video tutorials (like this one) available about how to make the ball, so I won’t add another. I will, however, give you a few suggestions about making the ball and playing the game.
Suggestions for Preparing and Playing the Plastic Wrap Ball Game (Saran Wrap Game)
- I chose this game because upper elementary children through adults could play it together.
- When I was making the ball, I didn’t use any really expensive gifts and I tried to choose treats that would suit men, women, boys, and girls. Our plastic wrap ball had a foam football in the middle with mints, candy, a floating candle, an inflatable “space sword”, a small LED flashlight, a word search puzzle book, a car wash mitt, Christmas hand towels, Christmas pot holders, and a super hero “magic” wash cloth buried in the layers of plastic. Non-food gifts are helpful if anyone in your group has allergies.
- While wrapping the ball, I used pieces of plastic wrap of different lengths and didn’t always include a prize in every single layer. I also wrapped in different directions with lots of twists and turns and overlaps.
- I provided a cup to shake the dice and a tray into which to dump the dice so we didn’t have to chase wayward dice quite as often.
- We played with gloves! I provided a pair of those stretchy, one-size-fits-most gloves that had to be worn while unwrapping the ball. When the next person rolled doubles, he or she had to put on the gloves before starting to unwrap.
I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas events and are taking a few moments to reflect on the Reason for the Season as well as celebrating fun & festive times with special people!
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