3 Creative and Easy Ways to Spice Up Your Christmas Celebrations

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today … a Savior has been born to you … the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11 NIV

 You’ve invited your family and your friends and their children to your home to share your Christmas joy. You’d like to celebrate the birth of Jesus with something other than people sitting and standing around counting off the minutes until they can politely leave. You’d like to keep the cost down and the joy up. You’d like your preparation to be easy and uncomplicated.

Here are 3 tips that will send your guests home with ideas for their next Christmas celebration because they had so much fun at yours.

Penguins too cute to eat?
Penguins too cute to eat?

Tip 1. Serve one hors d’oeuvre that’s so cute it delights adults and children and starts icebreaker conversations.

Sign on to Pinterest if you’re at a loss for an idea, or use the super easy penguins John and I made last Christmas.

It’s okay that people don’t like their ingredients and don’t eat them or you catch them wrapping them in napkins and stowing them in their purses, like my sister did. She brought a penguin home and showed it to me. I went out and bought jumbo and small black olives, cream cheese, and carrots to make penguins to delight my children and grandchildren during our celebration.

Tip 2. Provide a fun activity to get the children’s wiggles out before sitting down to dinner or simply to expend their sugar-induced energy.

Aim, ready, fire, laugh.
Aim, ready, fire, laugh.

The activity you choose must cause the children to use their large muscles. One that’s perfect when it’s too cold to send them outside is a friendly indoor snowball fight using snowballs made from white panty hose or tights and polyester fiberfill. I’ve used them for years with preschoolers and no child was ever hurt when bonged in the face with one of these snowballs.

If you don’t have a playroom or large area free of fragile or dangerous items, back your car(s) out of the garage. Make sure you have a low barrier like wrapping paper roles or yardsticks laid end to end, which teams are not to cross. I suggest you have at least one adult on each team. Usually ten to fifteen minutes is a good length for a friendly snowball fight.

Tip 3. Offer a craft activity that gathers people around a table to chat and laugh while making something to take home.

A winner.
A winner.

One that’s good for older children, teens, and adults is making graham-cracker houses using icing for glue and candies for decorations. As an alternative, your group could construct the little town of Bethlehem with flat-roofed tall and short buildings.

Another craft activity I’ve enjoyed with family and friends of all ages is making ornaments from inexpensive prepackaged kits. Usually, even the craft humbuggers will join in for a simple craft.

What have you done that spiced up your Christmas celebrations?

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How to Create Cohesion Sooner in Forming Groups

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” —Ernest Hemmingway

Stages of Group Development  

Many have heard about the five stages of group development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning. See CEO: Creating Excellent Organizations website.

I’ve been a member of corporate and church task forces, long-term Bible studies, writers’ critique groups, and a leadership development group. I agree. The 5 stages are right-on.

Two questions:

1.   What can we do in Forming to squelch Storming’s fears and inability to listen to each other?

2.   How can Norming’s identifying with one another, sharing feelings, and feeling good about the group become stronger during Forming?

Create Group Cohesion Sooner

1.   Plan a meaningful introduction activity for the first meeting. Don’t skimp on the time allocated to this activity. The whole first session devoted to this activity is worth it.

2.   Inform members of the activity ahead of time so they’ll be prepared. Make preparation required. Then people can listen to other members, instead of frantically thinking about what they’re going to say and missing what others are sharing.

3.    Get creative and make the activity fun, personal, and memorable. Members should enjoy preparing for the activity, engaging them mentally before the first meeting. What interests most people? Themselves. So, make it personal. The activity must help members know their fellow members.

4.   Make the activity non-threatening and easy for members to do—and for others to take in. Many don’t like performing in front of people. Many get uptight if they have to memorize a speech. You want members relaxed and engaged while talking and while listening.

5.   Design the activity so no one member monopolizes the time. Set time limits and how they’ll be managed. Meetings are uncomfortable when members abuse time limits or rules. The activity becomes ineffective and is memorable for the wrong reasons, starting Storming too early.

An Activity to Enhance the Forming Stage of Any Group

I think this activity incorporates the 5 activity tips well. Hold off judging if you think the example isn’t for men or corporate groups. I’ll suggest how to tweak it to fit other group types.

Shoebox Activity: 

My shoebox

I learned of this simple activity from Marcia Lahti:

“At the first leaders’ meeting, the teaching leader used a shoebox full of items to introduce herself to us. After listening to her, I felt like I knew her, and I identified with plenty of things in her box. Talking to her would be easy.

I invited the eight women in my group to a Box Lunch. I’d provide the lunch, and they were to bring a shoebox full of items to introduce themselves. One big advantage of this activity is the women control what they share, instead of me asking questions.

I put a ten-minute time limit on the sharing. Each woman shared their interests and what was important in their lives. I discovered all could identify with each other’s items. Conversation abounded, and by lunchtime, I could have served peanut butter sandwiches and no one would have noticed.

One lady used the shoebox as one of her items, because she loved shoes. Another lady put her items in a pocketbook she’d made. A poem one woman’s autistic son wrote touched me. Most women had photos of family and pets.

This activity successfully helped my group get comfortable with each other. By the next meeting, we were Facebook friends, sharing favorite books and craft ideas. Later, three of the members were chosen as leaders, and all used this Box Lunch idea with their groups.”

_____

See what Marcia Lahti is up to on Twitter: MarciaLahti.

Group members enjoying their leader’s shoebox items?

For a corporate task force, the members’ shoebox items could represent every job they’ve held since high school. A critique group’s could represent the genres they write in, their published books, a grammar pet peeve, and a photo of where they write. Get creative!

What other activities would work as well as the shoebox activity? What theme would you suggest for items placed in your group’s shoeboxes?

To CONTACT ME use the form. To LEAVE A COMMENT use the COMMENT option below the form.

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