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Sharing Christmas
This fall our Sunday school theme was loving and serving others. So when it came time to plan our children's Christmas program, we wanted something that would help us focus on putting love into action instead of focusing on ourselves.

So we began Advent with Family Ministry Night. We invited our entire congregation to meet at the church at 6 p.m. on the first Sunday in Advent. We formed several groups who went out to minister to our community with these projects.

• Card Connection-One group took rubber stamps and supplies for Christmas cards to a local homeless shelter. We provided stamps and envelopes so residents could mail the cards to friends and relatives.
• Carols and Cookies-Another group went to a nursing home to sing Christmas carols and serve cookies. A few families even brought dogs to visit those who couldn't come to the gathering room.
• Bingo-At a senior center, a group of families played Bingo with the residents and served root beer floats.
• Food for Everyone-One group went door-to-door collecting food for our local food bank.
Each group ministered for about an hour. Then we all returned to our church to share stories of how we were able to bring joy to someone else's life that night. We ended the evening by singing Christmas carols and enjoying punch and cookies.

Kim Ooms
Hastings, Minnesota

Bible Links
As part of our birthday gift to Jesus, we encouraged children to spend more time exploring God's Word.

From the Sunday after Thanksgiving until the Sunday before Christmas, we gave children red or green construction paper "Bible links" to add to our Christmas chain for each chapter of the Bible they read.

Children hung their long chains on the church Christmas tree the Sunday before Christmas. It was a beautiful, tangible reminder of children's desire to focus on giving to Jesus during this season.

Kim Ooms
Hastings, Minnesota

Hands-On Christmas Cards
Kids love to make these hands-on dove cards for Christmas. You'll need thick white tempera paint, sturdy paper plates, gold or silver glitter glue, pencil crayons or gel pens, black construction paper or card stock (folded in half), glue, and wiggly craft eyes.

Pour the paint into a paper plate. Have children each lay their palm in the paint. Make sure the child's entire palm is well-coated to ensure a good print.

Spread fingers slightly and keep the thumb sticking out for a clear dove print. Place the child's handprint on the cover of the folded card. Allow the card to dry completely before decorating.

Once the print is ready, have children add pencil crayon or gel pen writing, the wiggly eye, and glitter. Use yellow for the beak and feet, and green for a sprig of olive or mistletoe with white berries. Have kids write a Christmas message in white crayon or gel pen on the inside of the card.

Wendy Anderson
Alberta, Canada

Advent Bulletin Boards
For Advent, our bulletin board committee came up with a wonderful three-dimensional display using artificial garland and battery-operated candles.

Each Sunday in Advent, we lit another candle by adding batteries to the candle and screwing in its bulb. We tacked an explanation of each candle's color and significance to the bulletin board as we set the candles aglow.

Each week in Advent, families stopped to admire the display and to reflect on the information next to the newly lit candle.

This bulletin board was a great teaching tool and a beautiful addition to our children's ministry decorations during Advent.

Barbara Bradshaw
Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania

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