Christmas Activities with Small Groups and Neighbors

There are a million things we try to do over the Christmas season. The pressure to connect, be “on,” and make meaningful moments for our families, friends, and neighbors is palpable. I don’t think that social media helps us with this feeling of overwhelming pressure. We start comparing and then judging our abilities to host, entertain, and create memory-rich moments.  

What if it’s a whole lot simpler than we make it out to be? What if it’s not about the perfect program, setting, food, or conversations? 

As someone who has gotten on the “comparison” wagon many a time and has felt severely inadequate in juggling all the “shoulds” of the season, I want to offer a couple things that might help you maintain some joy this season AND allow you to participate in the quiet work that God has for you without ostentatious striving. 

First, the how.

Keep it simple. There is no need to make things super fancy or comprehensive if that is not something you have time for or enjoy. If you are planning on making bread or cookies for your neighborhood, pick something simple to produce and multiply as well as something that works with your schedule. For instance, I make bread for my neighborhood every year. I pick 2-3 types and then I bake 2 loaves at a time and stick them in the freezer. It’s really easy to bake a little at a time as I have time. I keep the packaging simple with double foil and a bit of ribbon and a card. 

For get-togethers, keep the menu simple and something you can do ahead of time. Or even better, make it an appetizer or dessert event so you don’t even have to worry about the main course. Even something as simple as some decaf coffee/tea or hot cocoa with a plate of cookies is enough. (This will make more sense when we talk about the “why.”)

If it’s activity-based, keep the supplies minimal and the activity singular. If you are doing card making  or ornament making, focus on one project and allow people to creatively explore all the different ways they can work within that one project with the materials provided.  

Keep it casual and relaxed. One of the best ways to ease the stress during an event is to remove the pressure of a schedule. People rarely show up on time and there are always little things that cause disruptions: dinner isn’t ready on time, people are still chatting, the tech isn’t working….  Sure, have a start and finish to the activity and, for those of us who are type A, a bit of structure is helpful, but let it flow and be breathable so that it’s not a big deal if things go awry…. I’ll point you back to the first point of simplicity. It’s easier to keep a relaxed schedule with simple events.  

Second, the why. 

Why do we do these things? Because we desire community and connection with people and we need it. Jesus calls us to that. Introverts and extroverts alike. Not only do you need community and connection, but your neighbor down the street does. Your small group does. Sometimes during the holidays, we get the “why” all confused and crooked. We are tempted to make the activities about ourselves and how we can look to those around us, OR we get on this “savior” complex where we think it is our job to make everyone’s holiday special and magical. Neither of these are necessary because God has already taken care of our worth and value, and he’s already done all the Christmas magic (virgin birth, angels in the sky, a star, 1000-year-old prophecy fulfilled). Let go of those reasons and hang on to the one that matters:  making relationships and pointing the people you meet to Jesus. When you do this, you stop worrying about the periphery and focus your energy on the things that count. 

Ok, so here is a list of some of my FAVORITE activity ideas that you can do this season with your small group or your neighborhood OR, even better, both. And just so you know, you don’t have to do these things right now. You can try them out any time of the year. 

•  Group Sing Along (If you have a musician in your group, utilize their talents if they are willing; if you don’t, get a playlist from Pandora or elsewhere.)  If you have folks in your neighborhood who might like to join, invite them! Set a time and sing. The first couple songs will be timid, but folks really get into it after a while.

•  Spontaneous Nativity Creation (small group)  Have the group read the nativity story and then start grabbing supplies around the home you are in and start creating a live nativity. The group host may want to put stuff out ahead of time or give some boundaries for the group so that they don’t use things that are off limits. The fun in this is the spontaneous act of utilizing the materials around you. It will have you laughing for sure!

•  Meal Making (great for neighbors and small groups)  Grab 3-4 recipes that can be doubled or tripled and easily frozen, and cook together. You can share these meals with folks who are in need this season or divide the meals amongst the cooks for future use. 

•  Homeless Gift Bag Creation (neighbors and small group, great for kiddos too)  Make a batch of ziplock bag kits with toothpaste, soap, hand warmers, socks, hats, food gift cards, tissues, etc, and divvy them up to spread around to the homeless in your community. Put a personal card in each bag. 

•  Christmas Movie Night
 (small group or neighbors or both)  Pick a favorite Christmas movie, pick a night, and provide a space with a screen. Pop some popcorn and invite people in. This is great for folks who are shy and want to connect but to whom the thought of small talk isn’t one bit appealing. 

•  Game Night (neighborhood, small group or a combo)  If it’s a small gathering, you can work with one game; if it’s bigger and more of an open house type of thing, have a couple games out so that people can spread out and come and go as they please. Puzzles are great too.  

• Prayer Walk (small group)  Our weather fluctuates quite a bit around here, so if you find yourself with a nice weekend afternoon or a warmer evening, take a prayer walk with your small group. Pick a spot to start and set a time or a route. No need for theologically rich prose…just bring your neighbors before your LORD and lift them up. Pray for each other during this time too. As the thoughts come, pray them.  A prayer walk works really well with 2-3 people. If your group is larger, break into smaller cohorts so that people aren’t constantly interrupting each other. 

Amelia Furman has been a member of Faith for eight years. She is a professional fine artist and teacher who specializes in mixed media art.

At Faith, Amelia serves on the writing team and encourages others in blessing people with their creativity. She loves telling meaningful, thought-provoking stories that shape imaginations and minds for God’s glory. 

Amelia is from Pennsylvania and enjoys painting, reading, running, hiking, and laughing.