A fun way to build unity for the ward and excitement for the ward Christmas party, is to invite the entire ward to participate in a Secret Santa activity in the weeks before the party. You can have the whole ward draw anyone’s name, or have Primary kids and leaders draw each others’ names, Young Men and Young Women draw each others’ names, Relief Society sisters draw.
This would work especially well in singles or student wards, and may even be a great way for some of them to get to know each other. Have the Elders Quorum draw Relief Society sisters’ names and the sisters draw the brothers’ names.
The Christmas spirit is always found in music. Ask the Primary and youth to sing or play a musical instrument, and ask them if any of their friends from school play or sing and would like to participate (a fun way to include non-member friends). Find arrangements of a few Christmas songs and schedule some rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the party. Invite friends and neighbors to bring their parents so they know what they’re practicing for and invite the parents to come the night of the party. These rehearsals will give kids and parents a chance to get to know each other and feel comfortable performing when the big night rolls around.
If you have four or five songs, divide the group into different ensembles and arrange the program so each song comes in between the other events.
Choose a favorite Christmas story and invite one of the Primary children to read the story to the ward as part of the program, just like a storytime librarian would. If the story is an especially short one, you may want to choose two kids and have two stories read at different times during the evening, maybe with a song in between.
If you have a choreographer in the ward, ask the bishopric and their wives if they would mind performing a little dance number. Choose a fun Christmas song and arrange a dance with the three couples.
Dinner and a Dance
Send invitations to everyone in the ward, inviting them to wear Sunday-best for the party. If there is someone in the ward or stake who can teach some new steps, have a half-hour dance lesson after dinner. Make sure Mr. and Mrs. Clause get out on the dance floor, and then take time for each of the kids to visit with them. Have a hobbyist photographer in the ward take pictures of couples, families, and kids visiting Santa.
Christmas Around the World
Ask returned missionaries in your ward or branch for Christmas traditions from the countries where they served and incorporate those into the evening. Choose a Christmas hymn like “Silent Night” and teach the Primary or youth how to sing it in a different language to perform after or during dinner.
From Our Ward to Yours
We celebrated Christmas with our ward in a very successful “Christmas in Nauvoo” this past year.
The whole night was an 1840’s Christmas. Folks were invited to come in period costume and some even rented top hats and waistcoats. Most wore simple long skirts, or white shirts and suspenders for the men.
The decorations were simple, lots of greenery on tables and walls, simple white tablecloths, and battery-operated candles on the tables. For dinner we had turkey along with pheasant and quail (thanks to an Elders Quorum president who loved to hunt!) and all the trimmings—corn bread, vegetables, lots of desserts, hot cider, gingerbread—all done pot-luck style.
And the entertainment was the best! We selected a man to play the Prophet Joseph. He went wandering the room in character and later gave us the narration for the program. He spoke about his feelings on Christmas and family with a singing group, a soloist, and a great harmonica duet, and he was then interrupted by someone chosen to be Porter Rockwell—just as had happened in Christmas 1843. (The missionaries loved playing the brethren tackling Porter before he made himself known.)
In the background during dinner we had fiddle music playing. It was hard not to dance or tap your toes! You might want to make time for a square dance and a waltz or two. Hope your party is a success!
Houston Texas North Stake
Last Christmas we had an excellent Ward Dinner in December. We started the evening off with a Santa's Corner on the stage in the Cultural Hall. We decorated it to look like Santa's workshop and had a Santa chair for him sit in.
The children were asked to come early to talk to Santa. We had a table set up for artwork for them to do after they visited with Santa. The parents could take pictures of their children on his knee without spending any money. For dinner we had a turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy and we had the members sign up to bring salads, to cook the turkeys, and to cook and mash the potatoes. For dessert we simply had different Christmas flavors of ice cream with a cookie.
The High Priests carved our turkeys and some of the YM and YW helped with setting the tables and cleaning up. One Priest, Taylor, watched my handicap son so I could be busy making sure things were ready.
After dinner we had the Riverton High School Madrigals perform. They were amazing. All together it was about two and a half hours and we had about 280 members come.
Copperview 2nd Ward