For Christmas 2006, the staff of the GARBC International Resource Center were challenged to decorate their departments to reflect the true meaning of Christmas. Adding a little spice to the effort was a contest, voted on by all the resource-center employees.
If you are looking for creative ways to decorate your classroom, home, church, or office to convey the true meaning of Christmas, consider using some of the following ideas next year.
The Christmas Story
Approximate Time: 20–25 hours
The Graphics Department had the winning display. It was the brainchild of Terry Powell and Doug Jennings, who wanted to tell the Christmas story through wrapped packages and a Christmas tree. To use their ideas at home or church, you’ll need to do the following.
1. Wrap hanging pictures in gift wrap to tell the gospel story from Jesus’ birth to His resurrection.
a. Look for wrapping paper with the manger theme, shepherds, wise men, the Easter story, etc.
b. Make your own paper, using stamps, stencils, cut outs, drawings, etc.
2. Add a ribbon or bow to each “package.”
3. Hang the wrapped pictures around the room to match the order of the gospel story. The Graphics Department had so many pictures to work with that they were able to have a separate package for Joseph and Mary; an empty stable; the manger with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus; shepherds around the manger; the Wise Men’s gifts; camels; Wise Men; Jesus’ baptism; an empty cross; a tomb with the stone rolled away; and the words “He is risen.”
Tree, ornaments, and packages
1. Decorate your tree with lights and garland.
2. Add ornaments that tell the gospel story (from top left to bottom right). Joseph and Mary; an empty stable; the manger with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus; shepherds around the manger; the Wise Men’s gifts; camels; Wise Men; Jesus’ baptism; an empty cross; a tomb with the stone rolled away; and the words “He is risen”—are just a few ideas.
a. You may be able to buy ornaments with some of the items already on them.
b. Make your own ornaments by painting glass; stamping fabric or paper; stuffing or quilting fabric with Christmas elements preprinted on it; or cutting, painting, and gluing wood pieces. Check craft departments and craft stores to find additional ideas to make or modify.
3. Wrap empty boxes and tie them with ribbons and bows. The paper should be plain so it doesn’t detract from the story on the tree. Add a tag to each gift that says, “To: [Name], From: Jesus.” The Graphics Department gifts were addressed to the members of the department: Matthew Brinkman, Daniel da Silva, Jimmy DeCarlo, Matt Hannon, Doug Jennings, Jim Johnson, Steve Kerr, Terry Powell, and Mitch Tau. Staff photographer Darrell Goemaat joined in, so he had a gift addressed to him too.
4. If you want to use a paper tree, as the Graphics Department did,
a. Find a clip-art tree with definable sections, enlarge it, trace it, and cut out the sections.
b. Hang the top section from the ceiling, and attach the remaining sections to the top section.
c. Use Velcro to attach the ornaments, bowing them slightly for a 3-D, shadowed effect.
d. Draw and cut out gifts that are proportioned to the size of your tree. Use plain colors that won’t detract from the story ornaments on the tree.
e. Make gift tags that say, “To: [Name], From: Jesus,” and attach them using Velcro to get a bowed effect.
All Roads Lead Home on Christmas
Approximate Time: 5 hours
The second-place winners of the decorating contest were Nancy Makiling, Dot Schmidt, and Sue Menzies, who make up the Production Department. Their theme, “All Roads Lead Home on Christmas,” ties in with John 14:6, which says that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”—with emphasis on “way.” To use their ideas at home or church, you’ll need to do the following.
1. Prepare an outdoor scene.
Nancy, Dot, and Sue made their outdoor scene using a “snow”-laden pine tree and a fence made of scrap wood and decorated with snow. If you do not have wood available, consider drawing or painting a fence onto large pieces of cardboard painted white for a snowy background, drawing and cutting out a fence of poster board, or buying pre-made paper fencing (e.g., bulletin boards cutouts, wallpaper). Nancy also made a cardboard mailbox. If you cannot do so, you might attach a cardinal to the top of the fence or place a stuffed toy (e.g., raccoon or other woodland creature) by the bottom of the fence.
2. Prepare a threshold.
Nancy placed footprints leading from the outdoors to an imaginary door, which was indicated by a door mat. The footprints leading up to the door have the words “All roads lead home on Christmas.” And the footprints at the door (in front of the door mat) have the words of John 14:6 on them.
3. Prepare an indoor scene.
Nancy used cardboard painted with pastels to create a fireplace, which she then attached to a wooden fireplace built by coworker Jim Fisher. The window is also made of cardboard painted with pastels. The framed picture of geese reinforces the theme of going home. Dot, Nancy, and Sue decorated the fireplace with a wreath above it and a crèche on the mantel. A rocking chair gives a homey feel. On the footstool lies a stack of Christmas storybooks. The Bible on the chair is opened to Luke 2. The Christmas tree is decorated with snowmen, and has a traditional train set and gifts under it—a pleasant reminder of home at Christmastime.
If you don’t have room for a display like this one, consider making a miniature. Use the inside of a large box. You can buy some and make the rest of the necessary parts. Then you can display your “All roads lead home on Christmas” from year to year.
The Book Tree
Approximate Time: 5 hours
Here’s a clever idea from The Information Technology Department. Decorate an artificial tree, using books instead of ornaments. To make this tree, string it with white lights. For the best results, use a tree with pliable branches that you can bend up to hold the books. David Bosket, Nat Kealen, and Rob Pratt of the IT Department decorated their tree with—appropriately—books published by Regular Baptist Press, covering topics ranging from salvation to Heaven, and everything about the Christian life and church that goes in between! For your tree, consider using salvation and Christian-growth tracts or a variety of children’s Christmas storybooks about Jesus (not Santa Claus, Rudolph, and the rest). Such books should be inexpensive at charity thrift stores, garage sales, and dollar stores. After the books are on, add one-color ornaments. Using the same color for the ornaments and white lights will accentuate the books rather than detract from them.
Let It Snow (“Loveflakes”)
Approximate Time: 4 hours
Three smaller departments (with a couple of individuals added) prepared a vignette featuring the theme “God’s Love.” Mark Massaro, Jeanine Gower, and Andrea Gower of the Marketing Department; Michael Nolan and Nancy Melander of the Operations Department; Receptionist Glenda Fisher; Production Manager Loren Olson; and Chris and Deb Hindal and Judy Emery of Gospel Literature Services had a pink and red Christmas. They decorated their tree with heart-shaped, decorated sugar cookies; a paper chain of pink and red paper; and paper-doily hearts. Under the tree sits a crèche, picturing the birth of Jesus Christ, Who was love personified.
In the middle ground, like falling snow, hang paper hearts. And on the floor (like snowfall) paper hearts dot the ground. In the foreground hangs a sign quoting John 3:16 and explaining to all who enter that the Babe in the manger is God’s “only begotten Son,” sent into the world so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This would be the perfect display for a girls’ classroom or girl’s bedroom. Girls will enjoy using their creativity to design and make hearts to hang on the tree or from the ceiling and to make the John 3:16 sign.
Gifts We Give Back to God
Approximate Time: 1 hour (excluding making the banner)
The last of the displays to be featured here is the one made by the Editorial Department. The ladies and gentlemen of this department were busy meeting deadlines but still had time to create a display that conveys that Christmas isn’t about receiving gifts; it’s about giving them.
Joan Alexander, Peg Arnold, Alex Bauman, Cyndi Crognale, Andrea Farlow, Erin Kealen, Nancy Lew, Melissa Meyer, Norm Olson, Jan Salzman, Teresa Westercamp, and Valerie Wilson edit your Baptist Bulletin magazine, Sunday School and other curricula, books, tracts, and VBS.
They made gifts covered in silver and/or gold wrapping paper and displayed on draped fabric. Each gift represents something we can give to God: time, relationships, worship, ambitions, expectations, energy, finances, and health. The tags were created with Microsoft Word. Each one features a gift-word and a clip-art ornament. Hanging above the gifts is a banner announcing that the gifts are for Jesus, the “King of Kings.”
Merry Christmas from the staff of the GARBC International Resource Center! And may God bless you as you decorate for a Christ-centered Christmas.