17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Ward Christmas Party

We recently had our Ward Christmas Party. It was kind of planned last minute, so I was nervous about it, but it was SO great, and one of my favorites that I can remember, and I am sure it is because there was service invovled. After wracking my brain, the only other party that reigns significant in my memory is one from my childhood.

I don't remember if it had a name or anything, all I know is that I had to come dressed like a Bethlehemian. My family came in our towels and bathrobes and sashes, not knowing what to expect. What we found was BETHLEHEM in our gym at the church. It was like a little village. Everyone was dressed up, and there were foods to eat and things to look at that were meant to remind us of the night of Jesus' birth. I think I had heard that this party was scripted and had made its rounds among various congregations, so if anyone out there knows about the Bethlehem Party, please provide a link.

My memory of course fails me now, but I remember it as being very special and feeling the spirit very strongly. It was really meaningful to imagine what Bethlehemen might be like on that sacred night.

The only other church activity that has really touched me and remained strong in my memory over the years is that of the live nativity. On the front lawn of the stake center we act out the Nativity about 5 times a night, with real animals (donkey, sheep, goats), great lighting and music, and even the angels suspended high up in the sky. I was an angel...a very cold angel. Chicago in December is not a picnic. However, being a part of that pageant was really meaningful to me, and a very fond memory.

So....to continue our unintentional but inevitable Christmas theme here at Tales...the thread is open for your best service/party/church experiences over the years that helped make the Christmas holiday more meaningful for you.


  • Two years ago, when I still lived in Japan, my ward also did a Bethlemhem themed party. It started out in the chapel with scripture readings and a reenactment of the nativity. We then broke up to explore the city. We were all given a certain amount of gold pieces to spend. Each classroom upstairs had been turned into a game room that cost a certain amount. But we had to be careful... if we spent our gold on frivolous entertainment, we wouldn't have enough money to eat at the end of the night! (Actually, they were pretty cool and fed the poor). We all dressed up in robes and sashes and linen sheets, and had a great time. My kids especially loved it, and it was great, because we could all paticipate even though we had the language barrier of not speaking Japanese. Thanks for reminding me of this great ward party!
    posted by Anonymous meems at 12/18/2006 05:58:00 AM  

  • I can remember a few good ones too. We all came dressed for the times and the High priests put on a play about that night but it was from a different perspective than that of the normal story. It was wonderful. We need more like that!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/18/2006 08:56:00 AM  

  • I am so glad that themed party has been an enjoyable one to you. Our ward did it as well last year, complete with tents, sandals and sheets on as clothing, and we just had a pretty annoying time. I think the only thing we did like was the white grape juice and hummus.
    But the Christmas parties I remember as being inspriational have been like for releif society dinners. One was at a memeber's home that was beautifully decorated, and had GOOD music, like a vocalist,piano, and harp or violin, as well as a lovely sit down dinner. An inspriational message or story always brings the spirit too. I think I love these kids of things because they are quiet and thoughtful, and remind me to stop and "smell the roses" and enjoy the season.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/18/2006 01:17:00 PM  

  • please replace "kids" with "kinds"
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/18/2006 01:18:00 PM  

  • Meems, your party in Japan sounds like it was awesome - what a great idea!

    When I was a teenager our ward had a Bethlemem themed party as well. I was "oh so cool" and was convinced that I wasn't going to have a good time...and yet 15 years later it ranks up there as one of the best Christmas experiences I ever had. I remember sitting on blankets in the Cultural Hall eating Mediterranean food, dressed in my dads bathrobe and a sheet and having a blast.

    I hope that someday my kids can have a similar experience at a ward Christmas party.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  

  • We always had the boring parties (Santa, dinner, short program, etc.) in our current ward until this year.

    They had us all gather in the gym, where there was a spectacular manger scene (sans people) and tables all around. After the prayer, they divided the entire ward into 4 groups, and had the youth, dressed as elves, lead us to different rooms. Then, after 20 minutes in each room, we rotated. The rooms were:

    Primary Room: Games for everyone with a Christmas theme and treats to win.

    Melchizidek Priesthood room: Story time (with two people showing pictures from the same book while a narrator read it aloud).

    Relief Society Room: Music! We learned about a few carols and sang and sang and sang.

    Gym: Santa on the stage and yummy snacks (like egg nog, cheese and crackers, caramel corn, etc.).

    Then everyone gathered together for the Primary who did the Nativity Scene (interspersed with Christmas Hymns) in the Center Manger set. Then the Bishop spoke briefly, someone prayed, and it was done!

    It was wonderful for several reasons: Santa line was super short, the kids never got restless, we never got bored, and we could spend lots of time visiting with people in our group. It was also a fabulous way to experience all the great things about Christmas.

    I was so skeptical at first because I was used to dinner (there was no dinner served), but it turned out to be wonderful.

    (P.S. When I was a kid, we did a Bethlehem thing, too, and it was great)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  

  • Our ward had an "adults only" Christmas party this year. Apparently it is "tradition" in our ward to do this every other year. I sort of boycotted it. Well, mostly I didn't feel like fighting over the two teenage girl babysitters in the ward with every other young family. But I admittedly thought it was weird to have a ward Christmas party without the kids.

    The primary did throw their own party which was excellent. We went to a retirement home, had breakfast, the kids sang Christmas songs for the residents and then Santa came at the end and handed out scholastic books at the end. The men and women who lived at the home thoroughly enjoyed listening to the kids sing and watching them interact with Santa. I had a lot of fun chatting it up with them (even though I usually get really uncomfortable around old people). It was a great morning and a great idea for a Christmas party.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/18/2006 09:54:00 PM  

  • Hey Carrie, our ward did something similar too. It was "Sunday Dress" sit down dinner, nursery provided for babies...but the implication almost felt like it was wrong to bring your kids...really strange. WE didn't go and later found out a bunch of other families with young children didn't go or left early. Sorry, not my vision of a fun ward Christmas party!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/18/2006 10:04:00 PM  

  • Since you seem to be very into Christmas, maybe you'll like the Christmas puzzles that we did at a recent high council party.
    You can check them out HERE.
    posted by Blogger Belladonna at 12/18/2006 10:53:00 PM  

  • We had an impromptu navitity pageant. Not impromptu on the part of the organizers, who brought a script and lots of sheets and bathrobes for potential costumes, but impromptu on behalf of the players, who were recruited before dinner to take a part. A guy in the ward who could probably do voice-over work read the script (pretty much selections from the New Testament) and the players acted out the action in the costumes they had just designed.

    We all agreed it was the right amount of rehearsal time.

    Dinner was a baked potato bar. Dessert was brownies. Santa arrived after the play. We all helped clean up.

    We do a big creche exhibit at the beginning of December every year. Frankly, that's enough Christmas decorating and music for me--I'm very grateful the ward party was so low key. I don't think I could take another big event.

    Kudos to wards who do a service project.

    We did the Bethleham party in 2001. It was fine, but I don't want to do it again. It's not a repeater.
    posted by Anonymous Johnna Cornett at 12/19/2006 12:49:00 PM  

  • I don't think it's such a bad idea to have adults-only ward parties every once in a while. It seems like almost all ward activities are with the kids (and centered around the kids--meaning adults without kids don't have much to do, can feel left out, etc.). I'm not saying kid centered activities are bad (they're great! I love kids!), I'm just saying I think maybe it's a little insensitive to boycott adults-only activities. Just think if all the singles, infertile couples, widows, divorcees, empty-nesters, etc. didn't show up to the regular parties that ARE focused on kids--you'd have pretty sparse attendance and support.

    My point is just that I think we should all work towards supporting each other whether the party involves kids or no kids. Just a thought. Not trying to start a brawl or anything.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/19/2006 01:16:00 PM  

  • Anon,

    The best way to not start a brawl is to not post under Anonymous :). And come on, you have to give me a little credit. I am completely aware of the diverse make-up of every ward and I totally agree that adult-only parties serve a real purpose in making everyone in the ward feel part of the activity. Sorry if boycott sounded insensitive to you. I used it only because if kids were invited, we would have gone, but we decided to not go for real reasons - too hard to find a babysitter and the big reason is that we don't have that much family time together, especially around Christmas. In the end we spent the whole night together decorating our tree together which was great. It's not like I was calling all my friends telling them to not go to the ward party because the ward hates children. It also doesn't mean I would never go to any party where kids weren't invited.

    Even though I believe that adult only parties are definitely a good thing, I still think it's weird to pick Christmas as the time to have such an adult only activity. It seems like the perfect time to plan an activity that appeals to a wider audience. It does not have to be a kid-centered night as maybe some wards do with the whole Santa thing. I have seen many wards put on great Christmas activities that the whole ward can enjoy.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/19/2006 02:34:00 PM  

  • I agree that having an adults-only party at Christmas time does sound a little weird. Hearing your expanded explanation, I honestly would have thought the same thing that you did! It just hit me as a little dismissive the way you guys (more than one person--not just you) were so against the idea of an adults-only party, that's all. But now that you've explained a little more I understand where you're coming from better.

    I think we agree more than we disagree here--I think we'd both agree on the larger point I was trying to make--that we should all be supportive of ward parties, regardless of who the focus is on.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/19/2006 03:04:00 PM  

  • Anon -

    Well then we agree. And I do believe a more careful read of everyone who commented about "adult-only" parties being weird were specifically talking about ward Christmas parties. I promise we're not crazy and insensitive (at least not all the time).
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/19/2006 05:13:00 PM  

  • In our past wards they always did a big ward breakfast for the whole family and usually had some sort of activity for the kids supervised by the YW/YM like cookie decorating or making gingerbread houses out of grahman crackers. The parents got to visit and after the activity Santa comes with some small treat for all the kids. They would also have an adult only nice sit down dinner. They would ask women in RS to sign up to decorate a table (most brought their fancy dishes and something cute and Christmasy to put on the table) They would have the YW/YM play the piano and sing for background music. Both parties were alot of fun and very well attended.
    posted by Blogger moddy at 12/19/2006 06:51:00 PM  

  • I don't have kids and I don't think its offensive at all to have ward parties inclusive of children, but maybe that is just me. I think it seems way more impracticle and insensitive to, more or less, ban children in ward functions. Where there are adult-centered ward parties, which I think would be nice for all involved, I think it would be pretty ridiculous to not offer some sort of child-care at the building (sponsored by YW or volunteer).
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/20/2006 02:21:00 PM  

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