Last Christmas (no, I didn’t give you my heart) but I went out on a limb for our Christmas Eve service and tried an instant Christmas pageant with our children. No practice. No rehearsals. Lots of cuteness.
Basically, I read the Christmas story from Luke and kids acted out the scene on-stage with nativity masks.
Our Christmas Eve services are family services, so children ages 4 and above attend with their parents and we try to include more interactive elements in the service than usual. The instant Christmas pageant turned out to be the best (and funniest) Christmas Eve element we ever did!
As kids arrived and stopped by the kids’ table to pick up crayons, stickers, and pipe cleaners to give their hands something to do during the service (more “busy bar” ideas coming soon), they also picked up a mask from the nativity story. I had a list of the characters I needed, and as kids stopped by, I asked them who they wanted to be and jotted their name down by their part. A few kids opted not to participate, which was totally fine, but most were super excited to be part of telling the Christmas story, and it required no rehearsals at all.
During the service, I introduced the idea and invited children into the wings/sides of the stage to wait for their cue. I followed my script (and prompted actions when necessary) but for the most part, the kids were rock stars and followed their cues like pros! The couple of times they didn’t, it just made the story even cuter and inspired lots of laughs.
One miscue we had was that Joseph started on his journey to Bethlehem before Mary did. Rather than stressing out that they missed the cues, I just made a joke about “I guess Mary and Joseph traveled separately; it’s OK, they both ended up in Bethlehem” and it turned out great! That moment ended up being a highlight of the evening and the service.
Another cute moment was when I asked the sheep to say baaa and one child loudly shouted “brrr!” Everyone laughed and I played it off with “they must have been cold sheep!”
To help kids know when and what to do, I put labels on the back of their masks with specific, but easy, instructions. I downloaded the masks for free from The Dating Divas, and in addition to printing out the colored masks, you could print them out in black and white and let kids color their masks before or after the service.
If you’re looking for a fun, unique way to include children in your Christmas Eve service, but you don’t have the time or the resources to put on a full Christmas play, give the instant Christmas pageant a shot!
- Reader’s Script
- Printable Labels for masks
- Tips and instructions
- Cast list
- Link to Nativity Masks
You’ll also need:
- Avery labels – 5395 Name Tag Labels
- Jumbo Popsicle sticks
- Nativity Masks – make your own or use the ones we used that I found from The Dating Divas here
- Bethlehem sign (made from black paint and a poster board)
- Fields nearby sign (made from black paint and a poster board)