Anytime we have an intergenerational service where children attend with their families, I like to hand out Praise Packs – a goody bag with activities that help kids engage and participate in the service. These are great ways to help alleviate stress for parents who are worried about their child making it through the whole service, but more importantly, they help teach kids that “big church” is for them too.
Praise Packs are more than just coloring sheets to keep kids distracted long enough for the service to be over. They are tools to help invite kids to participate in the whole service, not just the children’s moment designed for them.
The key is to pick items that will help the kids listen for certain words or actions going on in the service – but they can’t make noise! No jingling, rattling, or squelching (I made the mistake once of giving out slime putty and *facepalm* fart noises everywhere).
Here’s what I like to include in my Praise Packs for our Christmas Eve family service:
- A little note from me wishing them Merry Christmas and telling them how to use the Praise Packs
- Pipe cleaners – This is a HUGE hit every year! Give each child one pipe cleaner of each color, and encourage them to create the nativity scene out of their pipe cleaners, or different characters from the nativity story.
- Lyrics to the worship songs (sometimes kids are too short to see the screens, especially when sitting behind a tall adult)
- A glow stick – A great kid-friendly version of a candle for singing Silent Night
- Sermon Bingo – Have kids listen for certain words in the sermon, then let them bring their completed Bingo card to you after the service for a small prize! Want a generic one for Christmas Eve? Check out this one!
- Christmas Eve Sermon Notes for Kids – GREAT for mid-upper elementary kids to help them listen for certain words or activities in the service, and there’s even an option to earn points and win a special Christmas treat!
- Sticker pages or Activity Pads (Oriental Trading to the rescue – story of my life as a children’s pastor)
- Small tactile puzzles or toys – I especially like this Nativity Rubix Cube for older kids and this Twisting Puzzle for younger kids.
- Crayon packs for the kids to use
- One year, I even put in a simple OT craft that kids could put together themselves.
Tip: Don’t tie the bags closed. They are more difficult for children to open when they are tied shut, and your church janitor will thank you for not making him clean up pieces of ribbon under every 5 chairs.
P.S. Praise Packs could also be called Worship Wiggle Bags, Service Swag, or any other name you can think of!