How to Overcome Christmas Preparation Stress

With two weeks left until Christmas, it’s crunch time for church staff members. Stage design, volunteers, service planning, special programs, and more are all part of the hustle and bustle of the season. So, how do you manage all this activity and still feel some semblance of peace on earth and goodwill towards men? Here are a few tips to help:

Tip #1: Pause

If you’re running around trying to fix last minute issues, fill those last few volunteer spots, and figure out why in the world your carefully designed stage décor keeps falling over, it’s easy to get into crazy mode. When that happens, you can’t think straight and will likely forget something important or miss the easiest / most obvious solution to a problem.

What’s the alternative to crazy mode? Pause.

Take a few deep breaths, pray for wisdom, and think. When I feel crazy mode coming on, I get away from everyone else and write down my thoughts. That to-do list bouncing around in your head like an out of control ping-pong ball needs to stop.

Write down all the stuff floating around in your head – whether it’s directly related to planning Christmas services or trying to figure out who’ll watch your 3-year-old tomorrow. Get it all down on paper and then review the list. Decide if there’s anything you can delegate to someone else and make that happen ASAP. Prioritize the rest of the list and start working your way down, crossing off items as you resolve them.

Tip #2: Consider the Big Picture

As the stage design takes shape, decorations around the church are completed, and you’re all setup for Christmas services, do a walk through.

Start in the church parking lot and pretend you’re a first-time guest.

What’s the most obvious entrance to the church building from the parking lot?

As I walk in this door, is it easy to tell where to check in our children?

Where do we go for the service?

Walk into the main sanctuary and stop right inside the door.

What impression do you get?

What emotions do you feel?

Consider what the décor and stage setup communicates to guests. You might make a few minor adjustments based on this walkthrough. The point here is to stop for a few moments and look at the setup comprehensively. Sometimes we can get so into the details that we lose sight of the big picture. You may realize that the stage piece that just won’t cooperate really doesn’t matter anyway and isn’t worth the hassle. That’s fine too.

Remember: The whole point of hosting Christmas services is to tell the story of Jesus’ birth and why He came to earth.  We’re trying to lead people to our Savior.  If a few details have to be left undone, it’ll be okay.  Focus on what really matters and don’t let the smaller stuff get to you (easier said than done, I know).

Tip #3: Take notes

Even as you keep the big picture in mind, there are things you’ll want to change for next year (if only to make life less crazy the weeks leading up to Christmas).  Keep a notebook with you and jot down quick notes regarding things to improve on or change for next year. It’s easy to forget these afterward, which is frustrating next year when the same issues pop up all over again.

Tip #4: Attend a service with your family

This may require coordination with the rest of the staff, but it’s important for your family to have you all to themselves for one service. Sit with them and enjoy the moment with your family. If this isn’t possible, consider creating your own family tradition at home or even go to a service at another church (maybe one in your community has a Saturday night service and your church doesn’t).

Preparing for Christmas can be a huge endeavor. Use these tips to help yourself and your team plan a great Christmas service without wearing yourselves out.

**If the experience of preparing for Christmas services this year has you thinking, “There’s got to be an easier way!”, I have a new book coming in February 2017 that can help.  The Church Event Planning Toolkit includes my process for planning and managing church events.  You’ll receive the book plus downloadable templates you can quickly customize and use for your church.  Click here to preorder your copy from Amazon today.**  

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