What Do You Do with the Potential "Controversies" at Christmas?

We are just a week from Thanksgiving and then a month of celebrating, special events, programs and parties leading up to Christmas! Definitely a busy time of year, but also a time of year which has great potential to stir up "trouble" as you try to discern the best way for your children's ministry to handle things such as; gift exchanges, special service projects, dealing with "Santa" and just how many special events should you plan in this month when families already tend to be so busy.

  • If you do not, "do enough", some people may complain - "Why are you NOT having the children present a Christmas program/concert?" But, if you do, others may complain - "Why are you putting children on display and adding yet another thing for families to fit into their schedules?" 
  • If you do not give gifts or involve children in projects where they provide gifts for those in need, you may be criticized for, "missing a wonderful opportunity" and if you do for spending money unnecessarily or putting children in a difficult place if their families can not afford to participate.
  • If you decorate with or refer to Santa as "real", you may have parents who are unhappy you are promoting a fantasy as real and detracting from the Reason for the Season, but if you tell the truth about Santa, other parents may be upset with you for, "spoiling the fun" for their children.

So, what do you do? How do you handle these situations and others which seem to come up each year during the Christmas Season?


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We do a Christmas Pageant (pretty low-key) every-other-year (a year to have it, a year to miss it). This year is an off-year, and we're trying a Christmas Art Festival between services one day in December, displaying crafts that the children have completed this fall in Sunday School. Families can visit before or after the service for 20-30 minutes, so it's not "adding one more thing" to most schedules. 

We do 2 "give something" outreaches/year (about what kids can afford to save for and give something meaningful)- during the fall we do Operation Christmas Child, and in the spring we gather requested items for our sister church overseas. These are not obligatory- they kids learn about it in Sunday School and drop them off in the main lobby so their giving, "is done in secret" and if a family wants to opt out for any reason, that's fine.

Finally, we don't celebrate Santa Claus at church. We used to have someone come dressed as St. Nicholas (we're Anglican, so we "do" saints), but we're going to take a break this year and see if it's missed. If a child asks directly about Santa Claus, I'll just respond with, "do you know about the first story of Saint Nicholas?" and tell a brief story about his kindness and compassion, rooted in Jesus' love. 

Thank you for sharing - I like what you are doing!

This is a great post. I think that the thing you address in the post are thoughts for year round. I've written a reply with some additional thoughts on my blog.

4 Steps For Being Prepared to Address Criticism.


Matt Norman said:

This is a great post. I think that the thing you address in the post are thoughts for year round. I've written a reply with some additional thoughts on my blog.

4 Steps For Being Prepared to Address Criticism.


Thank you and thank you for sharing - I agree - they are things to think about all year!

The way we handled Santa Claus and suggested to our families to do so also.

What About Santa Claus

Thank you for sharing Wanda - I always told my children Santa was originally a real person, but at Christmas he is just a fun, pretend thing. We had our children stuff eachother's socks and focused on Jesus - my tree was decorated with a nativity set and we did not decorate with Santa.

There's a link on my jimwidemanministries Facebook page to an article I wrote for K "We said No to the Ho Ho Ho"
Hope that helps now Yancy is also carrying on this truth to our Grandson.

Thank you for sharing!

We have a Christmas program. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but also not where I feel that I need to put my energy (at least at this time) towards changing.

We have a year-long service project that supports a local non-profit. This year, it is Emergency Infant Services; we have been collecting diapers and formula for them since the beginning of the semester. I encourage families to spend less on presents and more on supporting whatever our service focus is for the year (or another organization of their choice). This allows us to have an outlet for presents to benefit others without making people feel overwhelmed.

We don’t do Santa at church. My general rule is that we don’t talk about him at all, and any Santa talk gets changed to Jesus. (As a disclaimer, we don’t do Santa in my house at all, and I later found out that one of my children told other kids at school “You know, Santa isn’t real. Jesus is real. That’s Christmas, my friend.”)

Thank you for sharing - I didn't do Santa in my house either! :-) 

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