Preparing for COVID-19 Christmas


This Christmas is the Christmas we never thought we’d have to plan for!

So, what can we do to make it a good one?

In some ways not being able to plan for huge, elaborate group gatherings – nativity plays, carol services, parties – leaves us free to have a bit of a rethink about why we do what we do. Instead of jumping into making a Zoom-version of whatever we did last year, let’s reflect for a moment and ask ourselves: Why do we do what we normally do at Christmas?

I’m asking this because this year CAN’T be the same, so we have a chance to re-think. We also may not have the same resources and team available so we might want to scale back on grand plans we might usually attempt. We also might have some new opportunities we might not usually have.

Who are we trying to connect with?

What are we offering them?

What do they want?

What might they want or need this year which is different?

Parents, like everyone else this year, are tired and a bit burnt out. Some have had to hold things together including their family finances and their children’s mental health! All of us have suffered loss and are grieving, whether that be the death of a friend or family member or the loss of things which would have been this year.

If you are a parent reading this can I encourage you to join me in doing three things. I’m aiming to:

  1. Not make Christmas it too complicated for the sake of it!
  2. Do things which we love doing each year which are still possible to do.
  3. Do different things which we can do instead of the things we can’t
  1. Not make Christmas it too complicated for the sake of it!

I am the Queen Scope Creep! Whenever I have a good idea, I add another bit to it, and a little extra here, and then a bit more somewhere else until it morphs into a completely unwieldy and un-doable in the time frame available project! This year I’m really working hard on planning small and sustainable, organising in advance so I can enjoy the Christmas season in a relaxed way, and not doing too much! For example, we love using Advent Pockets during December, and my children have a set each which I fill with parts of the story, chocolate coins, activities and little gifts. This year I’m going for simple: no story (we have the GodVenture Sticker Advent Calendar for that), just a chocolate coin (cheap and cheerful but always welcome) and some craft supplies – pieces of felt, ribbon, beads etc. I might drop in a few pictures of things they could make, but in general I’m going to leave it up to them.

Another project I’ve wanted to do for a few years is create a photobook of the Christmas story using Play Mobil. However, I’ve never managed it, because, well, scope creep! So this year instead of even thinking about it and being disappointed when another year goes by and I haven’t made one, I’m going to ditch the idea and go for Lego instead – not making a book, but getting it out when I’m reading the whole Christmas story form the Bible to my children each day (from the mini-book which comes with the GodVenture Sticker Advent Calendar) I’m going to put out a sack of Lego and some model instructions I’ve downloaded from the internet (LINK).

  1. Do things which we love doing each year which are still possible to do.

What are these things? For us they will be lighting Advent Candles. Some years we have a wreath; others I have a series of 24 candles in a spiral that we light each evening; sometimes we have an Advent Candle. This is an easy thing to organise – just buy a candle or two – and we’ll do this.

We’ll play with the nativity sets (I have a bit of an addiction!) and enjoy decorating the house together.

We’ll make presents and cards. This year they might need to be post-able, but that’s ok!
We’ll celebrate Saint Nicholas Day and chat about Bishop whose story of generosity has inspired so much gift giving over the centuries.

We’ll have sparklers or a mini-fireworks display in the garden with fireworks saved from November 5th.

  1. Do different things which we can do instead of the things we can’t

I plan to take a trip to see our local lights and do a bit of research to see where might be a good road to visit, where the residents don’t have my concerns about electricity bills!

Previously we’ve celebrated a friend who’s saints day falls in December. If we’re unable to meet up with her outside somewhere to celebrate with a piece of cake, we might send her something in the post and have a zoom call with cake!

We might find a local food bank to take some food to, or see if our local zoo needs help. By thinking about who might need our help this Christmas and how we could take the message of Christmas to those our family has contact with, we can really make other people’s Christmas better this year.

If you’re a childrens’ or families or church worker, can I encourage you to help facilitate a meaningful Christmas for the families you know and are in contact with. This might not mean running any events at all, but simply writing them each a Christmas card to let them know they are loved and that you are praying for them. It might involve creating a Christmas box or bag of goodies and thing to inspire their faith at home and delivering or posting it, or inviting them to collect it from your church building. It might involve putting on an outdoor activity, such as a nativity trail of lights in people’s window or in your church ground for them to enjoy and explore the story a little bit together. It might involve inviting them to help you as you do some outreach to less well-off people in your area, or collecting items for a food bank.

What’s true for all of us is that this year has bene hard work, so anything we can do for each other to bring a bit of joy and peace this Christmas will be welcomed!