Creating Community through the Holidays and Beyond

chocolate fondue with various fruits - easy and delicious dessert

Need for Community + Holiday Season = Stressed People. We want our tribe gathered around us. We need our people. But church events and Christmas programs and work parties, oh my. Where do we scrunch one more thing in?

On the other hand, maybe the celebration of our Lord’s birth and the anticipation of a new year full of His mission should be the best time to evaluate our calendars and priorities. Turning toward the new year and long winter (longer for some of us here in the north!), how do we keep building those community bonds despite tight schedules?

Christians are the people of refuge. The ones who open our doors wide and say, “You are welcome. There is room at the inn here.” People are busy—but a place to enjoy one another and form community—from which we can go back out into the craziness—could be just our chance to be people of peace this winter.

How can we be hospitable to our tribes? How can we meet new members who might need our peaceful refuge? While we are inviting others over, we can begin conversations of peace around the table. That would be a great offering after this contentious past year.

So, some ideas for getting people to gather around. Meant to be easy. Intended to be jumping off points for going deeper with people you treasure. Or new people you want to know. Find one you like and have fun!

A Cookie/Cupcake Decorating Party

This is good for kids or adults. Have everyone bring their own cookies and/or cupcakes, and you supply the decorations. Just watch that kid from down the road who will use ALL the rainbow sprinkles if you let her. Exchange afterward if you want. Or bring the treats around to your local police station, fire department, library staff, etc.

Donation Party

This is my favorite. Ask guests to bring something off a donation list for a charity organization. Some options include: Items for stuffing shoeboxes to deliver to kids overseas (only in November). Household items for a refugee family moving in. Care packages for soldiers. Items for homeless shelters. Possible links are below. Add your good ideas in the comments!

World Relief Welcome Kit information here.

Support Our Troops care packages and letters to troops.

Contact a local homeless shelter for their wish list. They will almost always have one on the website.

Sledding Party

This is just what it sounds like. Set a date for everyone to bring sleds, and you serve the hot chocolate afterward. Adults are absolutely required to play!

Crafting Party

Make something together. Anything. It does not have to be a giant project filled with expensive craft doodads and All. The. Glitter. You do not need to be Pinterest experts. Just assemble some easy items and go for it.

S’mores Party

You’ve seen those amazing looking buffets of nothing but s’mores items. You can do this. Don’t you think you must do this? To be fulfilled in life? I kind of do. Put together the crackers, melted chocolate, peanuts butter (check to see if any guests have allergies), candy, marshmallows—anything you can think of. Grab a skewer and go for it.

Fondue Party

Basically the same as the s’mores party, only you can feel more civilized and healthy about it. You really probably won’t be. It will still involve skewers and most likely cheese and chocolate. But you can fool yourself.

Game Night/Afternoon

This is our New Year’s Day go-to. Self explanatory. Board games. Snacks. You. Open house. Hyper-competitive friends are optional.

Holiday Brunch

If a dinner or evening party isn’t practical, how about a winter brunch? Have friends over early before the craziness takes over. 10 am breakfast smorgasbord? I would be there. Especially if it involved baked french toast and caramel sauce. Just saying.

Remember—these parties aren’t for adults only. Get the kids involved decorating, cooking, and planning! Ask what they think is the best idea here. They might have some great ideas to add or even new and creative ones.

Teaching our kids that community—people—matter during the holidays (and beyond) more than presents, programs, and places to be teaches them God’s real heart for the season. They may not catch that lesson unless they see it demonstrated in our lives and in our homes. What priority do you want to set for your family in 2017?

Jill Richardson

JillRichardson
Jill is a writer, speaker, pastor, and mom of three. She likes to travel, grow flowers, cause trouble, and research her next project. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, kindness, justice, and dark chocolate. Her passion is partnering with the next generation of faith. She blogs at http://jillmrichardson.com/. 
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