This year Philip and I were asked to be in charge of our church Christmas program and party. I immediately knew I wanted to do a program, and I thought back to a really fantastic program our church in Huntington Beach had done a few years prior.
I got the script they had used from my friend who was in charge that year, and after cutting it down and subbing out a few songs, it was perfect.
The entire program was about twenty five minutes, with five scenes, six musical numbers, and sixteen actors. (The original script was about an hour long program).
I shared some of the process, and the program, on instagram stories and a lot of you wanted to know more information, so here it is!
First, here’s the script.
It has a list of the actors, props, and each scene is described throughout the script. Also each musical number we did is listed, but you can use any music you’d like that works with the scene.
The premise of the script is the song, Picture a Christmas, from the LDS Children’s songbook, and how you can read the scriptures and picture the stories in your mind.
So while the Grandma, Mom, and little boy are reading and talking about the scripture story of Jesus’ birth, the curtains open to reveal an oversized picture frame and still characters inside the frame.
While the curtains are open and the scene is set, there’s a musical performance. After that, the curtains close and the characters on stage right continue their dialogue until the curtains open again and reveal another scene and another musical number is performed.
With this script, a picture frame for the stage was really important to me. Without it, the play doesn’t make as much sense.
HOW TO MAKE THE GIANT PICTURE FRAME
I measured the height and width of the curtains on the stage and the opening I wanted was 10 ft x 14 ft. So I needed a picture frame that large.
Here are the materials I used:
- 4 pieces of “Common Board” or Pine:
- Common Board is the cheapest and lightest weight wood, which was perfect. I bought two 8-ft. pieces, and four 6-ft pieces (12-ft pieces wouldn’t have fit in my car, so I had Home Depot cut them in half for me)
- 3 large cardboard boxes
- lots and lots of hot glue
- gold spray paint
- black, dark brown, yellow, and white craft paint
- foam brush for painting
- 4 “L” brackets and 8 straight brackets, plus short screws if needed.
- strong thin rope to hang the frame
I spent about $40 on all of this.
In my garage, I laid out the 6 pieces of wood to create an 8×12 foot frame. DO NOT BRACKET YET (or you won’t be able to transport it)!
Cut large strips of cardboard and hot glue to the board to extend the width. Do this around the entire frame, now making it about 10’x 14′. I left about four inches of the frame exposed to help create dimension as I painted.
Once the strips of cardboard are attached, it’s time to cut the cardboard so it looks like the outside of a frame. I did a wavy line that went up at the corners, but you can do whatever you’d like.
Now it’s time to paint. Spray paint the entire frame gold, and then use the black, white, yellow, and dark brown to paint designs or trim. I was very rough in my painting, not being too careful, and from far away it looked amazing and you couldn’t tell. So don’t stress about this part.
Once it’s painted and the pieces are transported to the church, use a screwdriver to attach the frame together. I used four straight brackets (2 on top, 2 on bottom) to attach the 6′ pieces to each other, and the four L brackets to attach the sides to the top and bottom.
I also attached 2 brackets along each side on the top, leaving the top screw hole above the wood, and used these to thread the rope through to hang the frame! I made a little illustration so you could see.
The church already had hooks attached to the ceiling, so we used a huge ladder and tied the ropes up there to hang the frame.
FOR THE DONKEY AND THE STONE WALL
I did not do the stone wall of Zarahemla, or the donkey, but the man who did it used only cardboard and craft paint. The donkey had a flat piece on its back that attached to a classroom table with tape (and Mary sat on the table for scene two), and the wall curved enough that it stood on its own.
OTHER PROPS & COSTUMES
We borrowed costumes, the wood manger (and raffia that went inside it as hay), baby Jesus doll, and the wood backdrop from our Stake, who had a large nativity performance last year. But you could pretty easily do most of these costumes with with old towels and rope tied around heads and shoulders.
I really wanted the large wood backdrop for our stable, but it didn’t end up looking all that great. I would definitely skip that if I did it again. It wasn’t worth the hassle.
For our star, I just used my paper star tutorial and made only half of it, then covered it with elmers glue and glitter. It could have been prettier, but this was a super last minute project. Not my best.
For the Nephites shooting at Samuel, we used toy bow and arrow and spears from a boy in our church.
I delegated room decorations to my friend, Robin, on my committee and she did an amazing job planning and executing.
We used white tablecloths that the church already owned, and then bought 20 yards of red cotton fabric from JOANNS and cut into squares for the table overlay.
She got a bunch of free boxes from her husbands work and the post office and wrapped them in red and black and white wrapping paper with pretty ribbon, and used these as table decor. We also used little Christmas trees the church also already owned. She spruced the centerpieces up with cut avocado leaves, white snowflake doilies, fresh cranberries, and pinecones. The little extra touches made such a difference and it looked incredible in person.
We used my hanging paper star tutorial for the hanging silver stars. They hung twine in a diamond shape around the room, and then hung the stars on twine from the diamond. We used this silver paper we found on amazon for a steal, and bought two packs so we had enough for 100 stars (1 star uses 2 sheets of paper).
We bought these plates, this silverware, these cups, and these napkins for the tables, and then printed programs to put on each place that had a list of the songs and performers, and the words to Silent Night that the congregation sang at the end of the program.
We also set the tables in advance because it just looks so much prettier.
We wanted dinner to be really delicious, so we catered ham, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn, and then bought rolls from Costco and had the church members volunteer to bring a dessert.
The tradition is to have Santa come an hour before the party begins so you can get a photo with him. We dedicated a different room to him with an arm chair and a backdrop that was painted by a guy in our church (just on black butcher paper).
We got a large Christmas tree and put it next to him too, and then surrounded him with gifts.
I asked a girl in our church who’s a photographer to bring her camera and tripod, and she took a nice professional photo of each family as they came through. Then that night she uploaded them to pixieset and emailed them out to everyone so we had almost instant access to a nice photo. We also had someone else behind her helping the kids smile, which was a big help.
The cherry on top was a man in our church who volunteered at the last minute to bring some professional lights. I wish I had a photo of the setup — it was like a Sear’s studio in the church with this gorgeous backdrop, a perfect santa, and professional photographer, and these big studio lights. It was incredible and the photos turned out so great because of it.
Also we had a basket of candy canes and a young woman dressed as an elf, and she gave a candy cane to each child after they met with Santa.
It was an incredible night filled with so much talent. I was blown away by the efforts of so many willing to donate their time and talents to help make this night possible.
This is a ton of information, but I hope you find it helpful as you plan your church Christmas parties for years to come!