2. Beatbox Bible's reading of Luke 2 did a lot of service last year as a Christmas reading in services
3. For a fresh stock of visuals, it's worth repeat visits to the Nativity Factor site. The competition is running again this year, for 2 minute interpretations of the Christmas story. All of last years shortlist are on the site, and the Christmas Channel on Youtube has all the entries.
4. Christine Sine's website at Mustard Seed Associates is packed with advent reflections, art and poems, you may need a bit of time to browse it, but there's lots of good stuff there.
5. If you need an Advent Calendar, try this one from Beyond Church, featuring the Beach Huts used in their 'live' Advent calendar. If you're anywhere in the Hove area, they're repeating it this year. There might just be time to organise something like this, and there are plenty of ways to do it - using shop fronts, garages, garden sheds etc.
6. Or try a Posada, where Nativity figures are taken from one house to another throughout Advent, and each host household can mark the evening by doing something special (party, carols, decorating). There are some resources for this at Church Army, including a family board game, cut out and make Nativity set, scripts and resources for all-age Christmas services etc.
Some local ideas, and things that have worked:
- our 9 Lessons and Carols was uncomfortably full last year, so we've got an 'alternative' on this year, on a Friday night featuring our new Community Choir. The set list will mix traditional carols with choir pieces (Lean on Me, Fix You, Price Tag) to tell the Christmas story. There's more wiggle room over poems and readings too.
- donkey rides. A variant on 'Get in the Picture', which gives people the chance to dress up and have their photo taken. If you've some nativity dressing up clothes and a local Christmas fair going on, do donkey rides for the children, a chance for folk to take pictures of the Mary/Joseph/Donkey combo, and have something to give away that explains what Christmas is all about.
- Christmas services in 'secular' venues. Local garden centres have been a regular feature for several years, and they've often rung us to get the date in the calendar. Christingles seem to work well, and we get people to make their own, which is great fun for the kids, and saves a lot of prep work!!
- Leaflet drop. Boring, boring, but if you're not going to let local folk know what you're up to now, then when are you? Nothing quite so good for the soul as pushing leaflets through snappy letterboxes in the cold. We use 160gsm card - easy to fold but robust enough to survive most letterboxes. Or you can use CPO's nice publicity materials and overprint your details.
- Chocolate Christmas - a very popular idea for a talk I used a couple of years ago, here's the original, some other ideas (see the comments), and an absolute monster. It works best if you've got the actual chocolates, and there's usually a queue (mostly boys) at the end who want to help you eat them.
- giveaways: Why Christmas? is a good one, and the Philo trust have several from J John, including What's the Point of Christmas? If you like Adrian Plass's writing style, try this. Some childrens ideas here, or several booklets/ideas on the CPO site plus childrens themed comics, and more comics,
Finally, if you're after a few good Christmas jokes and stories, J Johns Christmas Unwrapped message is a great place to go, very funny.
Update: got to add this superb DIY Advent Calendar from the Mothers Union.