“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
It was a few years ago when I was singing summer songs with children’s ministry in the middle of July. One little fellow raised his hand and complained, saying it was just “plain hot”. Like all of us who were yearning for colder days, these children broke out singing “Frosty the Snowman” and other fun Christmas and Winter songs with their teacher.
It may have been the “power of suggestion,” but the children, parents and myself truly felt better as we sang cold, joyful songs and laughed with hope and glee on that hot summer day.
Thus, the parents and I decided to have a fun evening of “Celebrating Christmas in July!”
Not only did the idea thrill the children, but the celebration spread to our local retirement village that is nearby our church. What a wonderful intergenerational activity to celebrate in midsummer.
I know in the heat of summer it might be hard for us to think about celebrating Christmas, but we must remember God’s love for us each and every day. As a past children’s ministry coordinator and activity coordinator for the elderly, I’d like to share some fun, easy ideas that I have done, as well as ideas I have gleaned from others.
Snacks and food: Right around the corner on July 23, 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. I always search for pointed sugar cones that can be decorated as Christmas trees with frosting, and candies to make for a delicious craft treat. To make that Christmas tree cone extra delicious, an ice cream sundae bar is a favorite for all ages. Children and the elderly can decorate their ice cream with red and green sprinkles, or summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, watermelon balls, kiwi and more. Red and green popsicles are a delightful summer treat. Sugar cookies cut out in Christmas shapes is a favorite anytime of the year.
Preparations: With Christmas in July, it is easier to make decorations simple. Use a summer plant as a Christmas tree and decorate with lights, a few ornaments or however you and your child would like to decorate. Since we usually pack our Christmas decorations away, just pull out a few decorations that are easy for you to get and use. I always put out the manger scene, a candle, star and stocking.
Crafts: Painting Christmas symbols on seashells or smooth stones found by a lake or pond delights children and the elderly as well as honors summer. Beach pails, as well as beach balls, can be decorated with Christmas symbols. Making sand snowmen can be done on the beach as well as on a small scale as a craft. Helping and giving to others is a year-round project whether during summer or at Christmas. The simple craft of making cards for people in need or the homebound is an act of love and encouragement.
Music: Fellowships just love to sing Christmas music. Children love to sing Christmas music, too. I warmly remember how our church choir came to help the nursing home celebrate “Christmas in July”. Happy songs such as “Joy To the World”, “Silent Night”, “Frosty The Snowman” and other seasonal songs were sung. This kind of fellowship allows for sharing and understanding of how Christmas and winter holidays are celebrated in different ways. I warmly remember in the nursing home where I served as a volunteer, folks of different faiths would share how they celebrated the winter holidays such as Hannakuh and Kwanzaa, as well as how holidays are celebrated all around the world. The slower pace of summer allows time for the young and old to share in fellowships and sit and chat.
Games: Christmas Bingo is truly a favorite with the elderly and children as an intergenerational celebration. Pin the Nose on Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or Pin The Star On The Christmas Tree is a variation of Pin The Tail on the Donkey. Christmas Charades where children and adults can guess different Christmas symbols, as well as Christmas songs, are joyous, too. To do this, print Christmas symbols or songs on a card or slip of paper. With young children, whisper away from the group what they are to act out. The rest of the group is to guess what the person is acting out. The person who guesses correctly is then chosen to act out the next symbol or song.
Sharing stories: Be sure to gather winter and Christmas books from our local libraries to share. Also, pull out favorite holiday movies to watch. With an intergenerational fellowship, children love to hear Christmas stories from our elderly friends of past Christmases.
One thing that is so true of Christmas is giving to others who have needs. This should be a year-round gift. As a family or group, check in with community agencies or churches to see if families need essentials or practical needs that young children can be a part of giving. Pray over these gifts and who they need to go to.
I hope these few simple “Christmas in July” ideas highlight your summer with love and joy.
I want to gently remind the readers that this coming Tuesday, July 20, is Moon Day, as we celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of U.S. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. landing on the moon in 1969. We remember Neil Armstrong’s famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The emphasis of this day presents many activities for children and families to enjoy in moon and stargazing on these summer nights.
Have a wonderful mid-summer week!
Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd