Once upon a time, this was my blog for Ward Activity Ideas. Since then, I have served in YW, and Mid-singles. Currently, I am leading the Primary Children's singing time. Thus, I have expanded this site to include anything LDS activity related.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Christmas in Bethlehem

This was an activity that was in the very early stages of planning when I got released. (Sorry it has taken me over 6 months to post!) While I do not have all of the details I will post what I do know as it was a huge success.

First of all, I will tell you that my Ward had done "Christmas in Bethlehem" about 5 years ago (Before I was called) and it was far too unorganized and far too much work. The feedback wasn't necessarily positive after that, so when I suggested it as a possibility to my committee, you can imagine the looks I received. If you have never heard of the concept of Christmas in Bethlehem, you may want to first read about it {{HERE}}.

I promised my committee that we would not be too elaborate and that keeping it simple would help to make it a success. They all agreed, especially because our budget was small.

Who: Everyone!

Objective: Fellowship, Build Testimony of Christ, Celebrate Christ's Birth

Budget: (I am not sure what their budget was as I was release nearly 11 months earlier.)

Flyer: We pretty much used the same verbiage as was found at the link above. Invitations were rolled up into scrolls and tied with small twine.

Set-Up: The Relief Society Activity Committee helped the Ward Activity Chairperson in getting all of the assignments made. Starting the 1st Sunday in November, the sign-up sheets were circulated through. Unlike many wards, we did not ask classes or quorums to run a booth. (The downfall of the prior attempt 5 years earlier.) We wanted families to be able to enjoy the evening together and didn't want unattended children running all over the place. There were sign-up sheets asking families to run a booth (I think we had about 8-9 booth). We had sign-up sheets for those who could donate canopies for booths. And there were sign-up sheets to ask people to bring the following food items: Breads/rolls. Cookies. Cheese Cubes. Black Olives. Cut-Up fruit.

Special Instructions: As each family arrived, they were asked to sign the Census. (Husbands of the Activity Committee were dressed like roman soldiers.) The soldiers gave each member a small bag containing coins. (12 pennies per bag. This was enough to get their food and then a few more items.) We were then all guided to the chapel. There we sang a Christmas Carol and the activity chairperson explained how the marketplace worked. The overflow area was set up with a little pathway (cardboard "walls" and battery operated candles in paper sacks) leading to the gym. They gave about 30 minutes for people to "shop" and eat before they were invited to be seated and watch the reenactment of the nativity.

We have a lady in our ward who has all of the props and costumes for the nativity. She created these years ago for her children and extended family. Every other year we ask her to run that part of our Christmas program. She loves it. She gets all of the actors organized and rehearses with them. There are places in the nativity program for the rest of us to sing a verse of a Carol. We love it too, as it takes added pressure from the committee!

Turn-Out: We had several people attend (I counted close to 100) and everyone had a wonderful time. I think the pictures tell the best story, so without further adieu...

The committee basically flattened a ton of cardboard boxes and using really fat black permanent markers turned them into "buildings". They were cut, shaped and then taped together and set along the outskirts of the room.

Here is the Water "Well". The Base is actually a plastic tub (Sitting on a step to make it taller), filled with ice and then water bottles, then covered with thick brown paper and the rim is a spray painted pool noodle. The wooden frame helped to keep everything in place and was cute. 1 Bench was brought from home, while the other three were confiscated from the Primary, YW, & Relief Society rooms.
Booths were created out of modern-day canopies. Sheets were hung in between to create "walls". The insides were lined with Christmas White Lights and other things such as baskets. Poster boards were used for the sign shops.
At David's Toy Shop we were "selling" little dreidels. The Committee purchased these online in bulk. There were other toys and trinkets that were in the activity closet from activities past, so we thought it would be a good idea to "sell" those too.
The Bishop's winery had sparkling Grape Juice. (Grape Juice & 7-Up in punch bowls)
The fruit market contained grapes, orange slices, banana halves, pineapple slices and apple slices, all donated by members (via the sign-up sheets).
Ruth's Bakery contained rolls & honey along with several types of cookies and bars brought by the members (via the sign-up sheets).
The Gift of the Magi was selling Gold (chocolate gold coin), Frankincense, and Myrrh. I don't remember was the Frankincense was, but 1 token got you all 3 and the Myrrh meant you got to use some of the lotion.
Potiphar's Pita hut "sold" pita wedges and toppings such as Hummus, Cream Cheese and Honey. The Activity Committee supplied the food items for this hut.
Benjamin's Meat & Deli was offering grilled chicken strips (provided by the committee) and "Deli Kabobs" of cheese cubes and black olives (provided by members via the sign-up sheet).
Rachel's Rentals contained a basket full of blankets for those who did not bring one to sit on.
One of the members brought these benches from home. The "actors" for the Nativity program sat here until it was their turn to go on stage.
The back corner of the gym was set up with tables. It was announced ahead of time that these were for the elderly or for those who could not sit of the floor.
The tables were decorated with simple burlap cloths and mini lanterns.
This was taken after it the marketplace opened for business.
During the Nativity.

The lady who organizes this for us uses all Primary Children and no adults for this. When most of the kids are playing a part, it's easier to keep them from running around. :)

That is a brief overview from our night in Bethlehem. I hope it inspires something for you! Good Luck!


  1. Thanks for sharing! We're having our Relief Society Christmas Dinner with a similar theme and its nice to see your final outcome.

    1. I am also thinking of doing the same thing and modifying this program for our Relief Society dinner. I would love to compare ideas!!

    2. I am also thinking of doing the same thing and modifying this program for our Relief Society dinner. I would love to compare ideas!!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for the tips on helping the children be productive!!

  4. The link to the Idea Door site above just takes me to the home page, but I found the page you reference. http://www.theideadoorfiles.com/index.php/resources-2/125-ward-activities/1971-a-night-in-bethlehem

  5. I made a soundtrack to a Bethlehem marketplace if anyone is interested.



Question(s)/Comment(s) Here