Thursday, May 17, 2012

Start Now and Plan a Volunteer Holiday Open House!

As you have noticed, I am a strong supporter of making volunteer support and encouragement a big part of your children's ministry. Volunteers give of themselves and their time to serve in our children's ministries . . . they could choose to do something else with their time, yet there they are . . . week after week . . . serving in our children's ministries. We could not do what we do without them, so it is entirely appropriate and right to take time to show our appreciation to them!

Last week I wrote about planning a Volunteer Holiday Open House, so today I want to talk a little more about this. If you decide to do this, you will likely find it is one of the biggest things you could do to show appreciation to your volunteers! It is not difficult to do, but it does take some time and planning to pull it off. I'll outline the basic plan and encourage you to get a team together now to start working on your volunteer holiday open house!
  • First step - choose a date for your event. I always had my open house the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Regardless of the size of my church, I always planned my open house for two evenings because I wanted all my volunteers to able to attend the open house. By holding it for two evenings my volunteers were able to choose the evening which fit their plans!
  • Second step - choose a location for your event. I always held the open house at my home . . . I wanted it to have a personal, relaxed and "homey" touch, so I literally "opened" my home for my holiday open house.
  • Third step - determine who you will invite. I always invited everyone who served in our children's, youth and adult ministries and their spouse/guest. If you have a large church, you could limit it to your children's ministry, but if you have an average or smaller church, you may want to make your open house an opportunity to show your appreciation to everyone who serves for your Sunday and mid-week ministries.
  • Fourth step - gather a group of "crafty" individuals and make an ornament for each volunteer. I always made several different ornaments, set up my Christmas tree and decorated it with the ornaments . . . before each volunteer left, I invited them to choose an ornament to take with them as a gift!
  • Fifth step - determine your menu . . . I always provided rolls, deli meats, cheeses, chips, dips, crackers, cheese, cheesy potatoes, a veggie tray and of course, lots of Christmas cookies! You could ask people from your church who are not involved in the children's ministry to donate cookies, and the different parts of your menu to help keep your open house affordable.
  • Sixth step - this is the step which takes the most work, but which adds the most "fun" to your open house . . . approach area businesses and restaurants and ask them to donate a gift certificate for an item or a free meal. Be sure you have enough certificates so each volunteer will be able to receive one and then at some point in your open house, gather everyone together and play a game where you hand a person an envelope with a certificate in it . . . they may choose if they will keep their envelope or trade it for one someone else already opened! This is great fun and the best part is everyone ends up with a gift! If you do this, begin requesting the gift certificates about two months before your event.
  • Seventh step - send invitations, decorate - I always used luminaries outside my home and of course had the tree up inside.
  • Eighth step - enjoy your open house!
This event is one which your volunteers will enjoy and never forget! It takes time to plan and it does take work to pull it off, but you will be glad you did . . . and so will your volunteers!

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