A Christmas post in October?! You either think we’re behind the curve or right on time.

Whether you follow the Hobby Lobby holiday calendar and have been planning Christmas services since July, or you just realized that it’s Fall, you have one thing in common—the challenge of planning anything in 2020.

To help, we put together this blog to help you get ready for a safe, healthy, and adaptable season of special holiday services and events.  

Each best practice includes links to our articles which will walk you through exactly how to use our features in your own unique way.

Connect with Congregants

There are so many factors in people’s decision-making this year. What are the factors in your congregation’s world?

Will holiday travel impact your numbers like usual, or will people be staying close to home? Are they planning to avoid in-person gatherings? Will they only attend if services are outside? Will they definitely not attend outside because it’s Illinois and are you crazy?

A few months ago we released a guide on how to ask your congregation questions like this through a form in People. It might be time to send out a form specifically to gauge your congregation’s interest in getting involved this Christmas. Once you know how your congregation is making decisions, you can start making those official plans.

Create Special Event Plans

Christmas services are always special. This year they might be even more unique than normal. Before you get started with scheduling, we have a whole guide on how to use Services to plan gatherings that aren’t in your usual rotation—to help you pick the right service type, schedule special teams, and more.

Organize Volunteer Team Bubbles

Think the NBA bubble, but for church volunteers. 🏀  Ok, not actually, but the general principle is the same. You can minimize potential exposure by creating specific unique volunteer groups that serve throughout the holiday season—whether it’s your worship team and choir members, your ushers, or your children’s ministry leads.

Unlike the NBA bubble, managing volunteer bubbles is pretty simple—you can use the Templates feature in Services. Make a template for each bubble, and then import them to each plan where they’ll serve.

If you want to go a more autonomous route, you can also enable Signup Sheets to allow your volunteers to choose to serve where they feel most comfortable.

Get Everything on the Calendar

As soon as you know what your plan is, it’s time to let your congregation know about it!

If your church isn’t already having people sign up ahead of time for services, now might be the right time to start. Having a projected number of attendees can be especially helpful if you are doing anything special or different than usual for the holidays.

And when you create an event signup in Registrations, you can set those events to automatically appear in Calendar, so you can make sure the right rooms and equipment are reserved, and your facilities team has the details they need for setup.

Getting all of these details from your congregants gives them more time to plan, and provides you with the information you need to prepare for health safety.

Coordinate Touchless Check-In

On top of COVID, Christmas is right in the middle of standard flu season—and it’s more important than ever to be careful with in-person check-in.

You can start by including an announcement on all of your Check-Ins stations asking people to confirm they are healthy before they finalize their check-in.

You can also create self-check stations where people can quickly scan a barcode from the Church Center app on their phone and print name labels without having to touch shared equipment. If you collect signups in advance, you can use our Registrations/Check-Ins integration to ensure that only pre-registered people can check in when they arrive.

Need help or ideas?

As always, if you have any questions, you can reach out to our support team for help. Just click that “?” in the top right corner of any of our products.

Also, if you’re curious what other churches are up to this season, check out the Planning Center Slack Community and ask around for ideas and inspiration!

We wish you all the very best as you begin planning for this holiday season, and we hope it is a healthy success for you and your church.

🎄 Happy Christmas,
Planning Center