How to Have Beautiful Christmas Celebrations on a Tight Church Budget

It’s that time of year when churches kick things up a notch.
We’re celebrating God’s greatest act of mercy: sending his Son to redeem the world.
And since a multitude of angels sang at his appearing, it’s right that churches celebrate with at least a little extravagance. Plus, with an uptick in visitors, it’s an excellent season for outreach.
That said, celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to drain the bank (or calendar).
Here are five tips for getting through Christmas on a tight church budget.

1. Reuse and recycle

Call it thrift or call it stewardship, but there is something deeply satisfying about reusing Christmas decorations. The familiar smell. The gently used look. The memories.
Nostalgia is part of the magic of Christmas.
Make the most of it.
This principle applies to more than decorations. Was there a wonderful reading from last year you could reuse? Did someone spend hours arranging Christmas hymns that were only sung once? Did you preach a sermon years ago that you could refresh and redeliver? Maybe there was a new worship service or event your congregation loved. Repeat it and make it a tradition.
Spend some time—even 30 minutes—taking inventory of all of your resources from Christmases past. You’d be surprised how much is in the attic.
Proclaim Church Presentation Software can help you keep track of your song history and media. So if you spent time preparing song slides and Christmas-themed presentations one year, with a few clicks you could find all those presentations and reuse them to your heart’s delight the next. See for yourself with a free trial.

2. Recruit volunteers

If any holiday is made for service and giving, it’s Christmas. Christ himself said he came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
What better way to embody the spirit of the incarnation than by encouraging church involvement?
In your outreach to the community, tap into your church’s creativity. A group brainstorm could yield a lot of great ideas, and together you can figure out how to bless the community using the collective resources of your church body, not just your church budget.
When it comes to your celebrations, find ways to make everything a group activity. Decorating the foyer? Make it a church-wide party. Getting together for regular fellowship around food? Instead of buying something from the store, ask people to bring their favorite homemade cookies or Christmas desserts. If your church does Christmas concerts, consider letting it be home-grown—a talent show or pageant of sorts. It may not be perfect, but remember that Christ was born in a manger. There is beauty in humility.
Need a few more hands for your church presentations this season? Proclaim comes with unlimited installs on Mac and PC, making it convenient and affordable for volunteer teams of any size. With free training and automatic syncing, you can have as many volunteers or staff involved in building your church presentation as you want—at no extra cost.

3. Don’t buy what you can get for free

There are some things you should never take for free, like a couch you find in an alley behind a parking garage.
But a lot of things are wonderfully free and easy to come by.
Whether it’s curriculum, Christmas devotionals, or church media, you can find most of what you need for Christmas for free online. Consider, too, if anyone in your church could easily create what you might otherwise buy. It’s a great way to tap into gifts and skills in your church and cultivate a sense of belonging.
Proclaim is full of free media, including Christmas collections. With a free trial of Proclaim, you get instant access to Pro Media, too—a collection of 14,000+ motions and stills. Don’t pay a designer to make Christmas artwork you can get free. Get it with a trial of Proclaimand sign up for our free monthly media bundles so you never miss out. 

4. Go digital

Well-designed paper products are beautiful, and they can be hard to resist, especially if you’re the creative type. However, if you’re celebrating on a budget, printing costs are a pretty easy item to cut.
Consider going totally digital this Christmas—on your announcements, on your service bulletins, even on your mailing. You can save a lot when you avoid a trip to the printer, especially when you’re printing in color.
With Proclaim, you can create beautiful announcement slides using pre-made templates, as well as digital bulletins that people can access from their phones. You can also email those assets or post them on your church website. It’s a great way to save money both on design and printing.

5. Be tasteful with tech

Some churches pull out all the stops during Christmas, with extravagant light shows and productions. That’s fine, but that’s not every church. Some don’t have the money, and some prefer to be more subtle.
Be true to your church’s personality and traditions. Dim lighting and some well-placed candles can set a wonderful ambience for a reflective Christmas Eve service. Maybe there’s someone in your church with a special touch of creativity who would jump at the opportunity to help with tech and stage design.
With Proclaim, churches can enjoy tasteful lighting scenes on a budget. It works with the affordable off-the-shelf Philips Hue bulbs and LED light strips, and it requires no technical knowhow. The developers of Proclaim worked with stage technicians to design pre-made settings you can access with a click, practically building lighting scenes for you.
Christmas should be beautiful, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little creativity and teamwork, you can have memorable and tasteful celebrations on a budget. Comment below with ways your church has celebrated Christmas in meaningful ways without spending too much.

Proclaim is a great way to enjoy beautiful presentations without spending a dime. Start a free trial to enjoy unlimited use of over 14,000 pieces of church media, volunteer training, unlimited installs on Mac and PC, and even lighting technology. Start today.

Written by
Matthew Boffey

Matthew Boffey (MDiv, Trinity International University) is the pastor of worship at Christ Church Bellingham. He is also editor-in-chief of Ministry Team magazine, has edited several books, and has written for several blogs and publications, including Relevant online, the Logos blog, and the Faithlife blog.

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Written by Matthew Boffey