This twist on Pass the Parcel is a fun way to tell the Christmas story and reflect on God’s gift of love in Jesus. Our young people really enjoyed this. Our churched young people appreciated hearing a familiar story in a fresh way, and our ‘community’ kids had a fun introduction to a side of Christmas they knew little about.
You will need:
- A bag of mini chocolate bars or wrapped sweets – enough for one per person likely to be present
- 8 wrapped mints (or other lollies)
- Printed copies of The Christmas Story & Actions Steps – Episodes 1-9
- Wrapping paper & tape
- Christmas Carols
- A candle & matches
- A bag of marshmallows & a bowl
- Wrap the bag of chocolate bars/sweets along with the card that reads ‘The Christmas Story – Episode 9’ (see below).
- Continue wrapping the parcel with the next Christmas Story Episode (in descending order ie Episode 8, then Episode 7 etc) and a wrapped mint, in each layer of wrapping paper.
- Select an upbeat version of a Christmas carol (e.g. O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to The World, Mary’s Boy Child) and have it ready to play for pass the parcel.
How to play
Start by inviting young people to sit in a circle. Place the (unlit) candle, matches, bag of marshmallows and bowl (you’ll see why when you read Episode 3!), in the centre of the circle.
Explain the rules:
When the music starts, pass the parcel around the circle, one by one.
When the music stops, whoever is holding the parcel:
- unwraps one layer
- finds the piece of paper and mint
- reads out the Christmas Story ‘Episode’
- reads out and follows the Action Step
- eats the mint
Players can play one TAG each. This means that, once they have read The Christmas Story Episode and Action Step out loud – they can pick someone else to do the Action Step. The nominated person has to accept, but they do get the mint.
Try to include different people each round.
At the end of the game, close with a prayer of thanks to God or use something from our Worship & Prayer resources.
The Christmas Story
The episodes and action steps are below. Download a printable version of these cards.
One day, God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman whose name was Mary. The angel said to her, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
Mary was afraid, but the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. He will give you a baby, a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be God’s Son.’
Action Step: Share with everybody one thing you are afraid of (e.g. spiders, heights, Brussel sprouts for dinner, etc)
Mary was surprised. ‘How can this be,’ she asked. ‘I have never slept with a man?’ The angel answered, ‘Nothing is impossible for God.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘Let it be as God wants”.
Action Step: Share either the worst thing your parents have ever made you do or a scary thing you can imagine God asking you to do.
When Mary’s baby was nearly due, her and her husband, Joseph had to make a trip to Bethlehem. But when they arrived, they couldn’t find anywhere to stay. All the inns were full. Eventually an inn-keeper let them stay in a stable with horses and donkeys.
Action Step: The marshmallows represent the people in Bethlehem. Your mouth is the only inn with room left. How many ‘people’ can you fit in the “inn”?
The time came for the baby to be born, and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. They named him Jesus. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was nowhere else for him to sleep.
Action Step: Tell us about the worst bed you’ve ever slept in (e.g. at Easter Camp, on holiday, on a boat, etc. …). Take a snooze in your normal sleeping position (lying on your back, stomach or side) until the parcel comes back round to you.
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in Bethlehem, a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” When they saw baby Jesus, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Action Step: Tell us about any big surprise in your life. Was it scary? Exciting? Did it make you want to tell others?
When Jesus was born, Herod was king of Judea. During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and asked the teachers of the Law “Where will the Messiah be born?” They told him, “He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote.” Herod told the wise men, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I want to go and worship him too.” But he was lying, and secretly planned to kill the baby.
Action Step: Tell the group about three presents you got as a child – but make two true and one a lie. Members of the opposite gender (and not of your family) have to guess which one was the lie.
The wise men left Jerusalem, for Bethlehem. When they went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him. Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back home by another road.
Action Step: Light the Jesus candle.
After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him.” That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt, where they stayed until Herod died.
Action Step: This Episode shows us that Jesus has experienced what it is like to be a refugee – forced to flee his homeland for fear of death. What other hardships do young people face today, that you think Jesus can relate to personally?
This is the story of the very first Christmas gift – Jesus. God loved each of us so much that he sent his only son, so that we could know about God’s love for us and have Jesus as our friend and brother.
Action Step: Pass around the chocolates. As each person takes a chocolate, they share with everyone: “Which non-material gift would you most love to receive from God?” (e.g. wisdom, forgiveness, patience, speaking skills, prophecy…) before passing the chocolates to the next person.