This week it seems that Christian Aid held a meeting to work on their 2012 Christmas material, a meeting that was disrupted by adverse weather conditions which prevented people from reaching Scotland, where it was being held. Like the greeting card designers and confectionery makers, we are already thinking at least one, if not more, festivals ahead.
Among my post this week was a little book, just published, called Messy Nativity by Jane Leadbetter which includes three different, but potentially integrated, activities for Advent and Christmas. Whilst I lament the 'branding' of Messy Church, which has the potential to reduce to a formula that which many have done for decades, the resources it is producing offer some new and creative outreach ideas.
I am really taken with the knitted sheep trail idea, whereby you persuade local shops to host a hand-knitted sheep, which they can name, and then be part of a 'sheep trail' aimed at families who visit the shops to collect the names of all the sheep (good increase in footfall for participating shops) and maybe offer a prize for the 'grand draw' of completed trail sheets which coincides with the event to be held at church (e.g. crib service, christingle, etc.).
Other ideas are the 'messy nativity set journey' and the 'messy street nativity' (the latter not too disimilar from 'Get In The Picture').
Gatherers beware... I am enthused by these ideas, not least as we are so near to 'Sheepfold Street', whose shops attract loads of people during Advent... a sheep trail, getting in the picture, free gift wrapping and a few other ideas are all bubbling away in my mind!