The holidays are pretty much in full swing! Thanksgiving is over and we are in the middle of Christmas movies, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, hot chocolate, and the movie Elf. Most of you are most probably putting the finishing touch on planning that year end Christmas event that involves cookie decorating, Christmas themed dodgeball, and White Elephant gift exchanges.
You are also looking forward to letting your hair down and catching your breath as you take a short break from programming. The Christmas season allows students and volunteers a time to enjoy a time of rest as well. Even in the lull of “formal” programming, this is also an opportune time to engage students.
Just like summer, students are looking for things to do while they are out of school. If you aren’t strategic, you can miss out on an opportunity for you and your leaders to engage with students over the break. Below are some helpful ways myself and my leaders have found effective for engaging students over the holidays (be creative and mix things up and make them your own).
Go to the Movies
Christmas time is one of the best time to go to the movies. Some of the best movies come out around the holidays and this is a perfect opportunity to connect with students, grab lunch, and see the latest movie that has hit the theaters. If there isn’t a movie worth watching, be creative and partner with a family who would be willing to open their home and get pizza, snacks, popcorn, and drinks for a Christmas movie marathon. This is an easy, laid back way to connect with students during the break.
Do a Service Project Together
What does your community need? How can you and your students meet that need? Students are eager to do something outside of themselves. Get your students together to partner with a local organization and serve your community. Set up a time and date and get out there and serve.
Go to Their Holiday Event
This is the time of year for winter sports games, Christmas choir concerts, band concerts, plays, etc. Keep up with what your students are doing. You have no idea how valuable that is to a student when you show up for the events of their life. When they look into the stands or out into the audience and see their youth worker, it means the world to them. Figure out what your students are involved in and go to those events. And, these outings can turn into a fun date night with your spouse when you couple them with a meal or coffee together (little romantice plug for married youth workers).
Lastly, be creative. You know your students, culture, and community. Use that knowledge as a tool to be creative with how you are going to engage students this holiday season. Maybe you open your auditorium and host a Fortnite or Smash Bros tournament. Maybe you go to the park and put together some kind of Christmas themed tournament. So, this holiday season, use those creative juices to put something together that is easy to execute and will be an experience that students will remember for years to come.
Regardless of whether or not you do these things, the important thing is to engage this holiday season. Don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Scott Keesee | firstname.lastname@example.org | Instgram: @scak_keesee