P-8th Journey to Bethlehem Ward Christmas Party Report: SUCCESS!!!

...and now I can sleep...
Actually, here's brief rundown (will feel like a repeat Cherie as I'm too tired to be more creative...hence the copy & paste job from my comment!):

I'd had nightmares all week long that we were going to run out of food. Turns out we figured perfectly, and the food came through (i settled my self down each time thinking that the Savior fed thousands on 2 fish & 5 loaves of bread...worked MOST of the time for me!)  I'm hoping other people will have pix, because my camera (along with my special Quinoa was forgotten at home---which makes me VERY sad). Despite that, the night was perfect. Had a very organic feeling, and as authentic as we could muster.  So as many banquet tables as were possible were shortened as low as they could go to the floor, and each person was to BYOP (bring their own pillow for seating)!  Icing on that cake was that it started snowing yesterday morning, so Daisy made a chalkboard sign requesting shoes & "robes" be left in the entry.  The sign also looked like an old road sign with a "board" for Bethlehem pointed down the hall to our tax collector, and another "board" for Babylon pointed to the chaos in the kitchen!  Lol, as a result there were piles on top of piles of shoes & coats in the entry way which was delightful to behold!  (and less soggy for those sitting on the floor in the gym)

People were lined up to pay their "taxes" with our tax collector, Brother Robbins, and his custom tax collection box Mr LKP hand-crafted for the evening!  The being taxed portion turned out to be more fun than I had imagined.  (Thanks be to Jodi & Molly for countless hours of cutting!)
No one was to bring anything except their families, friends, & pillows.  The ward provided the entire meal, with the manual efforts of some WONDERFUL SISTERS IN THE WARD (Nicki, Jenn, Cyndi, Vicki, Melissa, Tiffany, Sarah E., Sarah M., Jennis, Pam, Teri, Camille-you are all INCREDIBLE cooks let alone ladies!  Also Necia & all my gals who served!  Thank you all so very very much.)  Then the line for dinner was wrapped around the entire gym!  SO much fun!  In keeping with a middle-eastern/ancient Israel feel, Chicken curry over couscous was served and was a huge hit! Turns our many people had never had couscous before & the curry was perfect for even the pickiest eaters!  (and, might I add, it was the easiest recipe ever!)  Along with the curry dish we served green salad, grapes, olives, carrots, cut bananas, rolls & water to drink.  Figured had we actually been journeying to Bethlehem that night of the first Christmas, by the time we'd have arrived the meal would have been filling but humble.  So that's exactly what it was: humble.  For dessert we enjoyed Cinnamon Flop (kinda like coffee cake, but no coffee).  Considering we planned for between 225-250 people, we did REALLY well.  Everyone was contently filled, we were able to offer some second helpings, and we had only a little left in the end!  We didn't run out of utencils, napkins, plates, cups or ice for that matter!  So, I couldn't have dreamed for it to have all gone any better.
Good thing we did a TON of floor seating, because conventionally we'd have only been able to seat about 212 people.  There were people EVERYWHERE, around every table in every possible way!  (Even then there were still people standing for the program & some trickled into the hallways.)  Each table was dressed in excess newsprint from the local Herald (which added a perfect subtle color & meekness to the whole ambiance---and cheap as each 100' remnant roll was $3.25!)  Down each table was 18' garland (the rounds had an arrangement of garland/greenery.  Strewn along the greenery were lightly scented pine cones, cinnamon sticks, and various other boughs/twigs/etc.  Tea lights were placed EVERYWHERE!  Our coloring sheets rocked; the kids thoroughly enjoyed them. They were in baskets with crayons all over the room.  Each table was set with papyrus scrolls with each song's lyrics for our program, which were tied with jute.  At center-court was a 30" tall manger which Mr LKP again lent his woodworking skills to (he claims he missed his calling in life as a manger builder & may have to sell mangers on etsy or ebay or craigslist just to bring himself joy---it IS pretty cool.  May wind up in my front yard it's THAT cool).  In it was some some straw & swaddling material.  It sat empty the entire night, until near the end of our program.
The program was fantastic as the Spirit was SO STRONG as we read the scriptural account of the first Christmas, mixed with Christmas hymns sung by each auxillary. One of our young women even did me the favor of singing "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant while her sister accompanied her (thank you a million times over Elizabeth & Kenley!). Those gals brought tears to my eyes. The Primary kids were priceless, and truly nothing matches their sweet voices intertwined with beautiful & simple songs of the Savior! Our Joseph, Mary & Baby Jesus entered the gym as the Relief Society was singing "Angels We Have Heard on High."   (Thank you Mazariegos family!)  It was quite perfect.  Even our Young Men were brave & sang nobly "Once in Royal David's City".  We closed with our emeritus Stake Patriarch reading a poem about our own journey to the Savior that a friend of my mom's wrote specifically for our night (thank you Karla!).
Our final moments were spent listening to our Young Women sing "Soft and Pure" which was featured in the New Era a few years back.  They had been so nervous in the weeks before, but again I was brought to tears as it was absolutely PERFECT!   As the last few words were spoken & sang, our Baby Jesus was wide awake & giggling as he moved his arms all around!  Many Primary kids were intrigued that a REAL baby was in there.  One boy in particular kept telling his mom he wanted to go over and touch Baby Jesus' arm!  It was too precious.
Each family left with a gift from the ward: a 5x7 print of the painting "Journey to Bethlehem" with a copy of Karla's poem attached.

All in all it was fantastic & was fun to see everyone participate either through reading, or singing, or even sitting at our VERY shortened tables on their pillows on the floor! Great night. Am tired. Love you all so much! Thanks for all your help & support in making this Journey to Bethlehem a reality!

**2015 UPDATE**
After receiving many requests, Karla Claybrook has been generous enough to grant her permission for the use of her poem for your own Christmas parties, FHEs, or Christmas gifts. Just please give credit where credit is due, and continued to include her byline. Also, please use her poem in its entirety. Thank you for your appreciation & your respect!


The Garden of Egan said...

I would love to see pictures! I bet it was unbelievably wonderful!!!!!!
You worked hard and it sounds like your efforts paid off.
I am so happy for you and the members of your ward are so blessed for your work.

Amy J. said...

My family loved it! I was in bed not feeling well so I would love to see photos...men just don't quite get all the details right. :) You went to sooo much work...what a great evening. The nonmember boys who came with my kids had a great time. Did you notice that they went up and sang!

LKP said...

yeah, i'm really hoping there are pictures out there that will come forward, cause it was so absolutely fun! i make take the manger out of the garage just so i can slap a pic of that on here. =)
amy-i'm sad to hear you weren't feeling good. seth & i figured it had just been another doozy of a friday this last week and perhaps you were home with branson. lol. i did notice your boys brought friends. i hope they had a good time, and that they didn't feel like they were been got after too hard. i know i directed 'em to the gym when the program was getting started, however i think your boys & their friends were not our problem kids of the night that kept ringing the class bell in the primary hall! those kids i feel bad for, as they got THE EYE and a stern "get to the gym, NOW" from me. so, please check with your boys and let them know i was not trying to be mean. thanks =)

marilyn said...

So is this the event Elder Lunceford was able to go to? If so it will be something he won't forget. It sounds like you did a marvelous job. You should be able to sleep for a week now. We did this at our ward a number of years ago. It was very meaningful. Really brings the meaning of Christmas alive. What a wonderful event you helped provide for you ward.

Tricia said...

I love the poem and picture you passed out to your ward. I'm helping with my ward's Breakfast in Bethlehem activity. Can I use your poem?

April and Nate said...

Can you share the curry chicken recipe?

Jenifer said...

I too was wondering if we could use the poem for our Ward's "Night In Bethlehem"?

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