This week I wanted to do a throwback post on last December’s Christmas set design. We had originally just planned to make it a theme day called Christmas in Candy Land, but the room ended up looking so awesome and elaborate that we decided to keep it up as our set all month long. I will admit that I was absolutely in love with this theme idea from the beginning because my Christmas home decor is mainly candy and cookie-themed. The kids and volunteers loved this theme. They enjoyed walking along the game board path and looking at all the fun details. This set design is probably going to seem a bit extravagant to some of you, but I will let you know up front that we already had some of the decorations on hand and simply added to them to get the overall effect. I had a pretty good-sized team helping me out with this set, and here’s how we did it.
There are a lot of details going on with both sides of the stage, and I will do my best describe them all. On the left side, we started by wrapping the trussing and the bottom of the stage piece in candy cane striped wrapping paper. This is a reasonably common design for wrapping paper, and we got ours at Walmart. Opt for the larger rolls, or you will need several rolls to get the appearance you’re looking for. I had a wonderful crafty lady who contributed the beautiful bows you see all throughout the set design using Christmas candy themed ribbon. If you are good at this, good for you, but I can’t make a bow to save my life. She made a large bow that went on the trussing to make it look like a wrapped Christmas present, as well as the large bow and “garland” on the tree. You can find decorative ribbon and mesh fabric at Walmart or any craft store. We have a lot of Christmas trees at our church for decorating purposes, so we decorated one of them with candy, candy cane-themed ornaments, and red and white striped mesh fabric we found at Walmart. We already had the gumball machines filled with gumballs, and thought they were a cute addition. The happy birthday Jesus inflatable cupcake is part of a 3 piece set from Oriental Trading.
We covered both sides of the stage in lots of fake snow. I like the thicker buffalo snow, and Walmart usually sells big bags of it for $5. The gingerbread house is a cardboard cutout I got from Oriental Trading. We lined the entire stage with red and green “gum drops” that were actually the bottoms to large candy holders I found at Party City. We also used red and green blinking lights around the entire stage to make it feel even more festive.
Everyone’s favorite part about this theme was obviously the life size Candy Land board that went from the entrance to the room, across the stage, and all the way to the exit. It was also the most time-consuming, and I will go ahead and admit that I made some mistakes in my design choices. I bought two large packages of 12×18 assorted construction paper to make the game board squares. I also looked up the shapes that are on the special spaces in the game, found clip art versions, printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and glued them to some of the pieces of construction paper. I didn’t worry about making the spaces look exactly like the board game, but if you would like to be more accurate, go for it! I also wanted the game board to be visible from all around the room, so I made sure the game board went up on the walls in several different places in the room. It looked pretty awesome. Now, for the mistakes (and my solutions). I decided not to laminate the game pieces, mainly because I was too lazy. Instead I decided to just tape them down using clear packing tape. This was alright for the less-trafficked parts of the room, but the spaces near the entrance/exit and the stage were a mess after the first week. I end up having to completely redo some of the spaces and cover them entirely in clear packing tape. It took FOREVER! My suggestion to you is to take the extra time and money to get your spaces laminated. They won’t rip and tear, and you can reuse them or gift them to another church.
On the side banners, we found a fun moving background with peppermint sticks from VideoBlocks. We also decorated the banner frames with candy cane decorations we found at Dollar Tree. If you are on a tight budget, always check at your local dollar store for Christmas decorations before spending the “big bucks” anywhere else. You can only see one of them in this picture, but we hung these peppermint candy paper lanterns from the ceiling all around the room. If you already have some paper lanterns lying around from past parties or events, you can always use spray paint or craft paint to achieve similar results. Paper lanterns are easy to paint, and a lot of fun to decorate.
We really went all out decorating the media booth, back windows, and even the exit door. It’s hard to see the details in the picture, but we made candy garland that we hung all around the media booth. We bought seven or eight packages of cheap garland, red and green mints, and several types of candy canes from the dollar store. We probably spent about $15 all together. We hot glued the mints and candy canes to the garland, and viola, Christmas candy garland! We attached the candy garland to the media booth with these peppermint candy decorations and Christmas bows we had leftover from another year. I bought peppermint floor decals thinking that I would put them on the floor, then realized that they looked awesome on the windows and doors. We didn’t have any problems with them falling down or removing them.
You have probably noticed my second favorite decoration for this theme by now. We made lots of large “peppermint lollipops” to put by the doors on both sides, as well as on the side banners and stage pieces. I think we made a dozen or more, but they were cheap and easy to make. I bought these adorable plates that looked like red mints and green mints on amazon. You might be able to find them cheaper in stores, but I couldn’t find any plates that I really liked in the stores I went to. My volunteer who made all the big beautiful bows for the stage, also made smaller bows out of Christmas ribbon for the lollipops and we hot-glued them to long dowel rods I bought at Walmart. To add an extra special touch, we used red and green paper tape to wrap around the lollipop sticks. They were just so cute! These would also make great props for a Christmas photo booth.
In these pictures you can see what it looked like to enter our Christmas version of Candyland. We really wanted the parents and kids to get excited about coming to our kid’s church before they even made it inside the room, and it definitely worked! We used more of the wrapped peppermint candy decorations and candy garland around the border of the entrance. You can see lots more of the giant peppermint lollipops at both of the entrances. Just a tip, be sure and tape them with clear packing tape, or they will continually fall over or get swiped by children (or leaders). We went all out with the little “nook” in our entry way because it is the first thing the parents and kids see as they enter the room. We lined the announcement tv with more blinking red and green lights. We used more of the fake buffalo snow to set the scene as well as the other two happy birthday Jesus inflatable cupcakes. We got the cardboard candy cane stand up decoration from Oriental Trading for only $20. Our entry way also served as a great photo opportunity for our families and leaders.
I’ll admit, we may have gone a little overboard for this one, but the kids and families loved it. I have even heard some of the leaders and families still talking about it this year! It is a great theme for games, prizes, and costume contests!
How are you decorating your kidmin environment(s) for Christmas this year?