St. Nicholas Events at Other Times
Ideas from Churches—
An Advent Evening with Saint Nicholas
Activities began with children telling ways to prepare for Jesus’ birth. Then children cut-out ornaments for a Jesse Tree. Adults looked up the verses and each child reviewed the verse with an adult before putting the ornament on the tree. After a spaghetti dinner, children presented St. Nicholas dowry story. Saint Nicholas entered and each child received a pencil, a Christmas ornament, and a ticket for the mall carousel. The evening closed with this prayer: Lord Jesus, let us be generous just like St. Nicholas was. Give us his love for the poor, and his energy and creativity to think of ways we can help them. Turn our thoughts to others, Lord, and stop us from thinking only about ourselves. Show us the way we too can give gifts in Jesus’ name. Amen.
—San Marco Catholic Church, Marco Island, Florida
St. Nicholas Loving Tree
St. Nicholas Goodie Bags
At our church’s annual St. Nicholas Eve Party, we fill paper gift bags with homemade Christmas cookies, clementines, nuts, gold coins, candy canes, and little ornaments and trinkets, with a note from our church. At the end of the party, each child (with parents) takes a few bags and goes out into the cold, dark night to deliver the goody bags secretly and silently. We drop them on the doorsteps of the houses in the church’s neighborhood. We include a bookmark with each goodie bag, so the folks receiving them will get a little more information about the real St Nicholas.
—Lara Oliver, St. Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
St. Nicholas Parade Float
Entering a church-sponsored float in a local Christmas parade is good publicity for a church and also increases public awareness of the true Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Hamilton, Georgia, decorates a parishioner’s trailer, transforming it into a snowy scene for Saint Nicholas and his elves, children from the parish. The elves wear Santa hats and green and red felt elf-collars. The parade entry includes the priest and others carrying the St. Nicholas Episcopal Church Welcomes you banner.
—St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Hamilton, Georgia
A Night With St. Nicholas
As the storyteller begins telling the children gathered around her about St. Nicholas, in he walks, saying, “I am St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, at your service. We want to follow Jesus’ example; he was always giving … not always easy, but … his spirit be with us.” To reinforce the celebration of Jesus’ birth, this special evening focuses on giving, rather than receiving. After St. Nicholas stories are told, each child receives a gold bag with three-gold foil chocolate coins. Three activity tables provide ways of giving, such as making orange and clove pomanders. The evening looks forward to Christmas, while encouraging giving more than receiving.
—Christ Episcopal Church, Bowling Green, Kentucky
St. Nicholas Shelter Meal
Churches in Madison provide meals for residents of the homeless shelter every day of the month. Grace provides dinner on the first Monday of the month and breakfast on the first Tuesday. For the first Monday in December it is their St. Nicholas Shelter Meal for around 160 homeless men. This special meal features a musical variety show and giving each man a gift of winter socks. The socks have a gift tag featuring St. Nicholas Patron saint of the hungry & those in need, along with a prayer.
—Grace Episcopal Church, Madison, Wisconsin
St. Nicholas Winter Fair Giving Tree
The winter fair in honor of St. Nicholas helps point parishioners toward the coming of Christ by focusing on St. Nicholas’ generosity. This spirit of charity is developed by encouraging children and families to buy a gift for the needy to put under the fair’s giving tree.
—St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Langley, British Columbia
St. Nicholas Wednesday Visit
Following Eucharist, St. Nicholas tells his story with special treats, crafts, and games. Everyone brings an unwrapped children’s toy to help Saint Nick with his Christmas deliveries.
—Grace Episcopal Church, Carthage, Missouri
After School Program
Our Saviour Episcopal Church in Joliet, Montana, celebrated St. Nicholas’ Day at its regular Wednesday after school program. We talked about how, unlike Santa Claus, whom no one ever really sees, St. Nicholas was a real person that folks knew and talked to, a very long time ago—a follower of Jesus, and a bishop of the church who took to heart the Gospel command to give to others without waiting for credit or thanks.
We talked about bishops and the work they are called to do, helping us share God’s love with one another. We also discussed the symbols of a bishop’s office.
—Jane E. Schmoetzer, Regional Vicar, Yellowstone Episcopal Ministries (Montana)
Click above for details of the St. Nicholas party put on by the youth group for younger children. It includes a light supper with games, crafts, and the St. Nicholas story.
—Calvary Episcopal Church, Burnt Hills, New York
St. Nicholas Celebration Weekend
A Social Evening on Friday in the Village Centre includes a buffet, quiz, raffle, and appearance of St. Nicholas. Saturday is Gifting Day. From 4-7 pm people are invited to bring a decoration for the church Christmas trees, light a candle and say a prayer. Donations for the Children’s Society are welcomed and artwork showing the life of St. Nicholas is on display. The Sunday of St. Nicholas Day has an afternoon fair with stalls in the Village Centre, followed by a special service celebrating St. Nicholas, our patron saint.
—St. Nicholas Church, Bulwick, UK
St. Nicholas Intergenerational Festival
This annual event, held on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening before St. Nicholas Day (December 6), focuses on children and offers an alternative to the Americanized version of Santa Claus. Young and old move from table to table making special crafts; a storyteller, dressed as Baker Amsterdam, tells the story, The Bakers’ Dozen; St. Nicholas (and Zwarte Piet) always arrives after his favorite Dutch Sinterklaas song is sung. Seated in a special chair, he receives the children and gives out goodies. Good food and wooden shoes make the night a celebration. Traditional Dutch Pigs-in-the-Blanket are served along with special dishes brought by families. Wooden shoes are available to decorate with markers and glitter. Each child leaves with a shoe and a bag of hay and carrots to leave out for St. Nicholas? horse.
—Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Polish Wigilia with St. Nicholas and More
On the first Saturday in December, we have a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia. After dinner the children, dressed in traditional Polish costumes, sing Polish Christmas carols. Then St. Nicholas comes, giving small gifts, including a Polish honey spice Pierniki cookie, to all who answer his questions correctly. He comes again on Sunday to visit children in the School of Religion. The week before they received a handout about St. Nicholas and a packet of St. Nicholas Magic Dust to toss on the ground so he will find their homes.
—Pat Borek, St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish, Everson, Pennsylvania
St. Nicholas Flower Festival Entry
St. Nicholas Fayre
The church sponsors an event to raise money for needy causes. In the name of St. Nicholas, who is about giving, not getting, Villagers are invited to have stalls to sell items for the benefit of their favourite charities. Among the usual stalls is a St. Nicholas souvenir booth with special cookies. Hundreds of pounds are raised for charity. St Nicholas visits the church on the Sunday closest to 6 December.
—St Nicholas Anglican Church, Grosmont, Wales
St Nicholas Family Workshop
The evening the Christmas Market opens and Christmas lights turned on, the church is open for all ages. Special activities for children include crafts, puzzles, pictures, collage, prayer workshops, church trails and fun. There will be music and singing and a very special guest who reminds everyone of St. Nicholas himself. The spirit of good St Nicholas fills the evening.
—St Nicholas Parish Church, North Walsham, Norfolk, England
An Afternoon with St. Nicholas and Children’s Giving Tree
Families are invited to come on the first Saturday in December, meet and visit with St Nicholas. He enjoys talking with children and their families, telling his story, listening to theirs. St Nicholas also appreciates the children’s musical talents (songs, playing instruments) plays, and carols, or seeing something they made. He answers questions about his life and encourages children in their compassion toward others. Before leaving, St. Nicholas gives ‘gold’ (chocolate) coins or peppermint croziers (bishop’s staff) to everyone.
To prepare for visiting this compassionate and generous saint, children, with the help of their families, may prepare a reading (poem, story), or song, or gather toys, blankets, and non- perishable foods for the poor. St Nicholas enjoys the family talents, and gratefully takes the offerings when he leaves to distribute to the poor. Those children and families who’ve done a St Nicholas Deed for someone else may fill in a Giving Tree decoration and hang it on the tree. These will be opened on Christmas Day.
—St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, El Paso, Texas
St. Nicholas Children’s Shopping Room
St. Anne’s sponsors a Children’s Shopping Room on the Saturday closest to St. Nicholas Day, as part of their annual holiday fair. Church members and others donate items and funds to purchase around 750 affordable presents. The project began to teach parish children the gift of giving. It has now been extended to the wider community to enable all children, especially in this difficulty economy, to give those they love special Christmas gifts. Everything is priced at $1 or $2 and includes cell phone holders, mugs, candles, pet toys, toys and books. Parish children are encouraged to earn their own money. In the parent-free room, middleschoolers serve as elves, assisting with shopping baskets, ringing up purchases, wrapping and labeling the gifts. St. Nicholas comes, as well, walking about and telling his story as he hands out gold chocolate coins.
—St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, North Billerica, Massachusetts
The Life of St Nicholas ~ The Saint and the Church was the 1998 Flower Festival theme at Child Okeford. Scenes from Nicholas’ life and patronages were depicted (Bishop of Myra, Feast of St Nicholas, Patron Saint of Perfumiers, Patron Saint of Sailors, Patron Saint of Pawnbrokers). Children from St Nicholas’ School in Child Okeford, also drew pictures of the life and stories of St Nicholas for the festival.
—St. Nicholas Church, Child Okeford, UK
Intergenerational Giving Project
In November we receive Christmas wish lists of families through Lutheran Social Services in November. On the Saturday closest to St. Nicholas’ Day, members come to church and select a wish list or two. After I read the St. Nicholas story, the people disburse to go shopping. After two hours everyone returns to the church with their gifts, very excited about what they bought, and wanting to see and enjoy what others purchased. I have lots of wrapping paper and ribbon available, as well as coffee, cider and goodies. After everyone wraps their gifts we set them all on a table, form a circle around the table, and, holding hands, pray for the families who will receive the gifts. We like this St. Nicholas ritual because it enables parents to teach the value of giving to their children, reinforces giving in a Christian and joyful context among congregation members, and builds our own faith community. Some become so inspired by the generosity around them and the ease in shopping that they ask for more wish lists!
—Nancy Brown, Associate Pastor, Christiania Lutheran Church, Lakeville, Minnesota
Annual St. Nicholas Party
St. Nicholas Display & Activity Room
St. Nicholas Event Ideas
—good for other times, too
St. Nicholas Dinner Celebration: Planning Guide
St. Nicholas Festival Suggestions
—how to Celebrate St Nicholas in the UK