St. Nicholas Dinner Celebration

Planning Guide

Here is a detailed guide to planning a St. Nicholas event with a dinner, church service and actual St. Nicholas Visit. A timeline and suggested work teams are included. These suggestions are helpful in thinking about a large event, like this one, or for a smaller, simpler plan. With thanks to Pat Kincaid of St. Paul Episcopal Church in Munster, Indiana.

St Nicholas with children
St. Nicholas at St. Paul Episcopal Church, Munster, Indiana

I. Study history/Significance of St. Nicholas

  1. Books

II. Ways to celebrate

(or a combination thereof)
A. Dinner/Potluck/Brunch etc.
  1. Menu, location, date
  2. Intended guests
  3. Price arrangements
  4. Visit from St. Nicholas
B. Church service
  1. Eucharist (with music & readings in keeping with St Nicholas)
  2. . Evensong
  3. Lessons and Carols
  4. Drama (skits, storytelling)
    C. Actual visit of St. Nicholas
    1. Actor (person to impersonate St. Nicholas)
    2. Music — vocal/instrumental
    3. Outreach opportunity —(gifts/donations from guests are shared with local charity, American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem)
    4. Treat bags/shoes filled for children
    5. Props and costumes — Bishop's chair, cope, miter, crozier, beard, mustache and wig, alb with cincture
    6. Table decorations —Mitered napkins, lanterns, greens, St. Nicholas decorations

    III. Expansion of celebration

    Festival of crafts, games, songs and refreshments

    St. Nicholas Dinner Planning Timeline

    6 Months Before:
    • Check church calendar and reserve Saturday/Sunday closest to Dec. 6 — St. Nicholas Day
    2 Months Before:
    • Arrange for storyteller
    • Arrange for musician(s) i.e. flutes, piano, harp, dulcimers etc.
    • Find/make cope, miter, crozier for St. Nicholas.
    • Arrange youth servers — National Honor Society students earn service points for serving. Check/ask about Eucharist/Evensong before dinner.
    Six Weeks Before:
    • Prepare Church Newsletter article (sample)
    • Use same/similar article for local newspaper, if inviting community.
    Four Weeks Before:
    • Place announcement/reservation form in church bulletin (editable sample)
    • Check with local charity about hats, gloves, scarves, books etc. and arrange to drop off after dinner.
    • Ask priest, deacon, or layperson to emcee and offer Welcome and Blessing.
    • Arrange for drop off & pick up of small carpet for children's gathering area, if needed.
    Two (Sundays) Weeks Before:
    • Set up St. Nicholas Tree where hats, gloves, mittens, etc., will be collected.
    • Make oral announcements inviting family, friends and neighbors and reminding of dinner reservation deadline.
    Week Before:
    • Tally dinner reservations, report to caterer, kitchen staff
    • Decide table arrangement; include appetizer, dessert, gathered gift area, treat bag table
    • Arrange for microphone.
    • Make sure to have enough kitchen staff, dishwasher, clean up crew
    • Fold cloth napkins into miter fold — stack in clean totes for later.
    Day Before:
    • Set up Dining Room tables; center pieces, silverware, water glasses, cloth napkins
    • Fill treat bags: put clementines, nuts in shell, candy cane, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, into clear bags, tied with red ribbon
    • Arrange treat bags on large platter or in beautiful basket
    Day of:
    • Arrange Bishop's chair or other fine seat
    • Set up a St. Nicholas changing area (Bride's room?)
    • Clip evergreens from church grounds/or from someone's yard, place with centerpieces
    • Be available to direct food items to warming ovens, buffet, dessert table etc.
    Just before dinner:
    • Light candles
    As diners assemble:
    • Emcee welcomes everyone, mentions we expect special guest later
    • Announce special musical entertainment
    • Offer Blessing and invite guests to buffet in orderly fashion. (Servers should be near front of line, so they may begin their duties immediately after eating).
    Enjoy dinner!

    If there is after dinner musical entertainment, cue storyteller when music begins
    St. Nicholas appears
    He may briefly chat among diners and then takes his seat of honor surrounded by all children. He may read or tell the children his story or he may invite them to tell what they know of his story. Afterward, he offers a treat bag to each child and poses for photos with the children.
    Clean up
    Day after:
    • Deliver mittens, hats, gloves to local charity.
    • Send thank yous to student servers, storyteller, musicians, others who provided assistance. (Treat bag assemblers, dining room helpers, napkin folders etc.)

    Suggested St. Nicholas Teams

    1. Sign-up Sheet: (1 person)
    • Two weeks ahead of time with
    • Place on bulletin board with pen
    2. St. Nicholas Tree: ( 2— 3 persons)
    • Set up with lights, skirt (2 weeks before event)
    • Gather collected items, deliver to local charity after event
    • Take down and store tree, lights and skirt (after event)
    3. Reservations: (1 person)
    • Coordinate final count to caterer/kitchen staff
    • Reserve next year's date on church calendar
    4. Treat Bags (2 — 4 persons or one family
    • Purchase nuts, coins, candy canes and clementines
    • Purchase clear treat bags and red ribbon
    • Put treats into bags, tie with ribbon, place on big platters (day before)
    5. Napkin folding (2 — 3 persons)
    • Fold cloth napkins using Bishop's fold (week before)
    • Place in tote for later
    6. Dining Room decor (6 — 8 persons; day before/day of/day after shifts)
    • Set tables with silverware, centerpieces, miter folded napkins
    • Place Bishop's Chair and carpet
    • Clip evergreens
    7. Prepare St. Nicholas Changing Room (1 or 2 persons; day of event)
    • Area with mirror, away from dining room
    • Complete costume in room
    8. Set up Buffet (2 — 4 persons; arriving one hour early)
    • Directing potluck food to warming ovens, refrigerator
    • Direct to gift table, dessert table
    9.Emcee/Announce schedule of the Evening for guests (1 person)
    • Welcome —remind guests of restrooms, dance floor edge
    • Mention we expect a visit from a special guest later
    • Introduce musical guests
    • Offer Blessing and invite guests to buffet in orderly fashion.
    10. Clean up (4 - 6 persons)
    • Help with dishes and kitchen detail
    • Remove gathered gifts for transportation later
    11. Photos (1 or 2 persons)
    • Use digital camera to take photos —Post photos to Website, newsletter
    12. Follow up: (1 person)
    • Send Thank-yous to student servers, storyteller, musicians, others who provided assistance (treat bag assemblers, dining room helper, napkin folders etc.)

    From Pat Kincaid St. Paul Episcopal Church, Munster, Indiana. Used by permission.

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