A Christmas Eve church service can be magical and memorable, full of the love and goodwill that make Christmas so wonderful. Families who don't normally attend church are often at these services, so this can be an opportunity to introduce children of all ages to the liturgy. With a few simple traditions, the Christmas Eve service can be one that invigorates the faithful and inspires the newcomers.
Gather the Children
Gather the children up front for a telling of the Christmas story. Before the service, choose a book with colorful illustrations and make slides from it, so it can be shown on the big screen as the story's being told. Ask the children questions about the story to open a brief, and often very funny, discussion. Give the children candy canes, small ornaments or activity books as gifts.
Light the Way
As each congregant comes into the church, hand them a white candle. During the service, light one person's candle and have her light her neighbor's, and so forth, until everyone's candle is lit. As the small flame moves across the room, use this as an opportunity to discuss the Holy Spirit moving from one person to the next.
Frankincense and Myrrh
Use inexpensive costumes to dress children up as the Magi, angels, shepherds and even the animals, ensuring that any child who wants to participate, can. Wrap small, inexpensive presents from the dollar store, and have each costumed child hold one. As the Christmas story is read, have the children come down the aisle in a costumed parade, each carrying one of the small gifts. But instead of giving the gifts to Jesus, have them choose a member of the congregation to give them to. Encourage them to give the presents to someone outside their own family.