This past Friday evening was our ward's Christmas Dinner... and I was in charge.
I've been warned by many people that this is the "big to-do" of the year. I imagine it's like that in most wards, but this is my first time even being on an activities committee, let alone calling the shots! I'm blessed with a great group of ladies on my committee, including the previous Activities Chair. I would have been lost without them!
I spent 3 evenings before the dinner putting up decorations, in an attempt to limit the Friday stress as much as possible. I'm glad I did! It was nice to have a creative outlet at my own pace.
I wanted to try to pull a bit of a spiritual theme into the evening, so the posters said, "He Came to Save All Men." We encouraged people to bring international side dishes and desserts. I hoped there would be a good response, considering that at least 1/3 of the ward is military and plenty of the men are RM's. Plus, so many of us are descendants of immigrants, so I hoped some would have family dishes to share.
My committee and I prepared 200 servings of chicken, 3 hams, 30 pounds of rice and a couple gallons of gravy. The rolls, salads, sides, and desserts were all potluck. The amount of potluck was perfect and we had extra meat and rice. We were going off last year's attendance, which I think was on a Saturday, so it didn't compete with as many work parties.
I got really lucky finding decorations at Good Will and the Dollar Tree. I bought a bunch of old National Geographics from the thrift store. I cut out and matted about 40 pictures of people from various countries.
The building has its own projector, so I made a slideshow of labeled pictures of people from around the world that ran continuously through dinner. I made a seperate mix of music that we played over the PA. The version I uploaded on YouTube is quicker and I added music with it.
In an attempt to control the inevitable running, screaming kids, I arranged for one of the Young Women to do an ornament craft with the kids in the nursery when they were done eating. It worked out pretty nicely, and she also completed one of her Young Women projects :)
The Primary planned on the kids doing the Nativity, but the children were so wired, they just managed to get them in costumes and sing a couple songs. To close we sang "Silent Night". I had printed out the lyrics for the 1st verse in English, French, Spanish and German. I challenged them to attempt singing one of the foreign languages. During the song I realized I hadn't asked anyone to say the closing prayer so I nudged the guy next to me and he graciously stepped up.
I had dreaded the clean-up so much, that I didn't even plan it before-hand. I was relieved when many, many people stuck around and helped. Some were with me until we closed the doors. I had pawned off Gregory and Charla to different families (my LIFESAVERS!), but I knew Leora would refuse to go to anyone, so I stuck her in my baby back-pack. She was content there, except when I had to take things out to the car. It was snowing.
Miraculously, all was said and done an hour after it ended! By the time I had collected my children and dragged myself into the house I was utterly exhausted! The mounting stress had landed me with a fierce cold earlier that week, that had evolved into an ear infection, so I was a little disoriented for most of the night. I somehow managed to get my kids in bed and drag myself to the couch to fall, blissfully, to sleep!
All in all, I'd say it was a success. People enjoyed it, so that's what mattered most. On Sunday the Bishop acknowledged me and told the congregation to thank me :P I was just relieved to not get any complaints! Maybe everyone just felt bad for the pregnant mom with 3 kids whose hubby was gone. I wouldn't mind doing it again next year, assuming those conditions will be better :)