I happen to be one of those people who shops for Halloween candy at 5:00pm on October 31. I am not proud of this fact. But do you know what happens when you shop for Halloween candy at the last possible second? (Probably not, so I will tell you.) You get to watch stores roll out the first fruits of their Christmas merchandise.

Which, of course, is an excellent reminder that… well…


Before you get angry with me for contributing to this way-too-early-for-Christmas plague that is sweeping the nation, hang on. There’s a really good reason I want us to think about Christmas in early November.

Because we need Christmas presents for our volunteers!

If you know anything about me, I hope one of the things you know is that I am obsessed with this idea that churches should take really, really good care of their volunteers. Especially their small group leaders. Because volunteers are a really big deal!

So let’s talk for a second about how to celebrate our volunteers this Christmas. 

A few ideas…



You don’t need to spend a fortune to make your volunteers feel valued this Christmas. A meaningful, handwritten card can go a long way. But, if you can, don’t stop there. Here are a few things we’ve given our volunteers in the past…

CANDY OR COOKIES. Homemade would be awesome, but store-bought works, too. I usually grab a few fancy chocolates like Ghiardelli squares (I like quality over quantity for this kind of gift) and mini candy canes, wrap them up in cellophane, and tie them with a cute Christmasy ribbon.

$5 GIFT CARDS. Five bucks may not be a huge amount, but it’s enough to buy a latte that says, “Hey… I appreciate you.”

SWAG. Invest in a “limited edition” t-shirt, mug, or fanny pack just for your volunteers, with your ministry logo on it.

A BOOK. Try a book that will help them be more awesome at what they do, like Lead Small. Or maybe a book that will be an encouragement to them, or a reminder to take care of their own hearts, as they lead and serve the kids they love.


We already talked about writing notes of thanks and appreciation this Christmas. But your volunteers shouldn’t only be celebrated privately. Celebrate them publicly, too! Try this. Every week this holiday season (or more often, if you’ve got lots of volunteers to celebrate), choose a volunteer to feature on your social media channels. Post their picture with a paragraph about what makes them so awesome. Then invite others to comment with their favorite stories, memories, and thoughts about how they’ve impacted their lives.


Christmas cookies! Peppermint hot chocolate! Doughnuts with those little sprinkles shaped like Christmas trees! In the month of December, spoil your volunteers when they show up at church with some deliciousness… you know, before their New Year’s Resolutions kick in.


This Christmas, get stealthy. Start conspiring with the kids in your ministry to do something really special for your volunteers – especially small group leaders! Here’s one idea: take small group photos, have them framed, and then let the kids in every small group present them to their SGL with a ton of hand-written notes.


On your last ministry day before Christmas, surprise your volunteers by playing a video in their honor during your service. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Maybe it’s just a slideshow of their photos. Or maybe you set up a slow-motion video booth the week before, have them show off their best dance moves, and capture some pretty priceless footage. Whatever you do, here’s the point: get your volunteers’ faces on a screen and get everyone cheering. Celebrate them!


Okay, your turn. What are you doing this Christmas to celebrate and thank your volunteers? Let’s swap some ideas.