Christmas Production: Setting the Stage for Christmas

Chances are you’ll be the only one to notice slight changes that are made to the set, and the audience will still end up being amazed.

Christmas Production: Setting the Stage for Christmas
A set design at Saddleback Church, in Lake Forest, California, is shown in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.

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Christmas Production: Setting the Stage for Christmas

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Christmas is a main event for most churches. Crowds swell, services double, and it’s all-hands-on-deck for the weeks that are leading up to December 25.

Things will come up, plans will change — there is only so much that you can do to prepare for the unknown.

For stage designers, it’s natural at this point to want to think “out of the box,” but often that initial goal is to be “tasteful and traditional.”

Over the years, I’ve tried many different approaches and used a variety of elements -some which were better received than others — and now when I sit down to plan for Christmas, I do so with the following three questions in mind:

1. How BIG do I really need to go?

Christmas is the time when most people want to go all out. But that doesn’t mean it has to look like a Vegas show. The key to designing well, is knowing the vision of the leadership before you start planning.

Do they want to walk into a room that is beautiful and timeless? Would you rather do what has been done in the past, and how was it received? Are you working around other production pieces such as children’s performances, or having something that needs to be reproduced for smaller campuses? It is always wise to think about how such a designed set will function and interact with the rest of the Christmas service.

Make sure you have options, if there are any last-minute changes to the service (full choir, actors, special guests/performances).

If you are streaming, or running IMAG, it is significantly important to be thinking about camera shots and planning for which part of the design will be in the background. With today’s media, there are often more people who will see the stage via a screen, versus from a seat in the room.

Now, there are some churches who want to create the “wow” factor, and you will need to deliver on that; but going too big can also backfire (it can inhibit future set designs as well).

Among the things I have incorporated in a service in the past, is that I have made it snow outside during our candle-lit moment, while people were exiting the building. This was a beautiful addition to Christmas Eve services, but it only worked, because the worship room was flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows and the video team captured the softly falling snow. Also, for a Southern California church, this was definitely a “wow” feature, but it probably would not translate nearly as well for a church nestled in the Rockies.

More About Alex Fuller
Alex Fuller has over 15 years of corporate, church, and live event experience. He spent four years at Saddleback Church before moving his family to northern California this spring. He currently serves Bethel Church and Bethel Music (Redding, California) as the lighting and scenic designer. His passion is to use the technical arts as an extension of worship.
Get in Touch:    More by Alex Fuller

Latest Resource

Worship Facilities Magazine, March-April 2018
The March-April 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about how to prepare, prevent and respond to church violence, a look into what church management software can do for your church community, and a piece on how a once popular nightclub venue was transitioned to become Shoreline Church's new home.

Article Topics

Visual Arts · Stage Design · Team Management · Leadership · Team Development · Volunteers · Budget · Choir · Christmas Production · Church · IMAG · Leadership · All Topics

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