Christmas is a time for tradition. Family and friends gather, play games and eat food the way they have for many years. Children play, and presents are opened. But what if you are tired of going to the same Christmas Eve party? What if you want to mix things up or try a new tradition? Why not spice things up and write a Christmas pageant for your annual holiday get-together?
You may think this sounds like an overwhelming task, but it will be well worth it. A Christmas pageant will unify your party guests around an event and provide a fun break from the conversation and feasting. Follow my tips and you will be well on your way to writing a crowd-pleasing masterpiece!
*Identify Your Resources
How many people will be in the pageant? Where will you be performing? What type of event is it? Will your actors be wearing costumes or will the story be told through movement and dialogue? Most likely, your cast will be made up of yourself and a few of the young cousins, nieces and nephews.
*Determine a Problem
Deciding the characters or the setting might seem like the best place to start, but story is king. Once you identify the problem, you can easily shape the plot for the entire work. The problem gives you insights on the characters, setting and resolution. Starting with this will save you from needless rewrites.
A problem could be anything. It could be that Christmas is too commercial or that busy holiday schedules prevent true Christmas celebration or that Christmas is facing some sort of epic disaster. Look into your own life for inspiration. What do you wish were different? What is keeping you from celebrating Christmas the way you want to? One last word of advice: Make sure the problem can be solved rather quickly and simply.
*Come Up With Characters
Focus on one person, who will be the center of the story. Think back to the problem you identified. What type of person is likely to have this issue? Once you have your protagonist, decide on supporting characters. Who is likely to cause the problem, and who can provide a solution? Who is supporting your protagonist? Remember, it's OK to be a little cheesy. Your audience will love it if your villain magically makes a transformation and helps save Christmas.
*Solve the Problem
You know the "who" and the "what"; now you have to get to the "how." This set is where you sit down and write the story. Have the characters work together to address the problem. If the problem is a person, tell their story and show their transformation. Make sure you have tied up all the loose ends and answered all the questions raised in your plot. Everyone loves a happy ending, so give the people what they want!
Bonus! End with a Christmas song that everyone can sing!
There are millions of Christmas songs. Find one that fits with your theme and close out the show with a sing-along! This is a great way to seamlessly transition out of the play and back into party mode.
Here is an example of how I used this formula to come up with a stellar Christmas pageant for my work party last year.
--Resources. The party will take place in my boss' house. The cast would be made up entirely of my co-workers. Actors will wear their party clothes.
--Problem. Christmas isn't fun for adults. Commercialization and busy schedules make Christmas a burden instead of a magical time.
Mother. She is exhausted from all the shopping and driving and cooking. She thinks that Christmas is only enjoyable when you are a child.
Husband. A sympathetic character. He helps Mother find the meaning of Christmas and helps her make changes to find joy in Christmas again.
Daughter. A selfish, spoiled and unaware child who has driven her mother to the point of hating Christmas.
--Solution. Father teaches Daughter that the best part of Christmas is family, not gifts. This sparks a change in Daughter and Mother, who can now appreciate Christmas because of what it means for them as a family.
--Bonus. Ended with a rousing chorus of "The Christmas Song."
"Although it's been said many times, many ways, merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas to you!"