“Angels Among Us” Relief Society Christmas Dinner

Standard

Christmas invitation

The program for the evening was as follows:

6:30  Opening Prayer, by invitation

6:35  Opening Song: “Away in a Manger” (played by a sister in the ward)

6:40  Begin eating first course (salad) while watching Mormon message video “You Never Know

6:45  Stories of simple service (we had gathered the previous month), read aloud by a sister in the ward

{YW begin bringing out main course}

6:50  “Mary’s Lullaby”, (performed by a sister in the ward)

6:55  Show the video “Relief Society: Something Extraordinary

7:00  “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” (performed by three women in the ward)

{YW begin bringing out dessert}

7:05  Show the video “The Christmas Spirit

7:10  “Once in Royal David’s City” piano solo, (performed by a sister in the ward)

7:15  Conclusion of “program”.  Socializing!

{YW begin clearing dishes}

7:25 Closing song: “The First Noel” (played by a sister in the ward)

7:30  Closing prayer, by invitation

I thought this went without saying, but I’ve learned otherwise.  You cannot just rotely follow the aforementioned program in order for things to flow nicely and for the theme (“Angels Among Us”) to be apparent.

The person conducting should give a short introduction (welcoming everyone and saying something like “Just as there were angels present at Jesus’ birth, we also have angels around us tonight.  When we provide service and love to one another as sisters in the gospel, we serve as one another’s angels.”)  Then the person conducting should verbally transition from one item to the next so it makes sense (don’t just turn on the video, but say a few things about it first and make sure the sisters have some background on what they’re about to view).

The video clips are short, but super powerful.  They help tie in the entire theme to the evening.  They used a tiny TV because there weren’t the correct adapters for the projector (agh!!), so really most of the sisters didn’t even see or hear the videos. I was so upset!  For this program to be successful, you MUST have a large projector and speakers.

We had the Young Women serve us the 3-course meal, which was wonderful!  They were asked to arrive at 6pm (thirty minutes before the dinner began) in order to:

  • Prepare the salads (measure 2 cups lettuce, drizzle salad dressing over top, and a handful of croutons) and place them at each place setting when they arrive.  If napkins/knives/forks aren’t on tables yet, they can help place those out also.
  • THEN, they are free to eat (keeping to the portions above… they can eat more afterwards if still hungry, but want to make sure there is enough food).  There should be some food leftover, but it’s really difficult to predict EXACTLY how many sisters will show up.

When serving large groups of people, it is important to actually measure the food portions.  Being a little bit off can completely throw off your numbers.

 

Here is what we served:

Course 1:  (already sitting on tables when sisters arrive)

  • 2 cups salad
  • ~2 Tbsp salad dressing
  • scant 1/4 cup of croutons

Course 2: (brought out by YW at 6:45pm)

  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/10th of casserole dish funeral potatoes
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 roll (have 4-5 extra rolls– or whatever is leftover– in a bowl on each table)

Course 3: (brought around on trays by YW at 7pm, or whenever people begin finishing their dinners)

  • Peppermint oreo treats
  • Cupcakes

I realize that serving humongous groups of people can be seriously daunting.  I’ve been in charge of meals for large congregations numerous times over the past few years, so I have it down (mostly!).  A must-have is a large roaster oven (a 22-quart is what I used, and it was plenty big).

For making chicken for 50+ people, I bought two of the large bags of chicken breasts from Costco.  I greased the bottom of the roaster pan, placed all the chicken inside (thawed overnight), covered the chicken with around 8 cans of cream of chicken soup, and sprinkled Italian Dressing seasoning mix on top of it (about 6 little bags of it).  Then I set the roaster pan for 300 degrees and let it cook for 8-9 hours.  The chicken was tender and delicious!

I used to do homemade rolls, but I decided to just buy them from Costco for this activity.  Easy!

I bought the large bags of lettuce from Costco and dressed it up with salad dressing and croutons.  I also got two LARGE cans of green beans from Costco (they cost only a few dollars per can– a great deal!).

I had the missionaries help me make 5 casserole dishes full of my favorite funeral potato recipe. (If you’ve never eaten funeral potatoes, make that a priority on your to-do list this week!)

The High Priest Group provided childcare for the 15+ children that came.  Next time I will make sure to budget in and provide a light snack for the kids (popcorn?).

As far as set up goes, I highly recommend setting up the tables the night before.  Getting the food ready is pretty time consuming the day of the dinner, and USUALLY little unexpected issues come up that you want to have time for (without worrying about getting tables set up!).

The night before, I asked people to come to the church at 7pm and help set up.  It took less than an hour with all the helpers who came!  We set up seven round tables with 8 seats around each table (we usually have a little over 40 sisters attend our activities).  We used white and red table cloths that we already had in our supplies closet.

For the center pieces:

  • Gold mesh fabric (a huge roll at Sam’s Club cost around $3)
  • Round mirrors
  • Glass beads
  • Tea lights (battery operated)
  • Homemade angels (made with wooden dowels and ribbon!)

IMG_1046

The take-home gift was the angel napkin holder, which may also be used as a Christmas tree ornament.  A fun tradition in our ward the past few years has been for the Relief Society to give a homemade ornament to each sister for Christmas.  Bonus was that the ornament doubled as a decoration for the dinner!

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