The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for Christian communities all around the world. For independent evangelical churches, planning Christmas events is a significant undertaking, and careful consideration is essential to ensure that the festivities run smoothly and safely.
In this guide, we provide you with top tips for planning your Christmas events, focusing on the key considerations around your building.
Reviewing Fire Risk Assessments – If your Christmas event involves hosting larger numbers than usual, reviewing your fire risk assessments is crucial. Double-check that all your certificates and safety measures are in place. Ensure that everyone knows how to exit the building in case of an emergency, especially when using candles in services such as Christingle. Also, arrange for appliances and boilers to be checked in the autumn ready for Christmas.
Provide guidance for newcomers – People who are new to a meeting may feel uncertain about the proceedings, making it essential to provide clear guidance from the start. Information regarding when to stand, sit, toilet locations, and what to do at the end of the meeting all contribute to the seamless flow of the event.
First aid preparation – Check your first aid kit to ensure it is complete and up to date. Identify who your designated first aiders are and evaluate whether you need one on-site for larger events. Safety should always be a top priority.
Health and safety – There are many things that you can and should do to keep people safe. All churches, places of worship and their associated activities are different, and what works well for one will not be the same for all. The Safer Places of Worship website provides a good introduction to the most important parts of health and safety legislation – Health & safety obligations – Safer Places of Worship (spow.co.uk)
Accessibility audit –To welcome all members of your community, conduct an accessibility audit. This ensures that your building is accessible to everyone, including those with mobility challenges. Ensure that entrances and exits are accessible and consider the use of ramps or other accommodations.
Insurance – It is important to contact your insurance provider if you are planning an event that could be classified as safety-critical or hazardous. They will advise whether there is enough liability cover in place.
Food and drink safety – If your event includes serving hot food and drinks, pay close attention to food safety and hygiene. Make sure your team follows proper food handling procedures, and if applicable, obtain the necessary permits Church Growth Trust has recently updated its briefing paper on this subject – click here to download it.
Traffic and parking management – Plan for the flow of traffic and parking, especially for larger gatherings. Ensure there is sufficient access for emergencies and consider overflow parking options to minimise disruptions to your neighbours.
Be prepared for the weather! – It is important to be ready for adverse weather conditions. Have salt available for clearing paths and ensure that outside lights are working to prevent accidents. Double-check that all your certificates and safety measures are in place. Check your entrance and exit paths broken slabs and uneven paths, to minimise the risks of falls.