I personally prefer a big melon as a teaching aid – with grapes, marshmellows and kebab skewers: I like to ‘go-large’ but not quite this large. I’m not sure it’s the right liturgical colour for either of the seasons, either.
Our Christingle Service at 4pm on Christmas Eve marks the beginning of Christmas proper in this parish: effectively the First Evensong of Christmas – a mad, chaotic, disorganised and utterly child-focused service where I whip them up into a frenzy and yet at the same time provide the biggest ahhhhhhh moment of the year as we drop the lights, light the Christingles and sing the first verse of Away in a Manger.
Our best innovation, and one I think you ought to consider arose from a single joke. First year here, we beavered away to make 150 Christingles to give to the young people. Somebody joked “next year, we’ll give the kids the bits and they can make their own!!!” So we did. The following year, we still beavered away, but produced a kit in a bag – a ready ‘holed’ orange, a strip of ribbon, some tinfoil, four cocktail sticks ready loaded with dolly mixtures and raisins and a votive candle, Clipped to the outside of the bag is a Christmas Grace which (as it is Christmas Eve) I encourage families to put the Christingle on the Christmas dinner table (probably having replaced the sweets!) and pray the grace before Christmas dinner – a reminder of Christ in our midst this Christmastide and possibly the one chance that a family has to pray together in the whole year.
The benefit of getting the Children to make their own Christingles is enormous – it engages them with the task, and enables me to teach about the symbolism. Standing at the door, I saw a small child go up to a relative and say “Look what I made” – not “Look what they gave me”, but “Look what I made” – the simple pleasure of making stuff, of having a contribution, and something for the dinner table tomorrow.
It is less effort to make Christingle Kits than to make Christingles themselves and you genuinely have something to take away. I commend the idea to you.