Christmas is right around the corner and everyone is always looking for ways to show appreciation for the volunteers in your ministry. We know that we would not be able to do what we do without our leaders and we want to make sure they all feel like we love, know and appreciate them. As we were thinking of what to do with our volunteers this year, I thought I would share the list we came up with and maybe it would spark something for you to do to celebrate the amazing people who CHOOSE to hang out with teen-aged people with you.

Send a card: Everyone loves to get cards in the mail. It’s even better when it’s not a bill and something written from you saying how much you appreciate them being a leader in your ministry. Easy. Fun. Meaningful.

Have students write notes: What would be even better, have students write notes and you send it to your leaders. You know the students who connect with a certain leader so go and have them write a note, collect them all and send it out. I know that would make my day.

Have parents write notes: One of the coolest things I have seen was you send out an email to all the parents of the students in small groups and have them write a note to the leader who is leading their student. This with the combo of student notes, would keep anyone going for much longer.

Get shirts/sweatshirts for your leaders: If you can, get everyone a ministry shirt or sweat shirt. Everyone wears a jersey to a sporting event to support their team, when your volunteers all have the same “jersey” with the ministry on it, it brings everyone together!

Custom journals/Bibles: To get everyone something with the ministry and their name and the year on it, it would be awesome to take it and when they are done they can look back on how and when God used them in the ministry.

Mailing Secret Santa: Have everyone pick a name out of a hat, share a google .doc of your leader’s addresses, set a dollar limit, and have your leaders send a gift to someone on your team in the mail. Who doesn’t love mail? It’s just a fun way for your volunteers to show love to each other.

The classic white elephant gift exchange: This is classic. everyone brings a gift, their is stealing and rivalries made, but it’s fun, easy and volunteers can laugh and have fun together.

Invite your leaders over for dinner: There is nothing like a home-cooked meal. The simple gesture of inviting people into your home does a few things: allows your volunteers to see you not as a leader but a real person, brings everyone into a loving community, and getting around a table (sometimes a cramped table if you are at my house HA!) does wonders for volunteers spirits.

Coffee Sit Down: There is nothing more encouraging than some good coffee and one-on-one time telling them how much your appreciate them.

Give them a book to help with spiritual growth: In the past we have given out “Love Does” by Bob Goff, “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman etc just something to show that you care about their growth as well.

Celebrate them on your ministries social media channel: This one is free. One-on-one is great, but celebrate them publicly! Take December and post some pictures of your volunteers and tell everyone why they are so appreciated and invite students to comment on them as well.

Celebrate your volunteers in your student service: Again, another free one. Take some time in your service to celebrate your leaders in front of your students. Everyone loves affirmation, especially from students who are not always the best at showing this appreciation all of the time. Have them all stand up. Bring some on stage and tell everyone what you love about them.

Have students pray for them: One of the most powerful things for leaders is to have student flip the script and have them pray for leaders. Maybe during service where leaders usually pray for students, have your students lay hands on leaders and pray over them. Talk about powerful and feeling appreciated. Wow.

Your version of “The Dundies”: This is an awards ceremony from the hit TV show The Office. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll need to stop and pray for you right now HA! This could be a fun thing where you make some inside the ministry awards with inside jokes about something that happened in service or at summer camp. The “Patience Award: Not Punching “That” Kid Award”. Something like that would be fun and honoring.

Plan a two-day/one night get away: If you can make it happen, I know volunteers feel appreciated and celebrated when you can carve out time for them in big chunks. There HAS to be someone in your church that has an amazing house where all of you can fit where they let you use it for free and you just get a few days to just be with your leaders. No real agenda, just hang out and eat.

Christmas ornament of picture of all your students or leader team: Take a group picture of all your students, or of your whole team, get them printed and make some things to put on their tree as a reminder of what they do and how awesome they are. Fun and simple and meaningful.

What would you add? What have you done in the past that was a hit for your ministry?