Hot Glue and Painters Tape
Lori S. shared that she places painters tape on the wall where she wants to hang her poster or other items. She then puts hot glue right on top of the tape and places her poster on the hot glue. Emily T. also uses this VBS idea to decorate for her event.
Please be aware that someone else noted that the hot glue did damage their walls, so please test in an inconspicuous place first.
You can also do this with double sticky side tape and painters tape to avoid the hot glue. Dottie W. uses this method and says it works great!
If you need blue painter's tape, you can get it here:
Duct Tape on Posters
Sue Y. says that they put a strip of duct tape on the back of large posters about one inch from the edge. She says that it sticks every time!
Command Strips on block walls
But Rebecca K. says that command strips are a great tool to keep decorations up without damaging the walls.They save the hooks and just buy new strips year to year.
Did you know that you can get poster command strips? Me neither! Definitely worth checking out for those pesky block walls.
Shari L. says that Mavalus tape is the way to go. Rene' M and Jennifer F. agree! It is ONLY for hanging items on walls as it is a little pricy. Get your Mavalus Tape here.
Gorilla Double Sided Tape
Leslie J. uses Gorilla brand double sided tape and says it works great!
I am totally unfamiliar with it and would encourage you to do your research (as I would encourage you to do with any adhesive).
Buy the Hot Knife
If you are using any foam insulation board in your decorating or set design, you know how tricky it can be to cut. And not just cut, but cut so it looks nice. Rachel S. says to buy the expensive hot knife. According to her, it is worth every penny! Leslie T. seconds that!
Connie B. says to take care of it by following usage and care instructions and it will last a long time.You can get the one recommended by these ladies here:
Use Binder Clips to attach items to drop ceiling
Binder clips or the black clips that have the two pieces of wire places to squeeze and release are a great way to attach things to your drop ceiling.
One year, I wanted to create an "underwater" feel in our hallway. So we used blue plastic table cover on the ceiling in the hallway.And now those binder clips are used every year for VBS decorations.
You could even throw a light cardboard shape of a sea turtle, fish, or even a shark in between the ceiling and the table cover to create a silhouette effect.
Use Paper Clips and Fishing Line to attach decorations to ceiling
Emily T. suggests that paper clips and fishing line are the way to go when attaching decorations to a drop ceiling.
I love how there are different ways to accomplish the same job and you get to pick the one that will work best for you! Binder clips or paper clips and fishing line, oh my!
Brown craft paper is a staple when it comes to decorating
Janella J. wouldn't want to decorate for any VBS without a roll of brown craft paper. It is a cost-effective go-to when you aren't sure what to use.
Get large cardboard sheets from large warehouse stores
I have also been known to raid my local recycling center for cardboard as well. No judging.
But some of the best cardboard came when I had a brand new set of cabinets installed in my office. It might be worth asking a local cabinet company if they could save some boxes for you.
Anne Marie G. says that M and M's are her secret weapon when it comes to VBS volunteers.
But really, any food goes a long way with volunteers. It is just another way to make them feel valuable and appreciated.
Corinne N. and Joy F. both agree that food is invaluable when serving volunteers. She has delegated that task to someone else and doesn't have to think much about it.
Read below in the organization section to learn more about how Susan W. uses her volunteer lounge.
Preferred name on name tag
It is such a simple thing, but by asking your volunteers what name they would prefer to have on their name tag communicates so much to them. You value him and are willing to take the time to find out his preference.
Some adults really preferred to be called Mr., Mrs., or Miss. And other's don't care.
Last year, I didn't ask what people wanted to be called on their name tags. Our senior pastor adjusted his name tag to say PK instead of Pastor Kevin.
Schedule on back of volunteer name tagsBrenda F. suggested putting the schedule on the back of volunteers' name tags so that they have quick and easy access to it! Tori C. said that it was a lifesaver for their VBS this year!
Jennifer H. put their memory verses on the back of the name tags at her VBS.
In fact, last year, I had a volunteer do this herself.
It works great with a lanyard name tag with a plastic holder. These are the ones that I have used at two different churches now (below). And I really like the badge holders because they seal (like a zipper bag) and prevents the name tags from getting wet if you play with water.
Wristbands are so versatile
Gera S. (who must be a ninja director) shares her church uses Tyvek wristbands to identify kids with allergies.Her kitchen staff is so grateful for the quick reminder to be aware of what each child is getting. Gera also writes the specific allergy on the wristband to help her kitchen crew a little more.
She also uses a different color wristband to designate volunteers' kids. At dismissal time, it is easy to send volunteers' kids to a specific area. This allows her to have a wrap up meeting with her volunteers quickly after VBS is over (see idea above).
You can also use these to assign kids to crews or classes. Plus, they are super affordable!
Teacher Kit or Crew Bag Suggestions
Rebecca H. puts together a bag for each crew at her VBS. She includes a roster, who is authorized to pick each crew member up, and emergency contact information. She also adds wristbands for food allergies and the designate those who have declined to have their child's photo taken (she includes a wristband for each day). In a pencil case she places pens, pencils, sharpies, tissues, and a small first aid kit. Finally, she adds a laminated crew sign held up with a...you guessed it...paint stick!
Cheyenne L. also adds stickers, schedule, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer!
Mini Clipboards for Crew Leaders or Teachers
The real genius comes on the back of these handy clipboards though. She places a large number on the back that corresponds with the crew number. So the clipboard has now doubled as a sign and a crew leader has one less thing to keep together along with a group of over-excited, sugar-high kids.
Here are come clipboards and some sharpies to get your started!
Keep a running list of suggestions for next year
Each year, I create a document (sometimes a Word doc but usually an Evernote note) which is almost always open on my computer during VBS planning. I keep a list of suggestions for next year.
Every time I think of a new suggestion, I add it to the list right away. I know that I can't trust my brain to remember it for next year (or even for next week).
I also add things that I want to improve next year even if I don't have a suggestion for improvement. And I add things that went really well. It is good to remember those things, too.
It is kind of like my brain dump area. I am often entertained by reading this list the next year. I can almost "hear" the frustration dripping from my words.
Brown Paper Bags
Use a larger brown paper bag to store each class' or crews' small paper bags containing their crafts and take home papers is another one of Rebecca H's fantastic VBS ideas.
Jennifer H. uses Aldi bags to hold each class' individual bags.She adds a colored ribbon to each Aldi bag that corresponds to their crew color.
Volunteer lounge as a multi-purpose area
Susan W. makes her volunteer area useful for many different purposes but each one serves her volunteers. There is food (big plus) but it is also where volunteers sign-in and pick up their name tags each day. They can grab their crew bag or other class supplies, get bottle of water, grab a copy of the daily devotional, and write in a prayer journal.
By having all of these items centrally located for volunteers, you are equipping them easily, and also promoting a positive volunteer culture. It is likely that this there is a lot of traffic in and out of this area.At a previous church, we staffed this lounge area with people committed to encouraging and praying for VBS volunteers in the moment. It was a huge blessing for many. It also allowed people who wouldn't typically have a role at VBS serve and love also.
Have a nurse for the week
Vanessa M. found the medical needs to be greater than a bandaid at her VBS occasionally. She has found it to be so helpful to have a nurse on site.
Depending on the size of your VBS, you could have your nurse be a volunteer in another area of VBS, so long as she is able to leave quickly to come attend a need. I wouldn't suggest making him or her a crew leader, but maybe a kitchen helper or classroom helper.
Let the little stuff go
The first year I directed VBS at a smaller church, we dismissed late from our opening. It STRESSED me out. I can't describe what a tizzy I was in.
My co-director looked at me and said, "Jen. Just breathe."
I right away came back with, "Yeah, I'm breathing. But how are we going to adjust the schedule. How are all the teachers going to know?"
She just smiled at me and said, "It will be fine."
And it was.
I have always remembered that moment. And have worked hard to respond with calmness in a stressful situation. It was so good to have the freedom to just let it go and know it really would work it all out.
Torri C. just finished her week of VBS and shared the same reminder. Let the little stuff go. It isn't worth the stress.
Prepare your family early
Yeah right. I am struggling just to get VBS done by midnight the night before it starts. How on earth am I going to have time to prepare my family?
I get that. But I also know that the years when I have taken the time (even weeks before VBS) to get some things into place have made VBS so much more enjoyable for my family.
Or make some muffins or breakfast sandwiches and freeze them. They will make for a quick breakfast during VBS (or supper when you are so rushed there is NO WAY you can do it without a drive through).
Figure out your transportation. If someone in your family has practice that overlaps VBS by half an hour, figure out rides early so you aren't scrambling the day of practice and VBS.
It is so easy to get caught up in all the busyness and details of VBS and forget to enjoy it. Torri C. reminds us all to just have fun. Have fun with your family. Have fun at VBS. Do not let the VBS stress rob you of the joy that is found in serving Christ.
Guard your schedule
Don't plan for lots of "extras" during the week of VBS. You don't need to have a neighborhood cookout at your house during VBS.
Nor do you need to plan an all-day water day at the amusement park just down the road from your house during VBS. You could totally have a water day the following week with your kids and all their friends. And you would enjoy it so much more!
There are some things that can't be avoided. For example, during VBS this year, the area high schools start fall sports practices right in the middle of the week. We just can't change our schedule or theirs. So we work with it. But at least it isn't competing with the water-day either!
Preach the Gospel to yourself
Some people listen to pump up music. Me, being the nerd that I am, love to listen to my favorite gospel passages before a big event. Give me Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 and 2 any day!
I love to turn on my Bible App on my phone (YouVersion) and just let it read to me as I'm getting ready in the morning or driving to an event.
But I also surround myself with other gospel reminders such as music that points me to the cross.
Want some more ideas or practical suggestions for preaching the gospel to yourself?
What can you simplify in your life during VBS?
Really evaluate what you can do to keep things as simple as possible for you and your family during VBS.
I can't thank everyone who shared ideas for VBS ideas and hacks enough. There is such a wealth of information found in these words.
If you found something helpful, let me know! Please comment below. Or if you have an idea, tip, or hack that should be added to the next installment of Ultimate VBS Ideas, please share it below!