Note: This is a special guest post from Christy Stewart, director of children’s ministry at First Baptist Church in New Castle, PA.
Family Paint NiTE
Thank you so very much to WeAreKidMin.com for the opportunity to share about our family events.
The tagline for the Children’s Ministry at First Baptist Church in New Castle, PA is “Where Families and Church Unite” and that is exactly what we have aimed to do through our programming over the past several years. Six years ago we made a deliberate decision to become more family friendly and focus on parents being the primary spiritual influencers of their children. In doing so, we streamlined our programming and eliminated our Wednesday night line-up in an attempt to give families more time to spend together. This left us with Sundays and outreach events. We decided to fill the gap with monthly family events. These events are designed to appeal to families of a variety of ages while being a cost effective and fun way to spend time together, an easy invite for non-churched friends, and a great way to build community. We have experimented with a variety of events from Gingerbuilds, to a Regatta, to a Family Campout at the church ball field, to Movie Mornings at the local movie theater. These events have been very popular and are becoming a part of our ministry’s DNA. Below you will learn more about our second annual “Family Paint Nite” along with all the details to be able to bring this event to your venue. With the popularity of places that host painting parties, this seemed like a great option to try and it was well received and will be in the regular rotation of events.
Pre-Event Planning & Promotion
1. Recruit an event team and plan the details of the event. Decide when this may fit best within your church’s calendar of events. You may also check your community calendar to see if there are any conflicts or similar events happening.
2. If you are inviting a guest artist for this event, make sure to secure them and decide on compensation at least 8 weeks out. We happen to have a lady that is loosely connected with our church who does painting events at a coffee shop her family owns. She has been a part of other events, so this has become a great partnership. Although we have many talented and artistic people within our congregation, this was a personal choice to extend into the community to build relationships. She is engaging with the crowd, able to offer great instruction and answer “how to” questions, and is a true artist at heart. At our event, her role is to introduce the concept/style that the event will be focused on. She explains how to use the supplies that are present and does some step-by-step instructions initially to get people started. She then roams among the crowd to offer any tips or assistance that may be needed. She is compensated $100 for the evening. Part of the value of having a guest artist is that adults and young children often want formal instruction and desire to learn new skills. This allows it to happen in a less threatening environment than walking into a painting class in the community. I also allow the guest artist to advertise if she has any events taking place at her coffee shop that involve crafting and painting for those that may be interested. (If you are not doing anything overly complicated, you may not choose to use a guest artist.)
3. Make arrangements for church-wide bulletin announcements and announcements in Children’s Ministry 6 weeks before the event. (Most of our family events do not get up-front exposure on Sunday mornings.)
4. Set up a Lobby Display (5 weeks before the event). Our display had a sign-up sheet, postcards with the event details and “invite your friend” tickets. Download the MEDIA BUNDLE for the easily customizable templates.
5. Post information on the church website with a link to register online (five weeks before the event). Our families pay at the door the night of the event.
6. Post Facebook announcements on the main church page and the Children’s Ministry page (5 weeks before the event). Be sure to invite the families in your church to like and share these announcements through their social media channels.
7. Since our lobby display included tickets to invite friends, there are no formal posters about the event outside of social media. Our families are great about bringing friends. You may consider hanging posters around the community depending on the culture of your church (5 weeks before the event). The MEDIA BUNDLE contains plenty of graphics you can use to make your own tickets/invitations.
8. Send e-mail blasts to families with all the event details (3 weeks before the event). You might want to write a few inviting lines about not wanting to miss this fun family experience and attach the event postcard.
9. Printed postcards to our Weekday Preschool students and their parents (3 weeks before the event).
10. Print postcards that go home with kids on Sunday morning (2 weeks before the event).
When the lobby display and website link is up, registration for the event is open. For this event, and most others, registration is open until the event starts that night. I always have plenty of extra supplies on hand. (We have only had to close registration early for our Gingerbuild event this past year when we reached capacity for the space, including overflow spaces.)
This event was promoted for families of preschoolers through sixth grade.
When trying to determine the amount of extra supplies, you may want to consider having 10-15% or more of your actual sign-ups available. My preferrence is to over buy knowing that I can find ways to incorporate the extras into my ministry or be ahead of the game for next year’s event.
We have families pay at the door so we do not have to chase people down for money, nor have someone man the display in the lobby to collect money. (Note: As of late we have been moving to online registration and payment for some of our events.)
Our family events are very cost-effective for families, with the bulk of the cost for the event being factored into my family events budget. For the most recent Paint Nite event we charged $3 per person (canvas). This covered all the supplies, snacks, and a little takeaway. The very first year the cost was $5 per family. I will explain the reason for the cost difference later in the post. You may also want to consider having scholarships set aside for families who need help. I don’t typically advertise the scholarships but would not turn a family away because they could not pay.
I know that the budget for events like these is always at the forefront of ministry leaders and you may need to tweak things based on your culture, budget, and attendance. I provide a rough budget below for 50 painters. *Note that some of these costs would be initial start-up costs since some of the supplies can be reused yearly. You can certainly find ways to make this event more cost effective to fit within your budget so do not be scared off by the budget for this event.
- Advertising – technically no cost from my ministry budget because the copies for flyers, postcards and invitation tickets are done in-house.
- Guest Artist – I currently compensate my guest artist $100 to teach and assist those that attend.
- Decorations/Table covers/plates/etc. – $70 * may not be a recurring cost if you put them aside for the next painting event.
- Plastic sheeting – $100 *may not be necessary in your space.
- Canvases – dependent on the project what size and how many needed. When we did the one with individual 10" x 10" canvases – $78.
- Paint – 8 colors of paint, 5 each, plus 3 bottles of brown – $129. I always have plenty of paint left over to either save or use for other activities.
- Brushes – $63 without any specialty brushes. You could get cheaper brushes and save money here. * may not be a recurring cost if you put them aside for the next painting event.
- Snacks – $75
- Giveaway items – $80
Ideally it would be great to have a team of volunteers to handle set-up, greeting/ registration, paint/supply distribution, restocking any snacks, photography, and clean-up. For our event, there is also a guest artist that will be teaching or leading the instructional piece of the event. I would suggest having name-tags or event lanyards for your team so people can notice them easily if they need help
The set up for this event is fairly intense (at least for our space) and some of it is done the night before and then finished during the day prior to the event. Your set-up time will be dependent on your space and the number of people registered.
The remainder of your event volunteers will be able to arrive 45 minutes in advance to get instructions and man their posts. I have our volunteers present so early because I have plenty of early arrivers. The clean-up crew can arrive 15 minutes before the expected end time of the event unless they are already present participating in the event.
Our event takes place in our gym which is our only large group meeting space and is also the large group area for Children’s Ministry.
Since our space is carpeted, part of our set-up includes covering the floor in medium grade plastic from Lowe’s. This is a costly venture (close to $100 in plastic) but necessary in our space. We secure the plastic with painters’ tape and then gently roll out our round tables. We place about 6 metal chairs at each table to give families space. They always have the option for more chairs if they have a larger family or want to sit with friends or others they may have invited. We use the metal chairs instead of padded ones so we can wipe them off if there are any spills.
Since our large group space is the same space we use on Sundays, I have access to having a welcome slide projected and music playing quietly. There is also a microphone ready for me to use to welcome everyone and give instructions for the evening before handing the mic over to the art instructor.
Since we have a large space for our event, I wanted to try to add color without breaking the bank. The tables were covered with white plastic tablecloths. I decided to make the tables neutral because guests would make their tables come alive with color based on their creativity.
The long wall up front where the guest artist was, I made a zig-zag rainbow to add color (see picture in the MEDIA BUNDLE) using crepe paper. It was a tedious task but it added a lot of color for very little money. I added other painting decoration among the zig zags. Additionally, up front I had finished pieces as ideas of what our guest would or may decide to paint. People like visual examples so this is an important piece.
The snack table is where the biggest splash of color was in which I suspended two clear paint cans and taped plastic tablecloths inside to give the appearance of paint pouring out onto the table. The rest of the snack table abounded in color and was the focal point of the room. Everyone could not wait to dive into the colorful treats.
Most of the decorations were acquired at Hobby Lobby, the Dollar Store, or from Oriental Trading. If you are careful with your decorations, you can save them for future events. Here are some of the decorative elements we have used in the past. Click on each one to see the picture and full description.
At any of our family events where crafting or building something is required, I make sure to have lots of supplies on hand and make sure everyone has the same materials.
Each table had a roll of paper towels, a container of wet wipes, pencils for those that want to sketch their design first, painter’s tape depending on the project, two different sized brushes per person, and several cups of water to rinse their brushes. Brushes will be one of your bigger initial costs if you plan to do this event more than once. I went to Hobby Lobby, Michael's, and Jo-Ann Fabrics, etc. to find brushes that were reasonably priced that I could get multiples in a package. I keep these brushes separate from my regular crafting brushes so they will last. I also had extra brushes on hand as well and some specialty brushes. You may find that you have some painters who are particular, and are looking for specific styles of brushes to make their masterpieces. This holds true with parents that are painting. You may be able to go with cheaper brushes if this is a kid only event.
Check out these brushes that worked great for us:
- 5-Piece Kid's Paint Brush Set
- Paint Brushes - 5 Piece Set
- Paint Brushes - 10 Piece Set
- 1" Super Value Pack Foam Brushes
As for the canvases, it depends on what type of painting event you are having. The first year we held this event we did a 16" x 20" canvas that the whole family worked on together. We had those canvases on the table, one per table with extras at the registration table. That year we charged $5 per family because the canvases were more money. Last year we did 10" x 10" canvases and charged $3 per canvas because families could decide to each do their own artwork or make a grouping of images that went together. We had all the canvases stacked at the registration table and passed them out as the guests checked-in. Canvases will be another big cost to your event but if you shop around and use coupons, you can find great deals online or through craft stores or overstock stores like Ollies. The link to canvases is provided below. Last year there happened to be a new store opening so they were having a big sale and I got these bundles for 50% off. Pending on the price of the canvases, my charging price for families may change.
Near the front of the room we had a table that held all of the paint. We used acrylic paint and I had red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, brown and white. This way families would mix colors to get what they were looking for. I had about 8-10 bottles of each color (less of brown) the first year and had paint left over. Your colors and amounts will vary based on what you are painting. For example, this past year, part of the teaching was on silhouettes so I had more black available. Additionally, on the table I had paper plates to use as palettes, a soapy bin of water for brushes when painters were finished, extra paper towels and wet wipes, extra bristle brushes and foam brushes.
Every great event needs some sort of munchies and this event is no different. Pinterest has some super cute ideas if you look up “paint party”. For this event we took pre-made buttered popcorn from the dollar store and spread it out on large trays lined with parchment and then melted one color at a time of Wilton chocolate candy melts and drizzled them over the popcorn until you had rainbow popcorn. Once the chocolate hardens a few minutes later, you can break up the popcorn and put in in colored snack cups. Please note allergies since Wilton candy melts are not peanut free. We used pretzel rods and also dipped the tips into the melted chocolate to make small paint brushes.
Additionally, we had Rice Krispy treats unwrapped with handles or Popsicle sticks stuck in them and placed on platters. Beside the platters were bowls of colorful icing. The idea was for children to take some icing and make a colorful paint brush. The kids LOVED this treat but keep in mind that it is messy and the icing can stain clothing. On the table we had signage about food labels and allergy alerts plus instructions of how to make their paint brushes. I also had bowls of plain popcorn and plain pretzel rods for those that could not eat or do not like the chocolate plus extra wrapped rice Krispy treats. Bottled water was also on hand.
My family events usually include a treat to take home, prizes or a trophy competition. For this event, I do a take home treat which consists of a mini paint can favor filled with Skittles and on top of it is a paint splatter tattoo. The mini paint can favors can be found online through a variety of vendors (see the links below). These favors were a big hit and added another layer of color to the event.
Event location ready to receive guests.
All Event Team members are present and in place to receive guests. Check in starts.
Core number of participants are present. Welcome and introduction of guest artist. Instructions given about how the event will run, about the snacks provided, restroom locations, etc. Turn the mic over to the guest artist.
Guest artist gives a demo and instructions of what can be painted and then families are released to the paint table to get their paint colors and begin painting.
7:30pm or so
This is totally dependent on the speed of your painters so you will need to gauge this, be prepared to start taking either family shots of finished artwork or groups of people with their artwork as the event starts to wind down. Remind families that there are snacks and a take home gift. Allow slower painters to continue.
Thank families for coming and continue taking photos until all of your painters are finished and clean up can begin. Our experience is that the event is over by 8:00-8:15 PM.
1. Thank your guest artist. I hire my guest artist so I have a thank you note and the payment waiting for them at the conclusion of the event.
2. I have a little note and small gift card for my event team members. If that is not in your budget to do so, I would send out a thank you letter to my team the next business day after the event.
3. That evening post on your children’s ministry and church’s social media pages about the event. You may even consider creating a hashtag for the event where everyone can add to their personal social media posts about the event.
1. Decide in advance what you want people to paint. Is everyone painting the same thing, are they working as a family unit on one painting or a grouping of paintings? This will help you to decide the overall budget, the cost for participants, the size of canvases, plus other paint supplies that are needed.
2. When thinking of what you want to paint, you also need to consider your target audience and whether they are able to paint what you are choosing. Because we are targeting entire families, we consider what little brothers and sisters can do compared to older children. Consider having extra canvases available for little ones that just want to paint as opposed to participate in a more formal experience.
3. Are you going to use a guest artist to provide instructions or painting tips? Is there a painting party business in your area that you could partner with?
4. Consider your space. Is it conducive to being painted in? What tables, chairs, and flooring are available and can everything be wiped down?
5. Consider having paint smocks or old t-shirts available. We have not had any major messes but pending on the age of the children, things can get messy quickly!
6. Paint goes farther than you think. On the guests’ paper plate a quarter size to 50-cent piece amount of paint will be plenty of each color to start off with unless they are only using one or two colors.
7. Consider having some hairdryers available to help paint dry quickly, especially if they are layering different paint colors or for those children who paint with enthusiasm and lots of paint!
I am truly excited for your Children’s Ministry team and the possibilities of having a painting experience for your children or families. My hope and prayer is that is as much of a blessing to your ministry as it has been to mine.
And if you like this article so much that you want to buy me a cup of coffee, I won't say NO. (You can send a cup of my favorite mocha HERE.)
Thank you so much!
Christy has been serving as the Director of Children’s Ministry at First Baptist Church since 2010 and was involved in the ministry as a lay leader since 1998. She loves the families and children she serves and delights in seeing children have light bulb moments regarding their faith journeys. Christy enjoys Legos, all things Disney and spending time with her family and friends. Christy resides in New Castle, Pennsylvania with her husband Ken and daughter Olivia.
Feel free to reach out to her