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'Reuse & recycle' for VBS decorating

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Even though a Vacation Bible School decorating team may never have set foot in New York City, decorating for a Big Apple Adventure could be a piece of cake.

"You probably already have, have had or will be able to find or borrow almost everything you need for great decorations that scream New York City," said Bruce Edwards, minister of education and evangelism at Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.

Edwards led a breakout session called "Decorating Out of the Box" during a VBS preview at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year

"I want to encourage you to reuse and recycle," Edwards said. "You don't have to make decorations so sturdy that they will last until Jesus comes. Be ready to tear apart decorations you've used before and repurpose them for this year's VBS."

The same could be said for old prom or bridesmaid dresses. They could become part of a display representing Broadway. Add to this some sparkly shoes and a homemade top hat and you have instant glamour.

"Remember that you are decorating for the children, not for adults," Edwards said. "Make New York the beautiful and wonderful place that it is."

Skyscrapers don't have to be 10 feet tall to make an impact, just taller than the children, he added.

"To my kids in Bossier City, Shreveport is like New York City," Edwards said. "They have buildings 12 stories tall."

One idea is to make a church hallway like a subway tunnel. Registration can happen at the tollbooth. Colored tape can become the red line, the green line, etc. These lines can lead to different age group classrooms or activity areas. A few pieces of PVC pipe can become a turnstile.


New York is known for its ethnic neighborhoods, and Edwards said many decorations can come from things people already have in their homes or can save from eating out.

Pizza boxes can be the start of Little Italy. The carryout boxes from a Chinese restaurant can be the beginning of Chinatown. Add some lanterns, scarves, posters, whatever one has.

Central Park can start with a bench and even a tropical ficus tree.

"We adults know that ficus trees don't grow in Central Park, but the children don't," Edwards said. "And, they don't care. Any tree is fine with them. Borrow some artificial grass -- maybe from a local funeral home -- and add trees and some flowers. You may have some brown paper rocks leftover from Saddle Ridge Ranch. The Central Park scene doesn't have to be large. It can just be in a corner. It works for the children, though."

Edwards said the book "Decorating Made Easy," available through LifeWay's VBS website, relays ideas that are easy and inexpensive.

"Just look around at what you already have," Edwards said. "Almost anything can be turned into New York."

Polly House writes for LifeWay Christian Resources. For more VBS information, visit

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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