Christmas services and outreaches require more volunteers than the typical Sunday service. From more people serving in the parking lot to handing out hot chocolate and candy canes, you’re going to need a few more helpers to pull off an amazing Christmas event.

Here are a few tips for making this year’s volunteer experience incredible for everyone involved.

Tip No. 1: Be Specific

Before you ask anyone to serve, make sure you know exactly how many people you need and in what roles. Set up various time slots so any one person doesn’t have to commit to serving all day if they’re not available.

Also, provide training to new volunteers. This training might be a bullet-point list or a meeting to review the details. Use your judgment as to what level of training is best, but never expect a new volunteer to know what to do automatically.

Tip No. 2: Ask Now

Potential volunteers are already booked (or will be soon) with multiple holiday parties, events, and travel plans. If you haven’t already filled your volunteer needs, pick up the phone now and start asking people to serve.

Tip No. 3: Host Your Volunteers

Simple things like providing coffee or hot chocolate for those serving outside show you value your volunteers. Set aside a small room for volunteers to recharge that contains snacks, drinks, and a place to sit.

Also, walk around and check-in with volunteers. Ask if they need anything, how they’re doing, if they’ve observed anything that you need to address, etc. Say “thank you” often and make sure volunteers know they’re making a difference.

Tip No. 4: Request Feedback

Soon after Christmas events, send an email to volunteers asking them to complete a brief survey. You can create a free online survey using a tool such as SurveyMonkey.

Ask 5-10 questions to get input on their experience as a volunteer and on the service as a whole. Consider inviting volunteer leaders to an after-service lunch in January to get more detailed input.

This may seem like a lot of work, but don’t forget that volunteers are on the front lines. They will hear or see things that you might not be able to witness.

They’re the ones who see the new family with three kids trying to navigate children’s check-in. They’re more likely to notice issues with seating, parking, and more. Ask for and humbly receive their feedback, then take the steps necessary to make improvements.

Tip No. 5: Show Your Appreciation

Volunteers want to know their efforts made a difference. A few simple gestures can encourage and motivate people to continue to serve. Send out hand-written thank you notes to Christmas volunteers.

Mention during the next service how many people were impacted by a Christmas outreach and thank volunteers for making that happen. For those who aren’t on a regular volunteer team, ask if they’re interested in joining one.

Volunteers can make or break a service. Take the time to invest in and value volunteers. When they know what you expect, understand how their service makes an impact, and feel valued, they’re more likely to serve with excellence (and more than just at Christmas).