Time Savers and Budget Hacks

by Amber Pike February 7, 2024

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There are two commodities that are precious to VBS: time and money—and each year, you need a lot of both to pull off a successful VBS. After almost two decades of leading VBS, I have a few tips and tricks that can help you save a little bit of both.

There are two commodities that are precious to VBS: time and money—and each year, you need a lot of both to pull off a successful VBS.
  • Make a master to-do list. As the director, document each step you take and each thing on your to-do list. Breaking down your task list by month will help you avoid forgetting an important task the following year.
  • Be a decoration hoarder! So many VBS decorations can be used year to year. This saves you time and money in the long run. Greenery, backdrops, and animals are especially easy to fit into subsequent years’ themes. Keep an inventory of what you have, and use this list to plan your decorations.
  • Ask for donations. Your congregation will be happy to save craft items or even donate items for snacks. You can also look outside of your church for donations or discounts. Perhaps you have a small, local ice cream shop that would be willing to donate or let you purchase vouchers at a discount to use for prizes.
  • Spend more when it makes sense. Sometimes, spending more money to buy a higher-quality item saves you time, money, and sanity. Dollar Tree tape isn’t going to hold up well on posters. Buy the expensive tape (Mahvelous tape is the best, by the way) and save the headache. Look for where it makes sense to spend the extra dollars and do so without guilt.
  • Find your sources for cardboard. Hospitals are a great source of cardboard boxes. They have lots of large pieces of equipment being replaced frequently. Lighting stores and furniture stores also tend to have large boxes, too. Make friends with someone who works at these places and ask them to let you know when they have some, so you’ll be set for cardboard!
  • Multiply your time with a work day! Schedule a few workdays leading up to VBS. Plan out tasks others can help you with—cutting out crafts, painting, stuffing goody bags, etc. Be organized, and you can maximize your time! Five ladies cutting out crafts can accomplish so much more than one!
  • Use your teens! Seriously! The teens in your church are an invaluable source of VBS help. Order them some pizza and give them tasks. They can prepare things, set up, decorate, and more. Find out the gifts and talents of individual teens and allow them to use those gifts!
  • Be organized. You may have groaned reading this, but it’s true. Being organized will save you time and money. If you can walk into your craft closet and easily see the supplies you have on hand, it saves you from ordering something you already have. Be organized. Label things. And make lists. You’ll thank yourself later.
  • Plan with next year in mind. “Can this be reused?” That’s a big question to ask yourself when purchasing or creating things for VBS. Especially if you have a limited budget, evergreen items are key. Instead of painting a unique backdrop each and every year, could a simple blue backdrop work instead, accenting it appropriately with key items each year? Multipurpose items are key when dealing with a budget!
  • Partner with other churches. Share resources. Pass items along. You could even consider combining for VBS. I’ve heard of churches alternating where VBS is hosted each year, sharing volunteers and resources. The church down the road doing the same VBS isn’t your competition; they are fellow kingdom workers. Partner together.
  • Remember, you don’t have to do it all. You have to be okay with delegating. It’s hard. I know. But you don’t need to be doing every single detail. You can’t. This means that you have to delegate tasks. They might not get done the exact way that you want them to be done. That’s okay. Take a breath and focus on the things that only you can do. That’s what a good leader does.
  • Make a switch. It’s okay to change things. Pick a less time-intensive craft, switch to a cheaper snack, or scale back on decorations. It’s okay. Do what works for you and your situation, keeping your goal in mind—to make VBS week a kingdom-growing week.
Keep your eyes on the prize (eternity). VBS is a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

By the fact that you’re reading this blog post, you know the amount of time, energy, and money that goes into VBS. Sometimes, if we are honest with ourselves, we feel discouraged when we look online and see what other churches can do. We think, “I don’t have that talent at my church. I don’t have that budget.” Don’t be discouraged. The kids that come to your VBS aren’t looking at what other churches are doing. They are coming into your VBS to be loved on with the love of Jesus, to hear his truths, and to grow in their faith. Keep your eyes on the prize (eternity). VBS is a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

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