Christmas is the busiest time of the year for most of us in the church. For me, and I am pretty sure for most of you, it takes up the entire month of December. There are added services of Christmas Eve, concerts, and other various festive events. But we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t love it, right?
1. Call in a pro
There is no dishonor in calling for help—do not get sucked into the mindset that there is. Bringing in a fresh set of eyes and ears is essential to providing the best experience possible. This is the perfect time to have someone come in and tune your room, inspect the gear, and maybe even hold a training session.
Another idea is to look now at hiring an engineer for your Christmas services. You’ll have a lot to juggle during the Christmas Eve services. Talk about a relief to know that is taken care of by a professional, freeing you up (if you’re the main audio engineer) to oversee more of the bigger picture. This can also be a relief to your volunteers who are feeling the stress of the season, the pull of work, and their families. It’s a big request to make of them to be there for all the rehearsals and then the services. Consider blessing them by handling it—and locking in [an engineer] now could save some money.
2. Rent NOW
I know we don’t always have our ideas completely figured out just yet. There are some of those churches that know on December 26th what the next year’s service will be, but that isn’t the norm. However, by this point you should have some givens, and some broad ideas. It is a good idea to start talking with rental companies to get things locked down. Their availability of gear may force you to change your plan if you wait too long.
3. Check your inventory
It is easy to remember the big things like making sure the band is scheduled and the choir has their rehearsal materials. But I like to stock up on things like batteries in November. Talk about a stressor when you open the cabinet between rehearsal and the service to find an empty box of AAs or 9volt batteries. You rack your brain, sure that you had just purchased more but realize that those are now gone.
I am a big proponent of rechargeable batteries, but I’ll save those reasons for another time. When planning out my wireless setup, I made sure I had twice as many batteries as I needed at one time. Usually a single set will get me through a normal weekend, but for the Christmas season—there are always more rehearsals and longer sets. Having fresh batteries in for the actual service is key. I also keep a small supply of regular AAs I call insurance batteries, just in case. In addition, these are good for musicians who need to swap batteries in their instruments/accessories, and we don’t have to remember to get our rechargeable ones back.
4. Have a backup plan
The best laid plans of mice and sound engineers…. With digital reigning king in today’s production workflow, it is critical to have a backup of your settings. Having been burned by a preshow failure a few years ago, I have become extremely backup conscious. Not only keeping copies of my console settings, but also my wireless microphone configuration, DSP, and the band’s personal monitor mixers. I back all of these things onto a USB stick [that] I keep with me, but I also store a copy in the cloud. USB sticks can fail—especially after a trip through the washer and dryer.
Beyond the digital, I keep extra microphone and instrument cables handy because they have a tendency to just die without warning.
We all know Christmas is coming, so use this calm before the storm to prepare. Working this far out too can help lock in lower prices with rentals and give you time to shop the sales for other equipment. Bottom line, you have a lot on your plate, why not reduce the stress and make this year’s Christmas production even better with a little pre-planning?
This article originally appeared here.