50 Ideas to Try this Advent

Events, games

Look no further for ideas to spice up your Christmas party or use as a game during youth group. Here are 50 ideas (most of them I have personally done!) to try out this holiday season.


Candy Cane Olympics: Create a bunch of games for students to play, and for every win they get a candy cane! At the end of the night, award the winner of the Candy Cane Olympics with an extra-special prize.

Reindeer Games: Divide the group into reindeer teams and host an evening of games with a grand prize.

Reindeer Hunting: Have a small group pile into a car, grab hot-chocolate from the gas station / Starbucks, and go around neighborhoods with Christmas lights. Together, count the amount of reindeer you see. Each year I try to break the record from the year before!

Salvation Army Red Kettle: Volunteer as a small group together to ring the kettle together and sing Christmas carols.

Progressive Dinner Party: Identify three host homes, and take students around for each piece of the meal: Appetizer, Main Course, and Dessert.

Angel Tree: As a youth group, host a family for Angel Tree. Encourage teens to donate money and buy gifts together or divvy up gifts among the group.

Christmas Pajama Party: Host a movie night where students can wear footie pajamas and binge-watch some holiday classics. Invite students to bring Christmas cookies or other snacks!


Ugly Sweater Station: Take the classic ugly sweater party to the next level by having a station where students can make their own! Include: fabric markers, ribbon, stick-on bows, bells, felt Christmas shapes, and lots of hot glue.

Saran Wrap Ball Game: Wrap candy and small prizes in layers of Saran Wrap. Form a circle and go around the circle, rolling dice. When a player rolls a double, they unwrap the Saran Wrap and get the next prize. You could also try this out “hot potato” style,” where you play music, and where the ball stops, they unwrap one layer

Reindeer Antlers: Place two to three minutes on the clock. Teams must blow up and tie balloons, then stuff them into a pair of panty hose, and then put the pantyhose on one player’s head. Team with the best-looking antlers wins.

Wrap Battles: Place five minutes on the clock. Give each team one roll of wrapping paper, tape, Christmas bows, and ribbon. Each team wraps one player, and the best-wrapped player’s team wins!

White Elephant: To keep your gift exchange cheap for families, consider having students bring random things from around their house, their best gag gifts, or regift something from last year.

The Dice Game: I grew up playing this game at my grandma’s! Purchase a bunch of small presents, ranging from chapstick to gloves to $5 gift cards. Wrap everything up. In small groups, place the gifts in the middle of the table and have each person roll. If someone gets doubles, they get to take a present (or steal one from someone else). They then get to roll again. If a person doesn’t get doubles, they pass the dice. You can also do with a coin – heads is open a present, tails is steal.

Gingerbread Houses: Make a station where students can create their own gingerbread house, or have a contest! Include items such as frosting, graham crackers, lots of candy, and pipe icing. We often just give small groups a pre-made Gingerbread house kit and some extra candy/frosting.

Christmas Cookie Decorating: You can use the same items as with the Gingerbread houses, except students can eat their art! You can also decide to do this with cupcakes.

Pancake: Place different colors of pancake mix in squeeze bottles, and encourage the students to make Christmas shapes on the griddle! You could even play Christmas Pictionary this way.

Sled Races: Give students a bunch of different items to make sleds! You can go micro and have them make sleds out of candy, or you can go macro and give them cardboard and other supplies. Then, have them race them across a track (micro) or across the room!

Sleigh All Day: Split students into groups. Give each group a cheap sled (they might break). Have the group get from one point of the room to the other without touching the ground using two sleds. If the touch the ground, they have to restart.

Ornament decorating: Get clear ornaments from Dollar Tree and a bunch of stuff to decorate (ribbons, pipe cleaners, stickers, jingle bells, etc.). Allow students to make ornaments to decorate the youth tree or take home!

DIY Christmas Stockings: Get a bunch of stockings and supplies from the Dollar Tree, and allow students to make their own!

Gift-wrapping: Encourage students to bring gifts to wrap, or have a bunch of boxes to teach students new gift-wrapping techniques.

Christmas themed water color painting: Find some Christmas coloring pages, and cheap water color kits. Allow students to color the pages with water colors for a relaxing activity!

Santa’s Beard: In this game, rub Vaseline all over the chin and cheeks of the willing participants. Give them a minute to place as many cotton balls on their face as possible. Person with most cotton balls wins!

Christmas movie trivia: Create a Christmas movie trivia, find one online, or grab a public one from Kahoot!

12 days of Christmas Relay or Scavenger Hunt: have 12 pieces of paper or 12 items that represent the 12 days of Christmas. Then, call out “8th day” or “7th day” and they must grab it. Alternatively: they have to find the pictures/symbols around the church and then order them correctly’ the first to do so wins.

Hot Cocoa Bar: Set up a station of hot water with cocoa and apple cider packets. Include cinnamon sticks, peppermints/candy canes, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, marshmallows in fun shapes, whipped cream, pirouettes, and sprinkles!

Christmas Photo Booth: This is your easiest photo booth you’ll ever create: collect Christmas hats, garland, ornaments, and anything else you might have on-hand to use in the booth. Students can take selfies or you can have a volunteer take Polaroids! You can also give points for “worst family photo”

Christmas Cards: Have students create cards for all of your church staff, small group leaders, volunteers, or whoever they might be able to make an impact on. They can make their own, or you can supply the cards!

Elf on the Shelf: For each week of Advent, hide the elf around your youth ministry space. Award a prize for the person who finds it first each week.

Marshmallow Man: In this up-front game, give students a bag of mini marshmallows and one minute. Person who can stack the most three-marshmallow snowmen in a minute wins!

Oh Christmas Tree: Give each player 36 Red or Green Solo Cups. First player to stack the 36 cups into a pyramid (Christmas tree) and put them back into a single stack wins.

All Through the House: Hide cut-outs of Santa throughout your building or space. In teams, players relay to find a Santa, then come back to tag the next person their team. The team with the most or fastest time wins.

Fill the Stockings: Get teams of two, and give one person a Christmas stocking and the other ping pong balls. Have the players toss the ping pong balls into the stockings. Team with the most in their stocking in a minute wins! If the teams run out of ping pong balls, they can run around and grab them off the ground.

Bow Roll: Take a bunch of bows and take the stickers off the back. Scatter the bows on the ground. Have no more than two or three participants put their arms at their side (I recommend taping the arms down) and give them one minute to roll around on the ground, collecting bows. Person with the most bows stuck to them in a minute wins!

Name that Tune / Finish the Lyrics / Gargle that Tune: Place some lyrics on the screen, and have students finish the lyrics or name the tune. You can also give them a song privately, have them gargle the tune with water, and have the audience guess! There are some versions of these games on DYM.

Christmas Pictionary / Charades / Etc.: a classic, allow students to write down ideas or choose from preselected ideas and act them out!

Trim the Tree: Give each player a bag of shatterproof Christmas Ornaments. Players race to get their ornaments on the tree by tossing them at the Christmas tree.

Bamboozled: Buy a bunch of weird-tasting candy canes from Amazon, and see if your students can guess the flavor!

Christmas Scavenger Hunt: Find one online or make your own: see if students can find certain Christmas items around the church!

Christmas Kareoke: Purchase a pass from Karafun, turn on parental controls, and have students sing Christmas (or other) songs!

Snowball Dodgeball: Host a dodgeball match, but with balled up paper!

Marshmallow toss: Toss marshmallows into wreaths for a classic “minute to win it” game.

Two truths and a lie: Christmas gift edition (choose two of their worst presents ever given, then a third that’s a lie)

Antler ring toss: One student wears antlers, the other throws rings made out of glowsticks or a hula hoop around them. There are also inflatable versions on Amazon!

Christmas Bingo: Our students love bingo. For prizes, include gift cards or small gifts that students would want (or can regift!)

Pin the nose on the reindeer: Make your own or find one from Amazon!

Candy Cane hook’em: Place a pile of candy canes on one end of a table, with a bowl on the other end. Give students a candy cane; they have to hook as many candy canes and transfer them as they can in one minute.

Santa Limbo: Spray paint a bar red and wrap white tape around it for a “candy cane” look and invite students to limbo!

Ornament Relay: Place an ornament on a spoon, and have students race them across the room relay-style!

Mitten Wrapping: Unwrap presents with oven mitts! You can choose to do this up-front style, where a few people compete to unwrap the same thing, but with different mitts.

FREEBIE: GameShow Frenzy


For our November events for middle school and high school, I decided to recreate some of my favorite game shows into competitions for our students! You can do this a few ways:

  • Create teams and have the teams compete for points
  • Allow students to earn medals for each game, and the person at the end of the night with the most medal wins. OR — each medal earns a spot in a drawing for a top prize.
  • Or, “Whose Line” style — where the points are made up and don’t apply!


For our first game, I showed a Wipeout clip from Youtube that I downloaded. Right before a stunt, I placed “Will they Wipe Out? Yes or No?” The audience moves from one side to another. You can decide to use this game as a warm-up like I did, or eliminate people who get it wrong.


You can play this two ways:

  1. You can invite students and their friends to the front of the room to guess questions about each other.
  2. Or you can do what I did — spread students apart and invite them to sit with someone they don’t know and have them guess questions about each other. I placed paper and pens on the table, assigned one person “a” and the other “b.”

Ask questions like:

  • A, what is B’s favorite color?
  • B, what is A’s favorite food?

Don’t Forget the Lyrics

For this game, I found this Youtube Video, cut 10 of my favorite clips, and used it as my game. I gave points for answering correctly, and double for singing it!

Press Your Luck

For this game, you have your guests guess trivia. I played this “Family Fued” style — I had a list of 10 possible answers, and if they got one correct, they got 100 points. However, they could press their luck and go for more points. They’d either bust “get a whammy” and be out, or they could stay and keep their points.

Minute to Win It Games

My blog on Minute to Win It Games is still one of the most popular of mine! We played several games from this post.

Price is Right: More or Less

  • For this game, we split into teams
  • Bring one person on stage to guess the price of the item
  • Each group guesses if the price is higher, lower, or exact
  • Double points are awarded if the person on the stage is within a dollar of guessing.
  • 1000 points if the person on stage gets it exactly correct

Wheel of Misfortune

  • For this game, I made our own Wheel of Fortune slides using this website.
  • I chose to do Avengers Movies.
  • Call each person up on the stage. If they get it right, they get points.
  • If they get it wrong, the Wheel of Misfortune is spun. You can play this two ways:
    • They have the opportunity to win or lose points.
    • There is a “challenge” they have to complete.
  • You can use a wheel generator like this to choose your own custom wheel!

We did both versions of this game with middle school and high school. I screen-recorded our wheel and placed it into our slides.


For this game, I purchased two items to make it easier:

How to play:

  • Split up the group into two teams – they are now “families” competing on Family Feud!
  • Split them between the two tables – Have them select a “team captain” who will go first.
  • To start the round:
    • One person from each team will come to the frontYou will choose a card from the Deck, and read it out loud.
    • First person to buzz in gets to answer.If there is another answer that could “beat” theirs, then the other team gets to take a guess.
  • The winning side gets to choose “pass” or “play.”
  • How to score:
    • The team gets to guess the rest of the answers on the card, and gets three strikes.
    • After three strikes, the other team can steal.
    • Whoever wins the round “gets” the card.
    • Play for 15-20 minutes – the team with the most cards wins!


This was, by far, the most extravagant and expensive game of the weekend. But SO fun and worth it!

Supplies: Styrofoam shapes from the Dollar Tree or a craft store, frosting, cheap cake decorating kits from Amazon, plastic tablecloths, gel food coloring, small bowls, sprinkles


  • Split group into 3 to 4 teams
  • Place plastic tablecloth down on every table
  • Give each team 20ish minutes to build the best cake using the provided ingredients.
  • Have adults pre-mix food coloring into some of the frosting containers and give to students as needed.
  • Encourage groups to come up with a theme, and split up tasks – while one person is frosting the cake, another is mixing up food coloring for piping. It’s all about time management!
  • After 25 minutes, vote or choose the best cake from the group!


Game One; Floor is Lava

Supplies: Spinner, construction paper, “lava” floor

Set-up: Scatter the markers on the floor over the “lava” tablecloth, snot river boards

  • Spin the spinner. Everyone has ten seconds to find that color marker and stand on it – people can be creative – like jump on people’s backs or whatever.
  • If they don’t make it on a marker, they are out!
  • If they are the last one to jump on that color, they are out!
  • To make it more challenging:
    • You may decide to remove papers or colors as the competition dwindles down
    • You may decide to spin TWO colors, and they have to do one body part on one color, another on the other (like Twister)
  • You may play a few rounds.

Game Two: Lava River

  • Split into two groups
  • Give each group a set of boards, cardboard, tablecloth, something to stand on.
  • Tell them they must get from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor (the lava!)

Download Here!

You can download everything I did here!

FREEBIE: “iScream for Meme-o-Ween”

Events, games

Each year a team of youth staff and volunteers gets together and plans out our youth calendar together. For Halloween, we had two amazing ideas for youth events: “i-Scream” and “Meme-O-Ween.” We decided, why not combine them?

We usually have a fall party for our middles on our campus, with a hayride, pumpkin chunking, pumpkin painting, Scary-oke, and other fall components. This year, we decided to dial it back and have a few really simple elements.

Overview of the event

At our events, we typically do stations. For a three- hour event, we do 30 minutes of “up-front” games, almost 2 hours of stations, and 45 minutes for worship, an outreach-focused message, and door prizes.

Here is an overview of our stations for this event:

Activity Location 
Ice Cream Bar Brandt Lounge 
Scary-oke Confirmation Room 
What do you Meme? Games Balcony 
Game Room Game Room 
Laser Tag  Outside 

Meme-O-Ween Ideas

Up-front Meme Games:

  • From DYM: “Church Meme Showdown” – we had students move from one side of the room to the other. To be perfectly honest, this game flopped and I scurried to the next game.
  • “Name that meme” – I created this game – students would move from one side to another to decide which name matched the meme. I threw out fistfuls of candy to the winning team! CANVA LINK
  • From DYM: “Meme Me.” I called four people up on stage, and gave each of them a clipboard and paper and a pen (if you have whiteboards you could use those). I gave them 20 seconds to meme each image. The first person to 3 wins won!


Of course, we had a costume contest for the best meme-themed costume!

“What do you Meme?”

Having a “What do you Meme?” station was a very easy way to incorporate the meme. Note that you must get the FAMILY versions of “What do you Meme”, as the normal ones are safe for 14+ and can get very dirty.

MESSAGE: “It’s Fine”

I chose my favorite meme — the “It’s Fine” meme – to talk about how God gave us feelings, and it’s good to feel them.

i-Scream Bar

Of course, you have to start with the i-Scream Bar! We did a simple bar with vanilla, chocolate, and cookie dough bases. My favorite volunteer shopper did our shopping for toppings, and came up with:

  • chocolate sauce
  • caramel sauce
  • strawberry sauce
  • whipped cream
  • chocolate chips
  • butterscotch chips
  • heath chips
  • reeses peanut butter chips
  • mini marshmallows
  • andes chips

Other Fun Fall Party Ideas

  • Scary-oke: Purchase a subscription with Karafun, hook up to a TV, turn on the parental control settings, and allow students to pick songs and sing them!
  • Laser Tag: We rented an inflatable corn maze from our local inflatables company, and played laser tag inside of it with laser tag blasters we had on-hand.
  • Pumpkin Painting: In the past we’ve done pumpkin-painting as a more creative activity. The only downfall: It takes time to dry.
  • Hayride: In the past we’ve rented a Uhaul truck and open trailer, placed hay on it, and did our own “hay ride” on campus. This year we took a break and some of our kids were really bummed!

FREEBIE: The Amazing Race Youth Event!


Each year we do a “Mission Impossible” type-event, but this year I wanted to go a little different — “The Amazing Race!” I am a HUGE fan of game shows and competitive reality TV. The Amazing Race is something I can’t wait to tune in to each week. And making your own “The Amazing Race” isn’t very difficult to do!

I did this with both middle schoolers and high schoolers this month. The middle schoolers blasted through the event, as I think station leaders went a little easier on them than intended. The high schoolers took more time and the leaders gave less hints. For both events, I gave about an hour and a half — and both groups needed less than an hour. You live and you learn!


  • Students will be in groups of 2-3 for “The Amazing Race”
  • Each group will be given an envelope that has the first Road Block on it (they will be mixed up so they all go to different stations first)
  • They will get to their Road Block where they will be met with a challenge.  It is important to get to your Road Block quickly, as most Road Blocks can only have 1-2 teams complete the challenge at a time.
  • Only one person from the team can complete the challenge, and they must take turns.
  • When the challenge is completed, they will get a ticket to the next Road Block.
  • Once they’ve finished all of the Road Blocks, they will come back to the Lodge (Pit Stop).
  • First-place team will receive a prize!
  • As teams finish, have an area for snacks & hangout.


    • Print out Station Cards – CANVA LINK
    • We printed these on a poster printer on 24×36 inch paper, and cut out each station card to size.
      • Cut posterboard in half (hamburger style)
      • Each paper will be glued onto the posterboard
      • Outside – we taped posterboard to cones so they wouldn’t fly away. Inside, we taped onto walls.
    • But you can adapt to 8×11 or 11×18 as needed.
    • Print out Challenge Cards – CANVA LINK
      • Print on cardstock, full color. Print enough for each team.
      • Cut tightly.
      • We purchased these Amazing Race Envelopes for the first round, because we wanted the classic “rip” moment.
      • However, to save money, we didn’t use envelopes for all of the stations.
      • We randomized the first round, and placed one of each station (or however many groups you have) into the envelopes to start.
  • When setting up stations, each staton should have all the items for that station, as well as the cards to the NEXT station and some PIT STOP cards.
  • Instruction Slides: CANVA LINK


  • Students will be in groups of 2-3 for “The Amazing Race”
  • Each group will be given an envelope that has the first Detour/Road Block on it (they will be mixed up)
  • They will get to their Detour/Road Block where they will be met with a challenge.
    • Detour – they can choose from 2 challenges
  • When the challenge is completed, they will get a ticket to the next Detour/Road Block.
  • Once they’ve finished all of the Detour/Road Blocks, they will come back to the Lodge (Pit Stop).
  • First-place team will receive a prize!

General Instructions for Leaders:

  • When people get to your zone, have them make a line if you have more teams than can play at once.
  • Even though they have the piece of paper that explains it, go over the rules with them before they start playing the challenge.
  • If you are managing TWO stations, please have people pause so that you can address each station individually.


The following are the stations that we used. Feel free to use and adapt to your liking! We tried to use things that we already had on hand, and purchase minimal supplies. You can see pictures from this event by clicking here.


  • SUPPLIES: Tangram puzzles (there are 6)
  • LOCATION: Upstairs Round Tables
  • INSTRUCTIONS: A tangram (Chinese for “seven”) is a dissection puzzle which consists of seven flat polygons, called tans, which are put together to form a shape. The objective is to to get all the puzzle pieces in the puzzle. Choose one player to accomplish this.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: There are 6 puzzles, so up to 6 people can work on this at once.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • Supplies: 45 solo cups, 45 playing cards
  • LOCATION: Upstairs Café/Confirmation Room
    • HIGH: Take 15 cups and stack on top of each other (end-to-end & opening-to-opening) to create a tower.
    • LOW: Take 15 cards and make a pyramid out of them.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: There are enough items for 3 teams to do each task at a time. They can do these tasks as teams
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Master Locks, Ring of Keys (we purchased a bulk amount from Amazon)
  • LOCATION: Upstairs Round Tables
  • INSTRUCTIONS: You’ll have a ring of keys, but only one fits the lock! Choose one player from your team to accomplish this task.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Memory Card Game
  • LOCATION: Lounge
  • PREP INSTRUCTIONS: Break down the memory card game into four different games with 12 countries each.
  • INSTRUCTIONS: You will receive a deck of cards. Place on the ground, face-up, then flip over. Match up the countries with each other. You get three strikes before you have to surrender the cards, move to the back of the line, and start over!
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Saltine Crackers
  • LOCATION: Lodge Lobby
    • EXERCISE: Choose one teammate to go up and down the stairs of the Lodge (up one and and down the other end) 5 times
    • EAT: Choose one teammate to eat 10 saltine crackers without water
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: Have students go up one flight of stairs and then down the other flight. Remind them not to run down the stairs. If a student uses a wheelchair or needs to, they can use the elevator and go up/down it 5 times. Additionally, you may have one person go up the stairs at a time so they aren’t pushing.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Kiddie Pool, 3 5-gallon buckets, 3 cups with large hole
  • LOCATION: Basketball Court
  • INSTRUCTIONS: Transfer the water from the kiddie bowl into the bucket. Here’s the catch: there’s a hole in your cup! You can choose to take turns or have one player accomplish this task.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: Instruct teams to dump the water back into the kiddie pool before they go or use the spicket to get more water.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: “Spot the Difference” Puzzle book, pens
  • LOCATION: Lounge
  • INSTRUCTIONS: At your station you’ll be handed a “Spot the Differences” Puzzle. Spot all the differences and turn it in! If you don’t find them all, you’ll have to start over with a new puzzle. Only one person can complete this.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: When someone comes to your station, hand them a puzzle from the book. Check the answers in the back of the book. If they fail, give them a new puzzle.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Dice, basketball
  • LOCATION: Basketball Court
    • HOOP: Shoot 25 points at the basketball hoop (choose a spot for the “3-point line”)
    • ROLL: Roll 5 dice until they have “5” on them (they can roll them one at a time, 5 at a time, however they’d like)
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: You only have a certain number of dice, so some people can only a certain number of students can play that game.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Lawn Dart Kit
  • LOCATION: Lawn behind Lodge
  • INSTRUCTIONS: Get a bullseye using the Lawn Darts. Choose one member of your team to complete this. If you fail, you have to go to the back of the line.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: Have them make a line, each person can get 1 chance or use all of the darts, your decision. To save your back, have STUDENTS pick up the darts and hand off to the next person.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Balloons, plastic bag for trash
  • LOCATION: Lawn behind Lodge
  • INSTRUCTIONS: Blow up ten balloons, then pop them with your butt. Only one team member can complete this.
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: Have them pick up their popped balloons — there is a bag to throw away trash in. Make sure they blow their balloons up BIG.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: 3 ropes or bandanas
  • LOCATION: Playground
    • RUN – Tie two legs together and three-legged walk across the playground
    • ROLL – Create a wheelbarrow by one person grabbing the feet of another, and walk across the playground
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: You may decide how long they have to go and where the starting line is.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.


  • SUPPLIES: Kiddie Pool, Marbles
  • LOCATION: Basketball Court
  • INSTRUCTIONS: In a kiddie pool are a bunch of marbles. Choose one member of your team, and have them transfer 10 marbles out, one at a time, using just their feet!
  • ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR LEADERS: You may decide how many teams can do this at once.
  • WHEN THEY ARE FINISHED: Give them a card to the next Roadblock/Detour!
  • WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINISHED – check to make sure that all 12 challenges are in their hands. Then, hand them the “Pit Stop” Card.

FREEBIE: Medieval Carnival

Events, games

This year we had to cancel our Fall Retreat due to low sign-up (story of student ministry post-COVID, amirite?). In ten days, we created THIS event, and boy — am I proud of it. We went with the Medieval theme because that was the theme of our fall retreat and we wanted to keep momentum so that students didn’t feel like something was “cancelled;” rather this was the new option.

We typically do stations at our events, so Carnival Games fit right into that theme!

Up-Front Games

We always start with some up-front games to get students warmed up. This month we played:

  • War: We divided students into two groups, and placed a deck of cards on a table in the front. Each player would turn over a card, and the top card (Ace) wins! The winner goes to the back of the line, the loser drops out
  • “How Long Would you Survive the Midieval Times?” I took a Buzzfeed Quiz and made it into a game. We played this “Four Corners” style, meaning students would go to one of 4 corners. If they chose the right corner they moved on. If they did not, they “died.” CANVA LINK
  • “Fact or Cap – Mideval Edition” – We called 10 people up on stage. If they got it correct, they got a small prize. If not, they lost. CANVA LINK

Carnival Games

Jousting GameOutside (inflatable) We rented a jousting inflatable. You could also do this with pool noodles and small platforms.1 ticket if you play 3 tickets if you win!
Axe ThrowingOutside (inflatable)We rented an axe throwing inflatable. You can also purchase a kit on Amazon. Hit the target – 1 ticket Inside middle black ring – 3 tickets Inside inner black ring – 5 tickets Fully-covered Bullseye – 10 tickets
Skee ballOutside We rented this game from our Inflatables guy, but you can make one or purchase one from Amazon.1 ticket for bottom hole, 3 tickets for middle hole, 5 tickets for top hole
Fishbowl Pong   “Fishbowl Feud”OutsideWe rented this game from our Inflatables guy, but you can make one or purchase one from Amazon. Scatter assorted amounts of tickets (1-5) in the fish bowlsToss a ping pong ball into the fish bowl & earn the tickets in that bowl!
Fish Pool “Go Fish”OutsideSet up kiddie pool, magnetic fish, and fishing poles (purchased from Amazon, we already had this on hand).Place one minute on the clock. Get tickets based on: 1 ticket – 1-3 fish 3 tickets – 4-7 fish 5 tickets – 8-10 fish 10 tickets – 11+ fish
Ring Toss (with traffic cones)   “Lord of the Rings”OutsideSet up 10 traffic cones and 3 hula hoopsGiven 3 rings. Get 1 ring = 1 ticket. 2 rings = 3 tickets. All 3 rings = 5 tickets
Duck Shooting Game   “Duck Hunt” We purchased this from Amazon. Place ducks on the ledge, and fill up water blasters with water. We had a cooler of water for fill-ups.1 minute on the clock! Shoot the ducks until they flip over. 1 ticket – 1-3 ducks 3 tickets – 4-7 ducks 5 tickets – 8-10 ducks 10 tickets – 11+ ducks
Mini-Golf   “squire’s golf” Cut a few holes in a box like this but with 1, 3, & 5 increments. Use a golf putter and golf balls (I borrowed from my husband!)Putt the ball into the holes, and get tickets for each hole you get!
Memory Game   “medieval memories” Use a deck of cards – lay face down on the table.Get 1 ticket for each match you can make! You have three strikes before you’re done.
Corn Hole   “bean bag baron” Use a corn hole set 3 chances to get a bean bag in the hole!

Prize Redemption Station

Games were played for tickets, which meant we had a prize redemption station. Here were the prizes we did:

  • 1 Ticket: stickers, pins
  • 3 Tickets: jolky rancher, laffy taffy, sour punch twists
  • 5 Tickets: slap bracelets, squishies, fidgets, slime
  • 10 tickets: nerds ropes, ring pops, blow pops
  • 30 tickets: full-sized candy (from dollar tree), caffeine-free pop

Snack Bar

Here are some ideas for potential medieval carnival foods!

  • Cotton Candy
  • Popcorn
  • Street Corn Bar
  • Turkey Legs

Message Idea

For this event, we have an outreach-focused message, meaning something that a visitor who has never been to church might be able to listen to without feeling uncomfortable. For this event, I talked about God’s “kin-dom” — that Jesus is a king unlike any other. Leaning on mujerista theology, I talked about how Jesus as a king teaches us that our faith is more about the community, not the king. This message was for middles, and they loved it!

2022 New Years’ Goal-Setting Workshop


With the New Year comes a time to set new goals. Whether you choose to do a SMART plan, a “word” for 2022, or make a half-hearted promise over the champagne toast, 80% of New Years’ Resolutions fail by February.

In my opinion, the reason resolutions fail is because they are too vague. We don’t think through the potential obstacles, hard conversations, or limiting beliefs that holds us back from achieving something, even if it could literally change our lives. Then we find ourselves believing that we can’t actually achieve our goals, because we believe we have “tried before,” even though our attempts were really half-attempts.

Often times, we do know what will help us achieve wholeness in our lives, but we don’t have the systems in place to make those steps. We need the clarity and accountability that a coach gives us.

My coaching isn’t like those Life Coaches you see on Instagram that post quotes that inspire you for a moment. You see, we live in a society that worships information and inspiration, and the result is the illusion that insight creates transformation. This workshop is designed to move insight into behavior so that “what could be” turns into “what will be.” No more excuses for incomplete dreams, failed visions, and another year of not hitting resolutions.

Group Workshop – $20

Ideal for someone who already knows what goal they want to set, and doesn’t mind setting it in a group setting. Groups will be capped at 10 people.

There are two times to choose from –

  • Monday, January 3rd 7-8:30pm EST
  • Saturday, January 15th 10-11:30am EST

If you decide to add on a 3-month coaching package, it will be discounted by $20.

Individual Session – $50

Ideal for someone who wants a more individual approach, especially if they feel what will get them “unstuck” is undetermined yet.

Times will be on Fridays & Saturdays throughout January, although an alternative time can be scheduled by contacting Heather directly.

If you decide to add on a 3-month coaching package, it will be discounted by $50.

Digital Resource Download: $10

If you don’t have time to complete a class, you can purchase the resource that I’ve created to complete on your own. Venmo or Paypal @heatherlea17, include your email, and I will send it to you!

FREEBIE: Poverty Simulation (that you can even use with middle schoolers!)

games, lessons, Resources

Poverty Simulations are a popular way to teach students what it looks like not only to live in poverty, but also how much it takes to pay for different things that they might take for granted.

I struggled finding a way to teach our middle schoolers specifically about poverty, especially since most poverty simulations are created with adults in mind, and adaptable enough for high schoolers. So, I created my own! You can adapt this simulation for any size group, with or without volunteers.

We played this for the first time this summer at our day camp for 5th though 8th graders, and we learned a lot! This can be a frustrating experience at first for middles — ours were ready to quit 5 minutes in because they ran out of money. But, it’s helpful to keep the game moving and just let them start over. After the second round, they will begin to get a hang of it! We also learned you need to print a TON of income sheets…. like more than I estimated.




FREEBIE: Halloween-Themed Escape Room / Unlock the Box

games, Resources, Uncategorized

Each year for Halloween, we have an event called the Halloween Heist. Each year the Heist looks a little different — one year it was a Scavenger Hunt, another year a murder mystery party.

This year I decided to take inspiration from Escape Rooms and do an Unlock the Box-style event. There would be 4 “safes” that students would try to unlock. They would complete a series of puzzles to do so.

We did this with our high schoolers, and had them play the games as a small group. I think you could do this with any size group, and just adjust the prizes for your group’s culture. Our students had a blast, and I think we will do this type of event again!

Here are the details/script for the host:

  • Welcome to the Halloween Heist
  • The objective this evening is to solve all your puzzles first and crack the code to the safe
  • The first four teams to do so will win a fabulous prize. All four safes have the same code, but if you’re first place you will want to go for the largest prize, second place the second largest, etc.
  • The puzzles are in each room of the Lodge. You can do 1 through 5 in any order, and there is no limit of how many can work on a puzzle in the same room. (YOU COULD ALSO PLAY THIS THAT THEY COMPLETE EACH PUZZLE IN THAT ROOM, 1 THROUGH 5)
  • Do not cheat. Do not use google or a calculator.
  • When you are finished with each puzzle, a puzzle master may check it for you.
    • (LEADER) is the Puzzle Master upstairs, (LEADER) the Puzzle Master downstairs.
    • If you’re not correct, you’ll need to correct your puzzle.
    • We will have extra puzzles in case you have to start over.
    • If you’re stumped, the puzzle master may give you one clue.
  • Play to the strengths of your team, and work on it together.
  • When done with all 5, you will come get the final puzzle from me right here. When you have the final answer, it will be the combination to the lock. Come up and try your combination to win!


These are the puzzles and answer keys.


I chose to place locks on toolboxes and fill the toolboxes with prizes. We had small groups play together, so I placed in a treasure trove of snacks and Halloween candy that they could enjoy over time.

We also did gift cards to Dominoes and Starbucks that groups could use to enjoy together. We did this with our high schoolers, who often meet off-site or meet during an eating time. They were very excited about this!

Minute-to-Win-It Games


This year we pivoted to a completely small groups-based model, which means that all of our events are now in the context of small groups too, whether they meet online or in-person.

We give groups creative freedom to do some fun games online through this list I compiled, but we ALSO wanted to give special days devoted to fun. We are calling them “Party-in-a-Box” because we are creating kits for each of our students, whether they are in person or online, that have all the materials to create a party with their small group once a month.

For March, our theme is “Minute-to-Win-It” games. For reference, we are making 250 kits, and it cost $800 on the dot (all I have budgeted for each of these!).

Kit Contents


  1. Separate skittles into their individual colors; first to complete wins. (don’t eat because of other games)
  2. Place a popsicle stick in your mouth, and place a skittle on one at a time. First to balance 6 skittles wins (or whoever can get the most on in a minute wins)
  3. Cup-Stacking: First to make a tower with their cups and tear down wins
  4. Move The Cup: Place the red cup on top, and the five clear cups below it. Move the cups from the bottom to the top one by one. The first person to move their red cup to the bottom wins!
  5. First to suck their jello through a straw wins!
  6. Each person blow up one balloon. The person who can keep their balloon in the air the longest with just a straw wins! (or hands if in person)
  7. Using a straw, transfer gold fish from one cup to the other. First one wins.
  8. First person to bounce all three ping pong balls into one cup wins!
  9. Fill up each cup with water almost all the way to the top. Place the ping pong ball in the first cup. Blow the ping pong ball into the next cup until it lands in the last cup. First one to do one wins!
  10. Line up cups in a line on the edge of a table. Blow up the balloon (don’t tie it). Use the air to blow the cups off the table one by one.
  11. Come up with a creative way to pop the balloon without using your hands!
  12. There is a puzzle in the bag. First to put it together wins! Bonus: they can color the puzzle to make it their own!
  13. There is a Rubix cube in the bag. First to place it together wins!
  14. Use the playdoh to make a creation. Get the group to guess what you made — first one to guess correctly gets a point.
  15. WHEN DONE: Use everything in your bag to make an epic tower! Best one wins!

BONUS MINUTE GAME – Scattegories – Instruct everyone to get a pen and a piece of paper. Place one minute on the clock — name as many XYZ in a minute as you can. Whoever has the most UNIQUE characters at the end wins! You can also use an online version of Scattegories.

35+ Group Games Games You Can Play on Zoom


This year we pivoted to a small groups-based model, with both in-person and online options. While in-person groups have board games and other activities they can do, we initially found it difficult to keep our groups on Zoom entertained. Here are some of the games we’ve loved — 35 games listed just as a starting point (and I’ll add more as we go!)

Group Games – Extra Device Needed

Group Games – Download the Same App

  • Among Us: Have everyone download the app, get a private room, and play along!
  • Heads Up: It’s like Charades, but an app everyone would have to have
  • Psych: Like Two Truths and a Lie, a fun hit!

Group Games – No extra device needed

  • Powerpoint Games from DYM: We LOVE using games from Download Youth Ministry with our group. Since we are in a small groups model, we download the games and then place them on Google Drive. We tell small groups they can play those games, and have created a small library for them. Just be careful not to use games that are “Sidekick Only,” as each leader would have to purchase and download Sidekick.
  • Charades/Pictionary/Hangman/”Gurgle the Song”: We’ve given groups a bunch of words (or they can do their own) and then they can choose how to play those. Some groups love annotating on Zoom. You can also use this generator
  • Random Trivia Generator: You can show the trivia on your screen or read it from your phone, and students can anser.
  • BINGO – You could always send the students the cards and chips.
  • Murder Mystery Parties – You would send the materials in advance. Here are is one option of virtual mystery parties!
  • Scavenger Hunt – Come up with a list of items, and have your students race to find them! You can also do this with sentiment; i.e. “find the item that best represents your week,” “find a picture that means something to you,” etc.
  • I-Spy – Play using anything from anyone’s screen background!
  • Chopped/Cooking Competition – With parent permission of course, you can do cooking challenges with your group via Zoom. Send them some supplies to cook from, set parameters (microwave only for middles?), and let them dream!