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: “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: 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!