The key to an exciting evening is to insure that the children feel completely satisfied when they leave, instead of feeling like there wasn’t enough to do at the party! Success doesn’t necessarily lie in overwhelming the kids with oodles of options, but in keeping things moving quickly from one activity to the next. Below is a simple guide for planning a memorable evening that your children will want to attend year after year!
While the kids are arriving, have plenty of things for them to immediately get involved in. These activities can vary greatly: numerous board games, indoor games like the “Nerf” products, scavenger hunt, food, several video game stations, or any combination of the above. The games should all be ones that can be played either individually or with just a few people, and can easily be stopped or started. Also, be sure to set the tone for the event by playing contemporary Christian kids’ music in the background.
Once everyone has arrived, do a brief, upbeat, fun introduction and welcome. You may wish to include a PowerPoint presentation featuring the name of the event, fun graphics, and music. Or, opening with some comedy props or illusions always adds to the level of excitement! When you have their attention, then immediately give instructions and guidelines for the evening.
Begin the first activity. Remember, the kids are just starting out the evening, so have an activity that involves a lot of movement. If you’re in a large room, group games are a good choice here.
After the large group games, move into small group activities. Divide the kids into smaller groups to do crafts, skits, small carnival-type games, short card games like “Uno”, etc. Another option is to make games like “Scattergories” or “Guesstures” that are adapted to the event theme.
Now, introduce the featured food for the evening. Top it off with dessert, bringing out a large cake or the world’s largest sundae!
As the children are finishing eating, direct them once again to more activities that they can do in small groups.
Once everyone is finished eating and is involved in an activity, allow them to settle in for a few minutes. Then offer something like a short video or devotional.
After the devotional, end with a bang up, exhilarating group game.
As parents begin to arrive, allow the children to return to the activities like they were doing when they arrived. If you’re sending a treat home, give it to them as they are on their way out.
(Note: For success–and avoidance of unnecessary stress– be sure to have plenty of workers on hand; one worker for every 8 children is a good ratio. Also, allow plenty of time for set up and tear down.)
by Gary R. Linn, Children’s Ministry Today