11. BIGGER OR BETTER
Prep time: less than an hour
Supplies: paperclips or pennies, drivers
In this unpredictable game, kids start with a paperclip or penny and go from house to house asking people to trade them something that’s bigger or better than the item they have. Depending on your kid-to-leader ratio, you may need to ask parents to volunteer as drivers. Assign groups of kids to each car you have so there’s one adult per group.
Make sure you set a time that everyone needs to be back. Whichever team returns with the biggest or “best” item wins. Be prepared to see surfboards, mattresses, outdoor heat lamps, go karts, and other absurd items.
Pro tip: Teenagers tend to be pretty bad at telling strangers what they’re doing. Leaders should talk them through what they should say when they get to the door so that people will be more inclined to help them. Also, some people may be willing to loan items they want back. That’s okay, but make sure those items make it back to their owners at the end of the event.
Up-front Youth Group Games
Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and let students sit and watch something. Up-front games are great because they let you put the spotlight on kids who may not get as much attention, or use some of the strong personalities in the room to your advantage.
Some up-front youth group games may involve playing a trick on participants (where the audience knows what’s happening and the players don’t). Some may involve tricking the audience. Either way, it’s important to know your students well and pick kids who will enjoy the game and be successful with it.
12. WHAT’S UNDER THE BOX?
Prep time: a couple hours
Supplies: long table with a hole on one side, big tablecloth, stopwatch, watermelon, wig, baseball bat, a couple random items (such as a shoe, a football, or phone), a few large boxes
This game tricks both the participants and the audience. To start, you’ll need to cut a hole in a table that’s big enough to comfortably fit someone’s head through from underneath, and a tablecloth (with a matching hole) that’s long enough to conceal a person under the table.
Before you set up the game, call up three contestants. Two of them can be random, but one should be a kid you can trust to ham it up and be a little crazy. Ideally this person should be a baseball or softball player, but it’s fine if they aren’t. Take these kids aside to where they can’t see the setup or hear you explain the game to the audience.
Arrange the tablecloth on the table, place the random items on top along with the baseball bat, and cover them with the boxes. (The bat should be the last item before the hole.) Have a leader put the wig on and crawl under the table with the watermelon, put their head through the hole, and cover them with a box.
Here’s what you tell the audience:
“Our contestants think they’re racing to identify the items we’re going to put under the boxes on this table. I’m going to time them, and they’re going to flip over the boxes one at a time to guess what’s underneath. [Flip the boxes to show them.] But when they get to the last box, this is what will happen. [Flip the last box and have the leader yell.]”
(Make sure the leader is facing the contestants, not the audience.)
Here’s what you tell the contestants:
“Go out there and when you hear, ‘Go,’ flip over the first box, shout out what’s under it, and move to the next one. The person who names all four items the fastest wins.”
As each contestant comes out, repeat these instructions and remind them you’re timing them.
When you get to the pre-picked contestant, you’ll give them their own separate instructions, and something different will happen. Have the leader put the wig on the watermelon, and put the watermelon through the hole instead of their head. When the pre-picked kid removes the box, the leader will still yell, the kid will pretend to freak out, grab the bat, and smash the watermelon.
Pro tip: Make sure the leader keeps their hands on the very bottom of the watermelon. But don’t raise the watermelon too high that the audience sees their hand. Also, pick a big crazy wig that covers plenty of the melon.
13. CHARADES WITH A TWIST
Prep time: 0 minutes
Supplies: One chair
For this youth group game, it’s extra important that you know your students and choose ones who will thrive under the attention. You can choose any number of kids, but three to five is ideal. Pull these kids aside to a place where they can’t hear the person leading the game and the audience can’t hear them. Have another leader assign each of your volunteers a scene they’ll have to act out using the chair. You’re welcome to come up with your own ideas, but here are some that work well:
- Watching your favorite team score the winning touchdown (feel free to substitute another sport)
- Going on a rollercoaster
- Riding a bucking bronco
- Sitting on a cactus
- Watching a scary movie
Encourage them to really get into it so everyone can tell what they’re doing.
But here’s what you’ll tell the audience:
“We’ve asked each of our volunteers to show you how they go to the bathroom.”
After each student acts out their scene, tell them, “Wow! That was really interesting! Thanks for showing us how you use the bathroom.”
14. EGG BLOW
Cost: less than $20
Prep time: less than one hour
Supplies: clear and flexible tubing, eggs, funnel, garbage can
Band kids and athletes tend to do well in this gross test of lung capacity and stamina, but anyone can participate. Choose four students and pair them up for 1v1 matches. Put the funnel into the clear tubing and crack an egg into it. Hold the tube so that the egg settles into the middle, and then have the first pair of kids each take a side, and put the garbage can between them.
When you give the signal to start, they’re going to try to blow the egg into the other person’s mouth. If the egg reaches someone’s mouth or they bail and dump it in the garbage, they lose.
After each pair goes, have the winners face off to determine the champion.
Note: Any non-toxic clear tubing will do, but make sure the diameter is wide enough for the egg to easily fit ( ¾ inch clear vinyl tubing should be easy to find at a hardware store). If you have to buy a long tube, you’ll probably want to cut in. A few feet should be plenty.