Parent's Night Out: Valentine's Day Edition
We decided to host our first Parent's Night Out on Valentine's Day this year. I am generally not a big fan of doing events that are basically childcare oriented, but I had a few solid reasons for putting on this event.
- It would be a ministry to the parents by offering them dirt cheap childcare.
- We had a theme day, called Love Bash scheduled for the next morning where ministry would occur, so Parent's Night Out provided a great opportunity to advertise and invite kids back the next morning.
- We already had a Valentine's Day set up for Love Bash.
Honestly, I didn't realize I was going to get so much great feedback and so many thank you's from the parents, even before we put on the actual event. I guess 4 hours of entertainment and food for their kids, (4 hours of kid-free time for parents), all for $5 was a pretty good deal. Regardless that this was basically a childcare event, I still wanted it to be awesome. So, if you are interested in the details of what exactly we did with a room of 40-50 crazy kids for 4 hours read on.
5-5:30 - Free Time
We started the night off with some free time for the kids. If you have worked with children for any length of time, you know that you won't really have your whole group of kids there until at least 30 minutes into the event. We set up a craft activity station (coloring sheets, DIY Valentine's day cards, bookmarks, bracelets, random craft items), a game station (board games, bop-its, twister, playdough), and a video game hang-out area. We were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather here in TX that day, so we also allowed the kids to go outside for some sports/games with a couple of our male leaders during this time.
5:30-6:00 - Pizza and Drinks
We had planned on putting on some old-school cartoons and having the kids sit and watch them while they ate, but due to the wonderful weather things went a little differently. We had to practically drag the kids in from the outdoors to eat (only by telling them that they could go back out after they ate their food). Most of the kids just scarfed down their pizza and ran right back outside. If there's one thing I've learned in kid's ministry, it's how to be flexible. If the kids are still loving something, why fight it?
6:00-6:30 - Free Time
We planned another 30 minutes of free time for after dinner, which worked out perfectly considering how dinner went. By this time, some of the kids were ready to settle down a bit and enjoyed the indoor activity stations we had set up during this time.
6:30-6:50 - Craft Time
Now, that the kids had all their wiggles out (many of the boys were sweaty and stinky at this point), we brought the energy down a bit for some crafts. We gave the kids three craft options to choose from: Robot Valentine's Day box (for the manly boys), a heart charm bracelet (for the girly girls), and a candy bracelet (for anyone who likes candy). I bought all of these crafts in packages by the dozen on orientaltrading.com. I was very happy with the quality, price, and coolness factor of all of these crafts and the kids loved them too. Check out one of my "adult" leaders having way too much fun with craft time. :)
We decided it was time to get the kids moving again with some large group games. These got a little crazy considering the amount of kids and their high energy level, but it was a good kind of crazy. We played two Valentine-themed games.
- Heart Islands (10 min) - We taped large red hearts that we had cut out of poster board all over the floor. One kid was chosen as a shark. When the music was playing everyone had to run around, but they could not stand on a heart. When the music stopped they had to get both feet on a heart. If their feet were not on a heart the shark could tag them! If they got tagged, they would become a shark too! We kept playing until there was a majority of sharks. You can remove hearts if necessary to raise the difficulty level for older kids.
- Hide the Heart (10 min) - We created one big heart that would be hidden for this game, and showed the heart to the kids. For each round, one kid would be chosen to hide the heart anywhere in the room while all the kids waited in the hallway facing the other direction (several leaders need to go with them to prevent them from running off or peaking). When the kid had hidden the heart, we brought all the other kids back into the room to look for it. The first kid to find the heart gets to hide it next. Keep playing until it gets boring. We actually only played one round of this game because the kids had such a hard time finding the heart on the first round that we were out of time. Who knew it would be so hard to find a giant heart?!
7:10-7:25 - Cookie Decorating
I have to say that this may have been my favorite part of the night, but I do love anything that has to do with baking. I baked a bunch of Valentine's Day sugar cookies for our kids to decorate any way they wanted, and of course they could eat them afterwards. We set up three tables with red disposable tablecloths, frosting, plastic knives, sprinkles and lots of cookies to decorate. Quick tip: the disposable tablecloths are absolutely worth the $1 you have to spend at Walmart. You can easily just wrap all the mess up in the tablecloth and trash the whole thing. No more scrubbing dried on frosting and sprinkles of the tabletop (we've all been there!) Check out some of the kids' beautiful creations! Some of them even saved their cookies to give to their parents because they were so proud of their handiwork.
7:25-7:30 - Movie vs. Karaoke Vote
We decided to give the kids the choice between watching a movie for the last hour and a half of the night or karaoke time. You can only guess what won the vote.
7:30-9:00 - Karaoke Time
Obviously karaoke time won out. Most of our kids are crazy excited about the idea of getting on the stage and getting to sing in the mic, but not all of them. We also opened the video games and other activity stations back up for the more reserved kids during this time. We had a slide in ProPresenter with all of the karaoke song options for the kids to choose from and a folder of Disney karaoke videos ready to go. I might add that "Let it Go" was not even on the options slide and somehow we ended up hearing 10+ renditions of it by the end of the night. The kids had a blast and were still singing their hearts out until their parents pulled them off the stage and had to drag them home.
Overall, the night was a huge success. All the leaders were totally pooped, but the kids left excited and the parents left grateful and rested. It was totally worth it, and I would definitely recommend throwing a Parent's Night Out any time of the year. If interested, I've attached my Planning Center Schedule for February 14, 2015 here.