Saturday, November 24, 2018

Christmas Club Ideas (and Mr. Christmas Tree Pageant)

Christmas is only a month away! Below are tons of ideas we've used in the past to for "Christmas Club." 

Christmas Club Schedule
On a typical Monday, we start club at 7:37pm, but for this particular event, we start earlier to allow more time for the Mr. Christmas Tree pageant.

6:50-7:20- Pics with Santa/ Awkward Christmas Cards
7:20- Seniors form entry tunnel
7:22- Tonight, Yes, Tonight- Buddy the elf (host)
7:23- Christmas Medley (band)
7:26- 12 days of Christmas (mixer & song)
7:30- Mr. Christmas Tree Training Video
7:35- Mr. Tree group dance
7:40- Buddy the elf spaghetti game
7:44- Judges Panel introduced
7:45- Talent Competition
7:59- JibJab Elf head video
8:02- Announcements
8:04- Parade of Trees (Runway Script)
8:12- Contestant Interviews
8:16- Text Message Voting
8:19- Joy To The World
8:23- What Child Is This?
8:26- Intro speaker
8:28- Talk
8:43- Crown Mr. Christmas Tree
8:48-exit music

Mr. Christmas Tree Pageant

Brian Summerall started doing "Mr. Christmas Tree" at Pearce High School in Texas many moons ago. You can read more about his vision for the pageant on his website

Since then, the idea has spread all over the country. Many YL clubs have each grade nominate one guy to represent their class in the pageant.

When we started doing it 9 years ago, we decided to make it a senior guys competition- a sort of rite of passage. It's created momentum and gave the underclassmen something to look forward to when they became seniors. This year's senior guys will compete, many remembering their first ever Mr. Christmas Tree Pageant they watched when they were freshmen. The last few years we've had around 15-20 senior guys compete. Each of them brings friends to club to "vote" for them, so it typically is our highest attended club of the year. Because of the energy surrounding the event, we also make it the first night folks can sign up for our summer camp trip.

*We also do a similar event, "The Ms. Valentines Pageant" for the senior ladies in February.

Talent Competition

A fun way to get teachers, coaches, YL committee, and former YL leaders involved is to ask them to serve on the Judges Panel.

If you select one guy from each grade, or use 4-8 total guys, each guy could have time to perform an individual talent like dancing, singing, silly tricks, etc... In that case the judges panel could help keep a running score.

If you have more than 8 guys, I'd recommend putting the guys into "talent groups." Last year we had 4 groups of 4 guys.

You can decide if the panel determines the winner, or if you vote by applause, text message, or by the audience each circling a name on a ballot you pass out towards the end of the competition.

12 Days of Christmas Skit

Here's a funny skit idea for 2 of the contestants to do together while the rest of the contestants sing the 12 Days of Christmas. It feels a little long so I might just do it once starting on the 12th day.

Parade of Trees

Some clubs duct tape actual trees to guys, which is hilarious. We encourage guys to dress as tree, open to their own interpretation. Some use actual tree branches taped to their body, some wear ornaments, tinsel, star hats, popcorn strings, some dress in green and brown, but every one of them is covered in strands of Christmas lights. After they walk down the runway onto the stage, we have a couple of power strips where they each can plug in their lights. (Some use battery packs)

During their runway walk we have an announcer reading a funny 'runway script.' Each guy submits personal stats they would put on a resume and we work together on making it funny. Here's the script we used from a previous year. In the past I have asked the PA announcer at our high school football games to come in and read the script in his awesome football announcer voice.


We typically have someone dress up as "Buddy The Elf" and host the entire evening as sort of a Ryan Seacrest/Will Ferrell combo character. It helps the flow of the evening if one person is directing stage traffic.


If possible, get last year's Mr. Christmas Tree winner to return home for this club to crown the new winner. Create an elaborate "sash and star crown" for the presentation. We're doing this after the talk in order to give time to tally the votes during the talk, and it's a fun way to conclude the evening. You can also have kids vote via text messaging using


If you have just a handful of contestants, each guy could make their own "entry video" or "training video." They could be practicing singing, doing pushups, running bleachers, visiting a Christmas tree lot, painting themselves green, duct taping branches on their bodies, drinking lots of egg nog, etc...
If you're using a lot of contestants, make one training video together. Here are some examples of videos from other clubs:
Pearce Young Life
Pearce Young Life 2012
Wichata Falls Young Life
Amarillo Young Life
Delta County Young Life


Ask friends for BIG inflatables and borrow Christmas lights. Click here for more details.

  • Rudolph, Feliz Navidad, and Jingle Bells are good fast ones.
  • 'What Child is this?' and 'Silent Night' are good slow ones.
  • Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you" is good background music for fillers and games.
  • "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by N'Sync is a must.

12 Days Of Christmas Song & Mixer

As a mixer, use the song "12 days of Christmas" and divide your club into 6 groups. Group 1 will have "the 1st day of Christmas and the 7th day of Christmas, Group 2 will have day 2 and day 8, etc... Personalize the song to fit your club. Ex: If you took kids to Crooked Creek and the program team used Skippy the fish, then you could change the lyrics to: "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Skippy in a Crooked Creek." Get creative.

Balloon Antlers

Get a few pairs of pantyhose and a bunch of balloons and have teams of 4 work together to blow up the balloons and then stuff them to see who can make the best reindeer antlers in 90 seconds.


If you need a large group game you can play "Encore" or "Sing-off" and have each class compete (team of freshmen, team of sophs, etc...) to sing Christmas carols. If they repeat one that has already been sung, they are out. This works pretty well if you have team captains for each group.

Little Nemo Elf

The traditional "Little Nemo" skit works great with Elves. It's explained here.

Christmas Carols with Helium

Name that Christmas Carol

Buddy The Elf Spaghetti Contest

Start it off by showing the clip from the movie Elf whereWill Ferrell eats spaghetti with maple syrup, marshmallows, m&ms, & skittles. Then have a character come on stage dressed as an Elf. You can buy an "elf shirt" lots of places like Walmart/Target or online at Elf Shirt Purchase. Have "Buddy the Elf" come out with all the ingredients mentioned above. You also need a tarp, towels for the kids to clean up with afterwards, theme music to play in the background, and bowls. Have the kids race to eat with their hands. Give out decent sized portions where a kid can actually eat it all in a minute. If you put too much in there, it will take too long and be a dud.


Create a JibJab video of your YL leaders heads on the bodies of elves. You have to pay to download it, or you can just show it if you have WiFi where you have club.

Awkward Family Christmas Cards

Pics With Santa

Invite a committee member or parent to dress up as Santa and have kids get their pics taken with him. Invite another adult to take the pics in order to free up leaders to be with kids. Lighting is key for good photos. Chances are you have a parent or friend of YL in the community who loves photography, has a sweet camera, and would love to do it for free.

Candy Canes

Pass them out before club. They're cheap and festive.

Ugly Sweaters

Encourage kids to dress up in their ugliest Christmas sweaters. Odds are, their moms probably have some sweet ones in the attic. If not, a Goodwill trip is always great contact work.


Here are a few ideas thanks to Sean McGever and

Monday, November 19, 2018

$10,000 for Young Life Capernaum: #PedalWithAPurpose

If you haven’t already been following, Matt Broshat is biking the perimeter of the United States and fundraising for Young Life Capernaum in Minneapolis, MN. He's already raised close to $10,000!!!

Over the past 104 days, Matt has already ridden over 7,000 miles of his 11,000 mile adventure. Along the route, he has been visiting Young Life camps (Castaway, Timber Wolf Lake, Saranac and most recently Southwind) and attending Young Life clubs all across the United States! 

You can check out his website and Instagram @bikerbroshat to follow his pedal with a purpose.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt

Below is another fun Christmas club idea, similar to "Bigger, Better, Best!"

The Human Christmas Tree Scavenger Hunt gives kids and leaders an opportunity to laugh and play – and also allows parents to get involved.

The Big Picture
Teams visit houses in the neighborhood looking for items to “hang” on their human Christmas tree – one of their team members. They’re not asking for actual ornaments – just something red or something with lights or something reindeer-y that will not be returned to its owner. 

Feel free to use/adapt this list for your own scavenger hunt.

These items are taped all over the human Christmas tree. All teams meet back at club for a Christmas tree presentation, judging, awards and a club talk.

The Details
Kids, leaders and parent drivers meet at your club location. Explain the scavenger hunt rules and then divide kids into teams with one parent driver or leader per team. Tell them that this scavenger hunt isn’t a race – it’s more about creativity. Give each team the ending time and a point list, and send them on their way.

If your club location is in a neighborhood, you may not even need drivers - teams can walk to nearby houses instead. But you might consider assigning streets so three teams don’t hit up the same houses over and over again.

Whether you’re driving or walking, you can also assign one house for each team to do all of their “ornament shopping”. Talk to parents/homeowners the week before so they are ready for a team of middle school kids to invade their house.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, gather kids back at your club location. Let each team present their “tree” to the judges – your parent drivers or other parents you’ve invited. One of your leaders can give a short Christmas club talk followed by an announcement of the winners. You can give awards for the highest point total, but also for the most creative, tiniest or funniest “ornaments."

Consider ending the night with a hot chocolate bar: parent baristas serving hot chocolate with toppings like whipped cream, candy canes, sprinkles, chocolate chips and more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New "Need Talk" Song and Video: SHALLOW by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

If you're giving the need or sin talk at club, check out this video that Madison Wall created. The first part of the video is song lyrics from the new song, "Shallow" by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. It's part of the soundtrack of their new movie, "A Star is Born." I haven't seen the movie and am not endorsing it, but the lyrics of the song are PERFECT for a need talk!

Tell me somethin', girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin' else you're searchin' for?
I'm fallin'
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And in the bad times, I fear myself

Tell me something, boy
Aren't you tired tryin' to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain't it hard keepin' it so hardcore?
I'm falling
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And, in the bad times, I fear myself

I'm off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I'll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface where they can't hurt us
We're far from the shallow now

In the sha-ha, sha-la-low
In the sha-sha-la-la-la-low
In the sha-ha, sha-ha-ha-low
We're far from the shallow now

In the second part of the video, Madison took a screen recording of Google searches and laid it over the song. It's powerful with the music. If you wanted to go the extra mile, you could personalize it and create your own screen recording of searches that are even more relevant to your specific friends you'll be speaking to. 

You may even consider singing it as a club song. You could have the guys sing Bradley Cooper's part and the gals sing Lady Gaga's. If you have a decent guitar player, here is a good chord sheet: "Shallow" guitar chords. If not, here's the Karaoke instrumental version you could play over the speakers. 

It was super easy to make slides using the Lyrical Slides add-on that Dan Kramp made for Young Life leaders. If you're not using it yet, check it out here. You can download slides for "Shallow" below.

"Shallow" Google Slides

"Shallow" PowerPoint Slides

Younglife Need Talk Song and Questions from Madison Wall on Vimeo.

Thanks for putting this video together, Madison!

If you have helpful resources to share, email us at YL1941 at gmail dot com.

If you're looking for Christmas gifts for leaders, committee members, or parents of teenagers, check out Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"The Most Important Thing" by Meredith McDaniel

"Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did."  
-1 Thes 2:8 msg


A few weeks ago I opened my laptop and saw the news of Eugene Peterson’s passing. After skimming a few articles and listening to some old interviews I found myself sitting in my counseling practice with a box of tissues and tears falling on my thrifted copy of the Message. 

Eugene shared in this interview that his goal of writing the Message was simply to learn the language of his people and give them a closer glimpse into who Jesus is. He dedicated 20 years of his life to crafting this Bible paraphrase! The interviewer then proceeded to ask: “In a word, what is the most important thing about pastoring?” and without any hesitation or pause, Eugene responded with a sly smile: “relationships.”

I've been involved with Young Life for the past twenty years and relationships is also the one word we often use to describe our model and mission of leading others to Jesus. I believe that we in Young Life share a similar heartbeat to that of Eugene Peterson on this front because that is what Jesus is all about. He spent most of His days here on earth with ordinary, outcast people, like you and me, whom he viewed as friends, speaking in our language. With humility “He made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant” as it says in Philippians, and as Young Life leaders you take on that role too. You enter into a world of middle and high schoolers and choose to share your hearts and the love of Jesus with them by the way you call them by name and show up.

I love the way Eugene worded 1 Thes. 2:8 as he writes: “Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.” When you think about your high school friends, I imagine this is what comes to mind for you as well. I pray that everyday when you head to the school, you would walk confidently in the high honor that you get to go meet people where they are and bring light in the darkness. When you are standing in the student section or driving someone home from club, remember that you don’t have it all together, yet you have a real hope to share.

If you get a chance, I challenge you this week to crack open the poetic Psalms penned by this suffering saint of a man who is now worshipping and dancing with our Maker. Eugene had a way of bringing us all into the fold and reminding us how to rest in Jesus.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  -Matthew 11:28-20

I won't pretend to know what you might be carrying into the week ahead, friends. I will, however, suggest that if you are anything like me the words freely and lightly carry much appeal. So I am praying them both over you as I am for myself as we enter this month of gratitude and thankfulness here in November. I pray you will see His hand as you love!

May you find rest each day as you "walk with and work with" Jesus in the days ahead.

You can find Meredith McDaniel on instagram: @meredith_mcdaniel where she helps others taste the land of milk + honey here on earth. She is wife to Ben McDaniel on Young Life staff in Lake Norman and a mom of 3. She is a licensed counselor and author. To receive her weekly newsletter sign up here: Manna for Monday

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Telling Stories" by Brian Summerall

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for Young Life Committee, leaders, and donors? 

Brian Summerall, Young Life’s Director of Ministry Strategy, and 30-year staff veteran has written a new book that you can ORDER HERE. 

You can also find out how to win one of 10 free copies below!

“Telling Stories: God’s Grace Revealed Through Adventures, Awkwardness, and a 1981 Monte Carlo.”

Young Life staff can now preorder the book in bulk (10 or more) for $10 each at!  (hardback, 206 pages)

About the Book

This is a book of stories that are telling in what they reveal about God, all told by a master storyteller. Brian’s tales of late-night dorm raids, college probation, high school awkwardness, and backstage passes will find you laughing. Others will bring you to tears. Whether they are stories of family, fame, adventure, pain, loss, miracles, or relationships, all of these stories reveal a God who is extravagant in His love for us.

As Brian says, “I’m praying that as you engage in these stories that life-changing decisions will be made. God decisions. Do me a favor. Pick up the book. Find a quiet place to read. Let me tell you a story.”

You’ll be glad you did!

"I had the great privilege of editing and publishing “The Diaries of Jim Rayburn” and “Letters to a Young Life Leader” by Bob Mitchell. I am happy to add “Telling Stories” by Brian Summerall to that list.  As a former staff person myself I know “Telling Stories” will be a great gift for leaders, donors, committee, and even kids.   Brian wrote it with a general audience in mind — but since Brian has been on staff for decades, it has a real Young Life sensibility to it.Giving this book to someone is like giving them a little bit of Young Life.”   - Kit Sublett, Whitecaps Media

For bulk orders of 10 or more, email Kit Sublett at or go to and fill out the bulk order contact form.


The first 10 people who post a copy of the "Telling Stories" jpeg above and tag Brian Summerall on Facebook or on Instagram (@briansummerall) will win a free signed copy! 

Monday, November 5, 2018

10 Ideas for Turkey Club

Have kids bring canned goods to club to donate to needy families. You could also ask them to bring supplies for Operation Christmas Child and put together Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.

Jimmy Fallon Thank You Notes

Divide into groups and have folks write funny thank you notes, then collect them and read them on stage with the Jimmy Fallon piano music in the background.

Secret Messages

Have everyone at club send a DM to your YL Twitter or Instagram account with something they're thankful for. Tell them you're going to anonymously read them out loud.This will make sure most everyone is following the Twitter/Instagram accounts and also be a fun way to share thankfulness. Thanks to Sean McGever at for sharing this and other helpful thoughts about creating a YL tradition of thankfulness. 

Turkey Bowl

Lots of clubs around the country have a tradition of holding an annual "YL Turkey Bowl" football game. Go the extra mile and make shirts, because who doesn't need another YL shirt, especially one with a picture of a turkey playing football. You can create competition between classes, kind of a Jr vs Sr powderpuff feel. If you have a sweet YL Turkey Bowl t-shirt or logo design that you're willing to share, email it to us and we'll add it to this post.

Turkey Stuffing 

Divide into teams. Give each person a balloon (the stuffing) and one large shirt or sweatshirt. Give them one minute to “prep” their turkey by blowing up the balloon and stuffing them in the shirt of one person on their team. When the time is up, have a sumo match. The last one standing wins.(from

Turkey Head

Just a slight twist on the ol' surgical glove on the head game, because it does look like a turkey, especially if you color the fingers. Get three volunteers to pull the glove over their head, just below their nose. When the music starts, they race to blow it up as big as they can by blowing through their noses. It can get huge!  Take pics. Special thanks to our Area Director, David Page, for demonstrating his inflatable turkey skillz. 

Pumpkin Long Snapper Game

Items needed:
  • Small pumpkins or gourds (hand sized) 
  • 2 baskets
  • You will need two teams of two
  • Set the basket 15 feet from one player and have the player's teammate stand with basket.
  • In this challenge, one player will hike pumpkins between their legs like a long snapper in football. The teammate holding the basket will toss back any pumpkins or gourds. 
  • Team with the most pumpkins at the end of 60 seconds wins the challenge.

Pie Face Game
Items needed:
  • Plate
  • Pumpkin pie with whipped topping
  • Instruct players they must keep their hands behind their backs.
  • The first player to devour the pie - crust, filing, whipped cream, and all in 60 seconds or less wins the challenge.

Turkey Bowling
Items Needed:
  • Frozen Turkey 
    • You can leave the plastic and netting on the turkey and throw it holding the netting OR
    • Get a drill and drill 3 finger holes into the turkey and throw it like an actual bowling ball.
  • 12 Bowling pins or 2-liter bottles filled with sand
    • You can often get donations of old broken pins from a local alley.
  • Plastic tarp (long enough to serve as your "lane")
  • Oil or water (to spread on tarp so turkey slides more easily)
  • Sturdy, stable backboard for end of lane - a table on its side would work well. Nail or tape securely to the ground or floor
  • Person to set up pins after each bowl
How to Play:  
  • Each team has three participants. 
  • Game consists of three rounds. First student from each team bowls in the first round, second student in the second round, third student in the third round.
  • Scoring is just like regular bowling except there are only three frames. The third frame is the equivalent of the tenth frame in regular bowling with the potential for an extra bowl if the participant scores a strike or spare.
  • Each participant gets two bowls with the exception of the third participant who will have the opportunity for an extra bowl if he/she scores a strike or spare.
  • Play the 'Chicken Dance' in the background or have a kid who hunts blow his turkey call every time pins are knocked down. 
Turkey Trophy 
Make a turkey out of an old bowling ball (body) and pin (as the head). Use feathers and a red sock as a goblet and paint the ball with winners names.