Hanging out after large-group meetings: tips for things to do

after large group

Whether you just had the best (or worst) large-group meeting, people in your InterVarsity chapter may want to keep hanging out and blow off some energy with some fun events afterward. Here are some light-hearted ideas to extend your time together and build your community with those who love to linger.

If the fun in your chapter begins only after your large-group meeting is over, you may want to take a closer look at making your gathering events more imaginative and resourceful. When I was the large-group coordinator for my chapter at Russell-Sage College (NY), we creatively planned our weekly meetings as outreach events that focused on seeker-sensitive topics. Our large-group gatherings were welcoming, worshipful and engaging. And after the meeting, we looked forward to hanging out together, but often wondered what to do.

These ideas have been collected from my chapter and my friends at other schools who have used them successfully. Adapt them to your individual campus. Or, try them as a separate social event or outreach. They are a jumping-off point for your own creativity. Whether your post-events are serious or silly, you’ll want to host activities that attract your friends into your community, confident that they’ll have a good time.

Caffeine, food and games: there is no bad
For many chapters, this is the official post-event of choice. Almost every college has some version of this. Find a local coffee shop and ask if they will give you a group rate or special deal. Some groups have been offered two-for-one drinks, or special appetizers, or all-you-can-drink coffee and soda for a fixed price per person. Or, just go and hang out at your favorite java joint while enjoying a grande decaf no-whip mocha. It really depends on the size of your chapter and the coffee house facility, and also how much people are willing to pay. A coffee house is a great place to continue deeper conversations, or play crazy games. Board games like Apples to Apples or word games like Catch Phrase are always a hit. Or, try something new, like Telephone Pictionary.

The Olympics, with cookie dough?
Think of fun games to play with food. One that worked on my friend’s campus is the Quick Cookie Bake. Each team got a roll of quick-bake cookie dough and had to make something out of it. The winning team created a pirate ship. Ahoy!

That’s right, play football with half-gallon containers of ice cream. Beware: this is messy and your footballs melt fast, so plan for this — and don’t punt.

Movie night
This can take many forms and can lead to some stimulating dialogue, depending on the movie choice. You can theme it, or just have a regular movie night with popcorn and candy. One group held a movie night as a lead-up to an upcoming dance with a 1980’s theme. The movie was The Breakfast Club (1985) and the group served breakfast food. Find out your school’s policy on showing movies. Due to copyright and royalty laws, many schools insist on an academic discussion afterward for group showings. Be innovative, creative and make it an awesome outreach.

Classic but amazing: Capture the flag
This is a well-known outdoor team game but if you’ve never played it, or want a refresher on the rules, check out a brief description. Invite other groups or clubs and meet new people. Playing with other faith-based clubs can lead to great conversations about beliefs. At my school we invite Hillel, the Jewish group on campus, since it’s a comfortable common event. The Greek organizations also love a healthy competition.

Tag, you’re “it”
Again, this one is well-known, but you might enjoy a humorous description of the game in a scientific parody. If you want variety, here is a list of different types of tag games. Pick one or two — or ten — and have a blast!

Let’s go hunting … for pictures
A picture scavenger hunt is another favorite on campus. Make a list of locations, objects, situations or people around your campus or city. One person on each team must have a camera. Set a time limit. When the teams return, tally up the most photographed items and announce a winning team. Silly prizes could include funny hats, candy or stuff from the local dollar store. Have someone put together a slideshow of the best pictures for the next chapter meeting.

Regression is a beautiful thing …
Plan an act-like-a-kid night and have fun doing the things you loved when you were, say, five years old. Play games like “Heads Up, Seven Up,” “Red Light, Green Light,” board games, finger paint, Legos, coloring books, cartoons etc. If you liked it when you were young, it’s perfect for Regression Night.

S’mores, need I say more?
So, who doesn’t love s’mores? And fire? And the combination of s’mores and fire equals a successful post-event. Host a bonfire at the house of one of your chapter members, or see if there is somewhere on campus to do this, preferably in a fireplace.

Who wants ice cream and a teeter-totter?
Get some ice cream en masse from your favorite creamery and head for a nearby playground. Sounds simple, but people will have a great time.

The ancient Japanese art of … karaoke
Games like Karaoke Revolution make this even easier than before. Most campuses have a karaoke machine or A/V equipment that can be used for karaoke. If not, perhaps someone in your chapter has a gaming system that supports karaoke and the school can provide the TV or projector. Offer prizes for the best individual, group or dance that gets the biggest laugh.

Dance, dance
Whether or not you have a costume theme, you can invite the campus, provide refreshments and get to know a lot of new and interesting people. Food and beverages are key items for this event. (Note: Make sure you have plenty of water available for thirsty dancers.)

Ghosts and Ghostbusters, brought to you by InterVarsity?
Host a haunted-house-style event and make it elaborate or keep it simple. Make up ghost stories, or tell ones that exist for your campus. Provide snack food and warm drinks such as cider or hot chocolate for a Halloween flavor. People can dress up like ghosts (or ghostbusters) and jump out, dance, or whatever. A group who performed the dance from Thriller was a popular feature on one campus.

There’s no time like snow time … for caroling
Caroling is a fun, easy way to engage your entire campus and the community. Be generous in inviting others to carol with you and go door-to-door in the surrounding neighborhood or to a local nursing home. Or, keep it simple by caroling in the dorms with your chapter members. Here are some well-known Christmas carols and songs.

Helpful tips
For places like restaurants or coffeehouses, the ice rink, bowling alley or mini-golf, call ahead to let them know you are coming. Even if you aren’t looking for any kind of price break, it’s nice to let them know hordes of people are headed their way. It’s just the polite thing to do.

Remember that planning activities after your chapter meeting can be hard, but doesn’t have to be daunting. Some of the best ideas are the easiest to come up with. The more goofy and strange the event, often the more entertaining it is for people. No idea is too strange, as long as you know how to have a good time leading it. If you’re enjoying yourself, then it’s likely everyone else will, too.

Hanging out after the large-group meeting strengthens friendships and builds community. Our times of light-hearted fun keep us balanced for the central purpose we’re together — to reach our campus with the good news of Jesus. We take that seriously.

—Heather Allen