Planning A Youth Awards Dinner

Our school year finishes up in early December and we finish up Youth for the year at the same time. So we don’t actually get to run Youth over Christmas! This year we decided to host a Youth Awards Dinner to celebrate all the little things that happened over the year, and the big things too. We had heaps of fun planning it (in less than a week) even though we were exhausted from all the end of year craziness! I’d love to share with you what we did, and hopefully inspire you to host an Awards Dinner too! Here’s what we did for 20 students:


We had a mix of funny and serious awards, and 9 in total. The first award was for the team that won the running challenger we had during the year. We tallied up the the number of wins for each team and the trophy went to the team with the most.

The other 8 awards were for individuals. We had:

  • Best Attendance – based on our weekly records
  • Budding Evangelist – for inviting friends, based on our weekly records
  • Best [worst] Dance Moves – based on videos taken throughout the year
  • Most Valuable Player – all-round servant-hearted & team player
  • Most Improved Preacher – based on their own individual achievement without comparing them to other students
  • Thrown In The Deep End – for dealing with very unexpected events graciously
  • Quote Of The Year – for the funniest quote they haven’t lived down
  • Medal Of Honour – for bravery and personal courage

For each of these awards there were 3 or 4 nominees that had been nominated by either the student leaders or ourselves. Charles and I then went through and decided who would receive each award. We decided that if someone ended up with multiple awards that was ok, especially since we had far less awards than students anyway.

When presenting the awards we had a speech prepared in advance. We stated what the award was, listed the nominees, described the award more indepth and why the winner was chosen, then announced the winner. The winner was then invited up to receive the award and give an acceptance speech.

Tips for planning a fun awards night to wrap up a year of Youth Ministry. Tansquared Youth Ministry

For the trophies we picked up the above plastic cups cheap at $2 each, and $5 for the big one. The Award title was handwritten on with a silver sharpie.


The original plan was to have a cooked dinner followed by dessert, but we were lacking in manpower on the night so opted for pizzas and a dessert bar instead. We asked each student to bring $5 to help cover the cost of the food.

We recruited two parents to man the kitchen so we could run the night from the front. They picked up the pizzas, prepped the toppings for the dessert bar, and sorted all the clean up.

Our dessert bar comprised of three different ice cream flavours, a jelly option, an instant pudding option, and a huge assortment of toppings! Heaps of fun!

TIP: put out water jugs on the tables during the main dinner, and bring out the lemonade just before dessert! That way you can cut down your drinks costs.

Games & Fun:

We didn’t plan many games as the Awards and Dinner were the main focus. We did play Christmas Carol Charades (free printable for this game in our library when you sign up here) as the final challenge between teams for the year!

There were a couple of spot prizes we included too. Students could choose 4 raffle numbers when they paid their $5 at the start of the evening. Charles and I drew a number each and the students with those numbers had a rock-paper-scissors battle to claim the prize. It was quite cool that the students that won these spot prizes hadn’t got an award.

One of our students also put together a highlights video using footage and photos collected during the year. We showed this before our awards section and it was a great way to recap the year and give some context for some of the awards.

We were planning to wrap up the evening with a dance party. Everyone was quite happy hanging out together and talking, so we decided to skip this idea and enjoy the chilled out time.


Our church had some decor already out from our Kids’ Christmas Service a few weeks back. We decided to keep our decor very minimal as the space already felt busy.

The main area we decorated was the tables. Each table had a black tablecloth, a platter with an assortment of white candles, white paper cups with black & white straws, and some cute black & white serviettes. Simple, but enough to make it feel a little extra special without breaking the bank! Our church also has a small stash of decorative items (such as candles) so we didn’t have to buy everything new.


We managed to pull this together on a budget. We asked each of our students to bring $5 to help cover the cost (we hardly ever ask them to bring money for Youth events so we were ok with this). This is roughly how our costs broke down:

  • Food- pizza (10 for $50), dessert bar ($24 for toppings, $10 for icecream, $9 for drinks)
  • Decor- $17
  • Awards and prizes- $30

All up that’s a total of $140. Over half of this was covered by our students’ contribution, and the rest came from our Youth budget from our church.

Tips for planning a fun awards night to wrap up a year of Youth Ministry. Tansquared Youth Ministry

Recruiting Help:

We’d had the Awards Dinner in the back of our minds for the last couple of months. However, we ended up planning it very last minute due to end of year craziness, work and family schedules, and tiredness! But I was organised enough to get the word out to parents two months early about being involved behind the scenes on the night. Like I mentioned earlier, we had two mamas helping us out in the kitchen, and they took care of everything food related on the night. Setting up the venue also took me a couple of hours in the morning.

I definitely recommend recruiting help if you can! Especially on the night, so you can focus on running everything from the front and know that the behind-the-scenes is taken care of. Next time around I’d definitely be recruiting some students to help set up before, to take care of the heavy lifting and decor side of it.

Next Year:

We learnt a few things! Next year, as well as recruiting students to help with the set up, I’ll also get one of them to make a promo for the Youth and Church announcements. We’ll start promoting it about 4 weeks before instead of only 1 or 2 weeks. To make the catering side of it easier we’ll also make this a ticketed event and have tickets available beforehand for purchase. And we’ll also clarify that it’s ok for our students to get dressed up a little if they want!

Having a Youth Awards Dinner was such a lovely way to finish off the year! It was so great to relax together and enjoy each other’s company after a good year of ministry.

Planning a Youth Awards Dinner? Hosted one? Tell me about yours in the comments!

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