7 Overnighter Themes That Will Up Your Game

March 22nd, 2017

Overnighters are hands-down the best and worst part of the year—best for our students to build relationships with one another, but worst for the adults in your ministry who get exhausted. One of the ways that I’ve found that makes overnighters more packaged and programmed is by providing it with a theme. By theming it, students have the choice to wear costumes, creating extra buzz around the event. Each time we do a costume theme, we have a “runway” where students can show off their costumes and win prizes. It’s an awesome way for students to express their personality and think about your event before it even begins!

The other cool thing about theming an overnighter is that if you go off campus, it’s easier to find your students and others are aware that there is something special going on. When my students jump at the trampoline park with superhero capes, it adds something really special to that event and makes the staff laugh!

Here are some of the best themes that you can use for your overnighter!


You can choose a superhero theme, but my favorite is giving students the creativity to come as their favorite or even create their own superhero. We have adult leaders come as villains, and then the message for the evening is centered around good vs. evil, Jesus being our superhero or an unlikely hero from the Bible.


For us, the overnighter always falls on the last day of school before winter break; students are thrown off of their sleep schedules and parents are more likely to allow them to come since they won’t have school or sports for a while. Because of that, we love the Christmas theme! If your lock-in isn’t around a nationally recognized holiday, look at www.DaysoftheYear.com to find funny holidays to theme after.


There’s something about a 30 Hour Famine Overnighter that is so classic, right? Take it to the next level by having students build their sleeping places out of boxes, do midnight service projects like packing meals with organizations, and having students stick in tribes throughout the night for activities.


Renting out a theater and having your students dressed up in garb sounds like a fun time, right? Even if you can’t go to that extreme, having a showing of that movie and a themed message make the night special.

Game Show

Take from a popular game show and go all-out. Let’s Make a Deal gives lots of room for creativity with games, costumes, prizes, and “zonks.” Survivor splits teens up into tribes for the entire night and gives a great structure to the night. Your message for the evening can be taken straight from the game show theme or even the fierce competition itself.


What’s funnier (or more offensive to the adults) than teens intimidating a decade? When choosing a decade, you can also use the popular games, prizes and dances. For example, if you go 90s you can play “Legends of the Hidden Temple” or “Gladiators, give Beanie Babies out to the winners and celebrate with the “Cotton Eye Joe.” Don’t forget to use the Extreme Teen Bible.


Last, choose a region! You can throw down a hoedown, visit another country, or even celebrate your own city. This helps create fun snacks, cool late-night activities, and a fun atmosphere. Your message can be themed around what God is doing in that region or even how you can make a difference in the place you’re at now.

What are some overnighter themes that have worked for you?

heatherlea_squareHEATHER LEA CAMPBELL is a Junior High Director in Indianapolis, working with a talented and diverse team of staff and volunteers. Heather has the privilege of writing on various youth ministry platforms across the interwebs, but you can find her blogging about her life in ministry over at HEATHERLEACAMPBELL.ME.

This post was previously published by Youthworker.com.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.