How do we get our kids present on time? Since they don’t drive, how can we motivate their parents to be a part of the solution? The answer is simple: cool door prizes.
As the kids enter the room, there is a big count-down timer running on the television. It is set to reach zero at 5:55 PM. When the timer ends, door prize music is blasted and names are drawn. This starts our evening off with a high level of excitement.
Every active child’s name is in a bucket. When a name is called, if the child is in the room, they can come forward and draw a cool prize from the prize box. If they are not in the room, or even if they come in later, they do not qualify. They must be present in the room when their name is called - no exceptions. It is important to be firm about this rule or the kids will stop being punctual in pretty quick order. Any mild complaints should be gently countered with a reminder to be punctual and an assurance that they will have another chance to win next week if they are one time.
Names are drawn for exactly two minutes. (This is the length of the song that is being played during this time.) After this, all names are returned to the bucket, and we quickly move to the next thing. Everyone is eligible to have their name drawn again the next week, even if they win four weeks in a row. Any guests for the evening automatically qualify, since their name is obviously not be in the bucket. When a new child joins the ministry, we add their name to the bucket that night.
What are the prizes and where do we get them? Anything will do, but we typically try to stay away from candy since we don’t want to hype the kids, and we don’t know the details of possible allergies. We purchase party favors online from a company called Oriental Trading (orientaltrading.com). The company has tons of small knick-knacks for very little money. A local dollar store is also a great option.