High School Lock-In Activities

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A high school lock-in is a safe and exciting alternative for graduation parties or other special events. Some adults become overwhelmed by the thought of dozens of teenagers roaming a church, hotel ballroom or other facility all night. Lock-ins need not be difficult to chaperon, but advance planning is critical to keeping the event from getting out of hand.



To give the party a cohesive feel, consider developing a theme for the evening. Mardi Gras, futuristic, James Bond and hippie are just a few themes that are easy to develop. Plan the decorations, lighting, games and activities around the chosen theme. Announce the theme several weeks before the party and encourage attendees to dress in costume.


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A bowling alley or a recreation center with a pool provides built-in activities. Look around at other spaces the facility has to offer. No matter how much your students love to bowl or swim, they will not want to do the same thing all night. Choose a location with several smaller areas that can be used for different activities, or divide a large space yourself with curtains or plywood walls.



If the budget allows, consider hiring a live band or a DJ for part of the evening. Music is an essential element of any party, and hiring a professional frees up the chaperons for other tasks. Consider hiring one or two local magicians, stage hypnotists or tarot readers to provide optional activities for the kids who are interested.



Plan a mix of loud, boisterous games and quieter pursuits. Basketball-related games such as HORSE and even fast-paced versions of kids' games such as Red Rover and Red Light, Green Light help teens burn off energy. Late in the evening, offer card and board games in small group settings.


If you have enough chaperons, consider offering "gambling" games using candy or tokens throughout the night in one of the smaller activity rooms. This can appeal to teens' desire to feel grownup and sophisticated.

Food and Drink

Continue the party's theme into the food and beverage service. Simple foods cut into fancy shapes can enhance the elegance of the night. Granola and trail mix continue the theme of a hippie party. Serve a buffet dinner early in the evening and breakfast in the morning and keep snacks and drinks available all night.


Down Time

Just like adults, teenage energy levels vary dramatically from person to person. Some kids want to party all night, while others' eyes begin to glaze over by midnight. Offer a chaperoned "chill-out" zone away from the excitement where teens can watch videos at low volume, read or simply sit and quietly talk. Post a sign in the chill-out zone reminding teens to keep their voices down while inside.


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