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Programming Ideas

Program Ideas by Month

Community Program Ideas

Sponsor A Family At Christmas
Another great way to develop the community in your building is through service projects. Community Action House of Holland provides that opportunity at Christmas time. Jim Essenberg is the contact person who can link your building up with a family of as many members as you think necessary. You can also create a food basket, provide gifts for each family member, or do both. Residents can either buy gifts or donate money. You can have a gift wrapping party to wrap all of the presents for the family. Provide candy canes and egg nog for your residents.

  • Plan far enough ahead so that your residents have time to shop or donate money.
  • Keep a list handy of what has been purchased and what still needs to be bought. Make sure gifts are equal for each family member. Remember, you may be providing the only Christmas gifts they will receive.
  • The families at CAH usually wish to remain anonymous, so find ways to keep your residents in the loop in terms of progress. Having them help wrap gifts, buying gifts and helping to deliver or grocery shop can be some great ways to keep them included.

Apple Picking at Crane's Orchard
Crane's is a great fall activity to get people out and about and taking advantage of the great Indian summer weather. It is a good idea to call ahead to find out the dates when picking is available. They also have a restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner if you want to include that your day. Crane's is located in Fennville so you will need transportation phone number is 561-2297 and they would be more tan willing to answer question that you have.

  • Pick a date that works for your residents
  • Figure out transportation whether through Hope or through your residents
  • Hang Publicity
  • Create a sign up sheet so you know how many people to plan on
  • Encourage your residents to attend... If you sound excited they will too!

Griffins Game
Attending a Griffins game is a lot of fun and a great way to get off campus for a while. At the beginning of the year, the Griffins send out publicity different organizations on campus. Included in that information is a phone number, a contact person, and group rates. Ticket prices can get expensive so it is a good idea to split the cost with your residents and have the building pay for half and the residents pay the other half.

  • Hang publicity for this event or send emails to find out who would be interested. This event is important to have participation before you plan the entire thing.
  • Be sure to create a sign up sheet so that you know how many people to order tickets for and collect money before going to the game.
  • Call ahead to reserve a date and get tickets. They will send the tickets to you through the mail with other information that can be important.
  • Talk to the transportation office to get vans if you need them.

There are always good times to be had at a cookout. There are lots of parks where the grilles are already provided: Kollen Park, Tunnel Park, and Smallenburg Park (in front of the football stadium). You can have your residents provide the food or you can have the food ready for you through the catering office. You need to call catering in advance and give them the food service numbers (on the back of ID) of those on meal plan who are planning to attend and it will cost much less. Do this program with another building to get to know even more people. Bring Frisbees, footballs, water balloons, or squirt guns for added fun while the food is being prepared.

  • Pick a date and time - cookouts work best at the very beginning of the year or the very end when the weather is nice.
  • Hang publicity to make your residents aware of the event and create a sign up sheet so you know who is coming.
  • Call catering once you have an approximate number of people and their food service numbers.
  • Join with another building to do this event!! More people means more fun.
  • Make sure that you have all the necessary utensils for grilling and charcoal, lighter fluid and matches.
    Have an alternate plan in case it rains!!

Other Community Development ideas to try!

  • Mud Football - find a muddy field, gather some friends, and put on old clothes
  • Take a trip to Captain Sundae
  • Have a card tournament
  • Go sledding at Van Raalte Park
  • Make magazine collages
  • Putt-Putt Golf at Craig's Cruisers
  • Go to Windmill Island for Community Day and take in the football game afterwards
  • Paint a Pot
  • Have a movie night with root beer floats and popcorn
  • Take a coffee break - Go to JPs!!
  • Have a snow sculpture contest with hot chocolate to warm up when you're done
  • Go to the SAC event of the weekend
  • Plan a Progressive Dinner
  • Have an Appreciation Week: appreciate roommates, RAs, custodians, & neighbors
  • Plan a bowling night
  • Have a Frisbee Golf Tournament
  • Go on a bike trip together to the State Park
  • During RA selection - take potential RA residents to an info session.

Harmony (Multi-Culturalism) Program Ideas

Martin Luther King Day Celebration
Celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King by ordering a birthday cake or making cupcakes. Read his speech or rent the movie from the library and discuss the impact that it had in the past and the impact it can have now. It is a very moving speech that not all have heard in its entirety. Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on January 15. You may also want to take advantage of the events sponsored by the Multicultural Life office.

Visiting Area Churches
There are a variety of churches in the Holland area that offer a definite range of religious diversity. Perhaps getting a group of your residents together to explore some of these places of worship would be something that would be beneficial. If this is a program that you decide to do, make sure that you offer time for your residents to process their experiences. Some of them may be stepping outside of their comfort zones and will need time to "debrief". Also make sure that you know the appropriate time that the service starts and if the church offers transportation or if you need to provide it. Many of the churches are in walking distance - there is practically one on every street corner!
Here is a list of a few churches. Be sure to check the phone book for more. You may find one you are really interested just by word of mouth.

  • Crossroads Chapel - An English and Spanish speaking church. 287 Lincoln Avenue
  • St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church - They offer mass in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. 195 W. 13th Street
  • Pillar Christian Reformed Church - 57 E. 10th Street
  • Christ Memorial Reformed Church - 595 Graafschap Road
  • Lakeshore Vineyard Christian Fellowship - 710 Central Avenue
  • Grace Episcopal Church - 555 Michigan Avenue
  • Lakeland Community Church - 572 E. 8th Street

Brochures and Fliers
One of the many ways to promote diversity education among your residents is through passive programming. Brochures can be created on various topics that help to provide information and resources. Think about including web sites, photos, statistics, timelines, and quotes. Each of these things can be a powerful tool to increase learning and inspire others to find out more information for themselves.
Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • Black History Month
  • A religious tradition
  • Someone great in our history
  • Women's History Month
  • Holidays celebrated in different cultures

Disability Awareness Week
Every year the office of Student Development puts on Disability Awareness Week. This is a great opportunity to be a part of stopping the stereotypes of those with disabilities. As a building, floor, or apartment, volunteer to be a part of the committee or participate in the activities together. During the week there are speakers, chances to experience what it is like to be in a wheelchair for a day, and many other events.

  • Find out the dates and post them in your hall to create awareness. Find out who would like to be involved.
  • Rally a group of residents to attend various events during that week. Provide round table discussions in your building after attending the event so that residents have time to talk about their experiences and thoughts.
  • Find a time, other than Disability Awareness Week, to have Louise Shumaker come and speak in your hall about disabilities or even her own experiences.

More Examples of Harmony/Diversity Programming:

  • Find out more about the Phelps Scholars Program and spend time with them in Scott Hall
  • Have Boyd Wilson come and speak on his trips to India - ask him to bring slides
  • Go to the coffee time sponsored by the International House
  • Live a day with a disability
  • Tutor children through the CASA program
  • Attend events put on by the Multicultural Life Office
  • Go out to dinner at an ethnic restaurant:
    Margarita's - 495 W. 17th Street
    Pho 16 - 29 W. 16th Street …others???

Intellectual Program Ideas

Time Management with the ASC
Contact the Academic Support Center (ASC) in Van Zoeren about conducting a program on time management. Often, residents want to be involved in lots of activities, but they need to learn the best ways to use their time. The ASC can provide information on organizing assignments and due dates and provide tips on studying. The ASC also is available for tutoring, proofreading papers, and one on one academic advising.

  • If you have a "busy hall" where residents are constantly involved this may be a good program. Think too about the number of first year students that you have that may need this type of direction.
  • Call the ASC and schedule a time and date that someone can come to your building.
  • Hang publicity, reserve room, and provide food.

Nature Walk with Dr. Bouma-Prediger (BP)
Dr. Steve Bouma-Prediger, otherwise known as BP, is a religion professor who also knows much about the world in which we live. Ask him to come and take some residents out around campus and label trees, flowers, and birds. Have a conversation afterward to talk about what your building can do to preserve the environment.

  • As an alternative, go pick up trash at a local park and talk about what you and your residents can do on a regular basis to serve and protect our world.
  • Contact BP and set a date. He can also provide you with books and quizzes to test your intelligence on environmental issues.
  • Coordinate this program with the members of Environmental Issues Group.
  • Publicize the event for early fall or spring when the environment is going through change. Hope for a sunny day!

Study Skills Adventure
One of the best ways to help students work on their study skills is to give them tips from upper class students who have figured out what works for them. Organize a question/answer game show or a panel discussion and have the upper class students provide tips and information about classes, professors, and study skills for your building.

  • Get upper class volunteers from within your building or outside of it. Just make sure that there is variety and that the students have majors in different areas.
  • Have your residents give you questions on notecards before the program if you are doing a gameshow. Type up a list for each person attending so that they can take notes.
  • Advertise creatively by handing out information on a game show ticket or provide school supplies at the panel discussion.

Scheduling for Classes with Maura Reynolds
Scheduling for classes in the Fall and Spring can be overwhelming and stressful for students who have never done it before. It is also a time when students are trying to figure out core requirements, majors, and electives. Bring in Maura Reynolds from the Registrar's Office to talk about the process of registration and answer the questions of your residents.

  • Call ahead to make sure that Maura is available. Maybe join with another building in preparing for this event as all students may have questions.
  • Publicize, reserve the room, and provide food. This event makes for a good study break.
  • Provide course booklets, college catalogs, and paper and pens so that people can take notes and find out what is available to them.

Other stimulating Intellectual events:

  • Take first year students on a library tour so that they know how to use the resources that it provides.
  • Have someone from the Fried International Center or a department about off campus study programs.
  • Talk about the best types of study environments with your residents and try to create that in your hall study lounge.
  • Hold a workshop on organizing course notes and papers. Do this before midterms so that people feel ready and not stressed out.
  • Provide study breaks each week or each month. Everyone loves to take a break for free food and conversation.
  • Create homemade stress balls with balloons and sand. Give them out before finals.

Physical Program Ideas

Nutrition and the Dietician

Contact the dietician in the Health Clinic about doing a program on nutrition. She provides assessments of students who are looking to eat better in Phelps and Cook. Her job also involves making sure students are aware of their nutritional needs. When she comes to do a program, she usually brings a bag of groceries to let you know what can be bought for under $20 that is healthy.

  • Contact Sheila in the Health clinic. She is only there on certain days. Set up a date and time that work well.
  • Advertise with a bulletin board that has the food pyramid and nutrition labels. Put up signs saying that the dietician is coming soon.
  • Have healthy snacks at the study break. Veggies, fruits, breads and juices.

Frisbee golf Tournament
Organize a tournament between residents in your building where you play in teams or singly. Have a sign up sheet outside of your door and then create a tournament sheet. Hang that up on a bulletin board so others can see the progression and standings. Offer prizes for the winners by spray painting an old Frisbee with gold spray paint.

  • Provide Frisbees for those who need them.
  • Have a coed tournament or have your building challenge another building.
  • Have a ceremony at the end and award medals or golden Frisbees.

Habitat for Humanity
Join up with Habitat for a Saturday and help them out. This is a great opportunity to be active and to provide service in the Holland community. Habitat often has work days and makes them available. Make sure to sign up in advance so that they know to plan for you and your group.

  • Call Habitat to find out work dates and times.
  • Publicize with nails that have a piece of paper attached with the information
  • Sign up as a group. Send reminders if needed.

There are various people that are willing to teach self defense. Many students are interested in this type of training as they become more aware of their personal safety. Both instructors on campus and instructors at kickboxing studios may be trained. Call around to find out prices.

  • Reserve a room large enough for this kind of activity.
  • Find out what kind of equipment the instructor needs, if any.
  • Create a sign up sheet and collect money if necessary.
  • Be sure to think of a creative way to advertise.

Other creative Physical events:

  • Do the Annual "Run, Bike, Swim" as a hall.
  • Organize an IM team.
  • Have the health clinic do a program on women's/men's health.
  • Have the counseling center present on stress management.
  • Do a program on alcohol issues. Make mocktails.
  • Create a bulletin board on sun safety. Talk about the effects of tanning and the importance of sunscreen.
  • Go to open swim at the Dow Center.
  • Take a bike ride to Tunnel park.
  • Go rock climbing at Inside Moves in Grand Rapids.
  • Take preventative measures against illness. Go to the health clinic together and get flu shots.

Spiritual Program Ideas

World Religions
Have a professor from the religion department talk about different world religions and the impact that has on our western culture. Provide books and articles that can spur further learning in this area. Have the professor offer insight into experiencing these faiths in our community.

  • Boyd Wilson and Miguel De la Torre are good religion professors who could offer insight. Contact them to plan a program.
  • Have a student of a different faith come give a student's perspective of his or her faith.
  • Discuss the importance of learning about other faiths in a Christian community.

Meditation and Prayer
Work with the chaplain's office and have Rev. Trygve Johnson or another chaplain speak on the importance of meditation and prayer. There are so many different ways of expression and worship. Have a chaplain lead you and your residents through different styles. Ask for a handout or information to give to your residents or post on a bulletin board.

  • Have your residents make journals beforehand as a group. You provide the materials.
  • Contact a chaplain to set a date and time.
  • Reserve a room, provide food and hang publicity.
  • Afterward, create a prayer list in your building so people can be praying for or thinking of others.
  • See what comes of the event - your residents may be interested in a weekly prayer/meditation session.

Creationism vs. Evolution
Bring someone in from the science department and ask them to speak on this topic. Have a discussion outlining the pros and cons and process with your residents their own thoughts. It can be an essential part of learning and faith to discuss these kinds of topics.

  • Call the science department and have them suggest a professor who would be willing to discuss this topic. Arrange a date and time.
  • Reserve a room, provide food, and hang publicity.
  • Provide information on both sides of the issue and have books, web sites and other resources for your residents to take a look at.

Other Spirituality programs to try!!

  • Organize a floor Bible Study, ask residents to be the leaders
  • Hold a worship service on your floor
  • Attend the Gathering or Chapel Services on campus
  • Spend time volunteering at the Rescue Mission
  • Sponsor a child through Compassion International
  • Have a night of singing
  • Talk about the big questions like, "Is there always a right decision?" or "How can a good God let evil happen?" Have a professor of theology come in to discuss these questions with you.
  • Attend different worship services at different churches in the area.
  • Hang Bible verses and inspirational quotes around your floor.

Program Ideas by Month

Here are some fun ideas to get you started. The Internet is another great resource, try for more programming ideas.
Remember that this list is only a jumping off point. Use your imagination- the POSSIBILITIES are endless!


Welcome Back ice cream social
First floor meeting
Facilitate roommate/community agreements
Labor Day Picnic in the Pine Grove
Captain Sundae
Volunteer at the Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
National Courtesy Week (Sept 17-23)
National Play-Doh Day (September 16)
Birthday of the Ice Cream Cone (Sept 22)
Banned Book Week (Sept 24)
"How to be a good roommate"
Adjusting to college life
Take a tour of Holland
Time Management workshops
Invite a Math professor to talk about budgeting
"How to do your Laundry"
Being in a long-distance relationship
Alcohol Awareness
Safety on & off Campus

SEPTEMBER is… Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month ~ National Cholesterol Education Month ~ Read-A-New-Book Month ~ National Sewing Month ~ National Literacy Month ~ National Sewing Month ~ National School Success Month ~ Organic Harvest Month ~ National Courtesy Month ~ National Self-improvement Month

 Breast Cancer Awareness
Raise $ for the Susan G. Komen Foundation
Organize a team and do "Race for the Cure"
Give pink ribbons for residents to wear
Sponsor a program about women's health
Rosh Hashanah- Jewish New Year
Birthday of Charlie Brown and Snoopy
Gandhi's birthday
Columbus Day
"How to overcome test anxiety"
Mid-term study break social
Give "smarties" to residents who are "caught" studying
Participate in campus-wide trick-or-treating for local children
Floor decorating contest
Trick-or-Treating for Canned Goods
Pumpkin-Carving Contests
Take your residents to the Voorhees Haunted House

OCTOBER is… Gourmet Adventure Month ~ National Popcorn Popping Month ~ Breast Cancer Awareness Month ~ National Pizza Month ~ Vegetarian Awareness Month ~ Country Music Month ~ Crime Prevention Month ~ Energy Awareness Month ~ Fire Prevention Month ~ Museum Month ~ Family History Month ~ National Depression Education and Awareness Month

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos, Nov 1)
The Falling of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989)
 Eating Disorders Week
Ask a nurse or nutritionist to give a presentation on eating healthy
Great American Smoke-Out (sponsored by the Counseling Center)
Cold & Flu Awareness
World Hello Day (Nov 21)
Assassination of JFK (Nov 22, 1963)
Getting ready for finals
Suicide Awareness
Hall/Floor Thanksgiving Dinner
Sponsor a clothing drive
Volunteer at soup kitchen or shelter
Hall/Floor "Penny Wars" to raise money for charity
Study Abroad Opportunities

NOVEMBER is… National Diabetes Awareness Month ~ National Epilepsy Awareness Month ~ Native American Heritage Month ~ Geography Awareness Month ~ Good Nutrition Month ~ National Raisin Bread Month ~ Peanut Butter Lovers Month

World AIDS Day (Dec 1)
Give your residents red ribbons to promote AIDS Awareness
Watch "Philadelphia" or "Common Threads" and have a discussion about it
Rosa Parks Day (Dec 1)
John Lennon Remembrance Day
Create a bulletin board on the History of the Nobel Prize (given each year on 12/10)
Hall Christmas Social
Get mentally and physically ready for Finals
Floor Decorating contest
Stress-free zone during exam week
Secret Elves or Secret Santa
Healthy Holiday Eating
Ask a Counselor to come and talk about the symptoms of stress
Guided relaxation
"How to shop for the holidays within your budget"

DECEMBER is… National Human Rights Month ~ Hi Neighbor Month ~ National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month

Welcome Back Social
Have a soup-making contest
 Louis Braille's Birthday (Jan 4)
Martin Luther King, JR's Birthday (Jan 15)
National Clean Off Your Desk Day
Virginia Woolf's Birthday (Jan 25)
"Achieving your New Year's Resolution"
Organize a hall/floor team to help at Dance Marathon
Snow Sculpture Contest
Go sledding or snow-shoeing
Cold and Flu Awareness

JANUARY is… National Hobby Month ~ National Soup Month ~ National Eye Care Month ~ National Volunteer Blood Donation Month ~ National Oatmeal Month ~ National Candy Month ~ National Hot Tea Month ~ National Be-On-Purpose Month

Go to "Take Back the Night" sponsored by WIO
Sponsor a self-defense class
Take your residents to the Diversity Film Series
Hank Aaron's Birthday (Feb 1)
Langston Hughes' Birthday (Feb 1)
Bob Marley's Birthday (Feb 6)
Celebrate Chinese New Year (Feb 10)
Founding of the NAACP (Feb 12)
Valentine's Day
 Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday
Levi Strauss' Birthday (Feb 26)
Safe Spring Break
How to look for a summer job/internship
How to write a resume workshop
Volunteer at a church/shelter to honor the season of Lent
Ask professors from the Religion department to give a talk about different faith traditions
Seasonal Affective Disorder awareness

FEBRUARY is… Black History Month ~ AIDS Awareness Month ~ Sexual Assault Awareness Month ~ American Heart Month ~ American Music Month ~ Romance and Responsibility Month ~ Potato Lovers Month ~ International Friendship Month ~ National Snack Food Month

Have a Spring Break Planning Session
Create a Safe Spring Break Campaign
Founding of the Peace Corps (Mar 1)
National Pancake Week (Mar 1-7)
Holi- a Hindu festival to celebrate spring (Mar 5)
Celebrate Chocolate Week (Mar 5-12)
Harriet Tubman's Birthday (Mar 10)
Albert Einstein's Birthday (Mar 14)
St. Patrick's Day (Mar 17)
The Civil Rights March in Selma, Alabama (Mar 21)
How to Apply to Grad School
Registering for fall semester classes

MARCH is… Women’s History Month ~ National Peanut Month ~ National Nutrition Month ~ Red Cross Month ~ Academy Awards Month ~ Frozen Food Month ~ National Craft Month

Create a bulletin board about detection and treatment of cancer
National Bike Safety Week
Go on a hall/floor bike ride
International Children's Book Day (April 2)
Buddha's Birthday (April 7)
Earth Day (April 22)
Ella Fitzgerald's Birthday (April 25)
Attend Spring Fling as a floor
Have an Info Session about Fall Housing
Preparing for finals
How to overcome spring fever and senioritis
Finding a Summer Job
Moving home for the summer
Closing/Check-out meetings
End of the semester BBQ

APRIL is… National Humor Month ~ Cancer Control Month ~ International Guitar Month ~ Keep America Beautiful Month ~ National Anxiety Month ~ National Garden Month ~ National Humor Month ~ Stress Awareness Month ~ Alcohol Awareness Month ~ Multicultural Communication Month

Farewell Celebration
Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
Anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education (May 17, 1954)
Malcolm X's Birthday (May 19)

MAY is… Correct Posture Month ~ Physical Fitness and Sports Month ~ National Barbecue Month ~ Flower Month ~ National Salad Month ~ Better Sleep Month ~ Personal History Awareness Month