Fall is in full swing, and now that the end of October has come, many churches will host their annual Fall Festivals. The temperatures are cooler and kids are ready to collect candies, so it’s time to kick things off in a big way. The following Fall Festival tips will help your church succeed in giving the community something to enjoy while also showing them the love of God.
1. Have a Fall Festival Puppet Show
Fall Festivals can be fun for everyone, but it’s really the children who enjoy them the most. In fact, every member of your children’s and youth ministries is probably counting the days until they can don their favorite costumes and celebrate.
In between candy and games, though, it can be good to remind folks of what’s really important by telling the greatest story ever told. And is there really any better way to do this — at least for a young audience — than with a puppet show?
Don’t forget to remind the children to invite their friends to watch!
2. Inflatables Everywhere!
When driving through the neighborhoods and enjoying the Halloween decorations, it’s often the inflatables that catch most people’s attention. Seriously, you can never go wrong with these simple yet effective decorations.
And since they’ve been around for a while, they’re pretty inexpensive at this point. While you could just strategically place them around the property, consider utilizing multiple inflatables as an obstacle course or incorporate them into games.
3. A Twist on Trunk-or-Treating
Trunk-or-treating events offer a special opportunity for children to load up on sweets without wandering their neighborhoods at night. While the kids are getting their junk food fix, though, maybe you should consider giving them food for the soul as well. Ask volunteers to decorate their trunks with Bible-themed stories rather than the typical ghoulish approach. While this may sound more difficult, the truth is that a little creativity goes a long way.
For instance, it can be fairly simple to make a car’s trunk resemble the mouth of a whale. When children approach for their treats, volunteers can teach them the story of Jonah surviving inside the great fish. You could even transform a trunk into the tomb of Jesus and have a makeshift stone rolled away so children can access treats. The possibilities are endless!
4. The Amazing Race: Bible Edition
Not all Fall Festival tips can revolve around candy and decorations. You’ve got to offer a little excitement! You can do this by planning a little neighborhood adventure with your ministry’s version of The Amazing Race. Offer clues to winning that can only be accessed by answering trivia questions and completing other tasks. Make sure they’ve got a biblical focus!
This is a great bonding activity, and whoever reaches the final destination first will win a prize. And if you can’t toss too much money at a prize, there’s no need to worry! The mere competitive nature of the game will kick people into high gear.
5. Take Advantage of Names
Take time to give every child at the Fall Festival a bag with their name on it to hold treats, and create a special booth devoted specifically to names. While this might sound a bit strange, it’s that booth where children will walk away with memorable lessons.
While they’re visiting for candy, volunteers can relay relevant stories from Scripture that have some connection to each child’s name. And let’s be honest, what’s more memorable than our own names? Children will get the snacks they adore, but they’ll also get a lesson they’re unlikely to forget.
6. Host a Fall Festival Auction
Both children and adults get lots of freebies during a Fall Festival. However, it might not hurt to host a church auction to give participants an opportunity to give back. Fortunately, there’s no need to go out of your way to collect a lot of items for the auction.
Your auction can simply focus on one big prize (e.g., sporting tickets, mystery boxes, collectibles). This will give you an opportunity to work with local businesses to secure potential items, and all proceeds can go into outreach or making your ministry a better place to worship.
7. Bring in a Photo Booth
One Fall Festival tip that often gets overlooked is bringing in a photo booth. Sure, everyone has a smartphone these days — but how often do those pictures get transferred to physical media (e.g., photographs)? Not very often. Typically, they’re just thrown up on Facebook and forgotten.
A photo booth brings back the old way of doing things, and children will have a very real token to remind them of the excitement they had during your ministry’s annual Fall Festival. They can frame it or just slap it on the refrigerator door, but either way, it’ll be a constant reminder of a night to remember!
Bonus: Offer Fun for Everyone!
The main focus of Fall Festivals is the children, but don’t forget to get others involved. Doing so is the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Reach out to volunteers and your teen ministry for help. This can keep folks occupied while kids are having the time of their lives. And once all is said and done, don’t forget to thank volunteers properly! This can be something as simple as providing a token to all who participated.
These Fall Festival tips will hopefully make it easier for your ministry to host a great event. In doing so, you’ll provide your community with a great alternative to traditional Halloween celebrations. Remember, these festivals don’t have to focus on the scary and macabre — and even when such elements are present in small doses, they can be used in a way that teaches important lessons.
Here’s to a great Fall Festival and many to come!