The ABCs of Planning a Fall Festival to Replace Halloween

The ABCs of Planning a Fall Festival to Replace Halloween
Rebekah Guzman

Planning a Fall Festival alternative to Halloween can be a major undertaking — but it doesn’t have to be! Here are ideas to help make planning your Fail Festival simple and fun.

Choose a director. It makes sense to have one go-to person for the event. Be sure to choose someone who can delegate tasks and lead a team. The director is responsible for:

* managing the budget (talk with your church leaders about money that’s available from an outreach budget and/or children’s ministries.),
* asking for donations (have church members donate candy or supplies),
* leading in recruitment, and
* collecting supplies.
Form a leadership team. The director won’t be acting alone. You’ll also need a leadership team for this event. They’ll help with things such as:
* Publicity — Let your church and community know your Fall Festival is coming, and that they’re invited.
* Outreach — Prepare information about your church that you can give to visitors at the Fall Festival.
* Creating Booths & Games — Brainstorm, create, and build the games for the event.
* Follow-up — Make contact with the visitors who attended your Fall Festival. Be sure to invite them back to your church. And be sure to make them feel welcome when they do come back!
* Evaluation — Once the event is over, come together with the leadership team and take careful notes on what went well and what to avoid next year.

As you plan your event, involve your leaders and volunteers in the decision-making and brainstorming process. By asking the leaders for feedback, ideas, and suggestions from the start, you’re encouraging them to offer their input throughout the planning of the event, and making yourself more approachable to them.

Leaders need to know you’re interested in what they have to say and that you support what they do. In addition, encouraging your leaders to share their feedback with you and allowing them to act on their own ideas, builds confidence in them as they reach out to the kids they interact with at your event. By giving your leaders freedom and flexibility, you’re equipping and motivating them to change kids’ lives through your Fall Festival.

Recruit volunteers. Recruiting volunteers may not be as hard as you might think. It may sound basic, but if you want volunteers, you have to ask. Asking is the missing step in most volunteer recruitment efforts. Sometimes we’ll announce a need, create posters or bulletin boards, and post sign-up sheets, but we don’t look potential volunteers in the eye and say, “Will you help?”

If you settle for publicizing your event in the hope that publicity will generate volunteers, you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll find that most people are eager to roll up their sleeves and work together to serve the community with a fun, outreach event.

You may also be surprised at how few volunteers you’ll need for a Fall Festival event. Depending on the size of your church, you may only need a few volunteers to pull off a truly dynamic event. One church had 800 kids at their Fall Festival and only had a team of four leaders and approximately 20 volunteers to run the booths and activities — and they pulled it off!

When recruiting volunteers, be sure to involve parents in your event wherever possible. Parents play a significant role in kids’ spiritual lives.

There are a variety of ways to involve parents in a Fall Festival event. They can:
* lead a game or assist at a booth.
* donate candy or supplies.
* invite (and encourage) families in their neighborhood to attend.
* dress up in costume and be a greeter.
* help during registration.

Remind volunteers what an honor it is to work for God. As volunteers and leaders, you may be teaching and guiding kids, but you’re also serving the Lord. You’ve been given an opportunity to serve God in a special way. You’ll show kids who Jesus really is and encourage them to follow him.

Focus on outreach. Reaching out to the community and helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus is what a Fall Festival is all about! And the benefits are twofold. First, members of the church are blessed as they love others and serve the community. Second, the members of the community are blessed as they encounter Jesus in and through your volunteers.

We want to equip and motivate children to reach out to others. When kids share their Christian faith with others, they’re not only strengthening their own faith, but they’re spreading the Good News about Jesus to those who haven’t heard.

The most effective way to reach unchurched kids is by encouraging your church kids to invite their unchurched friends to your Fall Festival event. But keep in mind that unchurched kids may not be attracted to the idea of a “Christian program,” so be sure to emphasize the fun of your event — the games, crafts, candy, and friendships!

Choose a theme. Be creative. Your theme can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be, but be sure it’s exciting for kids. Whatever theme you choose, you can build your decorations and games around that theme. If you choose a beach theme, decorate with beach umbrellas, sunglasses, and sand. If you choose a Western theme, decorate with hay bales, wagon wheels, and ropes. But be sure no matter what theme you choose you make clear connections to God’s love throughout your event. Kids need to know that Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend. You’re main focus should be to bring kids and their families closer to Jesus.

Also, keep in mind that kids from the community will wear costumes that may or may not be in line with your theme — and that’s OK! Encourage everyone to attend and share God’s love with each person at your event. After all, that’s why you’re there.

Stretch your budget. If you’re worried about pulling off a Fall Festival event on a tight budget, find ways to cut costs or raise money. Consider the following ideas:
* Ask parents to donate a bag of candy.
* Ask for donations of supplies. (Be sure to let your church know what specific materials you’ll need to pull off this event.)
* Charge a per-child registration fee. Consider offering discounts to families with more than one child.
* Have church members sponsor a game booth by contributing or paying for specific supplies for that booth.
* Have a carwash, bake sale, or other fundraising event. (Emphasize that the money raised will help reach out to kids and families in your community.)

Planning made easy. Group’s Slime Time, a new Fall Festival event, was built with all of these things in mind. You’ll find Director and leader guides, budget forms, publicity and outreach tools, game ideas, supply lists, follow-up ideas, recruitment help, and a timeless theme — all at your fingertips!

Slime Time is designed as a family outreach event that emphasizes fun, discovering Jesus, and building community. It plants Bible truths in kids’ hearts and minds in ways that stick. Check out the thrilling adventure awaiting families at It’s an unbeatable outreach event for the community, kids, and their families.

From: newsletter. October 2010

The above article, “The ABCs of Planning a Fall Festival to Replace Halloween” was written by Rebekah Guzman. The article was excerpted from

The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”