Harvest Party
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Rom 14:4-6
4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.  5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

If you are one who does not like to have a Harvest Party, then I honor and respect your decision.  If you are one who wants to have an alternative to Halloween at your church, then the following is a list of Ideas for you to use.

I like to have a Harvest Party on Halloween night.  I know many people will say that they don't want to have anything to do with Halloween, and therefore they don't do anything.  I half way agree, I don't want to have anything to do with Halloween either, and therefore I like to do something.

I have found in the past 15 years of working with kids, that if we do not have something fun for the kids on Halloween night, then many if not most of the parents are going to take their kids trick or treating.  I know it's ultimately the parent's responsibility, but it is also our responsibility as the church to help the parents, and to give them a viable option.  The world has been wise, they have come up with alternate things like Santa and the Easter Bunny to take away from the meaning of our most beloved religious holidays.  We should be just as wise, but harmless as doves.

Besides being a halloween alternative for the church kids, it is an outstanding evangelistic tool.  One year, the city I lived in had a blizzard on Halloween night, and we had over 300 kids show up (the church ran 50). It was such a success, the local newspaper wrote an article about it the next week.  Another church I worked at was in a bad part of the city, and the non-Christian parents who lived nearby, trusted us and chose to have their kids go to the safety of church, rather than walk around at night in that neighborhood.  Non-Christian parents, sending their kids to church, wow, what a blessing.

Harvest Party Ideas

Carnival Games

What we like to do is have a carnival type atmosphere. We set up anywhere from 10 to 20 booths with different carnival games (see game page).   I like to pull out those old Christmas lights and put them up on the walls and to separate the booths.  The gaudier the decorations, the more carnival like the atmosphere, the better the kids like it.  When the child comes up to play the game, whether they win, or whether they loose, they get a prize.  If they win we usually give them two pieces of candy, or one bigger prize.

Some years, we have the kids go to whatever game they like.  Some of the games will have lines, others will have no one.  Other years, we give the kids 40 tickets when they come in.  Each ticket has the name of a game they can play.  When they have played all the games, they can go to the front or snack bar and get more tickets.
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Candy

There are two reasons kids like Halloween.  The first reason is candy, kids love to get candy.  I like to have the kids leave with as much candy as they would get if they went out trick or treating.  If they get the same amount of candy, and have more fun doing it, then it takes away all reasons for kids to want to go trick-or-treating.  Some parents do not like all of the candy, and for those parents we have alternatives.  We buy sugarless candy and small cheep toys.  A great place to get small toys is from The Oriental Trading Co. Something else I like to do is get a bunch of nickels from the bank.  Kids love money.
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Theme Costume Contest:

The second reason is they like to dress up.  Kids love to dress up anytime, and they love to pretend. (Truth be told, so do most adults.)  But if dressing up is not something your church wants to do, then bypass this part and have the Harvest Party with no costumes, just the games.  I have done both in the past and have found both very successful.

If you do decide to go with costumes, we like to tell the kids that we will have a costume contest, but the only way to win is dress according to theme.  I tell the kids, that we will give every child who dresses according to theme a special prize (usually a large sized candy bar.)  I have worked at some churches that absolutely will not allow any other costume than what is planned.  If the child does not want to where the planned theme costume, then they are still welcome to come and participate in the games, but they cannot wear any costume at all.  Other churches have been more liberal, telling the kids that they can wear whatever, but will not be in the contest and will not get a prize, they are just not allowed to where anything considered scary or demonic.  (Some kids will dress as a ballerina or football player.)  We will have a theme for each year.  Some of the different themes we have done are: Bible theme, circus theme, western theme, and Americana (or patriotic) theme.

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Other FUN Activities

Some other activities we have are a dunking booth outside (if you live in a warm part of the country), cake walk (always a big success), a jail, face painting, door prizes, wanted posters, a maze, space jump, hay ride, Jelly Bean count, and other fun activities.  We also like to have hot dogs and chips.  This helps the parents so that they don't have to make dinner before they come.

If your church has a large room, this works best.  But we have also rented the local Armory or school gymnasium.
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1. CAKE WALK

Besides the Carnival games, one of the more popular things to do is a CAKE WALK.

It is easy to do. All you need is a lot of cakes, a tape player, and a circle of chairs.  About every ten to fifteen minutes (determined on how many cakes you have) we make an announcement for the cake walk. When the circle of chairs is filled, we begin.


2. JAIL

Another fun thing to do is the JAIL.

We like to make a jail out of 2x4s and chicken wire.  Then have someone play sheriff and arrest people and throw them into jail.  You can either pay to have someone arrested and thrown into jail, or just have it be a fun part of the party. (Teenagers make really good sheriffs and deputies.)


3. FACE PAINTING

Every church has those secret artists.  You can purchase face paints down at the store, and have those artists paint on the kids' faces.  I have the painters to come up with a poster board of ideas for the kids to look at, but then leave them free to paint whatever the kids want.  Its amazing how creative the kids are.


4. WANTED POSTERS

If you really want to get fancy, WANTED POSTERS are the thing to do.  (click here for Wanted Poster Examples)

This one is a little complicated.  You will need a digital camera, pre made wanted posters, a computer and printer.  We take a picture of the child with the digital camera, then with the computer, put the child's picture onto the wanted poster and make a print out to give to the kids.  If you have a computer nerd in your church, explain to them what you want to do, and they will set it all up for you.


5. MAZE

And last but not least (because it is the thing they will look most forward to the next year) is the MAZE.  The maze is simple.  We just get a bunch of refrigerator boxes from the store, and in one of the Sunday School classes, using lots of duct tape, we tape all the boxes together to make a maze for the kids to crawl around in.  With the lights out, and a bunch of dead ends, this is a really fun end to the party.


If you have any suggestions that you would like to share with others, please email me at clunky@fishersofkids.com and I will gladly pass them on to others.

One of my favorite stores in the 
whole world is "The Oriental Trading Co."
They have tons of stuff to use for 
Children's Church or Sunday School.
Prizes, props, costumes and more.
Simply click on the button. 

April 03 General Banner
If you have any suggestions that you would like to share with others, please email me at clunky@fishersofkids.com and I will gladly pass them on to others.