Church Growth

10 Ideas for Celebrating Halloween at Your Church

Halloween may have its roots in paganism, but today, it’s widely treated as a secular holiday celebrated with harmless traditions including trick or treating, bobbing for apples, and dressing up in costume. That being said, many churches will want to throw their own Halloween- or fall-themed event–a way for church members to celebrate the holiday without any of the spooky stuff.

H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Halloween is one of the most ancient holidays, and is celebrated in various forms throughout the world. 

In Mexico, Halloween kicks off the three-day Dia De Los Muertos, an event commemorating familial ancestors. In England, Halloween falls less than one week before Guy Fawkes Day, a holiday celebrating a failed assassination attempt of the King in the 17th century. And in America, Halloween often coincides with carving pumpkins, harvest festivals, and even hayrides–a true start to the fall season. 

Halloween may have its roots in paganism, but today, it’s widely treated as a secular holiday celebrated with harmless traditions including trick or treating, bobbing for apples, and dressing up in costume. 

That being said, many churches will want to throw their own Halloween- or fall-themed event–a way for church members to celebrate the holiday without any of the spooky stuff. 

Here are 10 ideas for celebrating Halloween–or the fall season–at your church. 

Download “Halloween Party” graphics for your church

10 Ideas for Halloween at Your Church

1) Trunk or Treat

“Trunk or Treat” is a fun, community-oriented alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. 

Instead of going house to house, kids go from “car to car” in a church parking lot or other open space. Each family brings their vehicle, and if their trunk allows, they can open up the back, hang decorations, and offer candy, drinks, or healthy treats. 

Here are some fun ideas and tips for a successful “Trunk or Treat” event at your church:

  • Encourage families with trucks and minivans to participate. Big open trunks are ideal for “setting up shop.”
  • Assign a few volunteers to manage security. Trunk or Treat should be a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, but you’ll still want a number of adults who can keep watch. 
  • Run a costume contest. Most creative Halloween costume wins!
  • ….or run a car decorating contest. Most creatively decorated vehicle wins!
  • Market your event. Make sure your community knows about your event. Here are free graphics to promote Trunk or Treat. 
  • Don’t forget the lights! If your event is in the evening, make sure you’re prepared with lighting. String lights, pumpkins with candles, and plenty of flashlights ensure that there’s enough visibility for an awesome Trunk or Treat. 

Finally, make sure there’s something for everyone. While little ones will love dressing up and collecting their favorite candy, think about serving hot cider for the adults and teenagers and creating space for chit-chatting (a portable fire pit and beach chairs work great even in a parking lot!)

Here are some more great ideas for Trunk or Treat from The Pioneer Woman

2) Host a harvest festival. 

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned harvest festival? Especially after a long, hot summer, your church members are likely excited to celebrate all things “fall”–pumpkin everything, cozy blankets and flannels, a kick-off to the Christmas season.  

A harvest festival is a perfect event to gather the community on Halloween night or over Halloween weekend. Depending on the size of your church and your available resources, you can go over the top with hayrides, live music, and food trucks, or you can keep it small and intimate with corn hole and home-baked goods. 

In any case, here are some ideas for an old-fashioned harvest festival:

  • Costumes. Children (and adults!) are free to come in full costume to your harvest festival, or they can simply wear their “autumn best” (beanies, flannels, sweaters, and boots!) 
  • Face painting. Face painting is a fun, easy way to make a costume feel extra special, and volunteers can easily run a face-painting booth with a few basic brushes and kid-friendly face paint. 
  • Bounce houses. Renting a bounce house can make your harvest party feel extra festive, and offers one more activity for kids to enjoy. 
  • Live music. Got a worship band? Have them play upbeat worship music during your harvest festival to create a celebratory mood. 

Finally, your harvest festival can be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to your community and invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers to a church event. Empower your church members to invite others with paper postcards and social media posts they can re-share. 

3) Plan a bake sale. 

Most of your church members are probably more interested in the “treat” part of “trick or treat.” That being said, planning a Halloween- (or harvest-) themed bake sale can be a fun way to celebrate the season and give your at-home bakers a chance to show off their skills. 

Not only that, but you can use the bake sale as an opportunity to raise funds for a mission trip, new building fund, or church member in need. 

Here are a few strategies for hosting a successful bake sale:

  • Create a spreadsheet to make sure that everyone doesn’t make the same thing. A variety of treats–pies, bars, cookies, donuts, and savory goods–are always appreciated at a bake sale. 
  • Pay attention to allergies. Direct your bakers to create signage with potential allergens in their baked goods, including nuts, dairy, and wheat. You may even want to create a special “allergen-free” section with baked goods that will be safe for church members with allergies. 
  • Take it outside. Use a pop-up tent to host your bake sale outside after or before church services. That gives non-churchgoers an opportunity to explore your church and meet people without the initial pressure of coming to a weekend service. 
  • Use Tithe.ly Pay. If you’d like to offer your church members the option to buy their favorite treat with a credit card, use Tithe.ly Pay to make it easy to accept payments digitally. 

Again, a bake sale is a great way to reach out to the community. If you’re hosting your bake sale in a community-friendly area, make sure to provide handouts or paper postcards that tell people who your church is and when and where they meet. 

4) Organize a candy (or canned food) drive. 

Instead of focusing on collecting candy on Halloween, focus on collecting much-needed items for others. Partner with a local homeless shelter (or your own homeless ministry) to organize a drive for collecting canned food, household goods, school supplies, and even Christmas gifts for kids and families in need. 

A food or supply drive in lieu of a Halloween party can be a great way to teach the children in your church the importance of generosity and caring for those in need. It’s sure to be a Halloween they’ll never forget!

5) Have a costume contest. 

Most kids–and many adults–love to dress up for Halloween. It’s an opportunity to get creative, feel like a superhero or a princess for a night, and for some, put their crafting and sewing skills to the test. If your church community is especially creative, then a costume contest can be a fun nod to the holiday at hand. 

You can host the contest at small groups, a mid-week event, or even after a weekend service. Make sure to communicate the categories beforehand (Most Creative, Silliest, Most Realistic, Best Overall), and then appoint a lucky squadron of leaders and staff to judge the winners. Candy, mugs, or even gift cards to local coffee shops or restaurants make great prizes. 

6) Carve pumpkins. 

People have been carving pumpkins, or Jack O’ Lanterns, during the fall season for centuries. The practice of carving pumpkins originated in Irish myth, and remains to this day as a fun, creative activity that builds up to the end of October. Here are a few tips for hosting an evening of pumpkin-carving at your church. 

  • Carve and paint. Older kids can safely carve pumpkins, but you may want to provide tiny pumpkins and puff paint for smaller children. Glitter glue, rhinestones, and googly eyes are fun extra additions for colorful pumpkins. 
  • Buy the pumpkins in bulk. Skip the pumpkin patch and buy your pumpkins at the grocery store instead. They tend to be much less expensive!
  • Don’t forget the lights. Along with carving tools and newspaper for the mess, don’t forget to provide votive candles that you can place in the carved pumpkins and light up at the end of the night. 

Finally, roast the pumpkin seeds! If you have the resources to do so, keep the seeds and roast them for a healthy snack for post-carving. 

7) Organize a tournament. 

In the United States, fall means football season. To make the most of your church members’ love for football, plan a flag football tournament for the fall (just make sure it doesn’t coincide with any big games). 

If your community is extra competitive, create teams for stoking the fire. Pastors vs. worship leaders, youth vs. youth leaders, and volunteers vs. staff can create fun, friendly competition. 

Or, if you’d like to plan a more inclusive round of games, host a cornhole or bocce ball tournament. Anyone can participate or watch, and you can even create a kids tournament or 65+ tournament. Don’t forget to provide warm blankets and hot beverages for spectators!

8) Make caramel apples. 

Caramel apples are an old-fashioned treat that are fun to make and even more fun to eat. To celebrate the season, consider hosting a caramel apple night with kids and their parents, or plan the event for a women’s ministry night. 

To make caramel apples, you’ll need plenty of green apples, heavy cream, butter, sugar, and wooden skewers. You’ll also want to provide a variety of toppings, including oreo cookie crumbs, nuts, sprinkles, and toffee (and tools for cleanup!)

Here’s a vetted recipe for caramel apples

9) Host a storytelling night. 

Fall and Halloween are often synonymous with gathering around a campfire and telling spooky stories. What if your church did the same thing–but instead of ghost stories, you told stories of men and women who believed in God’s promises and saw Him move in powerful ways? 

Voice of the Martyrs is a wonderful resource with incredible stories of faith from missionaries and followers of Jesus from all over the world. Drawing on these stories or stories from your own community, you can host a night of testimonies for your entire community. Encouraging young people to come can be an especially powerful way to impact the youth. 

Campfire optional, of course. But it does make for a great atmosphere!

10) Plan a retreat. 

Want to get out of town for Halloween? Plan a churchwide fall retreat. If you can, rent cabins near a lake or mountain and plan a weekend full of worship, Bible teaching, rest, and fellowship. 

A fall retreat can be the perfect time for your church to reflect on God’s goodness during the year, and set new goals for the next year. You can also plan for a few fall-themed activities during the retreat, like bobbing for apples, outdoor games, or making s’mores by the fire. 

Celebrate the Season with Tithe.ly

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween and the autumn season, Tithe.ly is here to help you with planning and marketing your event or activities. 

Tithe.ly ChMS can help you communicate with staff and create special workflows for executing the event. Tithe.ly Media can help you create beautiful, custom graphics for your social media channels and website. And Tithe.ly Events can help make event registration smooth and simple for your church community. 

To learn more about how Tithe.ly can help you simplify church management and communication, click here.  

podcast transcript

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H1 What’s a Rich Text element?

H2 What’s a Rich Text element?

H3 What’s a Rich Text element?

H4 What’s a Rich Text element?

H5 What’s a Rich Text element?
H6 What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

H4 Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

H4 How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • List Item 1
  • List Item 2
  • List Item 3

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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10 Ideas for Celebrating Halloween at Your Church

10 Ideas for Celebrating Halloween at Your Church

Today, Halloween is widely treated as a secular holiday celebrated with harmless traditions including trick or treating, bobbing for apples, and dressing up in costume. That being said, many churches will want to throw their own Halloween- or fall-themed event–a way for church members to celebrate the holiday without any of the spooky stuff.

Show notes

Halloween is one of the most ancient holidays, and is celebrated in various forms throughout the world. 

In Mexico, Halloween kicks off the three-day Dia De Los Muertos, an event commemorating familial ancestors. In England, Halloween falls less than one week before Guy Fawkes Day, a holiday celebrating a failed assassination attempt of the King in the 17th century. And in America, Halloween often coincides with carving pumpkins, harvest festivals, and even hayrides–a true start to the fall season. 

Halloween may have its roots in paganism, but today, it’s widely treated as a secular holiday celebrated with harmless traditions including trick or treating, bobbing for apples, and dressing up in costume. 

That being said, many churches will want to throw their own Halloween- or fall-themed event–a way for church members to celebrate the holiday without any of the spooky stuff. 

Here are 10 ideas for celebrating Halloween–or the fall season–at your church. 

Download “Halloween Party” graphics for your church

10 Ideas for Halloween at Your Church

1) Trunk or Treat

“Trunk or Treat” is a fun, community-oriented alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. 

Instead of going house to house, kids go from “car to car” in a church parking lot or other open space. Each family brings their vehicle, and if their trunk allows, they can open up the back, hang decorations, and offer candy, drinks, or healthy treats. 

Here are some fun ideas and tips for a successful “Trunk or Treat” event at your church:

  • Encourage families with trucks and minivans to participate. Big open trunks are ideal for “setting up shop.”
  • Assign a few volunteers to manage security. Trunk or Treat should be a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, but you’ll still want a number of adults who can keep watch. 
  • Run a costume contest. Most creative Halloween costume wins!
  • ….or run a car decorating contest. Most creatively decorated vehicle wins!
  • Market your event. Make sure your community knows about your event. Here are free graphics to promote Trunk or Treat. 
  • Don’t forget the lights! If your event is in the evening, make sure you’re prepared with lighting. String lights, pumpkins with candles, and plenty of flashlights ensure that there’s enough visibility for an awesome Trunk or Treat. 

Finally, make sure there’s something for everyone. While little ones will love dressing up and collecting their favorite candy, think about serving hot cider for the adults and teenagers and creating space for chit-chatting (a portable fire pit and beach chairs work great even in a parking lot!)

Here are some more great ideas for Trunk or Treat from The Pioneer Woman

2) Host a harvest festival. 

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned harvest festival? Especially after a long, hot summer, your church members are likely excited to celebrate all things “fall”–pumpkin everything, cozy blankets and flannels, a kick-off to the Christmas season.  

A harvest festival is a perfect event to gather the community on Halloween night or over Halloween weekend. Depending on the size of your church and your available resources, you can go over the top with hayrides, live music, and food trucks, or you can keep it small and intimate with corn hole and home-baked goods. 

In any case, here are some ideas for an old-fashioned harvest festival:

  • Costumes. Children (and adults!) are free to come in full costume to your harvest festival, or they can simply wear their “autumn best” (beanies, flannels, sweaters, and boots!) 
  • Face painting. Face painting is a fun, easy way to make a costume feel extra special, and volunteers can easily run a face-painting booth with a few basic brushes and kid-friendly face paint. 
  • Bounce houses. Renting a bounce house can make your harvest party feel extra festive, and offers one more activity for kids to enjoy. 
  • Live music. Got a worship band? Have them play upbeat worship music during your harvest festival to create a celebratory mood. 

Finally, your harvest festival can be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to your community and invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers to a church event. Empower your church members to invite others with paper postcards and social media posts they can re-share. 

3) Plan a bake sale. 

Most of your church members are probably more interested in the “treat” part of “trick or treat.” That being said, planning a Halloween- (or harvest-) themed bake sale can be a fun way to celebrate the season and give your at-home bakers a chance to show off their skills. 

Not only that, but you can use the bake sale as an opportunity to raise funds for a mission trip, new building fund, or church member in need. 

Here are a few strategies for hosting a successful bake sale:

  • Create a spreadsheet to make sure that everyone doesn’t make the same thing. A variety of treats–pies, bars, cookies, donuts, and savory goods–are always appreciated at a bake sale. 
  • Pay attention to allergies. Direct your bakers to create signage with potential allergens in their baked goods, including nuts, dairy, and wheat. You may even want to create a special “allergen-free” section with baked goods that will be safe for church members with allergies. 
  • Take it outside. Use a pop-up tent to host your bake sale outside after or before church services. That gives non-churchgoers an opportunity to explore your church and meet people without the initial pressure of coming to a weekend service. 
  • Use Tithe.ly Pay. If you’d like to offer your church members the option to buy their favorite treat with a credit card, use Tithe.ly Pay to make it easy to accept payments digitally. 

Again, a bake sale is a great way to reach out to the community. If you’re hosting your bake sale in a community-friendly area, make sure to provide handouts or paper postcards that tell people who your church is and when and where they meet. 

4) Organize a candy (or canned food) drive. 

Instead of focusing on collecting candy on Halloween, focus on collecting much-needed items for others. Partner with a local homeless shelter (or your own homeless ministry) to organize a drive for collecting canned food, household goods, school supplies, and even Christmas gifts for kids and families in need. 

A food or supply drive in lieu of a Halloween party can be a great way to teach the children in your church the importance of generosity and caring for those in need. It’s sure to be a Halloween they’ll never forget!

5) Have a costume contest. 

Most kids–and many adults–love to dress up for Halloween. It’s an opportunity to get creative, feel like a superhero or a princess for a night, and for some, put their crafting and sewing skills to the test. If your church community is especially creative, then a costume contest can be a fun nod to the holiday at hand. 

You can host the contest at small groups, a mid-week event, or even after a weekend service. Make sure to communicate the categories beforehand (Most Creative, Silliest, Most Realistic, Best Overall), and then appoint a lucky squadron of leaders and staff to judge the winners. Candy, mugs, or even gift cards to local coffee shops or restaurants make great prizes. 

6) Carve pumpkins. 

People have been carving pumpkins, or Jack O’ Lanterns, during the fall season for centuries. The practice of carving pumpkins originated in Irish myth, and remains to this day as a fun, creative activity that builds up to the end of October. Here are a few tips for hosting an evening of pumpkin-carving at your church. 

  • Carve and paint. Older kids can safely carve pumpkins, but you may want to provide tiny pumpkins and puff paint for smaller children. Glitter glue, rhinestones, and googly eyes are fun extra additions for colorful pumpkins. 
  • Buy the pumpkins in bulk. Skip the pumpkin patch and buy your pumpkins at the grocery store instead. They tend to be much less expensive!
  • Don’t forget the lights. Along with carving tools and newspaper for the mess, don’t forget to provide votive candles that you can place in the carved pumpkins and light up at the end of the night. 

Finally, roast the pumpkin seeds! If you have the resources to do so, keep the seeds and roast them for a healthy snack for post-carving. 

7) Organize a tournament. 

In the United States, fall means football season. To make the most of your church members’ love for football, plan a flag football tournament for the fall (just make sure it doesn’t coincide with any big games). 

If your community is extra competitive, create teams for stoking the fire. Pastors vs. worship leaders, youth vs. youth leaders, and volunteers vs. staff can create fun, friendly competition. 

Or, if you’d like to plan a more inclusive round of games, host a cornhole or bocce ball tournament. Anyone can participate or watch, and you can even create a kids tournament or 65+ tournament. Don’t forget to provide warm blankets and hot beverages for spectators!

8) Make caramel apples. 

Caramel apples are an old-fashioned treat that are fun to make and even more fun to eat. To celebrate the season, consider hosting a caramel apple night with kids and their parents, or plan the event for a women’s ministry night. 

To make caramel apples, you’ll need plenty of green apples, heavy cream, butter, sugar, and wooden skewers. You’ll also want to provide a variety of toppings, including oreo cookie crumbs, nuts, sprinkles, and toffee (and tools for cleanup!)

Here’s a vetted recipe for caramel apples

9) Host a storytelling night. 

Fall and Halloween are often synonymous with gathering around a campfire and telling spooky stories. What if your church did the same thing–but instead of ghost stories, you told stories of men and women who believed in God’s promises and saw Him move in powerful ways? 

Voice of the Martyrs is a wonderful resource with incredible stories of faith from missionaries and followers of Jesus from all over the world. Drawing on these stories or stories from your own community, you can host a night of testimonies for your entire community. Encouraging young people to come can be an especially powerful way to impact the youth. 

Campfire optional, of course. But it does make for a great atmosphere!

10) Plan a retreat. 

Want to get out of town for Halloween? Plan a churchwide fall retreat. If you can, rent cabins near a lake or mountain and plan a weekend full of worship, Bible teaching, rest, and fellowship. 

A fall retreat can be the perfect time for your church to reflect on God’s goodness during the year, and set new goals for the next year. You can also plan for a few fall-themed activities during the retreat, like bobbing for apples, outdoor games, or making s’mores by the fire. 

Celebrate the Season with Tithe.ly

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween and the autumn season, Tithe.ly is here to help you with planning and marketing your event or activities. 

Tithe.ly ChMS can help you communicate with staff and create special workflows for executing the event. Tithe.ly Media can help you create beautiful, custom graphics for your social media channels and website. And Tithe.ly Events can help make event registration smooth and simple for your church community. 

To learn more about how Tithe.ly can help you simplify church management and communication, click here.  

video transcript

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