How to Plan a Fall Festival

Little girl at fall festival.

The temperature is dropping, pumpkins are appearing at grocery stores, and Walgreens flu shot commercials are airing—Fall is here!

An event we hold at our church every October is Fall Festival. Planning meetings are starting up and we are beginning to line up the details for this event. Here are a few tips if you are thinking about having a Fall Festival:

1) Picking the Date: Do you want your festival to serve as an alternative for Halloween? Or do you simply want to provide families with something fun to do? Think through the best time to have your Fall Festival. We have found our attendance grew by having it the Wednesday night before Halloween, rather than on the weekend or the actual night of Halloween. This also allows us to have the participation of our regular Wednesday night attendees to help with the event, as well as ensuring our families can come since this night is usually dedicated to church events. Choose a night that will ensure you will have plenty of volunteers and that won’t interfere with the other fifteen festivals occurring in your area.

2) Choosing Activities: At our Fall Festival we have a number of activity booths available for preschool and elementary aged children. It is important to group the preschool and elementary booths separately. That way you don’t have your fourth graders running over your three year olds. We have age appropriate games at each booth. An example of a preschool booth is the Duck Pond. A small wading pool is filled with water and yellow rubber duckies are placed in the water. Preschoolers pick a duck and the number written on the bottom is the amount of candy they receive. One elementary booth we do is the Basketball Shoot. Set up a basketball goal and mark different lines children must shoot from. Children receive candy for each goal made. Last year at my church campus we had about five preschool booths and six elementary booths. In addition to the activities, we also provided face painting, hay rides, popcorn and cotton candy, as well as bouncies.

3) Embracing a Budget: Our Fall Festival is one of the most expensive events we do for our children. The price of the candy alone is expensive. If you are thinking about having your first Fall Festival, consider asking your congregation to donate candy. We did this for our first Easter Egg Hunt last April and the church donated about 70% of the candy we needed! Another way to save in the budget is to ask church members for the items you need for the booths. We have church members donate their basketball goals, tricycles, corn holes, and even some preschool games like a bean bag toss. If you don’t have the finances to rent a bouncy, consider contacting the company and asking if they will donate one if you advertise their services at the event. You may be surprised what people are willing to donate if you will simply let their name be publicized.

4) Considering Safety: During our Fall Festival, we make sure we have a lot of security present. This is a perfect event for the local pedafiles to notice and try to attend. If you have policemen in your congregation, ask them if they will attend the event and help provide security. Also, if you have limited parking, consider asking local businesses around your church if you can use their parking spaces that night. You will need police officers to direct traffic and keep everything flowing smoothly.

5) Getting Prospects: If you attend our Fall Festival, we ask you to fill out a registration form. As an incentive, we will have a giveaway. Giveaways will depend on your budget—Consider giving away bikes, a Wii, or gift cards. We ask families to provide us with their names, address, phone number, e-mail, and to check if they attend church anywhere and the name of the church. After the event, we go through the cards and sort them by our church members, those who are churched, and those who are unchurched and follow up with them accordingly. This is a great event to attract families in your area and get them interested in attending your church.

We want to hear your ideas! If your church has hosted a Fall Festival, please leave a comment to share your tips with other readers. You can also read about the Trunk or Treat events that many churches host.


Comments

  1. cathy says

    we call our ‘s..Kids Harvest Party. I decorate the fellowship hall. One year I had painted bible Characters on butcher paper and hung them up and created games based on bible story. example..Noah/ I had a huge ark and kids threw animal crackers in the top of the ark. Adam and eve threw apples in basket, samaratian man..blind folded kids and they stuck a band aid on him.One year I created and drew fall trees, lots of pumpkins, put scarecrows on wall in the corn field, dressed the scare crows to have a cross necklace on and holding a bible..threw corn in a basket..threw potatoes in a basket, soft home made potatoes. I used the story of the scarecrow from CTA magazine, I drew it and blew it up. Each harvest party always has a bible lesson to go with the theme. This year I am using our vbs props and i am calling this theme ,I am a King’s kid. Kids will create crowns to wear, and our lesson will be putting on the armor of God, for if we r a kings kid, we need to put it into practice. And of course at each party, when we have played the games. we close and sit and listen to the bible story and then have trunk or treat. While kids are getting the bible lesson adults are finishing parking their car to give us treats when lesson is done. We also the last 2 years fed the kids lunch and this is on a Sunday now, after Sunday school I bring all the kids together K-6th grade, talk with them during church time, feed them lunch during church time, then when church is over , games begin and then they get their lesson again after games are over. This is very helpful, because we have a big van ministry of kids. After party in afternoon about 2:00 kids go home and do not come back that evening for church. Kids have fun 1/2 day with us and then the evening is free for the van drivers who give so much of their time year round. Kids are treated and van drivers are treated with the evening off.Use your imaganation. games dont have to all go with your theme. Just have fun. oh and also games prizes are small pieces of candy. Church people donate candy for games, some donated candy for trunk or treat. In Sept, I start asking people to donate candy, our party is now on Sundays before Oct. 31 or whenever it best works for us. Have fun.

  2. Sandy Edge says

    We have an annual Fall Festival. We rent the bounce arounds from our Association, have popcorn and cotton candy, and usually set up around 12 games. We ask our church members to donate candy to cut down on our costs. We have it on Wednesday night before Halloween. It is for 2 hours normally. 6pm-8pm. This year we are considering implementing a costume contest with a PRIZE, We will encourage kids to dress in Christian/Bible people attire for this contest. Or maybe dress as animals on Noah’s Ark ? Still brainstorming

  3. Kelly Ahrens says

    We have a Fall Costume party every October near Halloween. Our church is very laid back about Halloween and I know that many churches do not feel the same. We still call it a Fall Costume party instead of a Halloween party, but children are welcome to wear costumes and our youth even host a haunted house downstairs. No blood or gore is used. I know not everyone agrees, but we feel that offering a party like this in a safe, Christian environment provides an outlet for kids to enjoy Halloween in a fun and positive way and to see the holiday as something other than the pagan holiday it may have began as. We have a 10 to 15 minute puppet show or skit at the beginning, then the kids play games at various stations. Games like pumpkin bowling, mini-golf, can toss, etc. We have lots of fun snacks donated by church members and witch’s brew with dry ice. Last year we had the kids paint pumpkins and this year the kids will make slime. They can do all of these with their parents and just go from station to station at their leisure. We give out small trinkets and candy at the stations. For churches that are against the “Halloween” theme, this could be easily modified to be “Fall” themed only and still be a great time.

  4. says

    We’ve been doing a Light Party as an alternative to Halloween for 7 years. A couple of years ago we decided to have all our games be based on a Bible story and we try to use the most bizarre ones! We then have the story in 250 words or less and a quiz that goes with it. At each activity kids answer the quiz find the answers to the quiz on the board with the story. That is then the entry for the giveaway which is a bike. (We actually find it is mostly parents doing the quiz, but that is ok they are learning together!!)

  5. Paulette says

    For several years we have had Noah’s Ark for our fall event for
    Halloween. We sometimes have a Zoo Program. One year we had the 4H group from the school bring their animals. After the animal
    show, we present the story of Noah’s Ark in drama. Last but not
    least, we have a candy march around parade and have snacks.
    We are looking for new ideas.

  6. Rob says

    Our church has had an Harvest Festival for the last 4 years and there has always been a descent turnout. We offer hayrides,(our pastor has a 4-wheeler and trailer that puts bales of hay in…the kid’s love it), we have a ring toss game where we have little pumpkins and rings and they have to toss the ring so that it goes around the pumpkin, a beanbag toss (the bean bags were homemade with smail ziploc bags and dry beans. This year we added a cakewalk which seemed to be a great hit with the kids. As well as games, we offer hot dogs, apple cider, and hot chocolate all free of charge. This year’s event went well.

    • Rob says

      we also had trunk or treat and had a photo station. A person in our church painted a fall scene at a pumpkin patch on a big piece of plywood and it had a farmer and his wife painted on it and the heads were cut out so that the kids could put theirs through to take the pictures that was new this year also.

  7. Brenda says

    I started a Harvest Party every Halloween. This year will be are 4th. We started by renting an inflatable obsticle course. Now we rent the obsticle course and a regular moonbounce for the younger children. We have a cake walk, hayrides, campfire with smores, and several games. The games that are the most popular are egg toss, pumpkin chunking and the pie eating contest. We don’t encourage costumes but some do come dressed up. Each year we have it we have more and more families who attend. And many have said they went trick or treating first and stopped by and the children where hooked. They rather come to the harvest party then go trick or treating. we have everyone register and every child recieves a bag of candy. We noticed the children and parents really enjoy the games. And alot of the children who came in a costume end up taking off their costumes so they can have more fun. we play christian music and offer hot dogs, baked goods, popcorn & cotton candy. everything is free. Everything has been donated by themembers of the church or gift cards from local stores. The only thing we pay for is the rental for the inflatables. One of my prayers is for our church to be able to purchase one or two inflatables.

  8. Kathy Johnson says

    We have a “Reverse Trick or Treat”. We ask the children to dress up as their favorite Bible character. The church members donate goody bags and the children attach a Bible tract and a church information sheet with our church name, pastor name and a contact number along with our service times and event information. The kids get a hay ride around the community and go door to door giving out the goody bags that they made. When the bags are all given out we ride back to our church where we have carnival games and a marshmallow roast waiting for the kids. They love it and it’s great fun to see children who are given so much doing the giving instead of the receiving.

  9. says

    We are planning a Harvest Party this year for the kid’s ministry. We are setting up tables all around the fellowship hall with a variety of activities for the kids to participate. We are encouraging the parents to attend and make this a family event. It will be on Sunday morning which seems to be the best day for us. The activities will include: making a bracelet, face painting, nail painting, photography, a variety of crafts and refreshments (hot dogs, chips, drink, and cupcake). One table will have a bible lesson or drama. Each child will register and be given a sheet that will have a coupon for each activity. A worker will check off each activity they complete. When they have completed all activities they may redeem the sheet for a prize. This encourages (hopefully) the kids to complete everything and keep them engaged. Children are at liberty to choose what activity and when they desire throughout the morning. We will provide only so many chairs per table allowing that many kids per table at a time.

  10. Roxanne says

    We have a Hallelujah Party the same night as Trick or Treat. It is set up with carnival type games. The children stop in, play games that have been given Biblical names with verses, receive candy, prizes and Salvation tracts. The games are manned mostly by Grandparents or someone in that age range to allow parents to freely join their children. Although, most of the time it is used for fellowship. We asked that no scary costumes be worn but NO ONE is turned away. Very Successful event.

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