It’s an age-old question: should Christians celebrate Halloween? You’ll most likely get a different answer based on anything from what church you attend, to who your friends are, to what part of the country you live in, to your grandmother’s current mood. (LOL!)
But for those believers who have navigated these particularly murky waters and come out on the bank of “don’t do it,” they face a new decision—what can I do instead?
Just because you’re convicted or don’t feel comfortable participating in anything labeled Halloween doesn’t mean you want to let the entire autumn season pass you by without having fun or socializing.
To that end, here are five party ideas to usher in the new calendar season for those who don’t celebrate Halloween:
Did you know that Halloween actually falls on the same day that Martin Luther nailed the ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany? While others celebrate all things spooky, you could host a party and invite people to celebrate the historic start of the Protestant Reformation. Print out fun facts about Martin Luther, purchase Luther bobbleheads online to give out as party favors, and karaoke hymns! No party is complete without food, so a few fun-themed ideas for the snack table include Luther Bread, Luther Cookies, and Luther Cake! Check out various recipes online for a full spread. Not big into homemade goodies? Simply purchase blank decorative cupcake toppers and write the five solos on them or turn thick Hershey Gold Nuggets into Bibles with a little bit of paper and red ribbon. You can even put out marshmallows on pretzel sticks to represent the hammer Luther used on that fateful day.
2. Harvest Fest
Just because Halloween is off-limits for you doesn’t mean the entire fall season is! There are so many fun activities that are autumn-themed rather than Halloween-themed. Simply swap the ghosts and goblins for hot apple cider and pumpkin pie. Gather your group together and take a field trip—literally—to a local corn maze or pumpkin patch for a fun time. Or, if you want to keep it low-key at your house, have a pumpkin drawing contest using Sharpies instead of carving knives, then set up a big bucket and bob for apples. Too messy? Consider dipping sliced apples into melted chocolate and having a decorating contest instead. Set up a background via a sheet or printable on a blank wall in your home or yard, and have a photo booth with autumn-themed props. Want to go a step further? Have everyone dress like farmers, scarecrows, or barnyard animals, and have a costume contest with prizes! If there are kids around, consider reading some favorite fall children’s books outdoors, or throw hay bales into a trailer for a hayride. Have a firepit or a burn pile? Bring out the s’mores for a classic fall treat! You can even set up mini outdoor tents for kids to “camp” while the adults relax outside together for cider and good conversation.
3. Themed Costume Party
One of my greatest struggles when parenting young children was the inability to control the costumes my kids were exposed to. Even at local church carnivals, some costumes were much scarier or more violent than I would have preferred my children to see. It was simply one of the risks you took of attending a carnival event open to the public. But if you were to host a costume party with a specific theme at your own home, you could control the environment!
Here are a few themes to consider that could be good, clean dress-up fun for fall:
–favorite cartoon character (you could reel this in tighter if you wanted, to allow for only Disney cartoons, or only Looney Tunes, etc.)
–favorite Peanuts character (I would have to go as Lucy in her blue dress, toting a football!)
–fairy tale character (everyone needs an excuse to don a Rapunzel wig or wear a red cape!)
–favorite book character (you might have multiple Alice in Wonderlands and Harry Potters strolling around your living room, but there are worse problems!)
–favorite holiday (Easter baskets, reindeer ears, and Leprechaun hats, oh my!)
–favorite historical period or decade (the Roaring Twenties, Victorian, the 70s…)
–what you wanted to be when you grew up (guarantee you’ll see a lot of veterinarians, astronauts, and firemen combing the snack table!)
Remember, it’s your party, so you can cry (or be incredibly specific) if you want to!
4. Autumn Game Night
Game nights are a big hit with kids and adults of all ages and are easy to segregate into specific age groups, so everyone can have a good time—and maybe even win! If you’re wanting to avoid Halloween this year, then lock the door, turn off that porch light, and let the shenanigans continue inside with your friends gathered around a game board or a deck of cards.
Some games to consider on the theme would be: Apples to Apples, fall-themed Bingo cards (search Etsy for cheap downloads and printables!), Clue, and Catan. Another thought: if you want to acknowledge the spooky season but not participate in Halloween customs directly, there’s always the opportunity to host an adult Murder Mystery night! That’s where everyone dresses in props and acts out roles in solving the murder instructed in the game rules. (Like a live-action game of Clue!) There are plenty of Murder Mystery board games or online games available for purchase to host your own whodunit night of fun.
5. Scavenger Hunt
Not looking to roam the neighborhood and ring doorbells for candy? Why not try a scavenger hunt instead? A scavenger hunt is a fun way to pair up and compete for a prize—while getting plenty of exercise! Now you can roam the neighborhood in groups, searching to check items off a list. Consider fall-themed finds like “an orange leaf,” “a double acorn,” “a pinecone bigger than your fist,” etc. Another popular idea is instead of a physical hunt, host a photo hunt instead! This time, rather than bringing back particular items from the streets, your guests bring back photos staged around certain memorable areas of town or holding up certain items for documentation. Make it as silly as you want, such as demanding a photo of your team stacked together in a pyramid, captured jumping high into the air, or juggling candy. There are so many gimmicky and entertaining options, the hardest part will be deciding when to call it a night and send everyone home!
Whatever you end up doing this fall, remember, the point of the season isn’t ghosts, the undead, or even candy. It’s about celebrating a new time of year together with friends and family and having fun and fellowship as you bring glory to the Lord. That often ends up looking different for everyone!
However you choose to celebrate—or not celebrate—remember that God Himself is Lord of the Harvest.
Matthew 9:37-38 (ESV) says, "Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
You can shine a light and represent Christ—you can be a laborer for the kingdom and share the Gospel—whether trick or treating, hanging out with friends inside on game night, or dressing up to take silly pictures. When we aim to glorify Him and follow our convictions, pumpkin or no pumpkin, He gets the glory.
Now that’s something to celebrate!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/M-image