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Every year, Halloween rolls around sooner than I’m expecting.
And every year, I feel like I’ve once again failed to come to any workable conclusion about whether we should or shouldn’t participate as Christians, and where our boundaries lie.
Last year, I expressed some of this in my post Christians and Halloween: How can Families approach Halloween with Integrity?
Is it a sin to celebrate Halloween?
Well no, of course it isn’t. We live by grace, and have free will to make up our own minds on these matters, influenced by the Bible.
A few years ago, I asked why we couldn’t celebrate Halloween like our American friends, who – to my mind at the time – seemed to have it ‘right’ as a fun, not-so-spooky festival.
I wanted this kind of Halloween – not the crazy-dark, weird, fear-mongering version we’ve ended up with.
But hang on – isn’t it all just a case of some silly dressing up and laughing at scary stuff? It’s not REALLY to do with the occult, is it?
In the past, I’ve struggled to articulate exactly what it is about Halloween that I’m rejecting. Because if my kids are going to ask me why we’re not ‘doing’ Halloween, I sure-as-heck need to have a solid reason. And as far as they’re concerned, it’s not like they’re summoning up evil spirits, so why is Mum so bothered?
After a mere 11 years of parenting, I think I’ve finally put my finger on what my problem is with Halloween.
We act like we’re making fun of the evil, dark stuff. But in reality, it often veers more towards celebrating/enjoying the Scary, rather than mocking it – which is what Christians in days gone past would do around this festival.
As a Christian, I believe that some of this weird stuff is actually pretty harmful, sent by a Devil who wants to wreak havoc with our lives.
Rather than enjoying the more innocent Halloween costumes and tat which represents something more sinister, I’d rather enjoy celebrating Jesus, who represents VICTORY – over evil, over death, over fear – forever!
What can I do instead of celebrating Halloween?
I don’t think we need to avoid Halloween altogether – I think we just maybe need to rethink our approach towards it.
In my dreams – those where I am the World’s Most Excellent Mum – our family would creatively redeem secular Halloween festivities with our own awesome traditions which paid homage to the Christian roots of the celebration in All Hallows’ Eve.
In this same dream, my children would love our Christian Halloween party ideas so much that they wouldn’t bemoan the lack of witch costumes, or complain about not being allowed to go trick-or-treating.
And – you’ve got it, same dream – we party so hard and so wild that literally EVERYONE in the neighbourhood, not to mention the entire Christian world, drops whatever they used to do for Halloween, and adopts OUR wonderfully rich, wonderfully vibrant festivities instead.
Perhaps it’s the fact that five members of my family all have their birthdays between mid-September and mid-October, but I’ll admit that by the time we get to Halloween, I never have much energy to do ANY of the above.
However, it struck me this year – perhaps as a result of lockdown – that our Christian Halloween party ideas needn’t be mega elaborate. Just one or two simple activities, done with love, could be all that our families need to connect with each other and with God this Halloween.
Because that, surely, is the point?
It doesn’t matter whether others adopt our traditions, or even what they think of them. What matters is that we find something which our family enjoys, which creates sweet memories together and which – ultimately – turns our heads upwards to the bringer of Light, conqueror over darkness.
So here are 10 Christian Halloween party ideas to try this year.
Don’t attempt all of them! Pick one or two which might work for your family’s age and interests – and please let me know how you got on! (Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram – I always aim to reply!)
1. Carve pumpkins into hope-filled shapes and words
This is such an easy one!
Granted, you may feel uncomfortable about displaying a scary face in your window, but pumpkin carving is such fun that it’d be a shame to miss out on this lovely, Autumnal tradition altogether!
So how about carving the word HOPE or LIGHT – or just a simple love heart or happy face? Some of you will be experts at carving – you’re the ones who can have your Moment here.
For the rest of us, a simple ‘positive’ word or image will communicate to all who walk past our house that not EVERYONE is celebrating dark things this Halloween.
2. Stories of the saints – by candlelight
Modern Halloween has its roots in two festivals.
One of them is the Christian festival All Hallows Eve (or All Saints Eve) – the day before All Hallows Day (or All Saints Day), when we traditionally remember the ‘saints’ who have died before us and gone to be with Jesus in heaven.
A lovely way to mark this is by reading each other stories of past ‘saints’, which you can do by candlelight for added impact!
They don’t have to be actual saints, of course – any Christian who lived in the past will do. For some excellent stories of inspirational Christian men and women, try Everyone a Child should Know, 10 Boys who Changed the World, or 10 Girls who Changed the World.
Or simply Google the stories of Amy Carmichael, William Wilberforce, Gladys Aylward, St Augustine…the list is endless, but that’s a start!
3. Harvest feast and collection
The second festival which our modern-day Halloween stems from is the Pagan Harvest festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”).
With the Christian Harvest festival dying out in all but the most rural areas of the country, Halloween could be a lovely time to resurrect it, celebrating God’s abundant provision of food and creation for us to enjoy and finding our own Christian Halloween treat ideas to become family traditions.
You could enjoy eating warming Autumnal foods together: soup and homemade bread, chilli, jacket potatoes, toffee apples, pear or apple crumble.
And, in addition to your ‘feast’, why not gather together a collection of non-perishable items to donate to your local foodbank?
4. Thanksgiving party
My friend Laura does this every year.
Stealing the American Thanksgiving celebration (which traditionally occurs on the fourth Thursday in November), Laura gathers together her kids and a few church friends for a party at her house. As soon as trick or treaters come knocking, they throw open the door and, before anyone can ‘trick or treat’ them, yell ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’ and dish out loads of sweets!
This year here in the UK the Rule of 6 prevents us from having large parties, but I love this idea of celebrating Thanksgiving at home with a special party, games, dressing up and food. You could do it with your household this year, then throw open the doors to guests next year!
5. Traditional games
(A word of warning – please follow COVID-19 advice for your area. Most of these games would work fine within your household, but you wouldn’t want to be doing them with anyone else at this time. For most of us, this isn’t a problem, but if you’re in the lucky situation of being able to meet with a family and still stick to the Rule of 6, then just be aware!)
Apple-bobbing, doughnuts-on-a-string or the flour cake are three really fun games/challenges which don’t often get a look-in at other celebrations through the year, so why not set them up for your children to enjoy at Halloween?
Apple-bobbing is MUCH harder than it looks – I’ve tried! You just need a bowl of water and some apples – the aim is to get the apples out using only your mouth.
Doughnuts-on-a-string is a little easier, but still a challenge – and a very yummy one. Thread some ring doughnuts along a string, then hang or hold it where your kids can reach. The aim is to eat the doughnuts without using their hands. You can add an extra challenge by forbidding the licking of lips too!
The flour cake was one of my favourites as a child. Press plain flour into a large mixing bowl as tightly as you can, then turn it out onto a plate. It should make a dome-shaped ‘cake’. Place a single Smartie (or other small chocolate/sweet) in the centre. Players have to take it in turns to ‘slice’ the flour cake without making the Smartie fall.
You end up with a thin column in the middle of the cake with the Smartie precariously balancing on top – the person who makes it fall has to put their face in the flour and rescue the Smartie with their mouth!
6. Dress up and act out a ‘dark’ story from the Bible
If your kids are keen to venture into more dark stuff this Halloween, there’s plenty of fodder in the Bible!
Why not dress up and act out a ‘scary’ story from the Bible? (Add candlelight if you’re up for an extra spooky element!)
Here are some ideas:
- the 10 plagues of Egypt (or just the final plague, the Angel of Death) (Exodus 7:14-12:30)
- The writing on the wall (Daniel 5)
- Jesus casting out demons and sending them into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8, Mark 5, Luke 8)
- The valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14) – particularly good if one of your children is keen to wear a skeleton costume!
7. Create a light box
This is a wonderful sensory experience for children who enjoy something quiet and peaceful, or maybe need a wind-down from the busyness of school or nursery.
Anna from The Imagination Tree has a gorgeous post on making your own light box which is a lovely and inexpensive toy to make.
As you play together you could chat about how Jesus came to be Light of the world to banish darkness, which represents sin and suffering.
8. Create a light den
If you’re planning to do some story-telling as part of your Halloween festivities (see above), how about creating a cosy ‘light den’ to be your reading nook?
Make a den with blankets, cushions, pegs, duvets – whatever you have – for as many people as you need, then decorate with fairy-lights, lava lamps, bedside lamps, battery-operated tea-lights or glo-sticks.
Turn out the main room lights and enjoy some very special stories of the saints!
If you have time, you could write the words “I am the Light of the World” on a large sheet of paper and stick it on your den, to remind your whole family that the light of Jesus conquers all evil.
9. Dress up and make/buy treats to hand out
Perhaps not so much this year, but most years Halloween is a GREAT opportunity to be hospitable towards our neighbours. When else do we get so many knocks at the door within such a short space of time?
So make the most of it!
Involve your kids in making (or buying – let’s be realistic!) Christian Halloween treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters. As you bake/buy, use this as an opportunity to share the importance of hospitality and generosity as Christians.
Heart-shaped cookies would be a great option to gently communicate what you are celebrating this Halloween: the love of Christ, stronger than any evil powers in the world.
If your children enjoy dressing up, they could plan their costumes for handing out the treats! These don’t need to be scary: try superheroes, princesses, doctors, pirates, builders – whatever you have in your toy box.
10. Take part in a pumpkin trail
This is a great idea that I’ve seen advertised in place of trick-or-treating this year.
If your kids are too young for pumpkin carving, or you just don’t fancy the mess or faff, why not draw or print out a picture of a pumpkin? Your kids could colour/decorate it as they’re able, then put it in your window for others to enjoy.
You could then take a walk around your neighbourhood to spot other pumpkins or pumpkin pictures in windows!
11. Worship songs about victory over death
Gathering your family for a Halloween sing-song might not be the most obvious idea, but there are plenty of songs which celebrate God as light!
With the help of YouTube, you could all learn or sing together a song which specifically talks about Christ’s victory over death, hell and all things scary.
- Shine (Nick Jackson) – “Shine from the inside out that the world will see You live in me”
- I am a city on a hill (Nick and Becky Drake) – “I am a light in the darkness, Jesus living in me can change the world”
- Christ is Risen (Matt Maher) which has the fabulous lines ‘Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death’ and ‘O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?’
- This is amazing Grace (Phil Wickham) – “Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?”
- Way Maker (Leeland) – “Promise-keeper, Light in the darkness”
- Light of the World (Tim Hughes) – “Light of the World, You stepped down into darkness”
…and I’m sure you could think of many more songs about light/darkness to sing together!
12. Make a fear-free banner
There are some phenomenal Bible verses about repelling fear and darkness. Why not draw one onto an old sheet or roll of wallpaper? If you don’t have anything big, try bunting with smaller sheets of paper, writing a word on each sheet.
My top ideas would include:
- “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18)
- “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)
- “The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4)
You could display this in your home for the days around Halloween, to remind you and your children that we can have perfect peace when we trust in God.
And, in 2020, whether it’s Halloween or not – I think our world needs to hear God’s message of peace and no-fear, right?
I hope that’s given you a few Christian Halloween party ideas to start with – I’d love to hear what you get up to this Halloween.
Do you have a fun tradition you’ve been doing for years? How do you balance the sacred/secular aspects of the festival? Or do you avoid it altogether?