The air is growing crisp, leaves are turning color, and every snack you could possibly hope for is now flavored with pumpkin spice. Yes, it’s fall, and that inevitably means that it’s time for a church fall festival! Many churches throw fall festivals as fun outreach events to connect with their communities. Others use them as an opportunity to offer an alternative to trick-or-treating during Halloween. No matter your motivation, fall is a great season to gather people together to have fun as families.
The scale of your fall festival depends on your church’s size and budget, but don’t worry! We’re including a variety of our favorite fall festival ideas sure to delight kids…and their parents. And yes, there are lots of pumpkins involved!
Here are 11 of our favorite church fall festival ideas:
1. Pumpkin decorating. Save yourself the mess of pumpkin carving and have a pumpkin decorating station instead. Stickers, paint, paint pens, glue, yarn, and glitter give kids a wide array of options to get creative. They can pick their pumpkin and their craft supplies, have fun decorating, then take their pumpkin home.
2. Pumpkin bowling. Find a few particularly round pumpkins, hollow them out, and cut three holes for fingers (just like a traditional bowling ball). You’ll also need ten tall gourds that can stand upright. Find a stretch of flat ground outside (or a hallway indoors if you don’t mind the mess), arrange the gourds like bowling pins, and let your festival-goers try to get a strike.
3. “Guess the weight.” Find a very large pumpkin and have people guess how much it weighs. They can write down their name and their guess on a slip of paper. At the end of the night, the person with the closest guess wins a prize. You can double the fun by having a jar full of candy corn, too — just have people guess how many pieces are in the jar.
4. Scarecrow relay race. You’ll need two scarecrows so teams can compete against one another, and each scarecrow needs a full outfit (pants, shirt, vest, bandana, hat). Teams line up at the starting line, the first person runs to the scarecrow and puts on an item of clothing, then runs back and tags the next person. Teams repeat the process until the first scarecrow is fully dressed and the last runner is back across the starting line.
5. Treasure in a haystack. This is a great activity for small children. You’ll need a few bales of clean hay or straw (craft stores often sell small bales for decoration). Place the the loosened hay in a container (a large storage tub or a kiddie pool work well here), spread the hay around, and hide small treasures inside. Stickers, small toys, and packets of candy are all fun options. Kids get to sort through the hay to find treasure — they keep the first piece they find!
6. Fall craft booths. You can set up various craft stations around the festival, or concentrate them in one area. A quick search on Google or Pinterest will yield tons of great fall-themed craft ideas for a variety of age levels. Choose your favorites, set up the stations, and watch kids get creative!
7. Face painting. Kids love getting their faces painted! Face paint can be a fun addition to a costume they’re already wearing. If they don’t have a costume, face paint can help them embrace the festival fun.
8. Photo booth. Photo booths are always a hit, and having one that’s fall-themed will add to the overall festivities. If your budget doesn’t allow for a photo booth rental, try a backdrop banner in a fall theme, or search Pinterest for some DIY fall backdrops ideas. Have someone from your church ready to take photos of individuals and families. Polaroids are a fun option to give families instant results just like a real photo booth!
9. Dunk tank. People will be excited if you can get your senior pastor to agree to be dunked! Other church staff members are great options, too. Set up the tank in an area with plenty of room for a crowd to watch, and let people line up for a chance to be the one to make the dunk.
10. Corn hole. Set up a fall festival edition of corn hole to get everyone excited to test their hand-eye coordination. Decorate your corn hole boards with fall leaves, and turn your bean bags into pumpkins with a little felt covering.
11. Hay rides. Whether you use horses, a tractor, or a truck, this fall activity is always a hit. A wagon full of hay and a safe route around your church or neighborhood is a fun way for kids and their families to celebrate the season.
These are just a few of our favorite activities, but there are so many more great options out there. You can get creative with what works for your church and community.
And of course, a great component to any fall festival is food.
Meal options like hotdogs and hamburgers work well, but you can also have fun with fall-themed snacks, drinks, and deserts. Popcorn, caramel apples, pumpkin flavored baked goods, hot chocolate, apple cider — the list goes on! Make sure you’re well stocked on candy, treats, and prizes for all your game and craft booths, too.
Now that you’ve planned your event, don’t forget to let your community know! Word of mouth is always best, so encourage your members to invite friends, neighbors, classmates, or coworkers. You can also send out fall-themed postcard invitations, leave door hanger invites in nearby neighborhoods, and create an event on social media.
Ultimately, we hope this list of fall festival ideas inspires you to create a fun-filled event that will bring families in your church and community together!
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