Its come to that time of year again where I go up in the loft to get out the winter clothes and plug-in LED light-up trainers alongside the neon tutu that make up my Light Party outfit.
Alongside the leaves falling from the trees and the smell of fireworks on the air it heralds autumn for me now.
I have worked across many churches and there have always been two reasons why I organise a Light Party. One being that it’s always good news to show the light of Jesus to our local community. Jesus is always good news and it gives an obvious opportunity usually during half term to be able to share it.
Secondly for those both in our church and outside of it who do not celebrate Halloween, it’s an alternative thing to do and invite their friends to. My own kids understand as a family that we don’t go trick or treating for numerous reasons but always look forward to the light party. There are so many opinions on Halloween even within the church but one thing we can all agree on is Jesus is light of the world. Always. So any chance to shout about it is a good idea.
I have done so many different things over the years but here are a few ideas for your community whatever your size, shape or location.
In Church Light Party
On 31 October or a weekend nearby we invite families from the church and community to a light and fun-filled church. I usually have a free play time at the beginning with glow in the dark crafts (highlights include glow-in-the-dark slime making), games, a disco bouncy castle play area for little ones and tea and coffee for grown ups. We then tidy up and give them tea (usually hotdogs) and then gather for a celebration of Jesus light time where we have a talk and a messy game. We send them home with a party bag and an invite for an Advent service.
I usually make this a family event meaning you can have team to chat to kids and parents but if you have the team it could be a drop off event.
Outside Light Trail
Last year and its restrictions called for some creative thinking but in the end meant we had an amazing time. It also meant the LED trainers came into their own! We are lucky enough to have a big church garden with a lots of footfall from the local community.
We designed a light trail around a giveaway book and families signed up for a time slot. We gave them a worksheet, activity bag and prize at the end. At various points in the garden we built something to do or reflect on. It was so much fun and the families were so grateful for an activity during a half term where everything was closing down again.
We had so much fun and were careful to leave some slots free for those that walked by while they were trick or treating. There’s something I love about the children meeting Jesus, the light of the world, in the middle of trick or treating.
This year following from last years success we are going to do a hybrid event. We are having a trail using this years Scripture Union’s Jesus is the light resource that is inside and outside with trail bag and prizes but with some fun extras.
With more flexibility now, we are going to run a Light Party Café with hotdogs, hot chocolate and treats alongside crafts, games and a play area inside. At the end we’ll have a short celebration upfront time celebrating Jesus, the light of the world, with messy games and glow sticks.
The garden will be decorated as part of the trail shining brightly with the Café Open sign and we’ve already had community sign ups who remember last year but this time with a hot drink to keep them warm.
We’re hoping to welcome families who are trick or treating and on the lookout for some warmth and those who come to our toddler groups and have older children who want something to do on Halloween.
Whatever you end up doing, have fun, think outside the box and maybe get some light up accessories, always guaranteed to liven up any admin!
Susie Yeates is Families and Communities Minister at St Gabriel’s, Cricklewood. She has been involved with New Wine Kids for many years and is currently regional rep for London and the South West.