Timely Tips for a Great Fall Festival
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Timely Tips For a Great Fall Festival

• This year, award a prize for the best decorated trunk or truck bed. Participants could vote for their favorites, or delegate a panel of judges for this task.

• Dress a volunteer as a "mystery person" who will walk among participants and talk (perhaps in a disguised voice) throughout the event. Let participants guess the identity of the "mystery person," and perhaps award correct guesses with a special treat or prize.

• Use balloons as the distribution tool for information about your church (service times, special holiday events/times, etc.) Simply type the information on small slips of paper and insert the paper into balloons. Then inflate the balloons and pass them out to participants. Be sure to tell balloon recipients to check out the important information inside their balloons!

• Add a no-carving pumpkin decorating contest to your festival this year! Gather markers, yarn, felt, craft foam, wiggle eyes, and more. Also collect push pins, straight pins, staples, and staplers to help hold decorations in place. Don't forget prizes for the wackiest, winning pumpkins.

• Speaking of pumpkins, here's a fun way to keep the youngest festival attendees busy: Collect features from several Mr. Potato Head games and let the children use the plastic eyes, noses, etc. to decorate pumpkins instead! Use knitting needles to poke eye, ear, nose, and mouth holes in small pumpkins, and let the fun begin!

• Need a costume-friendly theme for your Halloween Alternative event? Consider these: Animals of the Bible, A Bounty of Blessings, Men and Women of the Bible, or Noah's Ark.

• Want a lighted walkway for your festival but hesitate to use candles? Try this: Make luminaries by cutting Christian designs in small lunch bags. Place the bags upside down over the top of solar-powered sidewalk lights. Or, if your church doesn't have sidewalk lights, weigh down the bags with some sand and place a glow stick in the center.

• Let your little ones help make a quick and tasty autumn punch by combining 8 cups 7-Up (or other lemon-lime soda) with 3 cups cranberry juice cocktail. These cranberry coolers are just right for fall!

• Don't forget to schedule a post-event meeting after this year's festival. Note successes along with suggestions for next year. Be sure to include a list of festival activities and volunteers who helped. Bind everything in a notebook, and next year's committee won't have to start from scratch! After the meeting, thank your great volunteers with hot cider, pumpkin bread, and small, homemade 'thank-you pumpkins.' To make the pumpkins, first purchase one mini pumpkin (or small gourd) for each volunteer or committee chairperson. Use spray paint, permanent markers, and bits of fabric, sequins, or feathers to add details that relate to each volunteer's festival duties. For example, decorate one pumpkin to resemble a turkey and include this note: Festival foods were so good, we wanted to gobble everything! A fancy, sequined gourd might include this message: Decorations were simply gourd-geous!

• Have one or more rubber stamps created with your church name, address, and service times. Use the stamp(s) to mark several dozen brightly colored index cards. Invite Sunday school children or homebound individuals to apply Christian stickers to decorate the cards still further. Then insert the stamped cards into fall festival gift bags and fall rummage sale bags. You may also want to make the decorative cards available for parishioners to hand out at Halloween-alternative programs or to attach to Christian tracts to give to trick-or-treaters, along with the candy or other trinkets they distribute.

• Add some old-fashioned fun to this year's fall festival! For example, consider apple bobbing and pie baking contests. Invite local chefs to enter a chili cook-off. Encourage students to participate in "three-legged" races, sack races, and more. Need additional ideas? Just ask seniors in your congregation for suggestions.

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