All Saints Day has been eclipsed by Halloween. We can reclaim the feast!
ALL SAINTS DAY PARTY
Halloween has eclipsed the feast of All Saints for our kids. We can reclaim the feast while making it a Catechetical tool, service project and concrete celebration of the communion of the saints all rolled into one! For the last 13 yrs. my parish has hosted a big family All Saints Day costume party, either as a Halloween alternative, or on another day near the feast. Researching a saint, or incorporating their symbols into a costume is a great learning tool.
Teens love to work on the project, and younger kids like being participants. In our parish, teens help plan, make games, decorate, set up & clean up. Cost is minimal if you set the admission as a bag of candy per family. Because it is a family party, there should be plenty of adults around to bolster your numbers if your youth group is small. (Schedule it on your religious ed. night, and enlist your Catechists to help! Captive audience!). We have kept refreshments simple- just popcorn and koolaid. I also solicit donations of small religious articles and toys from parishioners, which are used to supplement the candy prizes.
The idea is to dress up as saints or other Biblical-themed costumes (adults invited to dress up, too!) & to “Christianize” carnival games you already have to fit the All Saints theme. Costumes don’t have to be just bathrobes and towels on your head. Virtually any costume can be tied to some saint or Biblical story (Lazarus as a mummy, “fruit” of the Spirit, hockey goalie as “defender of the faith”, etc. The more games you have, the less waiting around for the kids. We typically get about 100 kids (though once we had 300!!!), and run about 15 or 16 games. The children get “blessing bags” at the door (brown paper lunch bags work fine) and collect candy prizes at each game. At the end of the party seat all the children in a huge circle, then have the adults go around and dispense all the remaining candy.
We have used this party as a Halloween alternative on Halloween night itself (invite the kids to process into mass in costume, then have the party afterwards) or on another night, so as to not force a party/trick-or-treat choice. Both have worked well. Remember that even though your teens may have outgrown trick or treating, they enjoy participating, and this is a constructive alternative to wandering the streets.
Samples of Christianized games we have used in the past:
Canonize the Saints : ring toss “halos” over hand-made saint figures
variations : Greatest Virtues: rings over posts labeled faith, hope & love
Pin the Sacred Heart on Jesus- kid is blindfolded; tapes a heart on a Jesus picture
Slay Goliath- (we build a big Goliath out of a stepladder with a bucket head. The kids sling a tennis ball held in a sock at him & knock his head off!)
Baptize Barbie: Being unskilled with tools, I made a crude dunking booth by having the kid throw a ball at flyswatter balanced between some pegs so it knocks Barbie in a bucket of water. I bet you could find someone to build you a real working miniature!
Saint Walk: use saint names on the floor for a cake walk. When the music ends, draw a holy card- the saint chosen wins.
St. Lucy's Eyes: Yes, this one takes an artist. Paint a large picture of St. Lucy (I used a full posterboard for a picture showing her from elbows up). Have posterboard arms sticking out, holding a cup. The kids toss pingpong ball eyeballs into the cup.
Capital Sins Game: throw darts at balloons by each of the seven capital sins- pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth (safety note: have adults run this one)
}variations: use the cardinal virtues, the works of mercy, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc...
Noah’s Ark beanbag throw- throw beanie babies in a cardboard ark
Feed my Sheep- throw beanbag in sheep’s mouth
Heaven or Hell- make a “heaven” heart surrounded by purgatory flames, with rest painted black for hell. Heaven wins a prize. If
they land in purgatory they move closer & try again. No more
chances if they land in Hell.
Fishers of Men: fishing game; clothespins on fishing lines are dropped behind a sheet or cardboard barrier painted with fish. Candy gets put on the “hook”
Holy Souls sucker pull: make a ghost out of each sucker with a tissue tied with a rubber band. The kids love putting faces on these when we made the game!
Tower of Babel: bring a big bin ouf building blocks; see how tall they can build it before it falls
God Chooses You: Spin the bottle. Put a tape cross on a bottle. The one it points to wins.
Living the Faith: If you have a number wheel, tape labels on each number listing positive & negative behaviors (go to mass, lying, confession, greed, etc.) If kid spins positive, give them a prize. Negative sends them to purgatory where they must be “prayed” out (we use St. Gertrude’s prayer for souls in purgatory). Put a heart stamp on their hand when they are released.
Treasures in Heaven: the traditional shell game. Put a coin under one of three cups & shuffle them around. Kid guesses which cup has the coin.
Quench the Fires of Sin: squirt out candles with squirt guns (safety note: have adults run this one)
Knock & It Shall Be Opened: Make a house out of a refrigerator box with a door that opens. Have a teen dress as Jesus (we gave ours a face-paint beard & wounds in his hands)- when the child knocks, Jesus opens the door & gives them candy. Give Jesus a break every once & a while, and send Him out to mingle. Ours stayed in character, blessing the kids. They loved it!
Walls of Jericho (adults hate the noise of this one, but the little kids love it!): Build a wall out of those big metal popcorn tins. Have the kids march around seven times blowing a toy horn (we also have them carry an “Ark” made of a fancy tin with stick handles taped on) then kick the walls of Jericho down
How Many Saints?: guess the jelly beans in a jar. Winner gets the jar.
Get behind Me, Satan!: Have a volunteer stick their head through a hole in a board painted as the devil. The kids throw a big wet sponge in his face while shouting, “Get behind me, Satan!” It took me years to get a volunteer for this one, but it was very popular this year!
Run the Good Race: wooden gingerbread-shaped figures are jiggled down a string to heaven (a sign at the finish line). I painted ours like a boy, a girl, a nun, a priest, and an elderly person
Pinata: bash Satan!
The Pearl of Great Price: search for a pingpong ball in a box of white packing peanuts
St. Helen’s search for the True Cross: search for little crosses
St. Anthony’s Lost & Found: search for little prizes or candy
Heaven Our Goal: If you have access to a balance beam, have the kids walk down it toward a Heaven sign. "Saints" around can help the little ones when they wobble!
Feed the Hungry: Hang up a life-sized Halloween skeleton with a big bucket at his feet (we dress ours in a t-shirt and shorts). Have the kids throw play food into the bucket.
Look for Jesus: Put pictures of a variety of people on a big board- I just printed them off the internet. (OK, I admit it- I was trying to rile people up a bit by putting political adversaries, terrorists, pregnant teens, drug addicts, handicapped, etc.) Cut three-four doors in each figure, putting a picture of Jesus behind one, with things people often focus on about people listed behind the others (stuff like tatoos, popular, retarded, nerd, etc.). The object of the game is to find Jesus in the person.
... and many more! Be creative!