by Erin Bird

I don’t like admitting this, but I hate Halloween.

The reason I don’t want to admit I have a distaste for this “holiday” is because it makes me sound like some sort of grinch or Negative Nancy. I know bunches of people who love Halloween. They think it’s cute to see kids dress up in costumes. They love the cooler temps of Fall. It’s a great excuse to get together with friends and be silly. And they like the feeling of being scared when watching a horror movie or walking through a haunted house. To them, it’s all in good fun.

But as I grow older as a follower of the life-giving Jesus and see the brokenness of our world, I don’t like that All Hallow’s Eve has become a celebration of evil, fear, and even death. I know lots people don’t see Halloween that way, but when vampires and zombies are the mascots of the holiday, you have to realize the truth of what this day is truly celebrating.

As I’ve wrestled with my feelings about Halloween, I’ve tried to figure out how to respond:
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[list_item]Do I just say nothing and go with the flow of culture? (This would definitely be the easiest route.)[/list_item]
[list_item]Do I rebel and refuse to participate in any way? (I could be like some of my other Halloween-hating friends and wish people a Happy Reformation Day).[/list_item]
[list_item]Or could I somehow possibly “redeem” the day? Could I somehow come alongside the culture and bring something different?[/list_item]
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Taking the Third Option

This third option takes some creativity and work. It is the most difficult of the three as it requires me to live in the tension of grace and truth. But for me, this seems like a Jesus-centered approach to the day.

This is why for the past several years, my family has held a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party” out of our garage. There’s nothing scary about it (no one jumps out at you). Rather, it’s well-lit, festive, and safe. But it welcomes people exactly as they are (even if they wear a scary costume).

Because I want to see you live like Jesus lived, I invite you into this grace and truth tension over Halloween as well. I encourage you to host your own 5-minute Trick or Treat Party, or partner up with someone else. It will take a little bit of prep work, but it will TOTALLY pay off!

Here’s how to host your own 5-minute Trick or Treat Party:

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[list_item]Sweep out your garage and do some general cleaning/tidying up (if you are really OCD, you can use black plastic tarp to cover the walls).[/list_item]
[list_item]Use a large tarp to cover the entrance to your opened garage door. Be sure to leave an opening for people to enter.[/list_item]
[list_item]Make a sign that says, “Come on in for a 5-minute Trick or Treat party!”[/list_item]
[list_item]Have at least two games that kids can play to “earn” their candy. (An additional idea: If you have a card table, set it up with some simple crafts like coloring or leaf rubbings.)4[/list_item]
[list_item]Have a food table with brownies, cookies, popcorn, apple cake, or whatever desserts/treats you want to serve.[/list_item]
[list_item]Prepare hot chocolate or hot apple cider to serve to cold parents and kids.[/list_item]
[list_item]Smile a lot and welcome everyone who enters![/list_item]
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Depending on how messy your garage is to start, it will probably take about 2-3 hours to set-up, and an hour to clean-up. (Hint: Do the work on Sunday the 30th!)

But trust me: your “party” will be a HUGE hit. The work will be worth it. The kids will love it, the parents will be glad to get out of the cold for a couple minutes, and you will help create a positive experience in the neighborhood.

If you decide to host a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party,” send me an email. Also, if you want to officially invite kids/families to your “party,” here are some “invite cards” to which you can add your address, print off, and hand out. (Also, if you email LeAnn, she can give you the recipe to an almost-perfect-Starbucks-Hot-Apple-Cider knockoff you can serve!)

If you want to partner up with another family because your home is not in a high-traffic neighborhood, or you have small children and want extra help, or you can’t even park your own car in your garage, then connect up with someone else and do it together!

At Riverwood, we want to be a blessing to our community. Hosting a “5-minute Trick or Treat Party” is a super simple way to create a positive experience for your neighbors that just might help you connect with them a little more. And redeem Halloween just a little bit in the process.

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