Planning a Fall Festival or Harvest Party can be fun and exciting, but it takes a lot of hard work, prayer, and preparation.  We planned our first one before our fellowship hall was built (with our new church building) and had it at our house.  We had about 45 children and adults scattered throughout the garage and house and had a lot of fun.  We have tried new things down through the years and learned what works, and what doesn't.  It was hard to find suitable prizes the first year, but now I look for prizes all through the year in the One Dollar type stores.  Be prepared, with prayer, activities, volunteers... and a camera.
Harvest Party
Getting Acquainted:

“A Good Name...”  Proverbs 22:1

We always have a big turn-out for our Fall Festival with many visitors and it is good to have name tags.  You may want to make special name tags with your church name on them.  Try to talk with the visitors and invite them to come back to church.  If you have several games for the children to play, you may also want to provide bags for them to put their prizes in.  One year a local grocery store donated bags.  Permanent markers work well to print each child's name on a bag.  Make all your guests feel welcome.

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Door Prize:


“...Marvelous Things Without Number”  Job 5:9

The object of this game is to guess the number of things in the jar. Fill a decorative jar with candy corn.  (Count the number of pieces before anyone arrives and seal the answer in an envelope.)  Write "Name" and "Guess" on the top of a sheet of paper.  Everyone should put their name and the number they guess on the paper.  Explain that no one can use a number someone else has guessed.  The person nearest the actual number wins the jar of candy.  Have a second jar on hand in case of a tie, or explain that "the closest number without going over is the winner." 

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Refreshments:

“...Feast Of Harvest...”  Exodus 23:16

Cook a pot of beef stew or boneless chicken pieces in advance.  Ask everyone to bring a can of vegetables to make your Harvest Stew.  (When adding the vegetables you may choose to pour off the water from some of the cans if necessary.)  Cook, stirring occasionally, in a large stock pot over low heat until thoroughly warmed.  If you have too many cans, donate them to a needy family, or charity organization. 
At our recent Harvest Party we served hot dogs.  Different parents volunteered to bring slaw, chili, and onions.  You can roast hot dogs over an open fire, cook them on a grill, fry them, or even boil them.  Desserts should be easy finger foods, such as cup cakes topped with candy corn, brownies, or cookies.
We eat first, and the children are always in such a hurry to play the games, that we have to block off the area of the games or let some of the adults stand near them to keep them from taking the prizes off the tables before we are ready to start the games.  A few times we have been able to find the tiny pumpkins.  The children enjoyed painting them while waiting to play the games.

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Devotions:

“...The Harvest Truly Is Plenteous...”  Matthew 9:37

Jesus said to the disciples, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."  (Matthew 9:37)   Each of our activities has a Bible verse link which you can print and tape to each booth or table.  Along one wall of our building we put the tables perpendicular so that the activity is between two tables with the prizes placed on each table.  Make sure you have plenty of help and supervision.  Although most of our youth activities through the year are for the older youth, this is one time when the teens give their time to let the younger ones have fun.  The teenagers enjoy being in charge of the games and watching the small children play.  Since we always try to have plenty of prizes, I always tell them to let the children play until they win. 
I have included many ideas, but first I want to share some mistakes that I have made through the years.  We don't charge anyone to come or play the games, and I always try to have plenty of prizes.  One year we had too many prizes and about 18 games.  The children kept playing and playing, going from one game to another and didn't want to quit.  After several hours I was sure everyone had played each game, and I went around to each table and bagged up the remaining prizes.  It would be a good idea to give the children a limited amount of tickets as they begin so that the younger children can play as much as the older ones, and the faster ones won't win all the prizes too quickly.  Also, make sure the prizes are suitable for the ages you expect, and tell your game supervisors to ask them to put the prizes in their bags and not open them in the building.  We had a couple older children throwing balls of play dough across the room.  You also don't want bubbles spilled all over the floor, or children running with sucker sticks in their mouths. 

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Games:

Lucky Duckies
“Of fowls also of the air by sevens...” Genesis 7:3

This game is for the very young and is like a "Lucky Duckie" game.  Get seven rubber ducks to be Noah's seven ducks.  If you plan to keep the ducks from year to year, seal the hole in the bottom of each one with clear fingernail polish to keep water from getting in them.  Use a permanent marker to number the bottom of the ducks, 1 to 7.  Have seven toy sand buckets, also numbered 1 to 7, filled with prizes suitable for children under three.  Put a small amount of water in a little pool or tub for the ducks to float.  (We made the mistake one year of using a small inflatable pool and one little girl kept trying to step on the side.)  Each child can lift a duck out of the water and choose a prize from the bucket with the matching number.  This booth requires constant supervision, as some of the children really like playing in the water.  It is also a good idea to have a couple towels handy. Lucky Duckies

Noah's Ark
“There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark...” Genesis 7:9

Make an ark out of card board boxes.  Place a large box on the floor, upside down and put a cardboard boat-shape on the front.  Place a smaller box, also upside down on top of the first box with a hole cut for the door.  Make a ramp going up to the door and let the children roll a toy bowling ball up the ramp into the opening of the ark.  This is harder than it seems, unless you have sides on your ramp to keep the ball from rolling off before it reaches the top.  Place stuffed toy animals around the ark.  Put a rainbow on the wall over the ark and a toy dove on top of the ark.  The prizes could be an assortment of stuffed animals, Noah's Ark books, puzzles, or coloring books.  Constant supervision is needed to keep the children from trying to walk up the ramp.  Noah's Ark

Daniel And The Lions
“My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me:...” Daniel 6:22

Place toy stuffed lions on the floor with a dog bowl or bread basket in front of them.  The children can toss small rawhide dog bones into the bowl to feed the lions.  Prizes can be small toy lions, or books and puzzles about Daniel in the Den of Lions.  Lion


Honey Comb
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb...” Proverbs 16:24

Glue large yellow plastic cups together on a large piece of cardboard to make a honeycomb.  (Clothes pins may help hold them in place while the glue dries.)  Place a toy lizard, frog, or piece of candy in each hole and let the children toss in yellow, smiley face, ping pong balls. He or she wins the prize that is in the hole.  The balls bounce making this harder than it seems.  Place a stack of Honeycomb worksheets and pencils on the table for the older ones to work on while they wait.  This volunteer is kept busy chasing balls and replacing prizes.  Honeybee

Coat Of Many Colors
“...He made him a coat of many colours.” Genesis 37:3

Use three pieces of heavy paper, felt, or craft foam to make 12 matching cards by cutting each in four equal pieces.  Cut out a simple pattern of a coat and make two each, of six colors.  Glue one on each card.  The volunteer sits on one side of the table with the cards face down.  The child sits across the table and turns over two at a time to find a match.  This is easy enough for the small children if you give them all the time they need.  Packs of crayons make colorful prizes for this game.

I'm Gonna Let It Shine
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel...” Luke 11:33

This can be played on the other end of the same table as the game above.  Use three or four small matching baskets or cups turned upside down to play this game.  Let the child see you put a candle, (one that won't stain your table) under one of the baskets and slide the baskets around to see if he or she can guess which one has the hidden candle.  One year I was able to find small key chain flashlights for prizes.  Little Light

Bear Hunt
“Beareth all things, believeth all thing, hopeth all things...” I Corinthians 13:7

When my children were small I would hide their stuffed bears throughout the house and they would use flashlights to "go on a bear hunt" and find them.  Using this idea, we hid the bears at various places inside the building, with the Bear Verses, at our Fall Festivals for several years.  This year we hid them in a designated area  outside.  The younger children were given flashlights and teamed with an older person to go on the bear hunt.  (Make sure they understand that they are not to "collect" the bears, but they are to write down the verse references on their bear license.)  The children really enjoy this game and we have a table of prizes for them to choose from once they complete their Bear License page. You may wish to have copies of the puzzle Bear Tracks available on the table for an extra challenge. Bears All Things

Fishers Of Men
“...Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

This was the most popular game we had, but it was a challenge to set up.  We used a small plastic wading pool and small fishing rod to fish for small toys that floated on the water.  We removed the fish hook and used some wire, shaped to "hook" the toys.  It took trial and error to create a shape which would pick up the toys.  The children would not pass over this game, but stood in line and waited for their chance to "go fishing".  It requires constant supervision.  A real fishing rod is not necessary, as we have also used a wooden pole.  If the pool is large enough, you may wish to use two or three poles so the children won't have to wait as long.  Fishers

Snow Treasures
“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?...” Job 38:22

If you have access to white packaging peanuts this is fun for the small children.  We cut the top off a large box, about 2' by 3' and 2' high.  We wrapped the box with blue "snow" paper.  (Look with the Christmas wrapping paper.)  We then filled the box about 1 1/2' deep with packaging peanuts.  We hid many treasures in the snow.  Each child could reach around in the snow and find a treasure.  One year the children were asked to recite a Bible verse to seek for hidden treasure.  Use prizes big enough to find, such as small stuffed animals, small dolls, and footballs.  Snow Treasures




Out Reach:

“...Be Witnesses...” Acts 1:8

There are many seasonal tracts that can be ordered or purchased at Christian Book Stores.  A special way to make sure everyone takes home the Word is to ask each person, or family, to bring a bag of candy or fruit.  Fill paper lunch sacks with the collected assortment and include the tracts.  Your guests will be excited to have a "take-home" treat.

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