What is an All Saints’ Day Party?
An All Saints’ Day Party is an opportunity for families to gather together to celebrate the lives of the Saints while enjoying games, food, and fellowship. Simply put, it’s a Catholic “Halloween” party. The name Halloween originally came from All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Eve – The Eve of All Saints’ Day. In recent years it has become a very secular holiday, but hosting an All Saints’ Day Party is a fun way to incorporate both the spiritual and the secular into one.
When organizing an All Saints’ Party – the sky is the limit. With effort and a lot of team work, costume and pumpkin carving contests, games, prizes, and goody-bags can all be organized. One homeschooling mother and veteran All Saints’ Party organizer put it this way, “It’s a fun alternative to what Halloween has become. This party has a saintly focus.”
Many All Saints’ Parties originate to fulfill a need. A few families in a parish or homeschooling group may come together to form an organization team – but really, the whole party is a family affair, involving many families working together to make it possible.
Gaining parish approval or booking a hall through the Knights of Columbus is an excellent way to ensure a place to host a party for many families. Some venues may require a rental fee, while others may not. The organizers can pay the fee out-of-pocket or use money that may have been donated by the Knights of Columbus. Charging a low admission fee for entrance to the party can help to pay back the organizers for what they spent in booking the hall and buying supplies.
A good time to start planning would be in August and then serious planning could occur in September. In our old homeschooling group, serious planning would only start in August if there was no definite venue yet decided for that year.
Setting a Date
Finding a good time for the All Saints’ Day Party may be tricky, but a Sunday around All Saints’ Day might usually be the best. This may be a good day when many people are free and many parents are home from work. When deciding on a time, try and find and work around the latest Mass time in the morning so families can come to the party afterwards. For example, if the latest Mass is usually 10:30 – making the party at 11:30 (or thereabouts) may help to ensure a good turnout.
Drawing People Together
Once a date and a time have been established for the All Saints’ Day Party, advertise by sending out notifications through the local homeschooling groups and parish bulletins. Include the date, place, time, and an RSVP date. The RSVP date is important so the organizers know roughly how many people to expect and can plan accordingly for the food and other supplies.
Setting Up and Tearing Down
Setting up for an All Saints’ Day Party is usually best done (if possible) the night before the party. The decorations should make the hall seem like Heaven. Blue, silver, and white are good color schemes for table cloths. Tissue paper and tulle fabric can be hung from the ceiling to represent clouds and add a heavenly feel. The women in our homeschooling group used to dress baby-dolls up as angels and hang them from the ceiling amid the tulle. The hall decorations can match those on the table, but the plates, cups, and utensils don’t necessarily have to be color-coordinated.
Both setting up and tearing down can turn into a group effort divided between many different families. “Many hands make light work.”
One option that our homeschooling group had was having a section of the hall dedicated to the souls in purgatory. Black crepe paper can help to provide a solemn and mysterious setting. The Saint Gertrude prayer was available so that those who visited “Purgatory” could remember to pray for those souls who are not yet in Heaven. It added a somber tone to our All Saints’ Day Party and served as a reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters who have completed their earthly journey but have not yet made it to Heaven and are in need of our prayers.
Tradition has it that Our Lord told Saint Gertrude that every time the following prayer was devoutly recited, it would release 1,000 souls (or a vast number) from their suffering in Purgatory:
Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home, and in my family. Amen.
So…how much do you charge for admission to an All Saints’ Day Party? Or do you charge at all? Some groups have found that $10-$12 admission per family was a good price to cover the cost of the meat (main entrée), bread, condiments, drinks, utensils, decorations, and rental fee that would be provided by the organizer/s (who would then be reimbursed). In addition, each family would bring a side-dish to share and a bag of soft candy.
To put it simply:
Organizers Contribute: rental fee (if there is one), meat (main entrée), bread, condiments, drinks, utensils, plates, napkins, and decorations.
Each Family Contributes: An entrance fee of $10-$12; a side dish to feed a substantial amount of people, and a bag of soft candy.
Suggested Schedule for an All Saints’ Day Party
There is no definite schedule that is set to work definitely every time. However, our old homeschooling group found that for the order of events the following usually worked very well:
Check-in; Lunch; Saint parade/Costume Contest; Games; Praying the Rosary together close to 3:00 pm; Games
Oftentimes, the party would last late into the afternoon – sometimes close to 5 or 6 pm.
Games and Prizes
No party is complete without games and prizes – especially an All Saints’ Day Party! Our homeschooling group used to have a raffle prize that every family could enter to win.
For the individual games, establishing a token system can be an orderly way to deal out prizes. Here is how our old homeschooling group used to do it. Different families created different games. Many were reused year after year. All or most of the games had a saint/holy theme. The operators of the games had cups filled with gold, plastic coins. There would be one token, per winner, per turn. If the lines kept moving, each child had the opportunity for many turns.
There was a table that had many prizes on it. The prizes were often donations from local Catholic bookstores who could advertise through their donations. Sometimes the Knights of Columbus would also donate money for prizes. An advertisement on the homeschooling group could be a way to gather gently used toys or Religious Articles in good condition. Many of the gifts had a Christian theme. Saint Magnets and Stickers make incredible prizes! You can save 20% everything in our shop! Check your email for an exclusive coupon code.
Each item on the prize table cost a certain amount of coins. The child would tell the “cashier” what gift they wanted and place the proper amount of coins in a big plastic jar as payment for the item they chose. The coins can be reused in future years. The party was a perfect opportunity to stock up on Christmas presents for friends and family members.
When it comes to games, there is no set rule for amount or type. Our group had many different games that were invented by different families. It can be a game to think up different games.
One game I loved was called “The Holy Spirit Walk.” It was similar to a cake walk. There were different wooden planks that each had a gift of the Holy Spirit on them. One main plank in the middle said “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” The moderator would have a jar with slips of paper that had the different gifts written on them. When the music stopped, the moderator of the game would pull out a slip of paper from the jar. The child standing on the plank chosen won a token. Each group of children gets three turns before the next group’s turn.
We had hermit crab races and a wheel of fortune – but with a Catholic/Christian theme. Children also had the opportunity to fish for Holy Cards. There was a curtain set up and each child could throw a fishing line over the curtain where the person in charge would attach a Holy Card. Our parish also had a saintly bingo game. You can download our Saint Bingo here.
There was also a game involving stuffed animals and bean bags. Some of the stuffed animals had the names of vices on them. Others can be blank or have the names of virtues. They were set up on a wooden shelf with no backing. The goal was to knock out the vices with the three or so bean bags that were provided. If you could knock them down without disturbing the virtues or the blank ones, you received a token.
Costume contests can vary depending on the amount of people in attendance, how many children there are, and other factors. Every child that wants to should come dressed as any saint of their choice. The costumes do not have to be very complicated. Place a sign-in table by the entrance where families can pay the admission fee and also, where each child is given a name-tag with their saint’s name and a number.
There are a variety of ways to hold the costume contest. Children can parade around the room so that everyone is able to see the different costumes. Announce each of the different saints (and their numbers). If there aren’t that many children, each child could tell a little about their saint and why they chose to dress up as that particular saint.
Judging the Costume Contest
An odd amount of judges makes the process easier. Our homeschooling group found five judges to be a good number. There were four or five age categories so that many different children would have an opportunity to win.
Age categories: 0-5; 6-8; 9-11; 12 and up (this can include adults unless there are many adults, and then they would be in a separate category).
Each category would have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner. One of the moms had a button maker and would make badges with the different numbers (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) for each of the different categories.
Each of the judges should have paper, clipboards (or some hard surface), and pencils/pens. They should each write down the child’s number and also, but not necessarily, the saint name. Once the judges have made their decisions for each age group, different moms can tally up the numbers to see which child has the most votes, second-most votes, and third-most votes. They are the winners in each category.
Place the candy that was brought by each of the families in a large tub or container. Soft candy is recommended in order to be more suitable for young children. Once all the children are counted, someone should be in charge of dividing the candy as evenly as possible into paper bags so that each child can have one bag. They should be available so when the families leave, each child can take one on their way out. The bags sometimes contained other little trinkets such as a pencil.
Pumpkin Carving Contest
Having a pumpkin carving competition is not a necessary addition, but it might be a fun one. Any family that wishes can bring an already carved pumpkin to the party. A table should be set aside to hold all the pumpkins so anyone can contribute their vote for the best one. The votes are then tallied and the pumpkin with the most votes wins. There are many creative pumpkin carving ideas that originated. Some had Christian themes while others did not.
Tying It All Together
As with any party planning, putting together an All Saints’ Day Party can take a lot of time and effort. However, the outcome is always worth it. It is an opportunity to bring families together in a spirit of teamwork, fellowship, and friendship.
An All Saints’ Day Party can serve as a tribute to the memory of the many men and women who have gone before us and give us an example to follow. It can allow children to see that learning about the Saints is not stupid. No matter how simple or complex the party is, there is always great beauty to be found in gathering families together to celebrate in this way. And Christ Himself said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Games, food, fun, fellowship, and God – all rolled into one party – that’s not such a bad deal after all!