How to trade halloween candy

OK, so this didn’t quite work for this weeks YouTube You Can Use, but its dang funny.

Question: How many days go by before you start stealing your kids candy while they sleep? 

Christian Living

10 Horrible Halloween Treat Ideas

If you care about being Good News in Your Neighborhood, Halloween is one of the easiest days on the calendar to get out and meet a lot of people. Since 2005, I’ve written a number of posts encouraging fellow Christians to embrace Halloween as an opportunity to meet your neighbors.

So I won’t rehash why we celebrate Halloween or re-share some of the things we’ve done in the past to practice hospitality.

But I do want to say that not every idea is a good idea. And not every treat idea is a good treat idea. Every year my kids come home from trick-or-treating and lay out all of their candy on the floor. As they carefully examine each treat some of them get labeled as “junk.” (Something healthy. Or even a dime store toy.) Giving out “junk” is the biggest insult you can give a kind on Halloween night. Don’t be that guy.

Here’s a list of 10 really horrible Halloween treat ideas NOT to try this year.

  1. Ketchup packets – Cheap, and you probably have a drawer full of them already. But I not a treat that’ll make a 6 year old happy.
  2. Bacon bits – Bacon is always a welcome addition. And bacon bits would be awesome with a snack sized Snickers. But little ziplocks of bacon bits would be gross.
  3.  Beef jerky – Jerky would look amazing to give away. In the dark it might look like poop, and kids would think that was funny, but an assortment of cured meats would be a bit too creepy.
  4.  KFC wet naps – Probably useful, especially if their face paint starts to run, but just don’t do this one. It’s really odd.
  5. Roll of electrical tape – I know its tempting to go through your garage to find random items to pawn off on kids. While a roll of tape would be a good bargain, most kids won’t know what to do with it.
  6. Sample size toothpaste – I get it. You work at a dental office and you get it for free. And why not encourage kids to brush their teeth after eating all of that candy. But no, really weird. Unless it looks like blood. Blood is cool on Halloween.
  7. Plastic spoon – Nothing says, “I hate you” quite like a random bit of disposable cutlery. Just don’t do this. Megan (11) said this would be the dumbest thing ever.
  8. Band aids – Really weird and gross. Say no to the adhesive bandage.
  9. A pickle – I love pickles. Probably more than I love bacon. But can you imagine the look on kids faces when you dropped a dripping wet pickle in their bag?
  10. Canned food item – Hold off on unloading that unwanted can of stewed chutney until Novembers canned food drive, OK?

Question: What would be the worst costume you could wear if you wanted to become Good News in Your Neighborhood?

Christian Living Good News

5 Ways to Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

Christians have a weird history with celebrating Halloween. Not growing up in the church I was appalled when I heard church people refer to it as “Devil’s night” and say things like, “Of course we don’t celebrate Halloween.” It’s as if we’re talking about two different holidays. There’s the one that actually happens and the one that you’re afraid is happening. Like all things– fear is irrational. 

The whole anti-Halloween concept is built on a theology of fear. Be reminded that in Ephesians 5 Paul instructs Christians to be light in dark places!

Many churches offer alternatives such as harvest parties, hell houses, or trunk-or-treating. Those things aren’t bad, but they aren’t good news in your neighborhood

Here’s my suggestion: Skip the Christian alternatives altogether and embrace Halloween for what it is. It’s a night when hundreds of families will wander around your neighborhood, smiling and enjoying one another, and giving candy to children.

Think strategically: For those who are anti-Halloween I have this challenge. One night a year one hundred families want to come to your door and say hello. Are you going to greet them? Or are you going to turn off your light and pretend they don’t exist?

Don’t be “that guy” on your block. Embrace Halloween as an opportunity to be good news in your neighborhood.

5 Ways You Can Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

  1. Sit on the front porch. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on the front porch all night and talk to people as they come by. Resist the temptation to go inside between visitors. Trust me on this. You’ll like what happens. You’ll make great small talk with parents AND every time I’ve done it my neighbors see me and do the same. We have great little conversations porch-to-porch conversations between visitors.
  2. Make it a game. Set up a simple game in your front yard to give trick-or-treaters the opportunity to win the big candy bar. It could be as simple as a bean bag toss or throwing a football to knock something down. Make it simple, kids want to hit every house on your block, but this will make a great impression.
  3. Host a warming station on your block. We’ve done this one bunches of times– it’s ALWAYS a blast. We had close to 1000 trick-or-treaters at our house in Michigan and doing this cost me, maybe, $75. Set up a little tent in your driveway or front yard and serve coffee, hot cocoa, and apple cider. It’s a great break to the routine and easy to invite your small group or someone who doesn’t have trick-or-treaters to help with. Do it 2-3 years in a row and you’ll get known as the house that does that tent thing. Really want to make some friends? Offer parents a little Kahula or Bailey’s for their hot drink!
  4. Do something fun and not-so-scary. There are people in our neighborhood who go all out. They build tunnels over the sidewalk and scare the tar out of children. You can have fun like that and just make it fun. Rent a bounce house and play some music. Be weird and decorate your house for Christmas. Dress up like the easter bunny and have an easter egg hunt every 15 minutes. Just because you don’t want to get into the whole devil/ghosts/zombie thing doesn’t mean you can’t be creative to have some fun with the hundreds of kids who will come up your walk.
  5. Cover every house. I live on a block that has some elderly folks. Consequently, we have kind of a bummer block because many of them aren’t mobile enough to hand out candy. It would be great to rally a few people and make sure every porch light is on and there is candy at every house. Warning: You may need to actually talk to your neighbors to pull this one off. (Which is more scary than Halloween itself, right?)

What are other ways you can embrace Halloween as a way to be Good News in your neighborhood?


Halloween Success

My little trick or treaters, waiting for go time., originally uploaded by mclanea.

It’d been a couple of years since I have been home for Halloween.

So, I was thrilled when the kids informed me that I was taking them trick-or-treating and Kristen was going to stay home and hand out candy.

They quickly covered several blocks of our neighborhood. (It was fun to see the same neighbors again, without the hovering helicopters and SWAT teams of the night before. What a difference 24 hours makes!)

One thing I adore about our neighborhood is how friendly everyone is. The neighborhood is a fun mix of middle-class families, immigrants/refugees, retired folks, and college students. That was on full display all night.

Three favorite moments:

1. There is one neighbor who goes all out. They set up their yard like a haunted house, complete with zombies and chainsaw masacres. Both of our kids fought the fear, smiled realizing it was all fake and for fun, and made it through. Paul kept telling himself, “Don’t chicken out” as he made his way to the porch. (They gave out full-sized candy bars, pretty cool)

2. About an hour into their adventure both of them got very tired. As we were still several blocks from home they both just looked at me and said, “Can we walk straight home?” Then, as we were walking home, both Megan and Paul decided they needed to make one more stop. They wanted to go next door to visit our 80+ year old neighbors. They love that couple and have a special bond with them that is really cool. I loved that they wanted to see them and knew that “Mr. Stan” would want to see them in their costumes.

3. I loved seeing and handing out candy to first-timers. Our community welcomes refugees from all over the world. The latest group hails from several African nations… and it was fun to see them try to figure out Halloween. The costumes were a little off and the concept of a cute plastic pumpkin as a candy storage device was lost along the way. But these kids got it, and the smiles on their faces were priceless.

I love living in a country where one day we can have a police standoff and the next it is safe enough for children to wander around in the dark asking random houses for candy.

Christian Living

3 Reasons to Embrace Halloween

Photo by Patrick Giblin via Flickr (Creative Commons)

3 reasons why I think every Christian should embrace Halloween as a cultural phenomenon beyond personal convictions that you are endorsing evil.

  1. Don’t punish your kids for your convictions. We don’t let our kids dress up as demons or witches… but we do allow them to wear costumes because it’s fun. But to keep them at home, locked in the basement while you watch some cheesy Christian movie instead of getting bucket loads of candy tonight… that’s just mean. We are called to bring light into darkness not hide from darkness. (Ephesians 5:8-14) You can take your kids to your neighbors houses, keep them safe, and show them that being a Christian isn’t about hiding from the world.
  2. Be hospitable. I know plenty of people live in rural areas and don’t get trick-or-treaters. So you folks are exempt… for a night. But if you are like me and hundreds of kids will be walking by your house looking for a few pieces of yummy candy don’t be the jerk on your block. Head out to the store right now and get yourself a couple bags of candy. Titus 1:8 pretty much makes it clear that anyone in leadership at their church must be hospitable. Turn your light on, answer the door, and be hospitable. Even if you can’t be home tonight, leave out a bowl and turn the light on. People know what to do! (Yes, just let people steal your candy!)
  3. Don’t be afraid! I think a lot of this anti-Halloween stuff is based on terrible theology. The Bible tells us to resist the devil. Peter tells us to “resist him” which indicates a struggle. (1 Peter 5:8-9) But the Bible doesn’t tell Christians to hide from evil. Look at the example of Paul as he went to various towns. He encountered evil in all its forms and chose to bring Christ there.

My kids are excited about Halloween. Megan is dressing up like a tiger and Paul is dressing up like a mad scientist. This year, I will be handing out candy and pleasantries with neighbors while Kristen (Baby Tres is in the belly, he is wearing a placenta costume, kind of gross but that’s what he wanted. Weirdo.) take the kids around the neighborhood.

Maybe I’ll get in trouble for saying this? But I think Halloween is my favorite holiday.

ht to Todd and my original post from 2007.


Themes from NYWC

I had a great weekend in Cincinnati. I had lots of time to connect with old friends, meet tons of new people, and got into a multitude of deep conversations about life, work, ministry, and family. Over and over again themes came into conversation. These weren’t things I brought up… it just seemed like everything came back to these things eventually.

  • Mentorship, tutoring, education: Apparently, I am not the only one thinking that if youth ministry needs to be Good News to students it needs to somehow involve education. It seems like this is a youth ministry-wide tribal reaction to the realization that programmatic stuff isn’t as effective as it was just 5 years ago.
  • Calling: Living on the West Coast I’m a bit insulated from what is going on in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio churches. My friends would say, “it’s bad, real bad.” And I think that means giving is way down, they are taking pay cuts, and they are having to go back to God and say… “Are you absolutely positive I am called to this?
  • Ministering to gay and lesbian students: When Andrew Marin came to NYWC last fall and talked about the big rainbow elephant in the room… it opened up a can of worms! One of the things I’ve learned is that while teens were coming out of the closet to youth workers EVERYWHERE, the youth workers were still closeted about it. I can’t tell you how many times a conversation brought this up.
  • Dependency. I think this is related to calling– it’s just the theological “aha” so many are embracing. We all know God’s got this. We all know that no matter how bad things look for the church, the church will be fine. But this weekend I ran into a bunch of people who literally are putting their life out there and depending on God. Even during the convention I ran into people who told me they had been let go that weekend. But they aren’t giving up. They aren’t freaking out. They are depending on God.
  • Fun! Even with the heavy stuff right under the surface. This is a tribe of people who loves life and wants to have fun. Check out what they did on Halloween.

Funny Stuff Video Clip

Unintended consequences