October 31 is a tricky one for Christians.
For some, it's a bit of light-hearted fun and an excuse to eat an absurd amount of sweets, for others, it signifies something darker.
Whatever your thoughts, it's good to be prepared and to engage with what's going on in your community, so we've put together a list of ways you can do just that:
1. Throw a Light Party. This is a church classic, embedded into the psyche of youthworkers everywhere along with dodgy rewrites of the Nativity (first lobster, anyone?) and Christingle services which inevitably end in someone's hair setting on fire. But they work, and you can find some good resources for how to do your own here.
2. Subvert the conventions of Halloween. If your carving skills go beyond enthusiastically attacking a turkey on Christmas day, how about attempting to recreate Jesus in a pumpkin? Turns out there are actually people who do that. At worst you can attempt to out-do these guys.
3. Treat or tract. No one likes the guy who hands out fake £20 notes emblazoned with John 3:16, but you could find a way to incorporate a Bible verse into your gift giving. Just please don't consider it an alternative, unless you want to spend the rest of the evening cleaning egg off your front windows.
4. Practice radical generosity. Why not use Halloween as an excuse to demonstrate extravagant generosity and give out enormous chocolate bars like Christian artist Jimmy Needham? After all, there is nothing fun about a fun-sized Mars Bar. There just isn't.
5. Have an apologetic answer to give. As a Christian, you might get questions about your stance on Halloween. People will want to know what you think, so have an answer to give them, whatever it might be. You can do better than 'Um, well, I think some Christians have a problem with it...'
6. Celebrate All Saints Day instead. November 1 is All Saints Day, but it seems to have fallen down the list of days we like to commemorate along with Winter Lent and Epiphany. Take the opportunity to have people round and celebrate. You could even go one step further and dress up – we'd recommend St Francis, or possibly Nicole Appleton from All Saints (she had the best hair).
7. Know where your line is. You might decide that the fantasy side of Halloween – the werewolves, vampires and gargoyles – is okay, but the demons and witches aren't. Work out where you stand, and then focus your negative attention on practical engagement. Letter writing to shops and supermarkets is really powerful, so let them know what you'd like to see less of in their aisles and marketing schemes. Do it as politely, clearly and with as little hysteria as possible. Think of the impression your letter would leave on the people in customer services who read it. Will it help them to understand where some Christians are coming from?
8. Make Halloween a day that you share your faith. Sometimes we all need a nudge to tell others what we actually believe, so you could use October 31 as a day to say something on Facebook, for example. A long-winded explanation of the gospel, however true and well-meaning, will probably be as welcomed by your online friends as another Farmville invitation, but something short and honest might be nice. If all else fails, post this helpful pumpkin.
9. Seek out ways to practically help those out celebrating. What if we didn't simply shut ourselves in church (or in the house with the lights off), but instead opened our doors and welcomed those out celebrating? What about offering hot chocolates to cold trick-or-treaters, or joining those who hand out flip flops and water outside clubs? Have a think about what would work for your town, and definitely pray for the safety of all those out on the night.
10. Light up your church. And finally, turn on the lights in your church and leave them on all night. Just don't tell whoever's in charge of accounts.