Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.
Ahhh...Halloween. The time when all the goblins and ghouls want to come out to play for a night of whimsy fantasy; collecting all the sugary treats their little bags will hold. However, evil creatures lurk in the night; looking to prey on the goblin and ghoul children who innocently come out for a night filled with fun and laughter.
So, what are parents supposed to do to protect their little ones from the dangers of the night, while not dampening the fun and festivities that come with Halloween? Consider creating some new traditions that do not involve trick or treating.
Host Halloween Party
Hosting a Halloween party at your house will take some planning weeks ahead of time, but it will be worth it. You can either make it a kids-only party or a family-friendly party by inviting your friends over; both young and old.
The first step is deciding what "treats" you will want to serve. Look for some Halloween and Fall themed foods to serve your guests. The best option is having a table with a variety of foods from appetizers and snacks to desserts and candy. This will allow guests to eat and mingle.
Another thing to plan is games. You can have a variety of games for all ages and for everyone who participates in a game, they can add candy or other treats to their Halloween bag or bucket. There are a variety of games that can be purchased, but fill free to make your own. Some of these could include:
- Pin the spider on the web using a poster board and cut-out spiders.
- Ring toss using old 2-liter bottles and rings.
- Bean bag toss using plywood with circle cut-outs and square bags filled with beans or rice. If you do not have plywood available, consider using hula hoops laid on the ground instead.
- Penny can using old tin cans, such as vegetable cans, and ten pennies. Decorate cans and offer a prize for each penny that makes it in each can.
- Bobbing for apples is always a Halloween favorite.
- Shoot out the flame uses water guns and votive candles. Each player uses the water gun to shoot out the candle flame.
Also, consider preparing goodie bags to pass out as the guests are leaving. The goodie bags can be filled with homemade treats, store-bought candy, or trinket toys.
Consider looking into your local area churches to see if they are planning a Fall or Halloween Carnival. Some churches also plan Trunk or Treat events to offer a safer alternative to knocking door to door for candy from strangers. Some local communities host their own city Halloween festival or carnival. If your area doesn't have one, consider lobbying to start one.
Have a Family Night
Instead of getting out in the mayhem of trick or treating, consider having a family night in. Sit down as a family for a Halloween themed dinner, followed by watching a marathon of family-friendly Halloween movies with Halloween inspired snacks and treats.
Even consider having a Halloween tree with packages filled with either tricks or treats. Each family member will get to unwrap their Halloween gift not knowing if it may have some treats, such as candy or toys, or a trick, such as an empty box or a gag gift.
For families with younger kids, consider sitting down as a family to work on Halloween crafts. Younger kids love working with their hands and it help improve their hand-eye coordination. This will not only create lasting memories but wonderful keepsakes.
Regardless, sit down as a family and discuss some Halloween family traditions. Having a family night for Halloween can be just as rewarding and memorable as walking the neighborhood, trick or treating door to door. Chances are, it's a lot safer, too.
Another family night alternative to trick or treating around the neighborhood is to plan for a back yard trick or treat. Create back yard activity stations and for completing each station they will earn a treat. Another option is similar to the Easter egg hunt. Fill several small goodie bags and place them around the yard for the kids to find. For an added touch, consider using a fog machine to fill the back yard with fog to increase the fun and difficulty of finding the goodie bags.
Consider having a campout, either in the backyard or at a campground, if the weather permits. You can have a cookout and tell ghost stories by flashlight. In fact, more and more campgrounds, both public and private, are planning Halloween themed campouts. Below is a list of some of the campgrounds across America who plan Halloween-themed campouts.
- Buckeye Lake KOA in Columbus, OH
Learn more about the current events at the Buckeye Lake / Columbus East KOA RV Park & Campground in Buckeye Lake Ohio.
- Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort in Santa Claus, IN
Check out Halloween Weekends at Lake Rudolf Campground!
- Yogi Bear Jellystone Knightstown, IN
Welcome to the award-winning Jellystone Park in historic Knightstown, Indiana. Just a miles from Indianapolis Indiana, we are the perfect Indiana Campground
- Great Camping at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park at Delaware Beaches
Delaware Beaches Jellystone Park, formerly Cedar Creek Landing Campground, is in a great location just off Route 1, 3 miles south of Milford, in Lincoln, Delaware.
- South Dakota Campgrounds at Sioux Falls Jellystone Park
Visit our South Dakota campgrounds and check out the corn maze!
- Gettysburg Battlefield KOA
Learn more about the current Halloween events at the Gettysburg / Battlefield KOA RV Park & Campground in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
- 49er Village, California
Check out the Halloween festivities planned at the 49er Village in Plymouth, CA.
- Deerpark/New York City KOA
Learn more about the Halloween events at Deerpark/ New York City KOA campground.
Neighborhood Block Party
Worried about the safety of the children wandering the streets at night but don't want to spoil the full Halloween experience? Consider talking with neighbors about planning a neighborhood block party. Talk with city officials and homeowners association (where applicable) about closing down specific streets in the neighborhood to pedestrian-only. Working with your neighbors, you can play Halloween music and games. Consider having each neighbor have a carnival-style game in their yard for the kids to play and have a little fun. Make the Halloween block party family-friendly as to cater to not only the children but the kids as well. Even still, have an annual costume contest or pageant separated by age groups, including adults. Encourage city officials or other affluential members of the community to be the judges.
Host a Haunted House
Scary haunted attractions are becoming more popular with each passing year. Instead of throwing a Halloween party or trick or treating, consider creating your own kid-friendly haunted house in your own backyard. Of course, this would also compliment a Halloween party, as well. You construct a maze for the kids to go through. Paint the inside with glow-in-the-dark paint and add some battery operated black lights. Strategically place Halloween themed music throughout the maze. Add secret compartments filled with treats as they go through the maze. For older kids, perhaps make the treats a bit more of a challenge with an added, age-appropriate scary trick to be able to access the treats. For toddlers and young children, consider going with the cuter aspects of Halloween or do a spin-off Disney's Haunted Mansion.
Regardless of whether your backyard haunted house is scary or just downright adorable, make it something the kids will have fun with for hours. All you need is a bit of plywood and/or cardboard, paint, simple special effects, and a bit of imagination. Also, let your kids in on the planning, as it will be their friends coming over for Halloween.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Linda Sarhan