It’s October, the season many have been waiting for. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes, the cute jeans and boots, and, COVID. Unfortunately, the virus has managed to mutate and wreck some serious havoc on our fall joy. If you’re like my family, Halloween will look quite a bit different this year. Before you groan and assume your Halloween festivities are doomed to be dull, we have loads of ideas for you, sure to keep your entire family entertained.
Have a scary-not-scary movie night.
We have kids as young as five and as old as almost-thirteen, so movie nights have to appease us all. My kids don’t like anything that even hints at horror, so we stick to scary-not-scary entertainment. If you’ve decided to nix the door-to-door trick-or-treating this year and skip the fall festival, brainstorm a list of movies. Consider the animated flick The Addams Family, or how about a throwback like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? (Just please, please no more Spookley the Square Pumpkin.) You can even throwback to It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then buy a cheap plastic pumpkin and throw in snacks you know each kid will love. Of course, if scary films are more your family’s vibe, have at it. Just don’t message me when your kids wake you up at 2 a.m. from their nightmares.
Have a Halloween egg hunt.
Whether you have green space or just indoor space, dig those Easter eggs out of storage. Buy a few bags of candy—whatever your kids—and yours—favorites are, fill the eggs, and then get ready to hide them. (We also use quarters, and you can use one egg for the magical prize of $5.) If you want to throw in some extra fun, turn out the lights and hunt eggs using flashlights. I love this idea because you are only getting the candy you’ll want and eat versus those nasty generic Tootsie Rolls your neighbor’s buy and your kid with braces can’t eat anyway.
Host your own costume walk.
When I was a kid, we’d wear our Halloween costumes to school and have a Halloween parade, where we would walk around the blacktop while the parents watched and took pictures. It was a huge thrill, even though it was such a simple activity. Let your kids dress up as whatever they want, getting creative with what you already have, and parade around the neighborhood. I mean really, no matter your age, why not?
Curl up with a good book.
My kids love to read. They are always devouring and trading books. Find each of your kids a scary (or not scary) Halloween book to read on Halloween. Of course, you’ll get them a big bag of Halloween chocolate to consume while reading. You can also find pre-created Halloween themed playlists to have in the background. If your child doesn’t love to read, there’s always activity books, like how-to-draw books.
Gamers gotta game.
For older kids, buy a new video game and play with them. Yes, like you used to play blocks with them, now you’ll become a temporary gamer. I know I’ve said it before, but don’t forget the snacks. My kids love when we pick up gourmet popcorn in a surprising flavor (bacon, anyone?) to try. You can also get a surprise bag of jelly beans to enjoy while you take on the “bad guys” in the video game.
Get creative with pumpkins.
I absolutely hate carving pumpkins. I don’t like knives in the hands of kids—much less me doing it. The innards of the pumpkin disgust me. When my oldest kids were little, I had the idea to bedazzle pumpkins. I bought cheap rhinestones and googly eyes, along with a bottle of craft glue, and let my kids decorate their chosen pumpkins. We’ve done this every year since, and they absolutely love it, even my oldest. The pumpkins last a long time, too—unlike the jack-o-lanterns.
Have an apple-themed buffet.
If your kids like to be in the kitchen, buy or make apple-themed foods. Think apple muffins, apple bread, applesauce, caramel apples, and apple cider. Make sure to get each person’s favorite apple type, too. You can combine the apple buffet with some of the other activities, like after your costume walk or during your gaming night.
Visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch.
Speaking of apples and pumpkins, choosing your own can be fun and COVID-safe. Find a local orchard or patch to visit, perhaps one your family has never been to before. We prefer the non-commercialized ones without all the bells and whistles. Those cost so much more, plus the corn pit, for example, tends to be a total germ nightmare. Be sure to take lots of pics!
Boo someone’s yard.
If you have a dear friend or family member who could use some Halloween joy, you can always “boo” their yard or porch. Take some of the Halloween eggs you created for your own fam, head over to your loved one’s place, and spread some of the eggs on porch or yard. (Be mindful that a lot of candy melts!) Be sure to leave a note on their door to let them know what the heck is going on. You can also snap a pic and send it to the recipient to let them know a surprise is awaiting them when they get home. (If you want to really have fun, you can go for the TP if you think your recipient will think it’s funny.) An alternative is to make Halloween goody baskets to drop off to others–especially those who maybe don’t (or can’t) get trick-or-treaters and could use a fall pick-me-up.
Find a service project.
Offer to collect leftover candy to send or take to an organization. Rake the leaves in the neighbor’s yard—just because. Host a costume collection drive to donate costumes to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Make homemade Halloween cards using orange and black construction paper and plenty of stickers to take to a local nursing home for the residents.
I’m all for changing up Halloween traditions, given the pandemic. With a little creativity and planning, you and your family can enjoy this spooky (or not) holiday without compromising on fall fun.
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