Is it to soon to think about Halloween?
Now that we’ve passed the first day of school and the Jersey Classroom is underway my mind is focused in on Halloween. With everything going on how do we make sure Halloween doesn’t suck for kids this year?
Poor Halloween, a much loved holiday for kids, this year, more than ever, parents really want a great Halloween for kids. I think all of us have been feeling like our kids have had to give up so much, a traditional summer, a regular classroom, birthday parties, etc.
Our kids deserve better! We want to give them a fantastic Halloween to bring back some of the joy in being a kid.
15+ Ways to Make Sure Halloween Doesn’t Suck for Kids
I’m a night owl so after working to update some articles about Halloween activities in New Jersey I got focused on what parents can do to make sure Halloween doesn’t suck for kids this year. I talked to a friend or two and then the creative juices started flowing. No matter where you live these ideas will help you save Halloween and make it fun for your family.
Our kids want and deserve an EPIC Halloween. Here’s how to give it to them.
Decorate the yard with Outdoor Halloween Decor
In my house, we go all out decorating for Christmas. We have bins of inflatables, lights, and other outdoor Christmas decorations. This past July, while many of us were stuck at home, some families got busy bringing out those decorations. Their Christmas spirit brought smiles to their communities.
This year for Halloween let’s pledge to bring joy to our kids and neighborhood by decorating for Halloween. Go spooky! Go silly. Buy outdoor Halloween decor or create your own. Get the kids involved too.
We’re putting together a guide to some great outdoor Halloween decor items, but for now here’s a few places that regularly sell outdoor Halloween decorations.
- Home Depot
- Party City
- Oriental Trading
I’ve already added a few outdoor Halloween decorations to my Amazon shopping cart. Now’s the time to stock up before inventory starts to run low.
Sandy Harrison from MumeeMagic also suggested have a decorating competition among the family. Maybe give each person a section of the yard or a room of your house to decorate. The winner gets to pick the next movie for family movie night, wins a day to be in charge, a bucket of candy, or something else that would mean a lot to them.
Get Creative with Trick or Treating
Will traditional trick or treating happen this year? Right now, we don’t know. I predict door-to-door trick or treating will be on pause this year. The knocking on the door, the leaning in to get candy, puts kids and adults in close contact with each other. Instead this year, expect to see your neighbors in their driveways or near sidewalks with candy situated on the table. Kids can take their treats as they trick on by.
Some families will even take advantage of this DIY Halloween Candy Station video to create some outrageously-cool ways to deliver candy to your kids.
Don’t forget to take advantage of Trunk or Treat events too. They’ve become a popular way in recent years for some safe trick or treating. I think this year they will be more popular than ever.
Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy, had a thought for a unique way to do a Trunk or Treat.
We’ve all seen the drive-by parade celebrations, so why not have a drive-by trunk-or-treat? This is a great idea to keep kids from gathering around your front door. To set up, park your car in your driveway or set up a table at the end of your driveway. Add some fun Halloween decor like some spiders and webs to your table with the candy bowl. Set up a lawn chair and enjoy all the costumes that come by. You can also get your neighbors in on the fun and coordinate a neighborhood Drive- by trick or treat.Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy
March along with a Halloween Parade
Another newer Halloween activity for kids has been Halloween Parades. Unlike Christmas parades with Santa, these Halloween parade floats are decorated with ghosts, goblins, and pumpkins. If your area doesn’t offer one, get together with some neighbors and friends and organize your own Halloween parade.
Anne Armstrong from My Gnome on the Roam had a clever thought when it comes to Halloween parades.
Celebrate with a Halloween parade. Kids could dress up and travel via car to show off their costumes. Families could also reverse the parade with cars driving through the neighborhood and tossing candy while kids stand on the sidewalk (removes some of the worry of dropping in on the porches of strangers). Sort of a Mardi-weenAnne Armstrong, My Gnome on the Roam
One thing to keep in mind, depending on the size and location of your Halloween parade you may need to get permission or file a permit. Start planning now.
Host an Outdoor Scary Family Movie Night
Want to have a Halloween gathering of friends but not sure how to do it safely? Host an outdoor scary movie night in the yard. It’s still warm enough to do it. With everyone sitting in chairs or beach towels 6 feet apart this can be a fun and safe way to save Halloween for your kids.
Since Halloween falls on a Saturday night you could even make your scary family movie night a Halloween movie marathon. Have the kids bring sleeping bags instead of towels if you’re brave enough to pull an all nighter with kids.
Outdoor movie nights can be as simple as draping a sheet against the side of the house or shed or buy an outdoor movie screen with a projector. Find them on Amazon. We’ll have a list of the best tips and equipment for outdoor movie nights coming soon.
You can also make your outdoor scary movie night extra easy by renting the equipment you need from a local party or special events rental business. They’d probably love your support, plus they take care of the set up and breakdown of the equipment for you. Want to splurge? Add a popcorn popper, snow cone machine, or cotton candy machine to your rental.
Can’t get outdoors? Alexandra Fung from Upparent had this suggestion.
Go all out for a special Halloween-themed family movie night if you’re staying home on Halloween! Eat pizza in the family room, dim the lights and burn some candles, share a big bowl of candy, and enjoy a movie that will put everyone in the spirit. There are many great movie choices with different levels of scariness, depending on the age of your kids. Here is a list with parent-to-parent recommendations for the best Halloween movies for families: https://www.upparent.com/lists/halloween-movies-for-kids.Alexandra Fung, Upparent
Take a Costumed Scavenger Hunt
I can’t take the credit for this idea to make sure Halloween doesn’t suck for kids. It comes from a friend. Julia, from Wine in Mom, introduced me to the idea of costumed scavenger hunts. Get the kids together in their Halloween costumes and take them on a scavenger hunt around your house, the homes of friends, or the park.
Before they hunt, place out candy or other treasures for them to find. Quick note, if you’re hiding candy place it in bags or little boxes to keep the critters from getting to it. I like these colorful mini boxes for favors. They are small enough to be hidden, but their color will help them stand out from the grass and surroundings just enough to let your kid know they’ve stumbled upon a surprise.
Shop for Halloween Costumes with built in masks and gloves
Superheroes, ninjas, transformers, astronauts all of these are costumes that naturally cover the hands and face. This year, buy your kids a Halloween costume that comes with a mask and gloves. It will feel natural and less like they have to do something different to have Halloween. A mask can be fun when it’s part of a cool costume.
Have a Halloween Bake Off
Here’s an idea for a safe Halloween idea that I wish I would have thought of. It comes to us from Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy and Kalyn, from Into the Cookie Jar.
If your kids won’t be trick-or-treating this year, you can still give them something sweet to look forward to. Get creative and bake some spooky cookies. Have the kids join in on the fun and let them decorate the ghost cookies with some icing and sprinkles.Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy
This Halloween, why not spend time creating spooky Halloween treats in the kitchen? From these pumpkin crinkle cookies to these witch hat cookies (you will need witch hat cookie cutters), you can keep it simple with the little ones or do more intricate designs with teenagers as a creative outlet. Fun, safe, and delicious!Kalyn, Into the Cookie Jar
Get your kids baking and see who can design or create the best Halloween cookies.
Give a Boo!
Have you been booed? Are you familiar with the trend to give a Boo?
The idea behind giving a boo is similar to doing random acts of kindness. When you give a boo, you are putting together a collection of Halloween goodies and treats (use some cookies from your bake off) and leaving it on a friend’s doorstep, a teacher’s desk, somewhere that you can leave it as a surprise to be discovered.
There’s usually a poem involved and always a sign that says, BOO! This way your gift recipient can show off they’ve been booed and they can pass on the ‘booing’ through the neighborhood. For examples of poems and Boo printables search through Pinterest, Amazon, or Google.
Plan a Haunted Escape Room Challenge
This Halloween activity idea comes from Peter Mann, founder of SC Vehicle Hire.
We’re planning on having a haunted escape room challenge for the teens since it’s a bit more challenging for them. My wife and I will work out all the details ourselves, and fill our guest room with spooky riddles and clues for the teens to solve until they find the “key”. While there will be no “ghosts” in this escape room, we plan on experimenting with lights and scary sounds to mimic the effect of a real haunted house. We also plan on playing scary video games like Little Nightmares and Resident Evil. I’m not much of a gamer myself, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching my teens play. It’s a great way to get a good scare if you want to deviate from the traditional practice of watching horror movies.Peter Mann, founder of SC Vehicle Hire
Chalk the Walk – Halloween Style
Don’t put away that chalk just yet. Grab the chalk and the kids and head back out to Chalk Your Walk, Halloween style. Halloween images can be the easiest to draw because the shapes are so basic. With just a little bit of time your sidewalk and driveway can be decorated with pumpkins, ghosts, Frankensteins, witches’ hats, spooky eyes, and more.
If you’re booing someone you can even surprise them with a chalked walk.
Hike a Spooky Trail
One of the neatest hikes I ever took as a Girl Scout leader was a hike through the woods at night. It was organized by one or our county park systems. As we hiked in the dark we were introduced to different nocturnal animals and learned the differences between the whos and hoots of different owls.
Check in with your local park systems to see what kind of nighttime spooky hikes exists in your area. If none do, then plan for a walk through your local park and have the kids try to identify all the spooky sounds.
Exchange Halloween Cards
Here’s another new idea to make sure Halloween doesn’t suck for kids. Have them exchange Halloween cards with friends. Kids can take an afternoon making homemade Halloween cards. Regular construction paper will do. Then, decorate with Halloween stamps, stickers, etc. For one final touch, kids can attach a Halloween treat or piece of candy. Then, let the Halloween card exchange take place on Halloween.
Get lost in a Corn Maze on a Flashlight Night
Maybe you’ve done corn mazes with the kids, but have you done them at night in the dark with only a flashlight to guide you? Many farms with corn mazes offer one or two nights where they let guests visit in the dark. They’re called flashlight nights. Check your local farm to see if they offer them and add it to your Halloween bucket list for this year.
Decorate Pumpkins & Jack O’ Lanterns
It wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins and Jack O’ Lanterns. This year support your local farmer by picking up a few extra pumpkins. When you get home get everyone in the family involved in decorating or carving a pumpkin family. Add it to your outdoor Halloween decor.
For an added element of fun, especially for the big kids and teens, have a carving competition to see who can carve the best jack o’ lantern.
Listen to Ghost Stories around a Backyard Campfire
Fire up that fire pit (we found 10 under $100 on Amazon)! On Halloween night gather around the campfire for s’mores and spooky stories. Over the summertime, Saturday campfires became a new family tradition. To make it even more special I bought Rainbow Flame Crystals on Amazon (affiliate link) so that our Saturday campfires would become colorful campfires.
Finding spooky stories doesn’t have to be hard. Either use your imagination or put your smart technology to work. There are so many playlists of spooky campfire stories available on Spotify, YouTube, and Podcast streaming apps. There are a few iPhone and Android apps that have spooky ghost stories too.
By now most kids are familiar with Zoom. Some are even using it to face off in video games or have dance parties. This Halloween, why not help the kids set up a Zoom Halloween Party. Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy offered up this additional fun Halloween idea.
Just because you may not be able to physically attend a Halloween party this year, doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate. Throw a Halloween Zoom party with friends and family. Let everyone know costumes are mandatory. Put on your Halloween playlist, catch up, and enjoy. For some extra fun, have a costume contest and encourage your guests to model their Halloween costumes for a prize.Katie Cunningham, founder of LYFETYMES and Hostessy
Drive thru Halloween Experiences
Another safe, but fun, Halloween fun option is to take advantage of drive thru Halloween experiences. I first noticed them last year. In New Jersey, we have the Drive Thru Jack O’ Lantern Experience a drive thru Halloween festival. There’s likely something similar in your area. I expect that this year we’ll see A LOT of drive thru Halloween experiences as it is a safe way to have Halloween fun. Bring the popcorn and the juice boxes and get ready for oohs and awes in every direction.
Search for Ghosts in Haunted Places
Every region has them, those scary places where rumors of ghosts and spirits hauntings exist. Guests can usually visit on their own or take a guided ghost tour. Some haunted places are open year-round and some just for the fall. In New Jersey, our ‘haunted’ Absecon Lighthouse has even let guests stay overnight.
If you’re brave enough search for ghosts tours near me or haunted houses near me for a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience. If you’re in New Jersey, just click over to our listing of Insane New Jersey Haunted Houses We Dare You to See.
With these ideas I hope you’ll agree Halloween is not cancelled. There are ways to make sure Halloween doesn’t suck for kids. Let us know what you’d add to the list or what your favorite idea is.