Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. The air is crisp, the nights are longer, people are in costume, and kids are out late begging for candy from strangers…er, I mean, Trick-or-Treating.
Like many holidays, most people start celebrating Halloween long before October 31. There are many fun, family-oriented activities and games you can do in the weeks leading up to it.
Just keep in mind your children’s ages and temperament. Very young children may not feel comfortable at crowded city-wide events, while teens may find certain outings boring.
Check Your City for Activities.
Many local businesses and organizations (churches, children’s museums, retail stores, etc.) hold Halloween events all October. These can range from pumpkin decorating, Trick-or-Treating, games, and more. Your city may have a local parenting magazine or social media page that lists these events so check them out.
Protip: Expect huge crowds and long lines. Go as early as possible!
Visit a Pumpkin Patch.
Going to a pumpkin patch is a traditional Halloween activity. My family and I are lucky enough to live only a half hour away from an awesome pumpkin patch/farm that offers hay rides, corn mazes, and of course, the ability to purchase pumpkins.
Protip: Try to go in the early weeks of October. The closer it gets to Halloween, the more crowded pumpkin patches tend to get.
Decorate Pumpkins with Stickers.
This is a super easy activity for small children who are too young to carve pumpkins. Buy small pumpkins and a bunch of Halloween-themed stickers like these. Feel free to supplement with markers and even paint.
Protip: Thick foam stickers (like the one on the link) stick best to pumpkin skin.
Get Your Home Halloween Ready.
Get your kids involved when decorating your home for Halloween. Take them to the store to pick out some supplies. Have them string up the fake cobwebs on your bushes, attach plastic spiders on the door, or hang the ghosts on the window.
Another time-honored Halloween tradition! If your kids are a little older (say, 5+ years old), then they’re ready to carve pumpkins. Buy some fairly large pumpkins with enough surface area to draw out a design. If you don’t fancy yourself an artist, you can always buy some stencils. To carve, your kids can use the cheaper, kid-safe tools found at most retail stores. However, for yourself consider a sturdier, sharper set like this. And don’t forget to have a bowl ready to scoop up those seeds to bake and snack on later!
Protip: Pumpkins are of course a fruit, which means they rot. They rot much faster carved than uncarved (I learned this the hard way). After carving, spray the pumpkin with a bleach/water solution to kill any bacteria. Cover the whole pumpkin with petroleum jelly after it dries to prevent any more bacteria from growing.
Check out a “Haunted House”.
This is for older children and teenagers but consider visiting a haunted house attraction, in which “monsters” jump out at you while you navigate your way around a set staged to look like an old house, abandoned hotel, or some other terrifying scenario. Although you know that they’re just costumed actors and everything is fake, those jump scares are still not for the faint of heart so be warned!
Last but certainly not least, is the most popular (and arguably every kid’s favorite) Halloween event. If you’re lucky, your child may be able to participate in multiple trick-or-treating activities sponsored by churches and other local establishments. But then again, larger events can get very crowded, so it may be best to stick to one’s own neighborhood.
Protip: Consider giving non-candy items to accommodate children with food allergies. Buy a bunch of cheap little trinkets like stickers, stamps, or other small toys like these.
And don’t forget, if you’re planning to have guests over for Halloween, make some homemade pumpkin pie! Who doesn’t love fresh homemade pumpkin pie in the fall!