Halloween at Home

Our 9-year old has accepted the truth of Halloween 2020. There won’t be any door-to-door trick or treating where we live. If we’re lucky, our health officials will allow small gatherings for kids to dress up, play games, spook each other, and eat a little candy. It’s time to re-imagine the big night, and not with some space age contraption that shoots candies out to kids, and onto your lawn. Instead, as with so many things this year, Halloween can be a more intimate and personal event. Kids can get excited about spending a few haunted hours with their siblings, their families and perhaps outdoors with a couple of close friends.

We’ve been planning the big night for about a week now, for both of our children, who’ve had a hand in deciding what they want to do. Here is what has made their lists.

Make Your Own Costumes

I’m kind of cheating on this one because I do it every year, but having your children plan out an elaborate costume and make it over the week or two leading up to Halloween is a great activity to ignite the spirit of the season. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, McCall’s is a 100 year old sewing pattern company that still sells some great DIY instructionals. This year, Olivia is going to be a black cat, and hopefully I won’t be working until midnight on the 30th, trying to meet my annual deadline.

Haunted Room & Candy Games

Haunted houses are a lot of work, take over your residence, and also create a storage issue (where do you put all the stuff once it’s over?), so a Haunted Yard is a much more practical and reasonable idea. A few years back we started noticing Spirit Halloween pop-up shops in our neighborhood, and they’re a great place to grab some décor. Their props range from slightly spooky to downright gruesome, so pick your ick-level and go for it. Truthfully, we had planned something like this, but Olivia was too scared to go into the store, so we opted instead for a signs and statues from the dollar store nearby.

To re-invent knocking door to door, we’re planning a Candy Olympics. We’ll set up a series of simple outdoor games (e.g. guess how many candies are in the jar?) and make the kids earn their loot and finish things off with an Easter egg-style hunt.

(Appropriately) Scary Movie

My kids haven’t seen any scary movies. There are two reasons for that. First, they’re scary. It’s amazing how you can take a doll, a kid, or a clown and make them utterly disturbing with a few special effects and a violin-themed soundtrack. Second, they often include content designed for a teenage crowd. On that note, our (almost) 14-year old is going to get a friend or two over and watch the Purge on an outdoor screen. He’s excited to do it, on the condition that we aren’t there to watch it with him, of course. To gauge suitability of content, there’s nothing better than watching the movie yourself. We also use Common Sense Media as a good peer-based reference.

We’ll throw in some additional rituals from years past like carving pumpkins, roasting seeds and pulling up Michael Jackson’s Thriller video for our own nostalgia.

While it won’t be the same as other years, I can happily say that both of our kids are counting down the days to October 31st.

So, light a few candles, dim the lights, and have a frightfully fun time!


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