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Spooky and fun alternatives to trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating is an enduring tradition that many kids look forward to every October. However, there are several reasons why you may not want your kids to go trick-or-treating - cold weather, safety concerns, recently moved and not familiar with the neighborhood, and so on. Here are some spooky and fun alternatives to consider.

1. Watch spooky movies

There’s nothing better to get you in the Halloween spirit than a fun Halloween movie. Set up the living room, backyard, or bedroom, get comfortable and watch some of your favorite spooky classics. Make it special and cozy by moving and decorating some furniture to create a fun space. Serve candy corn or popcorn out of a witch’s cauldron and make some caramel apples. You also have the option to extend your viewing to family and friends by watching together on Netflix Party.

Some of the movies to consider include:

  • Younger kids: Curious George - A Halloween Adventure, Toy Story of Terror, Spookley the Square Pumpkin, and Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween
  • Older kids: Corpse Bride, Monster House, Spiderwick Chronicles, Hotel Transylvania, Hocus Pocus, The Addam’s Family, and Night Before Christmas.

You can even make a game out of the movie: every time you hear the word “Halloween” in the movie, take a gulp of apple cider or a handful of popcorn. Adding this interactive experience serves to make your Halloween movie night that much more fun.

2. Halloween slime

If your little ones enjoy sensory activities, why not try making your own Halloween-themed slime? With black, red, or green coloring and objects like bat figurines and googly eyes, you can create some super fun and spooky slime to play with.

3. Pumpkin carving/painting and hunting

For this two-part activity, you can start by visiting a pumpkin patch a week or so before Halloween. Take your little ones along with you and let them choose their favorite pumpkins. Older kids will enjoy pumpkin carving and creating jack-o’-lanterns (use electric lights instead of candlelight for fire safety) with friends outside.

If you have younger kids, get some mini pumpkins, washable paint, glue, googly eyes, and any other art supplies you may need. Allow your little ones to scoop the inside out ( a fun sensory activity) before the rest of the family gets into pumpkin painting. Once you’re done, let the pumpkins dry overnight.

The second part of this activity involves hiding the pumpkins. If the October chill isn’t particularly severe, you can hide them outside in your yard. If you want to stay indoors, hide the pumpkins around the house. Finally, make a game of finding the pumpkins - the person who finds the most can win a prize.

4. Hang a Halloween advent calendar

Want to make the month leading up to Halloween extra special for your kids? Try hanging a spooky Halloween countdown calendar. Halloween advent calendars are a great way to get your little ones in the spooky spirit. Fill each pocket or drawer of your calendar with small prizes and candy that the kids can look forward to discovering each day.

5. Apple bobbing

Apple bobbing is a classic Halloween tradition that your kids will enjoy. You can stick to the original tradition of placing apples in a basin or bucket of water and have the kids try catching them with their mouths without using their hands. If you want everyone to stay dry on a chilly evening, hang the apples from a clothesline or tree using some kitchen twine and give everyone a turn to try to eat the apples with their hands behind their backs. If you don’t want to use apples, candy bars, donuts, and popcorn balls work just as well.

6. Have a virtual costume party

Even if the whole family or friend group can’t go door-to-door, you can still show off your Halloween costumes. Have your little ones dress up and plan a virtual costume party so that they can show their friends their chosen looks. To make sure the virtual event runs smoothly, you might want to coordinate the nitty-gritty some days prior. 

7. Halloween bonfire

Fall is one of the best times of the year to build a bonfire and roast some smores. Halloween night is no exception - roasting marshmallows or hot dogs as you swap spooky Halloween stories and enjoy the crisp air with a warm fire makes for a fun Halloween activity when you want to skip trick-or-treating.

8. Halloween scavenger hunt

If you plan to stay at home on Halloween night, a scavenger hunt is one of the most fun alternatives to trick-or-treating. Create Halloween crafts (think cut-out witches, toy spiders, black cats, bats, broomsticks, and fake eyeballs) and hide them around several locations around the house. You’ll also need a map or list to guide your scavenger hunt players.  You could also treat it more like trick-or-treating with an Easter twist and give each player a trick-or-treating bucket or bag to find hidden Halloween candies and sweets.

9. Make Halloween-themed treats

In addition to eating Halloween candy, you can also make Halloween-themed treats for your little ones to enjoy. There are a wide variety of treats to choose from, including candy apples, ghost-shaped cookies, monster pumpkin pie pudding, spooky brownies, and homemade candy corn. You can involve them in the preparation by letting them decorate the cookies or dip the apples into melted chocolate.

10. Halloween dance party

Host a Halloween dance party for your kids and their friends instead of trick-or-treating. Set up a small dance floor and have them dance to Halloween-themed songs such as Monster Shuffle, Hello It’s Halloween, Ten Little Monsters, and Halloween Stomp. An iconic Halloween hit they’ll likely enjoy is Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett - they can even make a game of it by playing the Monster Mash Freeze Dance. The idea is to freeze every time the music is paused, and whoever moves is out! The last one on the dance floor wins a Halloween treat.

11. Tell ghost stories

Depending on how keen your child is in the dark and mysterious, set up the den or living room with flashlights and candles and huddle together to tell ghost stories. You could even take it up a notch by hiring a virtual storyteller for an intriguing scary storytelling experience. 

12. Halloween arts and crafts

There are so many fascinating things you can create with simple items like cotton balls, popsicle sticks, construction paper, and pipe cleaners. If you’re out of ideas for what to do on Halloween other than trick-or-treating, try some easy craft ideas like DIY maple leaf ghosts, monster party hats, or paper cat garlands. 

Final thoughts

Whatever your reasons may be for not wanting your little ones to go treat-or-treating on Halloween, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan to make Halloween fun and memorable. 

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