When it comes to Halloween, trick-or-treating is pretty much a universal tradition (and no one’s arguing with free candy)! But, if you’re looking for other fun ways to make Halloween a memorable time of year for your family, our list has you covered with costume contests, candy experiments, festive recipes and more.
1. Make It a Party
If you live in a trick-or-treating-friendly neighborhood, consider hosting other friends or neighborhood parents. Gather around a backyard fire pit, pull outdoor furniture into the driveway, reserve a common room in your building, or make it a full-on block party. This is also a great way for the kids to have one meeting place at the end of the night—where they can also compare (and swap) candy collections!
2. Serve Halloween-Themed Food
While Halloween’s main meal may well be that bag of loot, you can get nutrients into the kids ahead of the candy craze. Red Tricycle Spoke Contributor Courtney Blacher rounded up delicious, on-theme options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (like darling stuffed pepper jack-o-lanterns). Or get in the spirit all week with these fun Halloween-themed dinner ideas.
3. Costume Contest
Most kids have eagerly been awaiting the big night for weeks (and have their costumes planned or in the bag). So give them another chance to show them off with a costume contest play date. Prizes can go to get-ups that are “Silliest,” “Scariest,” or “Darling and DIY.” You can have enough categories for the number of guests or pad the prizes with other games so everyone goes home a winner. For inspiration, check out our list of the most popular costumes of the year.
4. The Science of Candy
So the big night is over—but the candy crashes have just begun. If you’re looking for another way to use up the loot, try out these fun and fascinating science experiments. The kids won’t feel so bad about giving up some of their stash if they get to make a rainbow with Skittles, blast off a geyser with Mentos, or figure out the physics of M&Ms. Make this a tasty and innovative Nov. 1 tradition.
5. Pumpkin Art
Pumpkin carving may be as traditional as Halloween gets. If the kids want to think outside the jack-o-lantern this year, get creative with a stenciled design. We have 26 printable designs at the ready for you. If you’d rather not work with a knife, we also have a robust roundup of no-carve options that will delight any doorstep.
6. Trunk or Treat
If your kiddos are still a little young to hang with the Halloween night crowd, plan ahead with some other parents for a Trunk or Treat affaire. A school parking lot on the weekend or church parking during the week works great. Park, pop the trunk and let the kids parade from trunk to trunk (and run a little amuck). Extra points for decorated cars or monster mash tunes from the car stereo! For other ideas and considerations (like bathroom access), check out this helpful how-to article from PTO Today.
7. Scavenger Hunts
Easter meets Halloween with this fun tradition. Put out your clues, hide small toys or treats and gather costumed kids into the backyard for a pre-trick-or-treating scavenger hunt. It can all lead to the front door, where kids will be in the spirit to hit the neighborhood. Or, get in trick-or-treating practice ahead of the big night—detective style. Just spread out clues to a riddle at a few spots in the hood for a pre-Halloween hunt!
8. Trick or Treating ... In Reverse
We love traditions that teach kids how to give back, be it by lending a helping hand at Thanksgiving or paying it forward with some reverse trick-or-treating. If you have helpful neighbors you’d like to show your appreciation to or just want a sweet icebreaker, encourage the kids to make cards (a la “Boo loves you?”), wrap up little treats, or let the kids pick out pumpkins for the whole block. Then ring the doorbell, quickly hide, and wait for their reaction to your doorstep surprise. This works just as great in the ‘burbs or down the hall of your building.
9. Festivals and Parades, Oh My!
In many cities and towns, Halloween fun gets underway well ahead of Oct. 31. So check out a nearby fall festival or proper Halloween parade—and dress up to get the most out of those costumes. Oftentimes, local merchants will have candy dishes stocked for daytime trick-or-treaters. It’s another great way for wee ones to get into the spirit, too, before dark. Be sure to check out Red Tricycle’s local and national guides for Halloween events near you.
10. Spooky Crafts
If you don’t have a craft to show for it, did the holiday even happen?! Get the kids crafting for fall—paint Halloween rock magnets, don spider hats, or hang bats around the house. If you have a few kids over for the fun, freshen up your spooky or silly face painting skills. We have some artistic inspiration at the ready.
11. Coco Viewing Party
Holiday traditions are always a great opportunity to learn about how another culture celebrates. Halloween and Dia de los Muertos both line up on Oct. 31, and Miguel from Coco is a fearless leader who can help teach the kids all about Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Make it a new tradition to watch every year. We have lots of healthy Halloween snack ideas—like Cheesy Broomstick Bites and Apple Monsters—to fuel up any movie marathon, too.
— Jennifer Massoni Pardini
Feature photo courtesy Pixabay