As adults, Halloween nostalgia likely includes memories filling plastic pumpkin pails (or pillowcases) while running from house to house around the neighborhood at dusk. This is a time-honored tradition for many, but now as parents it becomes our decision whether or not we allow our kids to do the same.
No matter your reasons, if you've decided against letting your little ones trick or treat, you may be looking for alternative activities to help keep them from feeling left out or disconnected from the festivities.
We've listed a few substitutes that your kids (and your kids' friends) can enjoy that still offer a memorable Halloween experience, without the inherent risks of trick or treating. From watching movies in costume to hosting a Halloween-themed BBQ, these seven ideas are sure to offer something fun for the whole family!
Check in With Neighborhood Shopping Centers
To eliminate some of the unknown in going door to door in residential neighborhoods on Halloween night, it's become increasingly common for malls and shopping centers to open their doors for trick or treaters during store hours. Check in with your local mall or shopping centers to see if they have a day or time when they're planning to host kids in costume for a little trick or treating from store to store. Your kids will get to dress up and see others in costume while collecting treats from public sources you trust.
Old-Fashioned Taffy Pull/Homemade Candied Apples
Whether you keep it to just family or invite a larger group of friends, this timeless culinary adventure is worth the extra effort. Making your own homemade taffy does require a certain culinary skillset (check out this taffy recipe here). However, once perfected the memories and sweets made while flavoring, pulling and wrapping their own custom treats beats any store-bought candies.
For a similar but less tedious experience, set up a candied apple assembly line or bake cupcakes for the kids to decorate with Halloween-themed toppings. Click here for candied apple topping ideas, and here for some cupcake inspiration!
Host Halloween in the Park
Coordinate an afternoon in the park with families who have young children as well. If each family plans to bring along a tent with activities or treats for the kids to enjoy, the kids can parade from tent to tent in costume, gathering homemade goodies brought from sources you know and trust. When you don't live in the same neighborhood as all your closest family friends, it's a great way to come together to build the ideal trick-or-treating situation.
Visit Your Local Library in Costume
Libraries may not be filled with treats, but filling a bag with books while dressed up can be just as exciting for kids this time of year! Talk with your local children's librarian ahead of time to see if they have any planned read-aloud times or activities for Halloween that you could coordinate your visit around.
They're sure to have many appropriately themed books out on the shelves for the holiday season to make it easier for your little ones to fill their book bags with a few great stories to take home to enjoy long past the celebration!
Have a Halloweenie Roast
A little festive twist on your traditional BBQ—break out the hot dogs, pumpkins and backyard games! Getting family and friends together in your own backyard rather than going door to door in your neighborhood gives you a lot more control over what you and your kids experience. Adults and kids alike will love some of the easy-to-coordinate backyard game ideas (click here), and don't forget to tell everyone to wear their costumes!
Pumpkin Carving/Decorating Contest
No matter if you're carving, painting or decorating with glitter and glue, nothing says Halloween like the act of characterizing a pumpkin while eating delicious treats. Get your family and friends together (in costume of course!) for a pumpkin carving or decorating contest the night of Halloween. Consider buying prizes for the "best of" different categories, and while not everyone will be taking home the top prize, each guest will end the night with a pumpkin uniquely curated by their own design to enjoy at home!
The crisp fall air is settling in, and as the days get shorter, it's the perfect time for a backyard movie night! Have the kids gather up the warm jackets and sleeping bags, put some lights up in the yard and hang a big white sheet to project your kids' favorite Halloween movie. Don't worry if you don't have a projector—any local party shop is likely to have one available for rent (or ask your friends and neighbors if they have one). If not, movie nights can be done up just as fun indoors (think fog machines, spiderwebs, glow in the dark skeletons and more)!