Staying home for Halloween? Try these spooky-fun activities with the kids

By Brittany Carlson

alternative halloween activities

It hasn’t been a normal year for holidays this year since COVID-19 came on the scene, and Halloween is no exception. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently advising families to plan “alternate ways to participate in Halloween” because traditional activities like trick-or-treating “can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19,” according to the CDC website.


Thankfully, preschool-age kids really don’t need much to have a great time. Playing dress-up or making (and eating) special goodies really does the trick (or treat). 


If you’re thinking of staying in with the kids this Halloween, here are a few fun ideas to try.



Tricks:


My friend Kate discovered a new way to trick-or-treat at home two years ago when her preschooler wasn’t feeling well. 


“Avery had a cold, and it was raining, so we stayed home,” Kate said. “Tyler [my husband] and I divided candy between us and each stood behind a bedroom door. Avery (in her costume) went up and down the hallway knocking. We opened the doors and answered, changing our personalities each time (old lady, doggy, horse, Moana, etc). Sometimes we’d switch doors too; when she was distracted getting candy from Tyler, I’d run into a different room, so then she’d have to knock on several doors to find me. We all had a blast!” 


Several friends of mine are making trick-or-treating into an indoor (or outdoor) scavenger hunt for their kids. 


“We are hiding ‘boo bags’ in the yard (or maybe the house if it is bad weather) and we are going to do like a Halloween version of an Easter egg hunt in our costumes,” said Rachel, a mom of two. 


Kids love getting dressed up, so holding a costume parade inside or outside is a fun way to let them get into character (and give grown-ups the chance to cheer on the sidelines!). You could also turn on some kid-friendly spooky music (there’s a whole playlist of these on Pandora called “Kids Dance Party: Halloween Jams”) and have a costumed dance party. 


If you have a projector, you could play a movie outside (on a sheet or a smooth wall), or simplify with movie night inside. You could even set up a tent indoors with glow-in-the-dark stars or creepy crawlies to give it a more outdoor feel. Great non-scary flicks for littles include “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown;” “Monsters, Inc.,” or Netflix’s “Room on the Broom.”


You could also save some traditional Halloween activities for October 31, such as carving or painting pumpkins. 


Try a Halloween art night. There are lots of Halloween- or fall-themed drawing lessons for young children available on the Art for Kids Hub YouTube channel. 


Or, you could flip the script on traditional like my friend Jenny, who plans to take the treats to others this year with her 1-year-old daughter.


“We are ‘booing’ folks,” Jenny said. “We are building treat bags and dropping them off on the doorstep and then waving from afar.” 



Treats: 


Getting kids involved in making treats is a hit on any holiday. For Halloween, I enjoy making crispy rice treats with my boys shaped like pumpkins using orange food dye and Tootsie rolls for the stems. 


Some of my friends are making food a main part of the fun at their house.


My friend Jaclyn plans to let her kids decorate cupcakes to look like bats, cats and mice; hunt for tissue-wrapped candy “ghosts,” and take turns hitting a witch piñata. 


Another friend, Cassie, has planned a party full of puns. “We are doing a monster mash with our little family,” she said. “A piñata, dressing up, carving pumpkins, painting little wooden Halloween decorations and then eating spare ribs and monster mash-ed potatoes.” 



This year, Halloween may not look the same for your family as it has in the past, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. 

 

 

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Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and has two sons that are 5 and 3 years old. She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her family live in NC. 

 

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