Kid-Friendly Halloween Traditions

How does your family celebrate Halloween? Recently, I suspected a poll of families across America would produce a wheelbarrow full of wide-ranging answers.

When my children were small the routine was pretty much the same each year. About a week to 10 days before Halloween I’d pull out our box of Halloween decorations. Our family never went all-out with decorations, but our house was never without its share of witches, skeletons and spiders.

And of course, jack-o-lanterns. Nothing says Halloween as much as the pungent smell of a pumpkin as you scoop out its innards. Each of my children had their own idea of what constitutes the perfect shape and size for a pumpkin, so the array of jack-o-lanterns over the years was amazing.

Costume decisions carried much importance and many hours went into making the costumes each year. We were pretty good at re-purposing at our house so most of the costumes were definitely one-of-a-kind when they were finished.

The excitement of heading out the door to go trick-or-treating was matched only by the excitement of coming home with a little plastic pumpkin stuffed with goodies. We never had any hard and fast rules about eating the treats. So some years the plastic pumpkin would empty quickly and other years, treats disappeared at a more leisurely tempo.

Of course, all of this was years ago. And throughout the years I worked at Hawthorne School I found that, for the most part, the majority of families in our area celebrated Halloween in much the same way that we did.

So not long ago, I got to wondering if things have changed much from what I consider a pretty traditional way of celebrating. After a bit of research, here’s what I found.

Traditions are a huge part of Halloween and families are embracing them more than ever. It seems that celebrations can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. I’ve combed through many sites and have compiled a short list of ideas for you and your family to think about embracing this year.

  1. Read Halloween stories by candlelight. This idea is courtesy of Design Mom. What a great way to share some time together as a family. And don’t forget to match the “scariness” of the book’s content to the age of your kid audience.
  2. Watch a Halloween movie together. Pop up some popcorn, top off the glasses of apple cider and gather up the kids. It’s time to enjoy a little down time together. For younger kids, you won’t want to miss the premier of Curious George, A Halloween Boo Fest offered by PBS Kids. Another great choice for kids is Toy Story of Terror with the usual Toy Story crew showing on the Disney Channel on Friday, October 25 at 8PM ET.
  3. Decorate the house, porch, yard- or all three! Halloween decorations don’t have to be elaborate, expensive or hard to make. Bright orange paper pumpkins can be hung in the windows, jack-o-lanterns can be set on the porch, and white plastic bag ghosts can be hung in the trees. For a nice list of additional easy-to-make Halloween crafts, Reader’s Digest has some good suggestions.
  4. Make something special for dinner on Halloween or the days leading up to it.  With all the sugar that will probably be introduced to your kids’ diet on Halloween and the days following, it’s a good idea to plan something yummy and wholesome beforehand. The Mother Huddle has an awesome recipe for Dinner in a Pumpkin that is sure to be a hit with your huddle. And Spoonful offers up Tex-Mex Pumpkin Patties as another fall inspired dish. Yummy!
  5. Set the mood by playing kid-friendly Halloween music. Want to create a great Halloween play list for your little ghosties and ghoulies? Take a look at these suggestions on for some inspiration. (I just knew The Monster Mash would be on the list!)

Well, there you go! It’s my treat for you: a fairly concise list of things that are fun, easy to do and will help build some great traditions for your family.

Enjoy your time with your family this week and don’t forget to join me in a little shufflin’ to The Monster Mash. It’ll get your blood pumping, mwahahaha!


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