How to Celebrate a Safe Halloween With Kids
Trick or treating is the default way for kids to have fun on Halloween night. Whether with parents along, an older sibling, or a group of friends they run with joy from house to house, begging for candy at any that beckon them with porch lights or decorations. Unfortunately in this day and age trick or treating is sometimes seen as too dangerous an activity. Certain cities may have crime rates that discourage the concept of walking the streets after dark or perhaps traffic conditions in your area pose a hazard. Other towns are simply impractical for trick or treating due to the distance between houses.
But choosing to ban trick or treating for your children certainly shouldn't mean skipping the holiday entirely! There are many alternatives to trick or treating that help kids stay safe on Halloween while still having a fun time.
Community Halloween Party
One classic way to celebrate Halloween with children is to attend a family friendly party. There is a very good chance your town or city hosts a public Halloween bash suitable for kids. Community centers, churches, and schools are all good possibilities for merging a safe environment with Halloween events. Keep lookout for flyers and updates to Facebook pages or websites.
Kids and adults alike are usually invited to dress up in their cutest or spookiest at these parties. A chance to wear costumes is a "must" for celebrating Halloween. There may even be costume contests with prizes!
Food options are sure to be treats such as chocolate and popcorn and caramel apples. Hopefully a spooky, tasty punch will be included! Peeled grapes (eyeballs, of course) can get some fruit into the kids while sticking with the theme. Let the kids indulge in the sweets at the party as much as they'd like, as an alternative to a bag full of candy.
It likely goes without saying that games will be a Halloween party activity, but some party hosts even build a not-so-spooky (or just-spooky-enough) haunted house to walk through! At one community party I've been to, little kids received a bag to decorate and then walked through a hay maze to trick or treat, collecting candy treats from Disney princesses. On the other hand, the church I grew up in was fond of classic monster masks and jump-scares in the dark!
Host Your Own Party
If you can't find a good Halloween party in your town or you just like the idea of one in your own home then throw a monster mash for your children as well as their friends and neighbors! Just be aware that most kids are likely to be out trick or treating that night and unable to attend, so you may want to talk to parents ahead of time and get a sense of other families who would prefer this safe alternative to trick or treating. You could send out invitations to your child's classroom, if the school allows. Or even set your Halloween party for after trick or treating hours have ended.
Get creative with the treats or provide big bowls of candy. Maybe order a pizza. Punch or pop is a must! A benefit of hosting a party is that you can offer children sweets that are considered too high a risk for kids to take from strangers, such as homemade cookies or brownies. There's nothing wrong with fruit or veggies, but at the point is to let everyone have childish fun. One night of junk food overload isn't going to hurt anyone.
Depending on the age of the kids, children might prefer to have a Halloween cartoon movie playing on a TV rather than spooky Halloween music to dance to. Games like bobbing for apples or pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin are classic. BINGO (or WITCH) is always fun too, especially when prizes are awarded. Speaking of prizes, don't forget the costume contest! For a little crazy fun let the kids use rolls of toilet paper to turn a victim-- ah, I mean parent -- into a mummy.
Trunk or Treat
At first thought, trick or treating in a parking lot doesn't sound fun or safe. But Trunk or Treat is becoming an ever more popular Halloween event. Often the Trunk or Treat night will not be October 31st itself, allowing real trick or treating to still take place. However, if you look around I'm sure you can find a Halloween-night Trunk or Treat, as many parents find it to be a safer take on the traditional trick or treating.
Everyone who participates in passing out candy is registered ahead of time and is usually a member of the school or church or community center hosting the Trunk or Treat. They'll hand out one or two pieces of Halloween candy to your costumed children as they come around, just like with traditional trick or treating.
The best part is that your child will not be trick or treating out of boring old cars and their trunks, as it sounds. No, all the cars will get into the Halloween spirit with a little (or elaborate) decorating! Often there is a contest for coolest decorations which motivates people to go all out in dressing their cars for Halloween. I've seen car trunks turned into fang-filled mouths, entire spooky scenes set up in the backs of vans, and even performances put on in truck beds.
Halloween Movie Marathon
This relaxed way to celebrate Halloween night depends on having the "right" kids for it. Some children would most definitely be bored and disappointed to spend the evening on the couch with Mom and Dad, watching movies in their own house while other kids ran around outside or attended parties. But there are ways to make a night of fictional Halloween turn into real Halloween fun.
Preteens: Let them invite over some friends. They can wear pajamas or or their costumes. You can allow your almost-teenaged 'child' to select the movies, being somewhat lenient about ratings due to the special holiday. You can check out why a movie was given a PG-13 or R rating on many websites and make the final decision, if you wish. Let him or her pick out a bunch of junk food for the evening. Promise to leave the room and let them watch by themselves once the guests arrive, but you can still be close by to supervise.
Kids: Again, they should get a hand in selecting which movies everyone wants to watch the most, though of course it's more important to pay attention to ratings and content with younger children. Go wild with the food! Special treats that they might not get the rest of the year or as much chocolate as they would like sounds fair for Halloween night. Maybe everyone can come up with a creative handmade treat the day before and prepare it for the family. And no required veggies on Halloween! Order a pizza or some other kid-friendly food for supper.
It probably goes without saying, but: Popcorn! Butter and salt aren't the only toppings. If you and your kids would like, experiment by mixing in candy or pouring on the chocolate syrup.
Haunted House and Hayride
It's scary, it's out of the home, both young and older kids are likely to find it fun, and it's perfectly safe as you can be with your children the whole time.
We all know that not every haunted house out there is a good one for kids. You know your child better than anyone and can judge what they'll be able to handle, but keep in mind it would be no fun for anyone if the family had to go back home due to a screaming frightened toddler at a haunted house meant for adults.
Free guide books often give an overview of nearby haunted attractions and a quick Google search will always produce results. You can compare prices, get a sense of the fear factor involved, and see if any deals or coupons are offered.
One more thing to remember is that on Halloween night a Halloween attraction is liable to be packed! Getting there early, dressing for the weather, and being prepared to wait are all musts.
Whether your kids trick or treat or head off to parties or participate in some other activity, be sure to have a safe and fun Halloween night!