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The Perfect Halloween: 31 Things To Do In October

Updated on September 25, 2013
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1. Bob for apples- This is a tradition we enjoyed as kids, and it's no less fun as adults! This can be done over a tub at the big Halloween party, or even using a mixing bowl in the kitchen like we did!

2. Eat candied apples- Apples are as symbolic of the harvest season as the pumpkin, and much easier to eat! Whatever genius conceived of sticking apples on sticks then covering them in a candy coating gave us a whole new way of enjoying them! We got ours homemade from a little autumn produce stand and enjoyed them as we enjoyed the clear fall day.

3. Visit a pumpkin patch- You must choose...but choose wisely! Everyone has a different opinion of the perfect pumpkin. For some, it's all about the size. For others, carving or cooking may be the pumpkin's ultimate fate. Personally, I always look for a pumpkin with that perfect roundness, right out of the paintings and postcards. Make a day of it; have fun!

4. Carve pumpkins- Heat up the oven, lay down the newspaper, and get out the carver! Every year we visit relatives who really take their pumpkin carving seriously. From a shaded portrait of the current US President to the classic Jack o' Lantern, we do it all! My relatives even prepare an autumn feast and football plays on the downstairs TV. Again, this can be an entire enjoyable day! So roll up your sleeves, get messy, and get carving. Oh, and don't forget to bake your pumpkin seeds with salt. They make a terrific snack!

5. Take a hay ride- Perfect for giving the kids a fun and bumpy ride or cuddling with that special someone, no trip to the pumpkin patch seems complete without a hay ride! At our local pumpkin farm, there are a few hay ride options. You can ride the hay ride to the pumpkin patch, or pay a buck and take a 20 minute hayride around the countryside. So make friends with a farmer and roll in the hay!!

So where's Linus?

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6. Watch a scary movie- Now don't panic; this does not mean that you need to go out and rent Texas Chainsaw Massacre or John Carpenter's Halloween. The point of this is to watch a Halloween film that chills you at least a little bit. I have little love for the ridiculously violent scary movies, but I can enjoy the classic thriller movies. Sleepy Hollow is one of my favorites, being violent enough to count as a slasher film but so goofy that even the violence is tongue-and-cheek. For those who have trouble stomaching even that, I recommend trying out the Halloween monster movie classics. Bela Lugosi's Dracula remains one of those faces I'd rather not see peering at me through the evening fog!

7. Watch a whimsical Halloween movie- Admit it; no matter how much you love the more mature films, there will always be a few lighthearted classics we all love! For example, Hocus Pocus remains a classic with an increasingly strong following, and few of us can visit a pumpkin patch without thinking of Linus Van Pelt and his yearly ritual waiting for the Great Pumpkin! So make some Kool- Aid and eat some grilled cheese sandwiches as you revisit your childhood with these classics.

8. Visit a haunted house (real)- Brush up on your local folklore, hop in the car, and go see your local supposedly haunted locations. Every town has its stretch of road where ghostly hitchhikers are said to lurk, its house where some tragedy left behind a shadowy figure in white that people swear they've seen. You'd be amazed the stories you'll discover, all right in your own backyard!

9. Visit a haunted house (set-up) Every year, creative people with a wealth of creepy talent and a budget to match put together scary displays for thrill seekers to explore. These can be everything from a full estate complete with corn mazes and haunted hayrides to a shed with a bunch of department store Halloween decorations set up throughout. They say a good scare every so often does a world of good!

10. Tell ghost stories- Here's your chance to play storyteller! Over the years, I have seen this concept evolve into numerous unique and exciting experiences. For example, some libraries or historical societies will organize candlelit storytelling sessions open to the public where people can come, eat cookies, drink cider, and hear tales of terror from a professional. After he or she has finished, the floor is often opened up for everyone to share their ghost stories. Sometimes these can become more nightmarish than our keynote speaker's yarns! Another innovation I sometimes see among adults is the "Ghost Stories and Cocktails" party. Here, a group of adults who may or may not know each other gathers to sip martinis and share their knowledge of the supernatural. These parties can sometimes have trouble started as adults are often reserved and hesitate sharing much. But as politicians know well, alcohol has an uncanny ability for loosening lips and before long you'll hear stories you never thought you would hear about what has happened to your friends! Then of course there is the classic ghost stories around the bonfire, watching the shadows dance across each others' faces as every nighttime noise evokes shivers. It's a tried and true method, and those tend to be some of the best to use!

11. Attend or Host a Halloween party- Halloween has its roots in festivity, after all! How better to celebrate than to get together with friends and enjoy the season? Again, there are a thousand different ways to approach a Halloween party, but there are always a few recurring themes: decorations, food, drink, games, costumes, music, and perhaps even dancing! Fertility rituals and other vices are completely optional, you crazy kids!! :p

12. Participate in a costume contest- As written above, this activity can often be found at Halloween parties. Sometimes, however, workplaces will allow costumes to be worn and may even hold a contest! Schools do the same thing, giving parents a chance to let their kids play dress up in public. Also, local bars often encourage people to wear costumes for Halloween, offering discounted rates for costumed folk and prizes for different categories of costume. So show your creativity and have some fun! How often to adults get to play dress up anyway?

13. Read scary stories- Now, this does not mean you have to read H.P. Lovecraft's complete works. (I tried it last Halloween season; I barely got 1/3 through it!) This can be anything from reading Bram Stoker's Dracula to a book on local ghost stories to just looking over Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven". Part of the reason Halloween became so popular is because of the macabre literature which captured peoples' imaginations. Why not take a look, and see for yourself who's tap- tap- tapping on the chamber door? I'd be willing to be it's not the pizza man!

14. Research the origins of Halloween- So you like Halloween, do you? Well, do you know where it all started? It wasn't always festive parties, sexy costumes, and trick- or- treat, you know! There was actually a time when Halloween was illegal, celebrated only by those deemed to be devil- worshipping sorcerers. There are books by the dozen telling this story, and a few really good documentaries for those who prefer them. Then if anyone ever asks you how certain traditions came about, you can impress them with your knowledge!

15. Pay your respects- Now, Halloween always has been a holiday centered around reverence for the dead. Thus it only seems right that at some point during the season you should pay your respects to your own dearly- departed. It can be a friend or relative who has passed on, or even just a moment's pause at the local veteran's memorial.

Here's a chance to learn a few things about the history of Halloween!

16. Get lost in a corn maze- There are few better ways to spend an autumn afternoon. This activity offers all the romance, the adventure, and the mystery of some dark labyrinth but without the minotaur! Make sure to wear shoes you don't mind dirtying though, and try not to be in a hurry. Some of these get pretty darn elaborate!

17. Howl at the moon- Hey, it worked for Lon Chaney and Ozzy, why not you? Give in to your wild side for a few seconds and just tell that big white orb in the sky what's what!

18. Take a drive to see the leaves- The sights and smells of autumn are hard to beat, and will cost you not one red cent! Fill up the tank, get a good CD, grab a friend (or four!) and take a nice drive through the countryside. If you are feeling especially ambitious, pack a picnic lunch and some hiking boots! A full day of adventure can be made under the roof of golden leaves.

19. Dress contrary to your personality for one day- You'd be surprised how interesting this can become. If you're a business type who rarely wears anything not involving a tie or heels, spend a day in flannel, jeans, and boots. Likewise if the though of a tie or skirt makes you gag, spend one day wearing your Sunday finest as you run your errands. You may notice people regard you in an entirely different way, and you could end up with a new perspective on life by the day's end.

20. Decorate!- What better way to get into the mood for Halloween than to surround yourself with it in your daily life? As Halloween becomes more popular in mainstream, I've noticed that there's a decorating style to fit every personality this time of year. Whether you turn your living room into a funeral parlor, transform your yard into a haunted cemetery, or just strategically place a pumpkin on the porch, just have fun with it! Not everyone needs to be surrounded by cobwebs and skeletons to enjoy the season, after all.

21. Keep a dish of candy- ...and make it last the season! Now, trick or treaters should not be the only ones enjoying some sweet treats during the Halloween season. A well-placed and well-stocked dish of Halloween candy, whether miniature Snickers or Tootsie Rolls or the classic candy corn serves not only as a treat to visitors but also a sweet little reminder to yourself that this is a season to live it up a little!

22. Attend an Oktoberfest/ Harvest Festival- Heritage, entertainment, good food, and excellent drink can usually be found at these annual events, which often bring a community together to celebrate brotherhood and the time of plenty that is fall! So grab you lederhosen, fill up a mug, and bust a move on the polka floor! It's Oktoberfest, meinem freunden!

23. Go see an autumn play- Whether it's a performance of Faust, one of the thousand different Dracula plays, or your nephew's preschool performance of the dancing leaves, the stage has always been a welcome place for the most creative minds. This also gives you a chance to see some of the amazing local talent in your community, and show your support for their efforts! Just beware the phantom of the auditorium...

24. Make a Halloween playlist- Nowadays, there are just as many songs about Halloween as there are about Christmas, perhaps more! Go through your music library and find all your creepiest tracks, maybe even download a few particularly popular terrifying tunes! For starters, try Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London", and the classical piece "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint Saens. (Come to think of it, maybe I'll share my full Halloween playlist in a separate hub sometime!)

25- Rake leaves into piles- Yeah, you remember doing this with your daddy when you were little, don't you? It can be hard work, but there's something very enjoyable about doing it. As a bonus, if you know for a fact that your leaf pile is completely free of sticks, rocks, mold, and puppy leavings, wait until nobody's looking and jump in!

26. Drink apple cider- For me, apple cider holds a special place in Halloween traditions because when I was little we would always end our trick- or- treating at my late grandfather's house, where he would serve us chilled apple cider. To this day, I think of those times every time I taste this stuff, and make a point of only ever buying it this time of year. (Of course, given the current price who can afford it otherwise?) What memories do you have attached to this sweet beverage? See if you can relive them as you sip.

27. Go to a football game- I will say right now I've never been much of a sports fan. I've always been more the film and literature type, but during my teenage years I was in high school band, and of course football season was really our time to get out and perform. Thus nostalgia once again prompts me to turn out every year to cheer for whichever team I'm supposed to like and just relive the old days. (I must admit though, I attended a football game at my old high school two years ago and I get the feeling nostalgia only leaves me the gems of the past!)

28. Have your fortune told- Prognostication, or the art of telling the future, has been a long- standing tradition in Halloween ritual since long before it was ever named thus. Reach back to the roots of the holiday and try it out! This can mean visiting a professional psychic for all the pomp and circumstance of the old rituals, but there are cheaper methods. You can purchase a deck of Tarot cards for about $20 on average and take turns telling fortunes, play with a Ouija board (though I've heard some nasty stories connected to these things!), research some old wives' methods of predicting the future, or even just shake up a Magic 8 Ball! I'd just take it with a grain of salt though if I were you; as old as it is, fortune- telling is not really an exact science.

29. Participate in a zombie walk- As the zombie apocalypse genre continues becoming more popular, so does this awesome concept! Basically, a section of a town is reserved and protected by police, and dozens (or hundreds) of people dress up in zombie costumes to amble down the street. People tend to get really creative, inventing new zombie personas out of traditional (or not so traditional) costume ideas. These can be funny, clever, or downright terrifying at times. What I like most about this concept, however, is the sense of community among our undead pedestrians. I have participated in two zombie walks now, and have seen zombie couples, zombie families, zombie politicians, even zombie bachelor parties! I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it yet. You may not get any braaaaaains.... but I can almost guarantee you'll have a great time!

30. Wear a costume for one whole day- This tends to be much easier if you either happen to get out of work for Halloween or work in one of those wonderful places that allows dressing up for Halloween! It's your last chance to play dress up, and bring a little extra fun into your everyday routine. I'd leave the sword at home though, and probably go with the less revealing top...

31. Last but not least, TRICK OR TREAT!!!- Oh yes, we cannot forget about that adventurous and beloved Halloween tradition where we were actually encouraged to dress up, bother the neighbors, and get rewarded for it with candy! If you are too old for trick or treating (says who?!!), I've found it's actually a lot of fun handing candy out to kids. You get to connect with the neighbors, see how creative all the wee ones are with their disguises, and take part in keeping your neighborhood interesting. I remember when I used to trick or treat, some of my favorite houses were the ones with elaborate displays for trick or treaters. Have fun and close out the perfect October with a bang!

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