Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating & Other Halloween Traditions
The candy. The costumes. The pumpkins. Traditions help make holidays fun, but sometimes they can be overwhelming or overdone. Put a twist on traditional Halloween festivities or create completely new ways to celebrate with these unique Halloween celebration ideas.
1. Costumed Picnic
Enjoy the crisp weather and beautiful fall foliage while in costume! A picnic is a fun and easy way to gather family and friends to celebrate Halloween and display their costumes, and it’s ideal for parents with little ones who can’t take part in late night festivities.
First, pick a local park or favorite scenic spot and have everyone set up picnic blankets across the grass. People can bring their own food or organize a potluck if they prefer. Be sure to incorporate seasonal foods and flavors into your picnic (think cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins). Parents can make the occasion extra festive by using a cookie cutter to make ghost-shaped sandwiches and packing their child’s meal in a jack-o-lantern candy basket. Lastly, be sure to bring a portable radio and play Halloween tunes so everyone can dance and parade around in their costumes!
2. Haunted Gingerbread Houses
Who says gingerbread houses are only for Christmas? Whether you make your gingerbread from scratch or get a kit from your local craft store, a Halloween gingerbread house is a fun and festive way to get in the holiday spirit.
First things first: every haunted house needs some ghosts. Be sure to have plenty of marshmallow ghosts on hand and use dark colored frosting to stick them to your house and provide a dramatic contrast. Throw some spider gummies on the roof to up the creep factor and finish with edible gravestone cake toppers in the yard with crushed chocolate cookies for dirt and plenty of gummy worms!
For something a little less spooky, create a “Fall-themed” house with candy corn and other brown, yellow, and orange candies such as M&Ms, Reese’s pieces, and peanut butter cups. Use orange, brown, and yellow frosting and matching sprinkles to finish it off! Haunted gingerbread houses make excellent Halloween centerpieces and, best of all, you can eat them!
3. Spooky Dinner
Halloween isn’t top of mind when one thinks about holidays where everyone enjoys a nice meal together, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Create a festive dinner menu and put a Halloween spin on traditional foods with these scarily delicious dishes.
- Deviled Egg Eyeballs. Make a traditional deviled egg and create eyeball veins on the egg yolk mixture with a toothpick and red food coloring. Top the egg yolk with a sliced green pimento olive for the pupil and you’ve got scary, bloodshot eyes you can eat!
- Fingers in a Blanket. Make pigs in a blanket that look like fingers! To do this, simply make sure that the hot dog does not peek out from both sides of the dough. Wrap the dough around the hot dog at one end until only the top part peeks out and voilà, you've got a creepy finger and nail!
- Mummy Meatloaf. Prepare your favorite meatloaf recipe and place the cooked and cooled loaf on a serving plate. Cook and drain pappardelle pasta and layer the noodles over the meatloaf to look like mummy wrappings. Slice a mozzarella ball in half and place both halves on top of the noodles to look like eyeballs. Put a black olive slice on each eye and serve!
- Jack-o-lantern Pie. Pumpkin pies are a classic fall favorite. An easy way to make this delicious dessert super spooky is to add marshmallows, chocolate chips, black licorice, candy corns, or pecans to create a jack-o-lantern face. Kids will especially enjoy making and then getting to eat their creation!
4. Candy Hunt
For parents with little ones who want the joy of Trick-or-Treating but not the dark, cold, and late night that accompanies it, a Candy Hunt is a great alternative. Like an Easter Egg Hunt but with a spooky twist, a Candy Hunt can be done in your own home or with a small group of friends outdoors at a nearby park.
Parents can hide candy for kids to find around a home or property and leave clues or riddles for participants about where the candy is hidden so they get to use their thinking caps (and so you don’t forget where you put the sweets!). Encourage everyone to come in costume and bring their pillow cases or plastic pumpkin baskets to gather their loot!
5. Spooky Story Video
Spread Halloween cheer and fear by sharing your favorite scary story with family and friends in a group video. Participants can record themselves reading a classic spooky story like “The Tell-Tale Heart,” sharing a chilling urban legend like “The Hook,” or creating their own original scary story. Encourage each storyteller to dress up in character and decorate their backdrop with haunting, creepy, or gross elements that accentuate their story’s theme.
Once everyone has submitted their video clips, combine them into a collection of spooky stories that family and friends can watch on Halloween night!
Remember: it’s okay to forgo traditional Halloween festivities and create your own. We hope you can use these ideas to find a new tradition to enjoy so that you can focus on having fun this Halloween!