It's time to start getting your Halloween spirit on! Have fun on weekends with the kids by making crafts, wacky treats & planning your end-of-month fun!
1. Have a game of Pumpkin bowling.
Pumpkins are abundant during the fall season and there are lots of things you can do with them. Pumpkin bowling is different and so much fun! All you need is empty half-gallon milk jugs and little pumpkins. Set the milk jugs up like regular bowling pins and see how many you can knock down when you roll your pumpkin toward them. You never know which way the pumpkin will go!
2. Floating glowing alien heads!
Decorate your house or yard with these easy-to-do glowing alien heads. Get a pack of white balloons, permanent marker, mini glow sticks and string. Take a balloon, slide a glow stick inside, blow up the balloon, draw on an alien face and tie a string to it. Hang them everywhere.
3. Transform your front yard into a graveyard.
Cut out cardboard gravestones and paint them grey. For an aged effect, splatter on some black paint. Add silly sayings such as “I.Emma Ghost,” “Hal. O. Ween,” “Barry D. Alive” or “Frank N. Stein,” and then coat with a clear acrylic sealer. Duct tape a garden stake to the back of each gravestone and stick them in your graveyard.
4. Make yummy seasonal treats.
Caramel apples are a fun and delicious treat for the whole family. Microwave pre-packaged caramel, stick a craft stick in the top of the apple, dip it in caramel and set it on wax paper to dry. Popcorn balls are another sticky treat that are tons of fun to make. Use a kid-friendly recipe such as the following: (1) Pop six cups of popcorn and set it aside in a large bowl. (2) Melt half a cup of butter and one large (16 ounce) package of marshmallows in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add orange food coloring to the mix for some Halloween fun. (3) Pour the marshmallow mixture onto the popcorn. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula making sure the popcorn is evenly covered. (4) Grease your hands with butter — this is where it gets fun for the little ones. Once the popcorn mix has cooled enough to touch it, form it into balls. (5) Let the balls cool on wax paper and enjoy! Tip: Get creative and try adding M&Ms, nuts, gummy worms, sprinkles, candy corn, etc., to your popcorn balls.
5. Laugh at old Halloween pictures.
Put together a slide show of past Halloween photos. Pop some popcorn, sit down with the whole family and enjoy the show! You’ll be surprised how much your kids will love reminiscing about Halloween-past.
6. Create your own haunted house.
Get the whole family involved in planning and creating. First, pick a location for your haunted house — the front walkway, garage, hallway, basement, family room, etc. Next, set up some spooky lighting. If you have windows or your haunted house is outside, you may want to use cardboard or drape dark sheets to block out extra light. Add effects using a black light or colored light bulbs — available at most home stores for a few dollars. Next, bring out the Halloween props. Hang ghosts and skeletons from the ceiling, stretch spider webs in the corners, place jars of floating eyeballs (grapes or maraschino cherries frozen in ice cubes) on tables, etc. Remember to make your haunted house age-appropriate. If you have little ones, opt for more fun and less fright. Finally, add some scary sounds and special effects. A fog machine or witch’s cauldron bubbling with dry ice creates an eerie ambiance.
7. Learn the history of Halloween!
Did you know that Halloween is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain which celebrates “summer’s end.” Traditionally, in Ireland and Scotland, turnips (not pumpkins) were carved into lanterns to remember the souls held in purgatory. Check out Halloween facts at your library or online.
8. Make a silly mini-me scarecrow.
Grab an old pair of your child’s jeans and stuff them full of straw. Use rope to tie off the ankles. Now, stuff an old shirt that your child has outgrown with straw. Use rope to tie off the wrists and then tuck the straw-filled shirt into the pants and secure with rope. Get creative on what to use for the head — an old pillowcase filled with straw and painted with a silly face works. Add accessories like a dress-up wig, tutu, wand, sideways ball cap and more.
9. Conjure up your own ghost story.
Get the family together and take turns telling a ghost story. Each person gets to make up one sentence, then it moves on to the next person. You’ll be surprised by the silly, spooky story that emerge. You can kick off the story with something like: “One Halloween night, Gilbert the ghost decided he wanted to go trick-or-treating …”
10. Glow-in-the-dark follow the leader.
Arm your little ones with flashlights and glow bracelets on their wrists and ankles and head out after dark. Turn the follow the leader game into something more fun as you have to follow the glowing players. Be sure to play this in an open backyard with nothing in the way.
11. Create touch-and- feel boxes.
Cut a hole in a cardboard box — just big enough for your hand to fit in. Cover the opening with fabric to prevent peeking. Set up three or four boxes, and fill them with all sorts of slimy, squishy, scary objects. Have the kids reach in and feel eyeballs (olives or peeled grapes), worms (cooked spaghetti), severed fingers (little smoked sausages), brains (Jell-O), etc. Listen to the kids squeal with a mix of fear and delight, and be sure to have wet wipes ready to clean sticky hands.
12. Make ghoulish goodie bags.
Surprise your friends at school, playgroup or soccer team with Halloween goodie bags. Treat them to some Halloween candy as well as other goodies like glow sticks, ghost shaped pencil erasers, silly string, spider rings and so on.
13. Watch a “scary” movie.
Break out the popcorn and get comfy in front of the TV, but don’t go overboard on the scare factor. For the little ones, try Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (rated G) and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (rated G). For older kids try Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (rated PG), Corpse Bride (rated PG) or The Nightmare Before Christmas (rated PG).
14. Wrap the mummy race.
Another game you can play is wrap the mummy. Set your participants into teams of two, give them each a roll of toilet paper (preferably a small roll) and on your mark, see which team can use all the toilet paper off the roll and wrap their team-mate like a mummy. It’s dizzying fun for everyone!
15. Make lollipop ghosts.
Lollipop ghosts are simple and easy — even your preschooler can get in on the action. All you do is drape a white napkin over a lollipop, tie a ribbon around the napkin at the base of the lollipop to create the ghosts head and use a black sharpie to draw a face.
16. Download spooky songs.
Make your own Halloween playlist. Include frightening favorites like “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., “Monster Mash” by Bobby Boris Pickett, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and “The Addams Family Theme” by Vic Mizzy.
17. Create a found object pumpkin.
Do something different this year instead of the usual jack-o-lantern. Go around the house and find loose objects that can be used as eyes, a nose, a mouth and even ears. You can use an old zipper as a mouth, a thimble for a nose, old sunglasses for eyes, etc. The wackier the objects, the funnier the pumpkin!
18. Pumpkin seed pinching contest.
If you do decide to carve a pumpkin this year, don’t let the seeds go to waste. Have a silly pumpkin seed pinching contest. The object of the game is to pinch the slimy seed as hard as you can to make it launch out from between your fingers. The one to make their seed go the farthest wins.
19. Do-it-yourself costumes.
Remember the good old days when Mom used to make your Halloween costume? Get crafty and create your own costumes this year. Even if you don’t sew, there are lots of costumes you can put together — think rock star, pirate, construction worker or gypsy.
20. Throw a spook-tacular party.
Gather all your little ghosts and their goblin friends for some Halloween fun. Whether it’s a small group or the whole neighborhood, Halloween is a great excuse to get together. Invite everyone to come in costume. If your party guests are preschoolers stick to fun decorations — bright orange pumpkins and friendly ghosts. If your guests are older, go for something scarier. Plan some creepy crafts, devilish delights and ghastly games. Check out all the different Halloween recipes and crafts online at marthastewart.com or foodnetwork.com/topics/halloween.
21. Plan for a safe and fun Halloween.
As it gets dark, cars have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters dashing across the road. Pick up a few packs of glow sticks so your little ghosts will be illuminated on Halloween night. Plan your route ahead of time, and remember that little ones will go slower and visit fewer houses than older kids. If you plan to let the older kids split off, be sure you have adequate supervision — plan to go with friends or have family help out. Have fun watching the little ones ring doorbells and collect candy, and have a safe and spooky Halloween!
Kiera Ashford is associate editor for this publication and mother of two.