Make memories with your kiddos on any kind of budget!
By Amber Larsen
I am a mom of 3 kiddos who keep me on my toes. I have LOVED Halloween for as long as I can remember, and I am instilling that love of Halloween into my children. Every year, I add a little more Halloween decor (both inside and outside), Halloween costumes, and fun Halloween activities for us to do as a family. I hope these tricks I have gathered along the way help you and your family celebrate Halloween in a fun and memorable way!
There are so many exciting Halloween crafts to make with your children. Here is one fun idea that is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face over and over again. Use your children’s feet as a stamp to create ghosts. Paint their feet with white, non-toxic paint and have them step, or stamp them, onto black paper. Draw on a face, and don’t forget to date it so you can remember when their feet were that little.
Tip: Add this customized and nostalgic craft to a frame that will help preserve it for years to come.
2. Trick or Treat in a New Area or have a Trick or Treat Vacation Experience
Our neighborhood rocks when it comes to Halloween. From Halloween driveway parties with fire pits, AMAZING light shows, and haunted houses, to lots and lots of candy. So, we don’t need to go anywhere else. But, there are WHOLE cities that do EVEN more!! Do a quick search online to see where the best cities to trick or treat are, then choose the one you want to visit or that is close to you, and let the fun begin! Suggestions of things to look for: Chamber of Commerce, Facebook pages and groups in that area, internet searches for Halloween activities going on in that area, Youtube videos, and Instagram posts. You can also ask around to see where locals or friends and family suggest going. Once you know where you’d like to trick or treat and the areas of town you will be visiting for your Halloween experience, you can search for a place to stay (if traveling out of town). Sometimes it is best to stay close by, other times you can take public transportation, Uber, or drive yourself into the areas you are heading to.
Tip: Make sure to read the reviews to glean any information you can about the area and possible Halloween activities other guests have experienced.
3. Family Costumes
I am all about the matching family costumes! My family and I (let’s be honest, mostly me) love family costumes. My kiddos and husband will get into dressing up and enjoy it, although they don’t always want the family costumes I do. So, I suggest backup costumes from our costume box or things we have around the house. We usually have a few different occasions to dress up for each Halloween season, so there are plenty of opportunities to wear different costumes or the same one over again.
I love taking costume ideas from children’s movies. Some suggestions: Despicable Me – Gru, Lucy, their 3 girls, minions, and don’t forget Dr. Nefario. Plus, there are so many other fun characters to choose from in this movie too! Toy Story brings SO many possibilities, from Woody and Little Bo Peep to Jessie and the Potato Heads.
Classic suggestions: From the movie Mary Poppins – Mary Poppins, Bert (the chimney sweep), Jane and Michael Banks. From Halloween itself – Witch, Ghost, Dracula, Frankenstein, Spider, and Pumpkin. Another group option – everyone dresses up as mummies or cowboys and cowgirls. A super easy and high-impact idea – everyone gets the same color shirts, cut out a large star in a coordinating color, then cut out a felt eye mask, don a cape, and you are all superheroes!
Check out your local thrift store to see what you can find that will work with your chosen theme. Whatever you choose, have fun with it!
Tip: Save your costumes from year to year in an air vacuumed resealable bag to save space and money for next year’s Halloween costumes.
Even if it’s only a small area like a bookshelf, set out some Halloween decorations. Get your kiddos involved, maybe even give them their own corner so they feel the accomplishment of decorating their own space – which also gives you your own space to decorate, hopefully. Definitely save your favorite decorations from year to year so that you can reuse them and have an enjoyable time walking down memory lane. Tip: Try your hand at making your decorations by searching for some awesome ideas online that you and your children might like to try.
5. Movie Night
Scary movie night/funny movie night/silly movie night. You can choose to have it indoors or outdoors. Grab some popcorn, blankets, pillows, and your favorite people, and enjoy a great movie together. To step it up a notch, you could make it a costume movie night and have everyone wear their favorite comfortable costume. Hearing the movie is key, so make sure you have good speakers or surround sound. Tip: Create an area for popcorn and movie-going snacks and call it a “concession stand.” The kids will love it!
I delight in looking back and reminiscing on holidays from years past. For this specific holiday, you can dress up your little ghouls and goblins and take their photos. To step up the photo game, you can use some bats cut out of black cardstock or construction paper, along with some Halloween-colored balloons to create a backdrop.
Or grab bales of straw and pumpkins. This is fairly inexpensive and you can use them through October and November. Dress your kiddos in fall colors or their costumes depending on the theme you are going for. Tip: You don’t need an expensive camera, most cell phone cameras are perfect for this. Oh, and bribe your little ones to smile with treats.
7. Halloween Party
Whether you choose to have your party inside or outside, make sure to decorate (see #4 above). Play games like bobbing for apples, pinning the witch on the broom, or cauldron bowling with a pumpkin. Then there’s the food – you’ve gotta have spooky and delicious food. I have seen food in the shape of witches’ brooms, brains, or skeletons. Search for some exciting and simple ideas online. I like to choose one or two things to focus on with the decorating and food so that it doesn’t get so overwhelming.
Carving pumpkins, just by itself, is also a wonderful Halloween party idea. Have everyone bring their own pumpkins. You can set out carving utensils and tables with plastic tablecloths to clean up the mess quickly. (Also, see #10 for some more ideas on things you can add to your Halloween party). Tip: Don’t do everything by yourself. Delegate or purchase items that are too time-consuming or costly for you to make vs buying.
8. Candy Corning
My family and I like to drop off anonymous gifts to our neighbors or anyone that might need a pick-me-up. We put together some treats or baking supplies for them to make their own goodies. We cruise up to their house, jump out, and doorbell ditch them while leaving the Halloween goodies at their front doorstep. Then we run to our getaway car and yell (quietly) “candy corn, candy corn” so the getaway driver knows to GO!
We do “Candy Cane-ing” at Christmas time too. Our children get such a kick out of it! It’s enjoyable to see the joy it brings to their faces and the people we deliver to. Tip: Choose an inexpensive cauldron or cute Halloween bag to add all the goodies to. It makes it easier to carry and set down at the doorstep.
9. Countdown to Halloween Tree
A countdown to Halloween is an easy and memorable way to get your kids excited for all the fun to come. One idea is to make a Halloween tree by grabbing a tree branch, spray painting it black, and putting it in a planter. You can decide if you want it outside or inside. Next, make little paper tag ornaments by cutting out scrapbook paper or construction paper in the shape you want. Then punch a hole at the top and thread string through. Write numbers on each ornament (or use stickers), and hang all of them on the tree. Then, on October first, remove the number 1 ornament and so on, until you have all of them removed and it’s October 31. Happy Halloween! If you want to step it up a notch you can make each tag ornament like an advent calendar, and have a gift or experience written on the back. Tip: Save all of it for next year if you have the space. Otherwise, just save the ornaments.
10. Make a Haunted House
You and your family can set up a haunted house in a room, in your backyard, or in your garage. At my previous job, we would transform our whole office and cubicle area into a haunted house/maze. It was fun for all! You could even invite your neighbors to the experience. Use big black plastic tablecloths to create your walls. Paint them with glow-in-the-dark paint. Use black lights or strobe lights. A fog machine will set the mood nicely. Use netting material draped to create spooky-looking areas. Then bring in the props. You can make it a little scary with the fake blood and fake knives, or make it less scary with bowls your visitors can stick their hands into and feel mushy, squishy, or wormy-type textures. Get creative here. Some ideas to try are peeled grapes, jello, and noodles. Tip: If you decide to invite your neighbors, have them bring a canned food item as the price of admission and donate all of the canned food to a food bank. Spooky Halloween entertainment plus service – can’t beat that!
I hope you enjoyed all of these tricks and treats. I can’t wait for you and your family to try some of these new ideas! And if your kiddos are like mine, you’ll have them asking, “when is it going to be Halloween?” because of all the wonderful experiences you enjoy together. Have a safe and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!