We’re still not sure how we’re handling Halloween with the Covid business happening. I’ve got decision fatigue about everything Covid-related, so I’m betting we’ll end up staying around the house. But I’ve got a six year old and a two year old who need their holidays to be magical, and a seven month old who looks too dang cute in everything to skip costumes. So what’s a weary mama to do? I spent some time thinking on it, and I’ve come up with 9 special Halloween traditions to start in 2020.
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Halloween Back Yard Campout
Recently, 6-year-old Turkey Burger was looking through some independence projects we found on LetGrow.org. She came across the idea to have a backyard campout all by herself. We live in a city, with like…weird things that sometimes happen in the neighborhood at night.
We promptly shot down her idea, but because we liked her gumption, we let her stay out late in her backyard tent alone until 10:45, when Hubs joined her for the overnight portion of her camp out. She was already asleep by then anyway, so none of the magic was really lost on her.
This activity is so fun and adaptable for Halloween. We are planning to try again, and this time let her spook it up to her comfort level. She loves crafting, so I fully expect her to create some paper ghosts to hang from the ceiling, and we’ll probably get some spooky library books she’s never seen.
She had a blast all by herself out there, but i can imagine older elementary kids and pre-teens having fun with their cousins and besties, telling spooky stories.
Flashlight Candy Hunt in Costumes
We probably aren’t doing conventional Trick or Treating this year. Honestly, we missed it last year due to the loss of our dog – we were at the hospital saying goodbye on Halloween night. The year before that wasn’t so great either. So many houses weren’t participating, so we had to walk quite a distance between houses. The only other option would be to go into one of the highly trafficked neighborhoods, but then that becomes a parking nightmare. With little bitty kids, it just didn’t seem worth it.
We plan to let our oldest hide a bit of candy throughout the house for her brother. Then they will hide together in one room of the house, while Hubs and I scatter candy throughout the rest of the house, just like an indoor egg hunt. Once it’s nice and dark out, they will be able to use their flashlights (We like these cheapo kid-friendly ones and they get used all the time), to hunt candy together. They’ll still get to wear costumes, and Turkey Burger will likely get some costume mileage at her school.
One little bonus perk is that I get to choose the snacks and candy and junky prizes. There will be a nice mix of healthier but still fun treats, and just straight up garbage candy. I’ll probably throw in some dollar store excitement, too.
Experiment with Different Ways to Decorate a Pumpkin Together
Credit to Good Housekeeping Magazine and Coffee and Carpool
Good Housekeeping has this amazing collection of pumpkin decorating ideas!
Turkey Burger is obsessed with crafting, and I’m always looking for ways to add non-commercialized meaning to the holidays. We plan to try three different pumpkins this year, and the first two are from Good Housekeeping. They actually have 65 slides of no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas!
Batty Spray Paint Pumpkin
We are modifying and simplifying the bat pumpkin to be more kid-friendly. Turkey Burger gets to choose the background color of the pumpkin, and then I’ll spray paint it on for her, using painter’s tape to protect the stem. My favorite is the Rust-Oleum chalk spray paint. I’m fully expecting a pastel purple or hot pink and think both could look really cool as a backdrop for bats. Of course, we’ll need to use painter’s tape on the stem, but that’s no big deal.
She will get to practice tying knots in black satin ribbon, and then using scissors to create wing shapes. I think with some help, creating those bats could be great for her fine motor skills. Hot glue will work just fine on these bats, or perhaps some good ole fashioned Gorilla Glue.
Marbled Finger Nail Polish Pumpkin
I’m not so sure how this one will turn out, but she’s most excited about it. So we’ll give it a shot! You basically round up some old nail polishes you don’t love anymore, and pour drops of them into a bowl of warm water. Swirl the colors around with a toothpick, and then rotate the pumpkin through the colors to create the marbled effect.
I also noticed that Good Housekeeping used an off-white pumpkin, and it seems wise to use a smaller pumpkin for this DIY project.
This one is extra fun because it’s repurposing stuff you already have at home, rather than having to buy up supplies.
A Charming “Gratitude Pumpkin” from Coffee and Carpool’s Family Tradition List
Sharing is caring, so thanks a lot to Coffee and Carpool for this incredible idea to bring gratitude to the dinner table all season long.
She uses a black sharpie and a Halloween pumpkin to record the family’s thanks each night on the pumpkin. She begins with a swirl by the stem that uses this sentence stem: “We are thankful for…”
Each day, they add between 1-3 new things for which they’re thankful. I imagine we’d just keep this as the centerpiece all season long, adding items at the dinner table each night.
Finally, she dresses up the rest of the table for their Thanksgiving dinner, and the pumpkin remains the proud centerpiece.
Movie Night in the Big Bed
Your family may have a special place for movie night, and this activity can be done anywhere in the house. In our family, with such small children, our bed is where we snuggle up on special occasions.
We didn’t try this until last Christmas Eve, when we first put on our matching Christmas jammies and all four of us (plus Chicken Nugget, cooking away in my belly) cuddled up for a Christmas movie.
Most of the t.v. watching is done on the couch, and we rarely all join in together. But Christmas Eve was a special occasion, and I think we can carry this over to Halloween weekend, too.
Our family loves Veggie Tales, so we’ll probably pop in “Where’s God When I’m Scared?” Because ya know…Halloween. This is a perfect show for small kids because it’s really short. The song is adorable, because it goes like this: “God is bigger than the Boogie Man, He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on t.v.! Oh God is bigger than the Boogie Man, and He’s watching out for you and meeeeee.” Adorbs, yes?
I checked it out on Amazon, and it’s got a PG rating and a billion stars? So maybe think about watching this one with your bigger kids. My kids have a skepticism for non-cartoon movies. IDK, maybe I’ll watch it alone one night.
Halloween Photo Scavenger Hunt with Hot Chocolate (Free Printable!)
As far as special Halloween traditions to start in 2020, this one should be at the top of the list. It can be easily modified depending on the age of your kids.
For example, when we did a photo scavenger hunt at Christmas time for teenagers in our old youth group, it was a competitive activity.
Every carload would have a different adult driving, and the kids would each have a printable with check marks and a pen. As the adult drove around (at or under the speed limit), kids would be looking for Christmas decorations on the list.
When they spotted one, they would pull over, jump out of the car, and take a photo with the decor. Then they get to check it off their list.
We would set a time when they had to be back at the church, and whichever team had the most photos on their phone with the correct scavenger hunt items would win the contest.
For younger kids like mine, we will do this collaboratively, all in one vehicle together. It won’t be rushed, just an opportunity to drive around and look for fun Halloween decor in our city. The photos would be optional. Of course, hot chocolate in sippy cups will be a MUST.
I’ve created a little printable for you to use if you decide to use this activity.
Make Spooky Snacks Together
Create and Complete a Family Kindness Challenge
Ashley at Simple Living created an October Kindness Calendar that is really great. Why not involve your kids in a daily dose of kindness? You can start and end whenever. If your family is overwhelmed and sometimes has trouble with follow-through, you could even start by creating a calendar for just one school week.
You can get ideas for kindness challenges from all over the internet. Tons of bloggers have assembled lists of 30 acts of kindness.
But I think the more meaningful activity is to collaborate with your kids to come up with your own list as a family. Give each kid a copy (or have them snap a photo on their phones, if age appropriate) and see how many of them you can knock out by Halloween or by Thanksgiving.
If everyone works together, can you knock out every idea on your kindness challenge that you’ve brainstormed together?
Thanksgiving would be a great time to debrief the activity and see how it felt to focus externally as a family on being kind.
Help Your Younger Child Make their Own Halloween Tee Shirt for School
Photo and Project Credit to McVay’s Nest
We used to make these shirts on youth mission trips when I was a youth director. A fellow volunteer would always bring the supplies, and it was a hit! We created church trip designs that were on theme, and often involved a cross or a statement of faith. They are fun and easy (and cheap!) to make, so get after it!
We modified the activity slightly from the McVay’s Nest version. She uses freezer paper, but we always used adhesive craft stickers (like these Halloween ones) to protect parts of the shirt. The perfect design probably merges both ideas!
Turkey Burger and Chicken Patty are 6 and 2 and will LOVE this Halloween activity as much as my teenagers used to enjoy it. Of course, they will create the design and Mama will handle the bleach spray 🙂 Here is the complete how-to post! I plan to get a fun store-bought (inexpensive) Halloween tutu to pair with the shirt, and we’ll add in her purple PE sneakers.
Read Kid-Friendly Halloween Books Every Night at Bedtime
I recently wrote a post about the best children’s books for the fall. Some of them are Halloween books! Check it out here, and start adding them into your October bedtime routine.
When I shared the post to Facebook, some friends suggested a couple more that are new to me. We plan to check them out this year!
The first is called Ten Timid Ghosts. She said it’s great for kids starting around age 2, up to about kindergarten age. It’s a counting book!
Another book that was recommended to me recently is called The Hallo-Wiener. Hilarious cover art! It must be a real treat, because it’s got almost 400 reviews on Amazon and 91% of them are five star! It’s supposedly very funny. It’s about a dachschund that gets teased but ends up being a Halloween hero. Charming, eh?
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the comment section and chime in with your own favorite Halloween traditions. Bonus points if they adapt well for those of who are Covid cautious 🙂
What are your family’s favorite Halloween traditions?