Here are some favorite family traditions for Halloween. These are the things we do every year!
There’s nothing more fun than wandering around your neighborhood, showing off your costume and seeing all your friends in theirs! You can have guessing games about who is dressed in which costume, and share ideas for next year!
- Making Your Own Costume
In our house, we always try to make as much of our own costumes as possible. This means that the fun of Halloween and playing dress up can start more than a month before the event itself, when we pick out patterns, find our material on sale at the fabric and craft stores, then sewing and fittings and of course, dress-rehearsal! Part of what makes me feel the awe and wonder of the season is playing dress up and exploring the fantastic worlds of kids and adults alike in literature, movies, plays, and folklore.
- Halloween Party
Whether its for big kids or little ones, a costume party seems to bring out the “hidden” side of friends and neighbors! Find out who fancies themselves a dashing swashbuckler, a daring cutthroat, or a saucy wench under their 9-to-5 work clothes! Meet your local neighborhood Dalek, or realize why the kid down the street only comes out at night, or if the girl next door is a “good witch or a bad one.” Its a great way to break the ice and get to find out more about the people who live around you in a low stress fun environment!
- House Decoration
Everyone knows that one house on the block that has the cardboard and plastic tombstones in their front yard. From the cheesy to the poignant, a sunset-dappled graveyard on the lawn certainly puts a household in the right mood for Halloween! But you don’t have to have a cemetery in mind to make your house ready for the holiday. Autumn wreaths with wheat shafts and dried Indian corn are warm and inviting without being too spooky. Or if its the macabre you’re looking for, a wreath of “dead” roses can be make quickly with just a silk rose wreath spray painted black! Brooms are always a witchy addition to any décor, and with just a few seasonal ribbons they are easily dressed up and hung on a wall. Candles and candlesticks are also a great way of literally brightening up a room, and nothing speaks of class the way candlelight seems to.
- Haunted Houses
My family loves to visit haunted houses all year ’round, but especially at Halloween. There are newer automated haunted houses that are open throughout the year in coastal regions of the U.S., like South Carolina and Virginia, and those places are always good for a shiver down your spine during a hot summertime vacation, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned haunted house that’s opened in the fall. We live in the Midwestern U.S. and many corn fields are turned into mazes both creepy and fun in the fall, and offer hayrides. Some of the haunted houses we visit regularly in the fall are part of a larger “development” of houses, each one with a different theme. There are school houses, “mad scientist” labs, warehouses, old churches, and sanitariums that all serve as themes for the chills and thrills they provide. Many of the annual events are also designed as fund raisers for charity, so once you’ve stopped shivering from the fright or the nip in the air, you can feel good for giving back while having fun!
- Dumb Supper
This is an old tradition that came over to America from our emigrated ancestors. There are theories that say it came from Italy, Ireland, England, Germany, Wales, and sometimes as far off as Constantinople. What remains certain is that whether people carry on this tradition out of respect for the dead, or out of a real superstition, it has its home in many regions, and speaks to something ancient within those who still do it today. To host a “Dumb Supper” the meal of the evening is prepared and the table is set with one extra space. No one speaks during the dinner, and the extra place is provided with food and drink as though someone was in the seat. During the course of the dinner, if an ancestor or spirit is moved to join those at the table and provide any insight or messages to the living, it is considered quite a blessing.
- Picking Apples & Pumpkins
There’s nothing that says Autumn the way going apple picking does. Finding your perfect apples, dreaming of the pies and cobblers and cider you can make with them, or just biting into a crisp one and savoring that fresh fall scent all make for wonderful memories in the winter months ahead. Pumpkin picking is a great tradition of ours just the couple of last weeks before Halloween itself, making sure that our pumpkins will still be fresh for carving and setting out!
- Making Jack-o-lanterns
That brings us to Jack o’Lanterns! One of my absolute favorite fall traditions, carving into a pumpkin and giving it a face is both a creative and easy project, and not at all difficult to involve the little ones. With an adult controlling all of the sharp pointy objects, kids can enjoy not only picking out “their” special pumpkin for the season, but choosing their face or design, scooping out pumpkin seeds for toasting later, and having fun in all the slimy gooey pumpkin innards!
- Making Candy Apples
Whether we buy them or make them from scratch with apples we’ve picked, candy apples are one of the best parts of the fall. Gooey, messy, and even possibly healthy, there’s nothing bad to be found in caramel, chocolate, and apples.
- Making Pumpkin pie
From a can or from scratch, one of the most attractive smells to a human being is a freshly-baked pumpkin pie. Take pumpkin, add sugar, condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and bake at 350-degrees for delicious memories.