Kids — and many adults — anticipate Halloween with the same level of excitement usually reserved for Christmas and birthdays. Planning age-appropriate alternatives to the traditional neighbourhood trick-or-treating can be the perfect solution for parents who are concerned about their children’s eating habits and safety. The following are some suggestions for fun Halloween festivities:
1. Enjoy community/local events
Check out the zoo, local museums, libraries, planetariums and tourist attractions for special activities planned on and/or approaching Halloween. For example, the Calgary Zoo features “Boo at the Zoo,” an event that includes a “spooktacular supper” with visiting Halloween characters. Even your local philharmonic society is likely to offer special Halloween events.
Put a bit of a rural twist into your Halloween planning and visit “A Field of Screams” by scrambling through acornfield maze or pick your own pumpkins to carve from a nearby pumpkin patch.
2. Keep young kids comfortable
Scary Halloween parties can be too much for the active imaginations of younger kids. Encourage children to wear a costume, but keep the activities fear-free. You might want to play word games (how many words can you make out of “Halloween” or “goblin”), bob for apples or doughnuts, play Pin the Nose on the jack-o-lantern or have a costume parade with prizes and/or treats for all.
3. Plan a theme party
With movies like “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” recently released on video, and still popular with all ages, consider planning a party inspired by one of the films. In fact, depending on ages and attention spans, the movie itself might be part of the party.
For a Potter party, have the kids dress as their favourite characters. Remember the Snitch from the Quidditch game? Resurrect an old favourite game, such as Scavenger Hunt, rename it (Snitch Hunt) and separate the players into “houses” (Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw). Develop clues to lead players to the elusive Snitch.
A “Lord of the Rings” party will typically appeal to an older group of kids who will likely require less supervision — and less planning. It’s still fun, however, to serve theme-related food and drink like Orc’s brains in a skull — guacamole dip served in a scooped-out squash shell — and Rivendell River Water; use a favourite punch recipe.
4. Share the work/fun with a progressive monster bash
Split the work between several families by throwing a progressive Halloween party — a particularly good option for the teen and pre-teen age group. Do you remember progressive dinners, in which each course of the meal took you to another person’s house? The progressive Halloween party is similar, with each family decorating their home, planning a game or activity, and providing a spooky snack. Activities can include fortune-telling, a reading of a scary story — by a grownup ghost or witch — or a mad monster lab, complete with intestines or monster brains (cold cooked spaghetti) and eyeballs (gumballs).
Whether you choose traditional trick-or-treating, a Halloween party or a combination of the two, have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.
Suitably Scary — or not-so-scary — Movies
When choosing spooky movies, it’s important to keep the ages and interests of the partygoers foremost in your mind.
• Goosebumps videos
• Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
• It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
• The Legend of Sleepy Hollow