You can still enjoy the spookiest season of the year with these family-friendly activities.
Directly above view of unrecognizable boy adjusting gingerbread cookies on plates while preparing sweets for Halloween party
Credit: mediaphotos / Getty Images

Halloween this year is going to look different, but that doesn't mean you can't still celebrate the holiday. Most of the common Halloween traditions — parties, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating — are off the table in many parts of the country. So how do you make Halloween fun and exciting, and not just a disappointment? Try a few of our ideas for setting up spooky vibes and sweet treats at your own home:

Plan a Digital Party

If we can have Zoom weddings and cocktail hours, then Zoom Halloween is a natural. You can show off your creepy home décor, play some games, and do a contest for kids' costumes. If you can’t gather in person, then get creative about celebrating online! 

Make Your House Haunted

Can’t go to a scary haunted house? Bring the haunting home! Have your kids each decorate their own rooms in some scary theme or have them tackle the whole house and lead the adults through. Have some prizes available for awards like "scariest feature," "funniest trick," or "first one to make Dad scream."

Pumpkin Carving

A tradition that never gets old is pumpkin carving. If your family has little ones, pair them up with an adult or teenager, or if everyone is old enough to do their own, get enough supplies to share. If you're worried about working with tools for carving, painted decorated pumpkins are also a great way to go. This makes a fun craft project for the whole family and results in plenty of pumpkin seeds to roast afterwards for snacking!

Super Spooky Dinner

Halloween dinner is often a fast and furious affair because there is trick-or-treating to get to next. But if you are having Halloween at home, consider making a multi-course scary supper of creepy recipes. There are plenty of options, ranging from terrifying to laughable, including shrimp cocktail brain, zombie meatloaf, or witch finger cookies. Have fun with your kids planning a whole menu and get creative with your tablescape and serving pieces. Drinking out of science beakers or eating off of plates that look like headstones can make dinner all kinds of fun.

Make Monstrous Cookies

Large round sugar cookies are a terrific base for making monster face cookies. Coconut shreds with food coloring can look like hair or fur, candy pieces can make eyes, and almond slices stand in for teeth. Kids can get super creative in making monster faces that are as delicious as they are gruesome. Or make cookie baking a family affair, like with Christmas cookies, and create creepy treats from our list of decorated Halloween cookies.

Trick or Treat at Home

No trick-or-treating is such a disappointment. But let’s be honest, the amount of candy your kids bring home for free is always less than the amount you had to buy for your own offerings! So, load up on all of their favorites, in a volume that will match their usual haul, and then hide it all over the house. Keep a list of all the places you hide things, so that you know when you can tell them it has all been found, and be careful if you have pets not to hide things they can get to. If you are worried about one of your kids finding more than others, give each child a color and put little dot stickers on each piece of candy. Tell them that when they find a piece with a sticker on it that isn’t their color, they have to leave it where they found it.

Treasure or Scavenger Hunt

This is especially good if you have older kids who normally might have been going to parties. Think slightly bigger or better prizes instead of just candy, and create a treasure hunt with clever clues, or a scavenger hunt of items to find in the house. Give out the prizes at the end or have them discover the booty along the way. Don't know where to get started? Our Halloween scavenger hunt guide will help you make plans.

Movie Night

Whether your kids are the age for the Hotel Transylvania trilogy, or a marathon of scary Halloween flicks, a movie night can be fun and cozy. Or set it up through Netflix Party with some of their friends or another family so that you can all be watching and commenting together! Don't forget to whip up some spooky snacks and drinks to keep you refreshed while watching.

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