How to Make the Most out of Halloween for Your Children
This is the last weekend before the scariest night of the year and I am sure you are up for some preparation and fun activities with your kids. If you are completely lost as to where to start and what to do, follow along with me as I also try to get the most out of this year’s Halloween.
This is my 7th Halloween in the States and I have to admit that up until now I haven’t taken full advantage of everything that Halloween has to offer. Yes, I did get dressed up and even won the scariest costume at my workplace one year. But that’s pretty much it. No decorations, no pumpkin patching, and carving, no costume parades, no spooky dishes.
Now that I have a son who is two this year and can already understand much, I want him to be part of all the fun. Or maybe, I just want to have the fun myself too. This is the best time of the year to bring out the little child inside you and just have fun with the kids.
1. Pumpkin Patching
Going to a pumpkin patch doesn’t have to be a boring go-get-a-pumpkin and head home type of activity. Nowadays, pumpkin patches offer so much fun for kids starting the beginning of October and leading to the main day itself. The choice is enormous: train rides, pony rides, corn mazes, bounce houses, face painting, contests, giant slides, and obstacles. Depending on your child’s age and preferences going to a pumpkin patch can easily become the most exciting part of the whole Halloween extravaganza. Just kidding, nothing can beat the candies!!
So how do you find all those great pumpkin patches? If you live in a small town, you probably know all the good ones through the word of mouth. In bigger cities or areas, word of mouth works just as well, check with your friends, they might’ve found a really good one. Plus if you follow local mom bloggers, they often share great information on the activities of that season. If you live in San Francisco Bay Area, do follow me on Facebook or Instagram as I am one of those bloggers.
Another great place to look for pumpkin patches in your area is this website. You just need to find your state and then check all the available options. And here is a good guide for pumpkin patches in San Francisco and nearby. Local Facebook groups can also be very helpful. If you are part of one, just ask other parents for recommendations.
2. Pumpkin Carving
When you go to that great pumpkin patch with attractions, don’t forget the main purpose why you are there: pick up a pumpkin! Might seem silly but my son and I got so carried away with all the trampolines that were about to leave without getting one. My 2-year-old was quite tired by the time we were to head home, but when I told him we were going to get a pumpkin and carve a face with scary eyes and teeth, he got all excited again. This is such a fun thing to do with your child. Use your creativity to make the spookiest pumpkin possible. You can paint on it, you can carve and put candles inside. There are so many great videos on Youtube that can help you with the process.
3. Decorated Houses
This is something that probably older kids will enjoy, although my 2-year-old seems to have no fear when it comes to giant mummies and spiders hanging off the houses, or skeletons coming out of graves, or scary body parts of witches. Walking around the neighborhoods with the freakiest decorated houses is something I immensely enjoy myself too. Some people just put so much work in the decorations that you almost feel obliged to go and see those masterpieces. There are entire streets in Bay Area houses of which are in some type of contest for best decorations. Again, you can google or check with your local groups to find these houses in your neighborhood. This website has a good roundup of the ones in our area.
4. Spooky Cooking
There is a simple recipe floating around all over the Internet (I LOVE this one) for the little shortbread cookies shaped like which fingers with red food-color-dyed almond slices for nails. I just love those fingers and will sure make these this year! Follow me on Instagram to see the pictures. This is another area where you can unleash your spooky spirits, get creative and add some fun to your kids’ everyday routine. Your child’s lunch box can become a one haunted box full of surprises. Cut his sandwiches into ghost-shapes with scary eyeballs made of raisins or grapes, plus put some plastic small spiders in it. Your child will get ecstatic and it might actually help him it.
5. Halloween Carnivals and Parades
Halloween is a great time for the local businesses to get in front of their potential customers. So most neighborhoods hold Halloween carnivals and parades that are sponsored by these businesses. Quite often these have costume contests, fun games, crafts and raffle, and of course trick or treating. Check with your local parenting non-profits for information on these parades, or even try calling to Chamber of Commerce or City Hall they will certainly have this info for you. We have California Avenue Halloween Carnival in Palo Alto this Sunday, October 29, sponsored by Blossom Birth and local business (check more info here), so don’t miss it.
And finally the main day of trick-or-treating! It is, of course, more fun to join your friends with other children and go trick-or-treating together. The more the merrier! As children will get to see each other’s costumes and be in all the fun together. If you don’t have friends who you can join just check again with your local Facebook groups, you might be surprised as to how many families might want to be in the fun together. If you still don’t have the costume prepared, check my post here for some online options, check the delivery dates though as this close to Halloween you may or may not get those on time.
And a side note, as someone who is buying lots of candies to treat the little monsters knocking on your door on Halloween, please be considerate of what type of candy you give the kids. Of course, no one has the budget to buy expensive candies and it is so tempting to give loads of candies to kids and look good in their eyes rather than just one piece but we don’t want to feed our children junk either, right? Although I don’t have this problem, because I don’t give my son candies yet and he doesn’t know the taste of them, but I know how challenging it is for parents to forbid their children to eat their Halloween candies: something they gathered themselves and truly deserved. So let’s get some higher quality sweets for our little ones. Costco offers big boxes of candies for a lower price, plus you can get good ones from Amazon delivered to your door (check this link), just please don’t buy those cheap ones for just $1 from Dollar Store, Party City or CVS.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and it is so much you can do on Halloween like start a family tradition, organize neighborhood potluck, etc. So I’d love to know what it is that you and your children enjoy the most on Halloween. Please let me know in the comments.