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What shall we boo about Halloween? Alternatives to blood and gore

Cheryl is the author of Stay-at-Home Handbook: Advice on Parenting, Finances, Career, Surviving Each Day and More. Copyright 2002 Homebodies.Org, LLC.

Halloween party

Do you hate all the blood and gore that accompanies many Halloween celebrations? Here are some ways you can skip the implied violence and still make Halloween fun for kids!

Alternative to blood and gore

So what can we do to lighten this holiday up a bit? Let's take a look at some alternatives to the traditional blood and gore.

Voice your concerns

  • If you're uneasy about the way your particular school is approaching celebrating Halloween, consider how you can implement change. You can always keep your child home the day of the party and enjoy a special memory-making family activity that doesn't relate to Halloween. Or you can take a proactive stance at school and voice your opinion -- respectfully.
  • Ken Rimmer, National Distinguished Principal of the Year for the State of Missouri (1998), encourages parents to voice their concerns or suggestions for change in a face-to-face meeting, rather than in a letter, which may be misinterpreted. "Together, let's talk about how we can come up with a compromise or some kind of solution. We both want to have a safe learning environment, so let's find some areas we can agree on, whether we're talking about the Halloween party or some other issue."


  • Volunteer to be on the party planning committee so you have input on the choice of activities. Talk with the school administrator and suggest some alternative themes. For instance, you might promote a fall festival or harvest party that skirts around spooky motifs. Or a costume party that features famous people from history or literature. "I think the reason kids love Halloween so much is that it's glorified dress-up with the added benefit of candy -- two of kids' favorite things," says Carter. Once we remove the scary overtones, the holiday becomes more acceptable to edgy parents.

Celebrate 'Neewollah'

  • Few parochial schools celebrate Halloween, but many churches sponsor alternative parties on Halloween night. At Olathe Bible Church in Olathe, Kansas, "Neewollah" rules. (That's Halloween spelled backwards.) The idea is to turn scariness upside-down. In the past, this gruesome-less gathering has featured hayrides and bonfires, and carnivals with kids in Bible character costumes. OBC encourages its members to participate in the "Every Home a Lighthouse" program, in which families flood their houses with light, burning candles and turning on every bulb. (The idea is to counteract the dark and dinginess of "haunted houses.") They cut crosses into pumpkins instead of freaky faces, and pass out candy with religious materials.
  • Jody Jarrett, an independent contemporary Christian recording artist based in Kansas City, takes her daughters, Jessica (11) and Joy (8), to Evangel Temple's Family Fun Fest in South Kansas City. "It's an alternative to the heinous things that can happen. There are people out there that prey on Halloween, who are waiting for guards to be dropped. But this is well-lit and highly supervised. A lot of people are turning toward churches because they are a safe haven. The kids' welfare is the first and foremost concern.
  • "Children can dress up if they want, but nothing demonic or scary. If some kids do show up dressed that way, we just ask that they take their mask off, turn their costume inside out, and come on in. They can still participate. It's no different than going into a restaurant where they don't allow smoking. You abide by the rules."

Halloween costume ideas

Here are some examples of costumes that would be acceptable AND fun.

  • Angel
  • Animals
  • Ballerina
  • Bellhop
  • Bride and groom
  • Bug
  • Clown
  • Cowboy
  • Detective
  • Dinosaur
  • Famous (good-natured!) people from history
  • Hippie
  • Hobo
  • Hunter
  • Indian
  • Karate expert
  • Mr Potato Head
  • Elvis
  • Parent imitator -
  • Pirate
  • Princess
  • Robot
  • Rock star
  • Scarecrow
  • Sports figure
  • Storybook characters
  • Tourist
  • Zorro

Next: Ideas to celebrate Halloween without the frigth factor

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