While almost every grocery store carries a vast array of pumpkins, don't sell yourself short. Round up your family and head to a pumpkin patch, where you can take pictures amongst the pumpkins, pick out your favorite gourds and participate in other fun activities. Some pumpkin patches even offer corn mazes, hay rides and petting zoos.
After you pick out your favorite pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, head home and decorate them together. If you have young children, set them up with paint or markers so they can draw funny faces on their pint-sized pumpkins.
Designate at least one large pumpkin as a jack 'o lantern. Come up with the carving design as a family, and then let the adults and older kids take turns cutting out the details. Your kids will love seeing their pumpkins come to life, and they'll squeal with excitement as they scoop out the slimy pumpkin filling.
Use your pumpkin-carving experience to teach your kids that, sometimes, really good things come from really gross beginnings. Have your kids separate the pumpkin seeds from the stringy goop, rinsing them off thoroughly. They can then spread the seeds on a cookie sheet and let them dry overnight. The next morning, supervise as your kids drizzle the dried seeds with butter and garlic salt before popping them in the oven for 30 minutes at 300F. Your kids will be amazed at the roasted pumpkin seeds' crunchy, salty flavor, and they'll look forward to making them again the next year.
Set aside at least one night to watch Halloween-themed movies as a family. Choose family-friendly flicks that suit even the most conservative tastes, such as Monsters, Inc., Ghostbusters, Monster House and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Keep the festivities going throughout the evening by serving cookies and cupcakes decorated with witches, goblins and spider webs.
Every kid gets excited about dressing up and touring the neighborhood in search of sweet goodies. Make it a family affair by donning your own costume and walking around with your kids and their friends. If you're not keen on the idea of trick-or-treating at houses with which you're unfamiliar, check with your city or recreation center to see if they host family-friendly trick-or-treating events that take place in more controlled environments.
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