Rituals and traditions strengthen family bonds, give the kids something to look forward to and create memories they'll treasure. Here are a few fun Halloween traditions to start with your family.
Family Halloween traditions
Make traditional Halloween food
If you think of candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins as traditional Halloween food, think again. Do a little culinary research and you'll find that Halloween has its roots in the Celtic celebration of Samhain, a night when the dead revisited the mortal world. Try whipping up traditional Irish Halloween foods like colcannon, soul cakes or boxty pancakes.
Throw a Halloween party
Powwow with your family to decide what kind of Halloween party you'd like to host. It could be a neighborhood potluck in the driveway on Halloween night, an elaborate Halloween dinner party or a spooky haunted house. Personally, we like the idea of hosting a Halloween chili party — load up the crock pot, put out the toppings and bowls, and let guests help themselves.
Booing has really taken off in recent years. If you're not familiar with this tradition, essentially booing is secretly dropping off a gift on a friend's doorstep, along with a note or poem instructing them to do the same. We credit the popularity of this Halloween activity to the warm fuzzies you get from gifting others, plus the excitement of ringing the doorbell and making a speedy exit without being spotted.
Take a family vacationMost families travel during summer and winter break, so avoid the crowds and create a new tradition by planning a family vacation during fall break. (If you've never been to Disneyland during its annual "Halloween Time," schedule your trip between September 13 and October 31 to experience the spookier side of The Happiest Place on Earth.)
Host a scary movie night
Heaps of blankets, sweet and salty snacks, and a movie that will scare the pants off the whole family — who could resist a Halloween scary movie night tradition? Erin from The Sunny Side Up blog recommends The Teacher from the Black Lagoon... and More Slightly Scary Stories (a Scholastic video collection) for young children who aren't quite ready for Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween.
The Green Pumpkin
If you're looking for a way to get rid of all that sugary Halloween candy, try blogger Mary Beth's tradition of the Green Pumpkin. Each year on Halloween night, the Green Pumpkin swoops in for a visit to exchange candy for gifts — so much kinder than simply confiscating the kids' loot. Plus, the Green Pumpkin brings great Halloween books like The Witch's Supermarket, Halloween Surprises and Pumpkin Moonshine. Mary Beth's husband explained the Green Pumpkin to his son as "the spirit of exchanging things that are not so good for you for things that are good for you."
Don't forget the pumpkins! Pumpkin carving is probably the most popular of all Halloween traditions — especially when you sift through the insides and make a fresh batch of roasted, salted pumpkin seeds.
More fun Halloween ideas