There comes a sad time in every parent’s life when their little baby is just too cool for trick-or-treating. One year, your kid is bubbling with excitement to throw on a spooky ghost costume; the next year, they’d rather TP the neighbor’s house and smash every pumpkin in sight. And even worse, in some towns, older teens aren’t even allowed to trick-or-treat. So unfair, right?
While the age to stop trick-or-treating is a hotly debated topic that deserves a story of its own, some cities have even set age restrictions as young as 13 dating back to the 1970s. Results from a small FiveThirtyEight survey from just a few years back seem to concur: Most people think the age bracket of 12 to 15 is when kids should stop trick-or-treating for good.
So, you’ve got an extra-tall trick-or-treater on your hands and you’re racking your brain to come up with something for them to do this year. Don’t worry. We’ve come up with some treats to keep teens entertained this Halloween — so they’ll be far too busy to brainstorm any tricks.
1. Local haunted house
Groupon may be one of the best places to start on the hunt for a local haunted house, especially if you have a big group of teens looking for something fun to do on Halloween. If your town has a well-known haunted house — an old hotel with a 13th floor, for example — you’re probably going to find a discount deal for it on Groupon or another shared coupon site starting in early October.
2. House party
This one’s easy if you’re brave enough to do it. Instead of turning your teens loose to run wild in the neighborhood, offer to host a Halloween party for them. Pinterest is loaded with Halloween party ideas for teens — including fun games, spooky food, glowing mocktails and more.
3. Progressive dinner
Compared to a house party, this one may take a little more work and community cooperation, but it’s well worth the effort. A progressive dinner, in which parents in the neighborhood are responsible for different courses of the meal, is a fun idea for any regular teen night out, but a haunted progressive dinner makes the event even more thrilling.
4. Cookie-baking party
If your teen loves to bake — or just loves to eat sweets — a cookie-baking party can keep them occupied during the trick-or-treating hours of Halloween. We suggest starting with an easy recipe, like this spooky sprinkled Halloween cookie pop, before moving on to the big guns, like a cookie pizza made with Halloween candy.
5. Scary movie marathon
Need we say more? Depending on your teen’s age and ability to withstand a good fright, you can also pair the scary movie lineup with a Ouija board — and make sure to dim the lights.
Next up: Backyard camping
Originally published September 2011. Updated September 2017.