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Halloween Activities for Teens Who Are ‘Too Old’ for Trick-or-Treating

If you’ve got teens, like I do, you already know that celebrating Halloween is no longer the simple holiday it used to be. Remember the days when your Halloween to-do list looked like this?

1. Get/make costume for kid.
2. Take kid trick-or-treating.
3. Ration candy until it’s forgotten/goes stale.

With teens, yeah, not so much. Halloween is not so much fright anymore as it is fraught — fraught with intense questions that can make some teens seem, well, lukewarm about the once-beloved holiday: Am I too old to dress up? Is trick-or-treating dumb? Am I the only one of my friends who still really likes Halloween?

We’re not saying they’re actually letting you in on any of these musings, but you may detect a reluctance in them (for the first time) to participate in Halloween — or their wanting to do something Halloween-ish, but maybe a little more on their own terms.

It’s bittersweet for sure, because you can still remember how adorable they looked in the Thomas the Tank Engine costume you made out of a microwave box. (Sob.) But you can offer up (gently, casually — be chill) some alternative ways of celebrating Halloween to your teen that might be just the thing. And if they’re not driving yet, throw in an offer to transport them and a few friends, and see if that doesn’t perk them up out of their existential teen Halloween doom and gloom.

1. Brave a Haunted Amusement Park

Depending on where you live, there might be an amusement park nearby offering some serious chills and thrills for teen and adult Halloween lovers — like Valleyfair in Minnesota, which turns into ValleySCARE on weekends during the Halloween season. Think haunted mazes, scare zones and wandering, lurching ghouls and zombies — definitely not a Halloween for little ones.

2. Let Them Host a Party

Give your teen free rein to take over the house — and let them go wild with fake spiderwebs, dangling skeletons, fog machines and deliciously creepy treats. By all means, lay a few ground rules, but stay in your lane (as in, remove yourself to a quiet parental corner and leave the party decor and effort and enjoyment to your teen and their posse). They’ll be grateful and you’ll get the much-deserved rep as the cool mom or dad. Win-win.

3. Volunteer — With a Halloween Theme

Got an introverted (or just a Halloween-meh) teen who happens to love to volunteer for charitable causes? Encourage your teen to bypass the festivities if they are so inclined, and — for instance — bake some Halloween cookies for a local nursing home or dog treats for a nearby shelter.

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4. Have a Horror Flick Sleepover

Let your teen invite some friends over for a terrifying movie marathon — or a Ghost Adventures binge. And if they’ve never seen The Blair Witch Project, you know, it holds up surprisingly well for its age — especially that last iconic frame. (Shudder.)

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5. Get a Psychic Reading or Your Tarot Cards Read Together

If your teen is the witchy type, she might appreciate the offer to get a real tarot card reading or psychic reading together. Best. Bonding. Ever.

6. Start a New Tradition of Giving Out Candy Together to the Littles

My younger daughter decided she was done with Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating when she was about 13… and so she and I would snuggle on the front steps with a blanket and toasty-warm drinks and ooh and aah and all the babies who stopped by for candy. It’s one of my favorite memories, cooing with her over tiny Elsas and Power Rangers — when not so long ago she’d been one of them too.

7. Rock a Corn Maze

Halloween corn mazes continue to be a crazy-popular activity, especially in the Midwest (duh). And would you believe there is actually a corn maze finder so you can find the corn labyrinth closest to you?

8. Explore a Local Graveyard

This is good one for teens who 1) geek out on history 2) have parents who geek out on history. This was actually something my older daughter and I liked to do together in the fall. It was creepy… but peaceful too. Just honor cemetery regulations and hours — most don’t appreciate folks poking around in them after dark.

9. Crack the Code of a Horror-Themed Escape Room

Escape rooms are popping up everywhere these days, and some of them have downright horrifying themes, perfect for Halloween. This one is a fab example (and note many of them require reservations, they’re so popular). Do you dare?

10. Take in a Paranormal Ghost Tour

Most towns and cities across the world have at least one historical “ghost walk” or tour covering the alleged paranormal activity of the area — and many of these are NOT for the faint of heart. Maybe the real ghosts make a point of celebrating Halloween… you never know. Check this terrifying event happening at an old prison in Philadelphia and see if you or your teen have the cojones required to enter something like this.

So yeah, Halloween may be different with teens — but trust me, it doesn’t have to be any less fun. Pinky swear.

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