Nothing says fun or fires up the fancy quite like Halloween—haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides, costume parties, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, and, yes, candy. Although the days are shorter and the air crisper, friends and family can—and will—enjoy the season outdoors, especially if you dream up interesting and inventive ways to celebrate.
Get your game on and give it a Halloween twist. You can either pick and choose from the countless suggestions already available on the web—all you need to do is decide how much time and effort you want to invest—or unleash your imagination and make up your own game. A few of the more creative ideas might include:
- The Eyeball Spoon Race—cousin to the egg-and-spoon race, except participants race to the finish line balancing plastic eyeballs on spoons
- The Halloween Obstacle Course—possibly including a broomstick ride, hand-fishing for plastic spiders in a kid’s pool filled with cooked spaghetti and fake blood, a hay bale hurdle, and the fridge-box tunnel crawl
- The Skeleton Hunt—the first team to find all the bones and reassemble a plastic skeleton wins
- Melt the Witch—hang up a cardboard witch, hand out wet sponges, and start melting her down, giving points for each direct hit
Fun with pumpkins
Since Jack O. Lantern is practically the ambassador for Halloween, activities involving pumpkins are almost mandatory at this time of year. Family pumpkin-picking and the subsequent carving provide plenty of fun, but there are other interesting ways to play with pumpkins, too.
- Decorate a tree in your front yard with tiny pumpkins—plastic or real.
- Hold a mini-pumpkin hunt. Use decorated paper shopping bags for “baskets” and let friends and family paint faces on the pumpkins before you hide them.
- Carve Mr. Pumpkin an extra-wide, hole-in-one mouth, fabricate a ramp leading into it, and have everyone tee up for a rousing round of Pumpkin Golf.
- Pumpkin Bowling is a hoot especially if you use squash or half-ears of corn for pins.
Shivers and s’mores
Everybody loves to gather around a campfire or bonfire on a cool autumn night, especially when the gathering includes hot dogs, followed by toasted marshmallows or s’mores. Put the Halloween in your campfire by having everyone dress in costume (nonflammable, please). Wait until the fog rolls in, the wolf howls, and that lone owl hoots—figuratively speaking—then bring on the ghost stories. You can take turns reading Poe or have everyone make up their own stories. Better yet, create a relay—have one person start the story, then let each person add a new twist.
‘Tis the season for colored leaves, Indian corn, and cornstalks—not to mention ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. So instead of buying your Halloween decor, have each person bring the raw materials of his/her choice. Set up picnic table stations—one for wreath-making, one for spooky cutouts, one for painting a group mural, for example—and tap the inner artists in your friends and family.
Once the dust settles, you can work off any excess energy with a backyard flag-football or soccer game. Follow that with a fall barbecue, eating on tables now decked with Halloween-themed tablecloths, and you have the perfect prelude to Trick-or-Treat Night.
If you don’t have time to DIY your activities, check the local paper for sponsored Halloween happenings the whole family can enjoy. Plenty of communities, churches, and civic organizations hold fall festivals liberally seasoned with good food, games, music, and arts and crafts. Farm markets often offer scarecrow-building workshops or pick-your-own apple harvesting. There may be a “ghost tour” within a reasonable drive. Finally, how about a haunted hayride, spooked-up corn maze, or marching in a local costume parade for Halloween fun?