October kicks off the fall season and all of the excellent family activities that start popping up around this time of year. For the kids, Halloween is on the top of the list of things they want to do, and our children are no exception. Of course, everyone thinks of trick-or-treating on Halloween night, but there are tons of other things that you can do to maximize your candy haul and have fun spending time as a family too!
1. Decorate the House
As soon as October 1st rolls around the girls are asking to pull out the decorations and go to town. We have a pretty good tradition of decorating for most big holidays, and it’s something that we all get a lot of enjoyment out of every time. If you’ve never been big into decorating it might seem a little daunting at first, especially if you’ve got some neighbors on the block that devote a substantial portion of their income each year to holiday decorations (there’s always one!).
- Indoors – We always have a little piece to go on the dining room table, some decorations for the mantle/fireplace, and a few other little odds and ends. We will also feature any art that the girls have created near the fireplace as well, and they LOVE drawing pictures to hang up.
- Outdoors – For Halloween we typically have a few orange/purple/green lights up around the front porch, some spider webs, pumpkins, and a few other odds and ends around the area. It doesn’t take much to make a decent display, and the girls love helping. Best tip for kids? Get a bunch of spooky window clings – they are easy for the kiddos to use and they can move them around and be creative with them. You can usually get a couple of years out of each set, too! You can also head over to the Dollar Tree (or similar dollar store) and pick up some cheap odds and ends that you won’t mind the kids messing up!
We’ve slowly accumulated decorations over the years, and we try to be savvy about picking up new items so that we aren’t spending a ton of money. Our biggest trick for this is to hit the stores EARLY the day after the actual holiday to get in on some sweet sales at places like Walmart, Home Depot, etc. They will always have their items marked down at least 50% to get rid of them, and if you get there early, you’ll often be able to find some sweet items. Just like any other sale, however, be sure that you actually want the item, and you aren’t there just to say you saved 50%. Set a small budget and then search for the deals that are right for you!
2. DIY Costumes
Obviously your mileage may vary in this department based on your skill set, but honestly, you don’t need to be super crafty to put together a decent Halloween costume for your kids (or yourselves!). My wife happens to be a seamstress side-hustler, so she is usually able to whip up something kind of cool for the girls if it involves dresses and tutus. We’ve found that kids often enjoy developing their own idea for a costume (Batgirl ballerina anyone?) rather than buying something from the store and being able to make something around THEIR idea is a really cool way to involve them in the process.
Just remember that you don’t have to create a masterpiece for your children to have fun and be excited about the costume. They will have a good time being the only kid with that costume!
Here is really cool resource that I found for some awesome DIY Halloween costumes from blogger Sarah Fuller.
3. Find Local Community Events
This is the big one. If you aren’t attending local Halloween events and fall festivals, then you are simply doing it wrong.
I said it.
Check out Facebook groups in your town, the local newspaper, or just Google “Your town + Halloween activities” and you’ll probably find a ton of stuff for your family to do. These events are often free, hosted by awesome groups/individuals, and take place at family-friendly hours (before bedtime!).
Our favorite types of events include:
- Fall festivals – Churches and schools usually host these. Here you will usually find snacks, beverages, and lots of games for the kids to play. There are usually hayrides, face-painting, etc available as well and they are usually free or open to anyone willing to provide a small donation.
- Trunk-or-treats – If you haven’t caught on to the trunk-or-treat craze now is the time. Basically, a group (usually a church or school) will host this event where members bring their cars/trucks, line them up in the parking lot, decorate them in awesome ways, and hand out candy. It’s a great way to let the kiddos get some candy that you know is safe.
- Local business that offer freebies for dressing up in a costume – These are great, especially if the whole family is down to wear a costume! We’ve seen lots of local/chain restaurants give free kids meals on certain days to children that arrive in costume. Museums, parks, and zoos will also often have some type of freebie/reduced entry on certain days.
4. Visit a pumpkin patch
Pumpkins can be hit-or-miss in the cost-effective department, but there are a few ways that you can save if you simply must have some pumpkins. Pumpkin patches are typically on the higher-end of the price spectrum when it comes to pumpkins, but the girls love running around and seeing all of the crazy shapes/sizes/colors that pumpkins can grow in.
Here is our strategy to not get stuck buying a $25 pumpkin:
- Buy a couple of big pumpkins ahead of time that we plan to carve/paint at a big discount store for around $5/each.
- Visit the pumpkin patch and take advantage of the cool scenery and background for family pictures/candid shots of the girls.
- Let the girls pick out one small pumpkin each at the patch for about $5/each so that they each have one of their very own to decorate and play with.
5. Carve (or paint!) pumpkins
Once you’ve got those sweet pumpkins back at the house, then it’s time to have fun with them!
Usually, we’ll end up carving at least one pumpkin just to get our hands dirty and collect some pumpkin seeds to roast, but we also like to paint them for a couple of reasons:
- Painting allows you to turn the pumpkins around and still have some classic Thanksgiving decorations for the next month (carved pumpkins don’t last long!)
- It allows the kids (ours are 6) to get more involved in the decorating because they can’t really use any of the knives or carving tools very safely or effectively yet.
- I’m pretty bad at carving, so the pumpkins probably look better this way too!
6. Bake Halloween treats and watch spooky movies
This is a classic family activity for almost any holiday. My wife loves to bake and make awesome crafty treats during any holiday and Halloween really lets you have fun with it. Our go-to is the basic sugar cookie with some Halloween cookie cutters along with DIY colored icing and plenty of sprinkles and other toppings. The girls love getting messy with the dough and decorations. This is a great way to get them involved with the process and express their creativity!
If you are feeling extra crafty then The Parent Spot has a cool list of treats available!
7. Plan for your trick-or-treat outings
Last, but not least, is how we prep for our trick-or-treat and festival outings. Whenever you have kids out, and about you’ll need to remember a few things that can help keep a great family activity from turning into a disaster!
- Bring a friend! The kids will have more fun with a few friends that they already know!
- Bring backup shoes – If you have little girls that like to dress up in princess clothes (and shoes!) then bringing a backup pair of sneakers is a good idea in case they want to play a little harder or start getting blisters
- Bring water and healthy snacks – You will often be walking for long periods of time and stuck away from your car or the store during the outing so bring several bottles of water to make sure everyone stays hydrated and not irritated! We also like to bring a few protein-rich snacks as well to help balance out the sugar intake and keep the family going. Beef jerky and nuts are great choices here.
- Write down any festivals and/or freebie dates down on your calendar so that you won’t forget them!
Halloween and fall, in general, should be a great time for the entire family. Hopefully, these tips will help you out with your activities!
Do you have some tips that you use to save time and money while having fun? Let me know in the comments below!