Beyond Trick-or-Treat: Four Halloween Alternatives for Older Kids

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

As enticing as a harvest of Halloween candy can be, some kids may feel too old to trick-or-treat. Instead of missing out on the fun, try some alternative activities with your kids.

Host a slumber party

Ninety seven percent of kids in America have been to a sleepover or slumber party at least once. Try making this favorite activity in to a night of Halloween fun. Penny Warner, author of "Slumber Parties: 25 Fun-Filled Party Themes" (Meadowbrook Press) recommends hosting a party with a fun and frightening theme.

Sorcerer's Magic Party

¢ Send invitations written in invisible ink along with a decoder pen so guests can figure it out.
¢ Create a sorcerer's stage by hanging up a sheet and decorating the area with glow-in-the-dark shapes.
¢ Have the guests perform magic tricks on the stage. Provide capes, top hats and magic wands. Have the guests reveal their secrets and take turns teaching one another magic tricks.

Midnight Mystery Party

¢ Send invitations in the form of a ransom note. Using letters cut out of magazines, tell your guests, "We're holding your party favor for ransom. Here's how to collect it..."
¢ Make your home a mystery mansion by dimming the lights and hanging spooky cobwebs.
¢ Play mystery games like "Clue."

Create a haunted house

Along with friends, let your child create a haunted house in the basement or living room. Working in advance, they can create creepy costumes. Choose one teenager to lead neighborhood families through the house. "Instant Parties" (Meadowbrook Press) coauthor Luann Grosscup knows how to frighten the socks off of unwitting guests. Write, "Believe in Bloody Mary," on a mirror in red lipstick. Just be sure that your guests aren't too young to handle the scare.

Hand out treats or escort younger children

Put your older children in charge of distributing treats to neighborhood kids. Or, have them help to make Halloween safe for others by supervising neighbors or younger siblings. Every child should be escorted while trick-or-treating. According to Vicky Lansky, author of "Practical Parenting Tips" (Meadowbrook Press), a flashlight and reflective tape will also keep kids visible and safe.

Host a scary movie night

On a blustery Halloween night, nothing hits the spot like a spooky movie. If your child is too young for horror flicks, try some of these mildly creepy films:
¢ "Hocus Pocus" This film starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker depicts three old-fashioned itches stuck in the present day. This funny flick is rated PG.
¢ "Freaky Friday" The 1976 version of this film is rated G. It tells the tale of a mother and daughter who fall under a magic spell and switch places for the day.

Instead of letting your kids get bored or even mischievous this Halloween, try some of these alternatives to trick-or-treating. You're sure to have a frighteningly fun night.