25 Family-Friendly Halloween Traditions!

halloween traditions

Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that Fall is going by way too fast! I really do love this time of year. The cooler weather, the beautiful light and colors, the smells, the fun activities….like Halloween!

While I don’t go CRAZY for Halloween decor or activities, I do enjoy many of the traditions that are associated with it. I have such great memories of the traditions I took part in when I was a child and the traditions my own little family has created over the years.

Since sometimes it can be challenging to come up with your own family traditions, today I’m offering a whole host of ideas for inspiration! Now go out there and start making some Halloween memories!


halloween traditions

Visit a pumpkin patch.

Not only can you choose any shape or size pumpkin you want, but they make a great backdrop for fall photos!

They also often have other Halloween related activities such as hayrides, arts & crafts, games and even petting zoos.



halloween traditions

Photo from Not Martha

Make fun food!


Halloween Pumpkin Pancakes with Black Cinnamon Syrup Spiders



halloween traditions 3

Photo by Zoomyummy.com

Ghost pancakes with chocolate chip eyes




“Bloody” cream of tomato soup with extra red food coloring and cheesy breadsticks “fingers” to dip into the soup.  Serve with orange milk.



halloween traditions


My Mom always made goulash or chili on Halloween. Pumpkin soup would be another good choice. Just make sure it’s something to keep little trick or treaters warm from the inside out.

Follow up with donuts and hot chocolate as you sit out on the porch and pass out candy.


halloween traditions

Throw a family Halloween party.

Powwow with your family to decide what kind of Halloween party you’d like to host. It could be a neighborhood potluck in the driveway on Halloween night, an elaborate Halloween dinner party or a spooky haunted house.



Go “Booing”

This idea has really taken off in recent years in our neighborhood. In a nutshell….”Booing” involves secretly dropping off a homemade goodie on a friend or neighbors doorstep, along with a note or poem instructing them to do the same. The excitement of ringing the doorbell and running away without getting caught is almost as much fun as trying to figure out who ghosted you!



halloween traditions

Take a family vacation

Another tradition you could start for your family would be a nice vacation. Most families take their vacations during the summer and winter break from school. By scheduling your vacation near Halloween, you will avoid most of the travel problems that are associated with peak vacation times and costs. Also, many attractions and amusement parks change their normal routine around Halloween time and present the spookier side of things.



Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 11.30.18 PM

Photo by Paper Coterie

Halloween Bingo!

There are many FREE PRINTABLE Halloween Bingo games that you can download online. It’s a simple game that kids love and can be used at school parties, family parties, or just playing at home with your little ones.



halloween traditions

Host a scary movie night.

Cuddle up on the couch with some snacks, and a movie that will scare the pants off the whole family!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Corpse Bride
  • Ghostbusters
  • Addams Family
  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Monster House



halloween traditions

Photo by HGTV

This snack is the perfect compliment to your movie night:

Sweet and Salty Halloween Snack Mix



halloween traditions

Roast pumpkin seeds.

I like these WAY better than sunflower seeds!  Here is my favorite recipe:

1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.



halloween traditions

First fire of the Fall.

On the first really chilly night, fire up the fireplace or build a big bonfire in the backyard. Make snacks and tell scary stories. If you do it on a weekend you can even sleep around the fire.



halloween traditions

Photo by Design Mom

Tell scary stories by candlelight.

For the week before Halloween (or even the entire month of October) trade traditional bedtime stories for scary stories. Light several candles to make it extra spooky and at the end of storytime let each kid blow one out.

Some books to consider: Pumpkin Moonshine, Jeb Scarecrow’s Pumpkin Patch, The Spider and the Fly, and In a Dark, Dark Wood.



halloween traditions

Make Cookie Cutter Jack-O-Lanterns.

Make things easy on yourself. Instead of relying on sharp knives to carve your pumpkins, grab some Halloween cookie cutters and a rubber mallet and pound out some fun shapes instead. More information in this previous post.



halloween traditions

The Green Pumpkin

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of all that sugary Halloween candy, try blogger Mary Beth’s tradition of the Green Pumpkin. Each year on Halloween night, the Green Pumpkin will visit to exchange candy for gifts. Plus, the Green Pumpkin brings great Halloween books like The Witch’s Supermarket and Halloween Surprises. It’s “the spirit of exchanging things that are not so good for you for things that are good for you.”



homemade rootbeer

Photo by McCormick

Make homemade rootbeer.

This was something we always did when I was a little girl. I loved this tradition!  It’s much easier today than it was back then.  Here is a link to a recipe from the people at McCormick for Homemade Rootbeer. Yum!



halloween traditions

Go to the “haunted” zoo.

Zoos across the nation go “wild” for Halloween. You can dress up, go trick-or-treating, watch the animals enjoy their own Halloween goodies, and get up close to wolves, owls, snakes, and other creepy critters. Kids can also carve pumpkins and decorate cookies to take home.



halloween traditions

Children’s Museum “Haunted House”

Traditional haunted houses may be fun for older “kids” (but not for ME!) but younger kids can also enjoy a good “scare” at your local children’s museum. The lights are on, haunters are dressed in costumes but have no make-up, kid-friendly music is playing, and efforts are made to lighten up any frightening objects.



halloween traditions

Photo by Woman’s Day

Decorate a Halloween Tree.

Find a suitable tree branch, stick it in a bucket of sand or quick-set cement and you’re ready to decorate. Add some purple and orange lights, make paper pumpkins, bats, spiders, ghosts, etc and cover with cobwebs.



halloween traditions

Tombstone rubbings excursion.

Visit a creepy old cemetery with some paper and pencils to make rubbings of some of the beautiful old tombstones. They make great decorations. You can even make up stories about some of the “inhabitants”…what they were like…what kind of lives they led?



And last but not least….why not try to make Halloween a little more of a “charitable” holiday. We’ll show Christmas how it’s done! ;-)


halloween traditions

A “charitable” Halloween

Trick-or-Treat at a retirement home.

This is a win-win for everyone! The residents LOVE seeing all the little kids in their costumes…and the kids love how it makes them feel to do something for someone else. Very satisfying!

Hospital Halloween

Visit the pediatric ward of your local hospital with little gift baskets. Being in the hospital on one of the most fun holiday’s of the year for kids has got to be tough!

Carve an extra pumpkin for a friend.

Make it a tradition to carve an extra pumpkin each year then find someone who wouldn’t normally carve one for themselves. Perhaps a widow/widower or an elderly couple. I’m sure they would be touched and excited by the gesture.

Clean-up crew.

The day after Halloween, go as a family and spend an hour or two cleaning up smashed pumpkins from the streets in your neighborhood.



Hopefully some of these will inspire you to start a new Halloween tradition at your house! Or at least inspire you the share YOUR favorite tradition with us! :-)



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  1. says

    Hi Jill,

    I just wanted to let you know that I included this post in our Halloween Resource Guide on our website, Vegetarian Zen. You can view it here: http://www.vegetarianzen.com/blog/2013/10/26/halloween-resource-guide/

    I tried to find a way to email you because I didn’t want to appear as if I was spamming your comments with my own link. I couldn’t find an email contact form on your website.

    Anyway, thanks for writing such a thorough article about Halloween traditions. I hope our readers enjoy it as much as I did.

    Peace & Veggies,


  2. CTY says

    Oh, but Jillee where is your flying ghost from last year?

    We done/do pretty much all of these–just not every year. The only one we do every year is watch Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow & old Scooby-Doo cartoons.
    For older teens try a hot dog roast & Edgar Allan Poe readings by an outside fire pit.

  3. Ryanne says

    Growing up, my family never went trick or treating. Instead, we would rent a movie and on his lunch hour my dad would go buy each of us an individual bag of candy for later. And of course, he always picked up pizza on his way home. So when he got home we would shut off all the lights in the house to deter trick or treaters and go down to the basement to have pizza and watch the movie (or 2!). And have candy. We would trade pieces of candy amongst ourselves so we got a little variety, but the bulk of what we had was our favorite. It was such a fun family tradition for us! I plan on doing the same for my family. :)

    • Brynn says

      Maybe add to that for little ones going shopping at store after all the costumes go on sale pick up a costume for “dress up” later or goodwill before and host a fall/halloween party beforehand but do the cuddly family night on halloween to avoid the dark, cold, and possible tampered candy! A great idea for a fun and safe halloween season I’d say!!! Can’t wait to start a family of my own!!!

  4. chris says

    We always have a pot of chili on Halloween, that I make the day before (it’s always better the next day, anyway:) I think this year I’ll throw in some elbow macaroni, sorta like a chili goulash!!! Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Norma Perez says

    You have some of the most creative ideas! I do not know where you come up with them from but they are so great! I wish I had known some of these to pass on to my family. I did do a few of them but you have some here that I really enjoy!. Thank you for all the information you post on here.