When I was five, my family went to a “haunted house.” It was supposed to be kid-friendly.
But just steps into the experience, I was so freaked out that my parents convinced a group of witches and ghouls to drop their act and show me that they were real (live) people. Nonetheless, I refused to go any further through.
That was the last time I set foot in a haunted house.
The occasion was supposed to be fun, but for me, it was just awful. I was too young and the acting was too real.
For many kids, the typical “spooky” themes of Halloween can be frightening: the un-dead costumes, the haunted decor, the creaky music. But there’s no need to limit the fun when there’s so many great alternatives that kids of all ages can enjoy.
Here are 3 not-so-spooky themes for your Halloween celebration:
Forget ghosts and goblins and think “Harvest” – perhaps a pumpkin or apple theme. For either, decorate the room with harvest items you have grown, picked or purchased (look for organic and locally grown). Stamp names on mini-pumpkins for place-cards. Turn apples into candle holders (keep out of the reach of children). Play pass-the-pumpkin or dunk-for-apples (or hang apples from strings and see who can get a bite). Turn last year’s saved plastic Easter eggs into little jack-o-lanters. Stuff with healthy goodies. Have a Halloween egg hunt. Roast pumpkin seeds or make pumpkin cookies. Make mini-caramel apples (using all natural/organic caramel). Make (upcycled) pumpkin or apple crafts. Press apples for cider. Send kids home with a packet of pumpkin or apple seeds.
Owls are a great nod to the season, without being too spooky. Send a paperless Owl e-invitation. Line the front walk-way with paper-bag luminaries with owl cut-outs, or owl-carved jack-o-lanterns. Decorate the house like a forest. Cover walls with recycled craft paper and paint trees. Make smaller “limbs” from crumpled paper bags. Download Owl calls and forest sounds and play during the party. Make a paper mache owl pinata and fill with healthy goodies. Invite an owl expert to attend. Play pin the owl on the tree. Paint owl faces using natural face paints. Make owl pompoms and send home as the gift.
Creepy crawlies can be – well, creepy – but they don’t have to be. Make giant spider webs with strips of old sheets or cheesecloth. Flatten large cardboard boxes and paint with chalkboard paint (black). Use chalk to draw on spider webs. Let the kids add spiders with colored chalk. Cut spiders out of recycled paper (like snow flakes). Make spiders from old bike tire tubes and hang on a Halloween tree. Serve buggy fare made from fruits, veggies and whole grain crackers. Play Bug, Bug, Spider instead of Duck, Duck, Goose.
Or forgo the “theme” all together and simply use colors to create a festive Halloween ambiance without the fear-factor.
Try black, green and purple for a twist on the usual orange and black. Serve foods in these color schemes, too.