Recently updated on November 1st, 2023

A family carves a pumpkin and celebrates halloween with festive decor.

Ghouls, ghosts, and haunted delights. Candies, costumes, and scary sights. Halloween often offers something to everyone in the family. What it offers, though, may be very different depending on your age. So, let’s take you through that journey from cute little kids trolling for candy to teenagers wanting to go their own way and finally your own graduation to rocking the holiday once again as an adult. And, let’s not forget all those family memories that can be made in between, including with your grandparents!

Kids out trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Taking care of the kids

Halloween presents a fun time where the holiday is more than just one day. Sure, you have trick-or-treating on October 31, but there are plenty of other options leading up to the big day.

Making crafts and decorating the house should be at the top of that list. How about talking about the history of Halloween, too. Let Grandma and Grandpa or Nana and Papa tell you their spooky stories from years gone by. That’s how family traditions continue. We’ll get into some full family ideas later as well.

When you talk about the night itself, this is for those parents out there and this is where you have the most control. From the costume to the candy-catching route to the Sour Patch posse, parents will be involved in every step of the way. Be firm but make sure your child has some input. If everything is about you and not about them, it may not be fun. If they don’t like the costume, they won’t want to show it off. If you pick a path that doesn’t have bountiful houses, you’ll be booed. And of course, if you don’t get a lot of candy… well, let’s not even go there. Maybe you’ll have to stash some of your own candy from Ocean State Job Lot for the start of your journey.

Start early, have many conversations, and keep it simple. Set some ground rules too like how long you’ll be trick-or-treating, let them know you’ll be checking candy once you get home, and yes, tell them how much they can eat before bedtime. There’s no need for an ultimate sugar-high or a meltdown that you know will affect the next morning.

Let’s not think it’s all about the costumes, though. You also have to think about what bag they’re going to use. Keep the weather in mind if alterations are needed. Make sure they go out with a flashlight or glow stick as well.

If walking around the neighborhood doesn’t work, maybe there’s a trunk-or-treat that may be of interest to your child. Getting your choice of candy from many different vehicles at one location could be a good solution.

Teenagers at a Halloween party

What to do with the teenagers

By far, this might be the toughest part of Halloween as a family. You’re simply caught in the middle. No longer are you able to go out collecting candy with your child but you still have to figure out if they still want to go and get it. Then there’s the costume. Do they want to wear one or do you make them wear one? Then, it’s the ultimate piece of the puzzle: where do they get to go and who do they get to go with.

In order for this to make you feel comfortable, you’re going to have to trust your child. Know their friends. Know their friends’ parents. Tell your kids to make good decisions. All these things, when aligned, if possible, will allow the night to go well. Will there be some roller coaster rides and a few bumps along the way? Sure. But that’s okay. Ride through them and help your teen make it to the other side safely.

Who knows, they might just want to hang in and avoid Halloween altogether. If that’s the case, there’s the same question – are they doing it alone or with friends? If it’s with friends, with who and where. Answers will guide you, my friends!

A woman passes out candy to two trick-or-treaters dressed as witches.

Partying parents

We’re talking just to the adults in the room here. So, just think of yourselves. Think of a time where the children are all taken care of for the evening. What do YOU want to do? You get that invite to a costume party. Do you say yes? Are you that person or couple who likes to dress up for Halloween, or is that not in your wheelhouse? Who knows, maybe a party isn’t your type of thing at all. There are choices.

  • Stay home and hand out candy to the area kids.
  • Invite a relative over, let them hand out candy to the area kids.
  • Take advantage of the time and go out for a date night.
  • At the end of the day, do what YOU want to do. Don’t make it too stressful. The upcoming holidays in November and December will do that enough.

Together as a family

It’s always rough to get everyone to agree to doing anything but maybe here’s an adventure where a member of the family picks a favorite and you do it each week heading into Halloween.

It’s always rough to get everyone to agree to doing anything but maybe here’s an adventure where a member of the family picks a favorite and you do it each week heading into Halloween.

Family at pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin patch adventures

Big, little, and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. This is a fantastic fall activity that we here in the Northeast have been doing for decades. Some even come with hayrides, corn mazes, and more. Let every family member pick out their own pumpkin to carve or paint for a little competition or just for fun.

Frightfully fun crafts

Unleash your family’s creativity with Halloween-themed crafts that are both spooky and spectacular. Decide to make paper bats, dangling ghosts, yarn-wrapped mummies, skeletons, or something else spook-tacular. It’s something you can hang all over the house, both indoor and outdoor.

Finding the perfect costume

Help each other! Use the imagination of the entire family. Encourage each family member, young and old, to put on their thinking caps and come up with the most imaginative costumes. From classic monsters to pop culture icons, the possibilities are endless. You might even want to put on a stage show at home for a run through, complete with spooky sound effects and dramatic lighting. Talk about making memories for years!

Baking some tasty treats

It’s not just candy that’s tasty for Halloween. Get the family together to bake up your own Halloween-themed cookies or cupcakes with our bakeware from a store near you.  Making them devilish and ghoulish with some added sprinkles, eyes or other additives. For a healthy twist, a bubbling cauldron of witches’ brew fruit punch, complete with floating eyeballs of grapes complete with dry ice fog to give it an eerie feel.

Halloween cupcakes with orange frosting.
Bowl of popcorn on a table next to halloween decor and film slate.

Movie night

Now, be careful with this one. Obviously, not everything works for every age range. You could go from animated movies like “Garfield” to timeless classics like “Beetlejuice.” There are more scary, gory films out there like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” for the teens and adults but you’ll want to make sure the kiddies are shielded away from those or else those haunting nightmares will set in.

Create a cozy movie-watching nook with blankets and pillows, complete with dimmed lights and bowls of popcorn. You’ll have a complete night of screams, laughter, and heartfelt moments that will leave your family feeling closer than ever.

Haunted houses

Make your own home into a haunted house to spook your neighbors all October long. Try dangling spider webs, skeletons, blinking lights, and things that go bump in the night. Putting your heads together or maybe your brains in the front yard could be fun.

If building your own haunted house isn’t your thing, look around your neighborhood or community for one to visit. Check them out online or ask friends if they’ve visited it to see if it’s appropriate for your children’s ages.

Pumpkin carving

Carving pumpkins is the ultimate Halloween tradition. It’s altered slightly by those who don’t like to cut and curve but rather paint, but it’s the way to show off your artistic skills. As a family, you can gather around the table and hear the kids’ awesome noises as they scoop out the pumpkin innards and seeds. Leave the older family members to focus on the intricate designs using the sharper instruments. Once they’re done, add them outside to scare off the neighborhood.

Pumpkin carved with cute smiling face.

In the end, it’s all about being safe and having fun. There are many ways to get there. Choose your journey well!