Summer is officially over, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean the heat is gone, it does mean the ramp-up to end of year festivities begins. October brings Halloween, November has Thanksgiving, and December is, of course, Christmas.
While the pandemic is ongoing (at the time of writing), many of our traditional celebrations are put on hold, or changed to accommodate rules on masks and social distancing. The local haunted houses are either closed or changed, trick-or-treating may be sparse, and parents everywhere are looking for at-home options for Halloween celebrations.
Whether you’re in the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area, or the outlying regions of Collin County, there’s bound to be an idea that works for you. Here are fifteen fun options to give you some ideas:
1. Halloween Light Drive
While light displays are traditionally a Christmas event, plenty of people decorate their yards for Halloween as well. Why not participate this year? If you’re stuck at home and have nothing better to do, you can purchase or make your own decorations and light displays to set up throughout your yard. Make sure they’re visible from the road and you’re good to go!
Step one is to set up your own displays. Step two is to check out the displays that others have created! The Collin County Guide website has a page, linked here, that includes people who set up Halloween decoration displays. You can note down the addresses, pile the kids into the car, and check out the sights. If you set up your own display, you can use their form to submit your address to the list as well.
While this isn’t quite “at home” the way other activities on this list are, it’s still safely socially distanced since you’ll remain in your car while you drive by the decorated homes. Who knows? Maybe this will be your next holiday tradition.
2. Carve Some Pumpkins
Who doesn’t love a good jack-o-lantern for Halloween? Carving a gourd for the occasion can be done ahead of time for display on Halloween, or you can save it to carve on the day. Just remember that, while a whole pumpkin can last quite a while, once it’s carved, it will start to degrade rather quickly.
Pick up your pumpkins from one of the local patches, like 5G Farm, Storybrook’s Pumpkin Patch, or Poncho’s Patch. You can get pumpkins both large and small, to suit the tastes of your kids. Once you have your gourds lined up, browse through stencils to carve. Here’s a list of easy beginner templates, and here’s a list of more complex, advanced designs.
Don’t want your kids working with sharp pumpkin carving tools? No problem! Buy a set of paintbrushes and some paint instead. You can use the same templates as stencils, or you can let them go wild with their own creativity.
3. Watch a Spooky Movie
Theaters may or may not be open, and the drive-ins might be packed, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Have you ever considered setting up a “theater” at home? You can rent a projector to beam at a wall, or you can even rent a large inflatable screen and a kit to show a movie in your back yard.
If you’re interested, you’re in luck; we wrote a complete guide to movie screen rentals in the DFW area, right over here. Whether you want a small screen for your yard or garage, or a large movie theater screen rental suitable for a small screening for friends and family, we’ve got you covered.
4. Virtual Trick or Treat
Trick or treating this year might be suppressed as people close their doors to avoid spreading the virus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t organize your own. Why not try a virtual trick or treat? Here’s the scoop.
First, gather a list of participants, either in the neighborhood, a set of friends of your kids, or a larger mailing list group. Church groups are great for this! Get everyone set up with Zoom (if they aren’t already). Organize treat packs; have each participating family buy and bag treats for each other family, and hand them out. When you’re done, everyone participating should have a bag from each other family, and their own.
On the night of, have all the kids dial into a Zoom call. One by one, go through the rounds of “trick or treat”, and hand out the bag for the relevant family to each kid.
5. Virtual Costume Contest
We’re not done with Zoom, as a culture or in this article. Much like the trick or treating above, why not set up a virtual costume contest or showcase? Get all the kids dressed up, and show off their costumes one by one on camera. Whether your kids are competitive and want a contest with prizes, or they’re collaborative and just want to show off their cool outfits to one another, you can host a party and chat with them on Halloween.
6. Visit the Drive Boo
Another not-quite-at-home option is the Drive Boo. Held in the American Airlines Center’s silver parking garage, the Drive Boo is a socially distanced, fun-for-all-ages event full of spooky décor and dioramas.
It’s a bit expensive — $30 per vehicle for the majority of it, or $40 for “top floor” access to the scarier stuff – but it’s safe, fun, and entertaining for the whole family. It’s held every weekend in October, from 7 pm to 11 pm. You can read more about the event on their website here.
7. Make Spooky Slime
Remember last year, when making slime was a huge trend? Well, it’s still a fun activity for kids, and it gives a fun, safe, and easy-to-clean slime concoction for the kids to play with. This recipe makes a fluffy slime in seasonal colors. If you pick up a cauldron or two, some Halloween spider rings, and other trinkets, you can really make it shine as a holiday entertainment option.
As an aside, that site – Little Bins for Little Hands – is a great resource for kids’ entertainment. They don’t just give you a recipe for slime, they explain how the chemistry works and turn it into a learning experience.
8. Run a Household Scavenger Hunt
You’d be surprised at what you can hide around the house. Depending on the age of your kids, clues of more or less complexity can be brewed up with fun little items hidden in out of the way places. This site sells a pack of pre-written cards you can use to stash items around the house, but it’s not too difficult to write your own. Just pick a place, come up with a simple rhyme, and hide a treat. Your kids will go wild looking for their goodies around the house, with a little guidance from mom and dad.
9. Haunt Your House
Up above, we mentioned decorating the yard for drive-through Halloween fun, but you can also turn both indoors and outdoors into a haunted house just for your kids and family.
First, offload the kids to a relative or friend to keep them busy while you set up. If you’re working outdoors, use wire arches and gauzy cloth to create tunnels and “rooms” where you set up spooky haunted dioramas. Lead the path from the driveway to the front door, and decorate inside from room to room. Get mom and dad dressed up – and some family to help – and station them at key locations to startle and scare. Be sure to have a treat waiting at the end… for the kids who make it through!
This is a great option because you can customize it to your space and your budget, as well as to the age range of your kids. Use more light-hearted spooky décor for young children, or go with more aggressive scares for the older kids. Halloween stores are already springing up for the season, and they’re always packed full of décor for all age ranges. Whether you want haunted picture frames, zombies that jump out at you, or just strings of lights and a fog machine, you’ll be able to find something that works for your family and space.
10. Reverse Trick or Treat
When we were growing up, a common prank was the knock-and-run; knock on a door or ring a doorbell, then run and hide. Well, for Halloween, you can take that idea and combine it with trick or treating. You might not be able to get the face to face engagement of traditional trick or treating, so try this.
First, make up a pile of goodie bags full of treats and candy. Print out tags for them with a fun tagline, like “You’ve been spooked by the LastNames!” Next, draw up a list of locations to hit, preferably homes with families who would appreciate the treats. Then, embark on a quest of trick or treating… in reverse! Visit each house, drop off a bag, ring or knock, and run. Safe, socially distanced fun that gives everyone some treats.
For bonus points, set up a neighborhood site and organize this event for the whole neighborhood to get everyone involved and make sure you all get treats.
11. Make Cornhole Festive
Cornhole is a fun game for a few players, so why not spook it up a little? Decorate the boards with spiderwebs and modify your beanbags with pipe cleaners and googly eyes to turn them into spiders or flies.
If you don’t want to modify your equipment, or you want something a little smaller scale for indoor or household use, you can build smaller tabletop-style boards and smaller, lighter bags to toss, safe for kids who might not have great aim. Consumer Crafts has a great tutorial for one such tabletop option here.
12. Do Some Spooky Crafts
When you’re not painting pumpkins or dressing up, you can put together some simple at-home DIY crafts for a mixture of Halloween activity and decoration. This page has some great ideas, like coffee filter spiderwebs, half a dozen critters made from toilet paper rolls, ghost lights made from ping pong balls, and a variety of banners.
13. Host a Spooky Minecraft Server
Minecraft is still popular for millions of kids across the country. On top of everything else, it’s a great way for your kids to socialize with their friends without the in-person contact that is so limited these days.
One of the perks of Minecraft is that you can share and download maps other people have made. With a little technical know-how, you can set up a custom Minecraft server for your kids and their friends, using a custom-made Halloween-themed map. Test it out before you let them loose in it, and make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite or delete their existing maps, then let them go wild!
14. Make Spooky Food
There are tens of thousands of recipes for spooky food out there. Monster cookies, decorated marshmallows, spiderweb brownies; the only limit is your imagination.
Pretty much any food item you could want to cook, from a cake to a meat loaf, can be made spooky. Just come up with some treats or meals you want to make, and Google for Halloween variants. You’ll be sure to find something fun!
15. Make a Miniature Carnival
One of the best parts of this time of year is all the festivals and carnivals that spring up. With social distancing in effect, many of these events are dramatically altered or shut down entirely. Thankfully, you can set up your own miniature carnival at home. Pick a handful of activities and dress them up in Halloween garb. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Homemade pumpkin mini-golf
- Candy corn ring toss with cones and glow rings
- Handprint ghost banner making
- Soft and safe mummy bowling
Simply think of your favorite festival and carnival games, and make a small-scale at-home version of it. You can do pretty much anything with a little creativity and a tutorial or two! We even have carnival game rentals available and wrote a post on that here.
Which activities are your favorites? What do you plan to do with your kids this Halloween? Let us know what you think in the comments!