Each year Halloween is much anticipated for all of the fun and spooky activities that come with it. There’s the creative side of carving jack-o-lanterns, making unique costumes or crafting some cute Halloween decorations. But, there’s also the spine-chilling excitement of visiting a haunted house or taking a trail walk through a corn maze of terror. These and other Halloween traditions are great experiences for the whole family.
Whether your idea of Halloween is all out ghoulish and frightening or you prefer something more friendly and tame, there are plenty of fun activities for all. Take part in a few of these activities to get the most out of your Halloween experience. Many of these activities date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, the intent and meaning of these Halloween traditions have changed over time.
Here are 20 of the best Halloween activities that you will want to make into traditions year after year.
20 Best Halloween Activities
1. Go Trick or Treating
Trick or treating is probably one of the most popular traditions of Halloween and it’s fun for the whole family. Although trick or treating has been around much longer, it became popular in the 1950s after World War II when sugar rationing was no longer needed. It remains extremely popular today.
Kids still love to dress up in creative costumes to traipse around the neighborhood collecting treats from as many houses as possible.
It can be especially fun when adults also get into the spirit of things. Yards that are decorated in fun or spooky ways create the right environment. Scary music coming from a house gives kids a sense of trepidation that dares them to get closer to the desired treat. And when adults get dressed up in costumes, too, there is definitely a feeling of camaraderie among the family and neighbors.
2. Tour a Haunted House
Visiting a haunted house is an activity for those not faint of heart. If you plan on going to one, you may want to research the scare factor of each location in your area. Some may be easier to take than others. Keep in mind the ages of your group. A haunted house is probably more suitable for older kids and adults that like a little fear in their life!
3. Take a Hayride
A hayride is a fun Halloween tradition to experience. There are a big variety of hayride types to choose from. You can take a relaxing hayride through a pumpkin patch to collect a pumpkin or ride through a scary trail with frightening terrors. Think random ghoulish creatures popping up and coming into your path!
4. Hold a Halloween Costume Party
Costume parties are very popular among both the young and old. It’s a lot of fun coming up with a unique costume that will leave guests wondering who you are. Although there are lots of great choices when buying a costume, it is also a lot of fun to get your creative side working and make your own costume.
Related: Halloween Party Ideas
5. Carve a Pumpkin
Although pumpkin carving has become quite an art with innocent and sometimes very intricate designs, it didn’t start out that way. Most people don’t know that pumpkin or other root vegetable carvings started in a creepier way.
Carving a jack-o-lantern originated with the Irish and more specifically a devious man named stingy Jack. The myth is that when he died he wasn’t accepted into either heaven or hell and wandered on earth with only a lump of coal to light his way which he placed in a hollowed-out turnip. As the myth goes on, Jack roams the earth scaring children. Yikes!
The American tradition started by using a pumpkin instead of turnip because it was larger and easier to carve. As the years went by, the myth of scary Jack has been completely lost and now pumpkin carving is just for a fun and has nothing to do with scary spirits.
Related: How to Carve a Pumpkin
6. Drink Apple Cider and Eat Donuts
One of the greatest Halloween traditions involves delicious treats that aren’t even candy—drinking apple cider and eating donuts! You can make it a group outing, or serve these throughout the entire fall season at home to make the constant presence of cider and donuts a warm memory for your kids year after year.
7. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Instead of purchasing a pumpkin from a grocery store, it can be a fun tradition to visit a pumpkin patch to pick out your favorite pumpkin. A pumpkin patch can be a whole experience that combines a hayride through the patch and serves donuts and ciders at the end.
8. Watch Halloween Movies
Whether your style of movie is something like Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin or the more terrorizing movies like The Exorcist or The Shining, it’s fun to make a Halloween tradition of taking in a flick or two (and it’s especially fun to get together with a group to watch the scary movies!).
9. Start a “You’ve Been Ghosted” Neighborhood Game
For this game, you have to be as sneaky as a ghost! It’s a surprise treat game that passes through the whole neighborhood. Here’s how to start the game in your neighborhood.
- Fill a paper lunch bag with a few Halloween treats. Include a drawing of a ghost and these instructions for the game with the headline, “You’ve Been Ghosted!”
- Sneak up to a neighbor’s house and put the bag on their porch.
- Ring the doorbell and run!
- Whoever receives the surprise treat will need to put the drawing of the ghost on their door so everyone in the neighborhood will know they have already been ghosted.
- The ghosted person will then repeat the same thing for another neighborhood.
It’s so cute to see all of the ghost drawings start to appear on doors!
Related: Fun Halloween Games
10. Display and Eat Candy Corn
Like it or not, a sure sign of Halloween is the appearance of candy corn everywhere. Some think of the candy as way too sweet, and yet the iconic candy still can’t be resisted as a Halloween treat. The tradition is to display the candy in dishes or even make decorations with it. Of course, plenty of it does get eaten as well!
Candy corn was first made and became popular in the late 1890s. It was originally labeled as “Chicken Feed” for a fall harvest treat but later transitioned to a Halloween candy when trick or treating became popular in the 1950s.
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Related: Can You Guess America’s Favorite Halloween Candy?
11. Go Through a Spooky Corn Maze
If you dare, take a walk through a corn field maze but keep your wits about you! You never know when a creepy creature may pop out to scare you.
12. Bob For Apples
Bobbing for apples is a Halloween tradition that goes all the way back to the 14th century when it actually started out as a tradition tied to love and romance. British women would bob for apples and try to bite one with the name of their male suitor. Getting the apple in one try meant the couple was fated for love.
Since the tradition was brought to America by British descendants, it has become much different. Now it is simply tied to the fall harvest and is a playful game.
Here is how the game is played:
- Fill a large tub about half to three-quarters full of cold water.
- Add about a dozen apples.
- Each player has to try and get an apple within a set amount of time like two to three minutes.
- The catch? They can only use their mouth and their hands need to be tied behind their back.
- Whoever gets an apple in the quickest amount of time is the winner.
13. Make (and Eat) Caramel Apples
The idea for making caramel apples started with the Kraft Food company after experimenting with leftover Halloween caramels. Because apples are a part of the fall harvest, they naturally gravitated toward a Halloween treat.
One awesome family activity around Halloween is to make your own caramel apples. They are easy to make and be further decorated with sprinkles or nuts.
Here’s how to make them:
- Wash apples and insert a wooden stick or skewer into the center of each apple.
- Melt about 15 oz. of caramels with 3 tablespoons of heavy cream in the microwave. This amount should be good for about 6 apples.
- Dip the apples in the caramel sauce and then roll in toppings.
- Place the apples on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Let the apples set in the refrigerator for about a half hour.
14. Decorate With Orange and Black
At Halloween you see a lot of orange and black decorations but did you know the meaning of this? It’s simply because of the fall and winter seasons. Since Halloween falls pretty much between the two seasons, the colors orange and black have become a tradition. Orange is for the coziness and warmth of fall while black is for the cold and dark days of winter.
15. Have a Bonfire
Bonfires are super popular at the end of fall when the temperatures start to drop. A warm fire is the perfect place to gather with friends and tell scary stories. And, for a little Halloween treat, a toasted s’more is the best!
16. Make Your Own Halloween Costume
For all you creatives, making your own Halloween costume is an enjoyable activity that you can be proud of. Not only can you show others your creativity but you usually end up with a one-of-a-kind costume that is unique to you.
Related: Halloween Costumes For Dogs
17. Have a Creepy Food Party
This food feeling game is super fun for kids and maybe some adults too! The idea of the activity is to fill a table with small upside-down boxes that cover a bowl of food and have guests guess what each food is.
The fun part is that each box will have a hole cut out in the top (which is actually the bottom) and has a label for a gross object instead of the real food. Guests will put in their hands to feel the food which should feel like what the gross object might feel like. Then, they just have to guess what they think is actually in the box.
Here are some examples of what could be used:
- For eyeballs – peeled grapes
- For fingernails – sliced almonds
- For worms – cooked spaghetti
- For rat droppings – uncooked rice
- For hearts – canned tomatoes
- For dry skin – cut up balloons
- For toes – mini sausages
Have fun experimenting with different foods to see what gross things they might feel like!
18. Craft Some Halloween Decorations
Get the whole family involved with creating some fun or spooky Halloween decorations. Include something for everyone based on their skill level.
19. Light a Path of Luminaries
Line your driveway and/or sidewalk with candle-lit luminaries to create a somewhat welcoming yet spooky path up to your door. You can use things like recycled cans, milk jugs, paper bags or mason jars to set a tea light into.
20. Tell Scary Stories
Gather with friends and share spooky stories. This would be fun to do along with another Halloween activity like a bonfire, hayride or while carving pumpkins.
Next up, Halloween nail art design ideas!