Opinions on Halloween are mixed. Two thumbs up for adorable kids in costumes and everything pumpkin. Two thumbs down for tricks in your neighborhood that involve eggs and toilet paper. Piles of candy treats make kids happy and dentists cringe. Teenagers trick or treating sans costumes? Not so cool. Also not cool? Being the only house that gives out carrot sticks or toothbrushes.
What if our expectations for Halloween are too low? This year, instead of just focusing on candy, take the lead in your neighborhood with these tips for using the holiday as an opportunity to increase the sense of community and spread some happiness and joy.
Festively decorated homes are warm and welcoming. Decorate your front porch with pumpkins, scarecrows, bats, skeleton bones, spider webs, or witches. Let’s face it, decorations like ghosts hovering from tree limbs and spiders crawling all over trees make Halloween fun.
2. Have a Halloween Open House.
Google your favorite adult spooky cocktail or find one on Pinterest and make enough to share with friends and neighbors! Go all out and turn it into a witches brew complete with dry ice. For the little ones, make some ghostly hot chocolate and add white marshmallow ghost Peeps. Have some scary snacks out too. (Tip: Google “spooky recipe ideas” to find tons of ideas both gross and clever.) You don’t have to send out a formal invite or throw a full-blown party, just open your house to parents and kids as they stop by to trick or treat. Offering a welcoming home can foster conversation and new friendships.
3. Host a crafting event.
If you’re a parent, find a fun craft on Pinterest or elsewhere and host an event for neighborhood kids at your local community center, neighborhood clubhouse or your home. Buy small pumpkins and set up a table to paint them. Make sure you have an ample supply of googly eyes, glitter glue, child scissors, black and orange construction paper or felt pieces, stickers, crafty jewels and markers. Need other ideas? Consider making cornhusk dolls, pipe-cleaner spiders, or trick-or-treat buckets. If you love to bake, make it a Halloween cookie-decorating party.
4. Be a kid again yourself.
On Halloween, give yourself permission to play and be the house on the street that creates a lasting memory for kids. Hand out plastic spiders, fake snakes, or glow sticks. Have some full-size candy bars and give those out to the kids in the most creative costumes. Consider dressing in a costume yourself when you answer the door to trick or treaters. Play spooky music in the background. Share your happy holiday spirit.
5. Use Nextdoor.com to connect.
Nextdoor.com is an app that connects neighborhoods in a private group. You can use its Treat Map to let neighbors know the best route for efficient trick or treating (mark your house available for trick or treating) and there’s even a haunted house option for the neighbors who go all out.
6. Volunteer the day after.
Gather up some neighbors to walk the neighborhood the next day and collect trash. You are likely to find candy wrappers and other Halloween-related remnants. Beautify your neighborhood while getting some exercise and socializing.
Make Halloween something to talk about with your neighbors this year and create a sense of connection with the people who live closest to you.
Sandra Bilbray is a contributing editor for Live Happy, and the CEO and owner of themediaconcierge.net.