Little kids in Halloween costumes are just adorable. My 6-foot teenager dressed as a ghoul is legit terrifying. For years now, I have been presenting him with Halloween activities for teens that don’t involve ringing the neighbor’s bell, and he’s been fine with that. So while I have no judgment if your teen goes trick-or-treating (because I know some will until adulthood), here are some other ways to celebrate.
1. Visiting Pumpkin and Apple Patches
I thought my teens would be way too old for such things, but they really do get a kick out of them still, and blessedly, they move at a faster pace through a pumpkin patch or an apple farm than they did when they were little. Finding huge apples and adopting weird pumpkins can have teen appeal, especially if you go toward the end of a day, away from all the screaming preschoolers.
2. Pumpkin Carving
Now that we’re closer to the actual date, it’s the perfect time to carve pumpkins — no one wants a stinky, rotten mess sitting on their front porch because you started this time-honored tradition too early in the month. Tweens and teens can carve amazing pumpkins but be prepared for the fact that the pumpkins might be obscene, vomiting, carved to look like the school principal, and so on. Let them go and have their fun.
3. Making Costumes
Halloween is a perfect excuse for my firstborn to devise costumes. One year Grace turned their brother into the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, and it was insane. He wore it for pictures and for about a half-hour in our doorway on actual Halloween, and it was totally worth all the effort. The next year, Grace made Shrek and Fiona masks just for the challenge, and those were fantastic too. I am happy to shell out money for material if they want to get creative.
4. Corn Mazes and Haunted Houses
I hate both of these things. Who wants to feel lost or scared? But a group of tweens or teens together can find angst-producing activities to be bonding. Drive a carload of kids to a corn maze or a haunted house and let them have at it. Thank goodness you don’t have to join them!
5. Halloween Decor at Home
It’s silly, but the only seasonal plates I own are four melamine Halloween plates from Pottery Barn Kids circa 2006. Similar ones pop up at Target and the like. It’s not like they are family heirlooms, but when they come out in October, my normally poker-faced teens brighten up. That’s what I love about goofy holiday decorations; they can become rituals and make shared memories.
My cousin is the one who likes to decorate the outside of the house. She ropes the kids into her act which involves hanging fresh, fake spiderwebs and putting out the same old plastic rats and spiders we use every year. Just like with the plates, the kids love the ritual. Pulling the largest fake rat out of the basement each year gives them the warm fuzzies, I guess.
6. Treats in the Lunchboxes
My youngest is now 17 and still prefers to take a lunch to school. I buy the Halloween-themed tiny bags of pretzels and fall-colored mini candy bars to throw in there for some seasonal festivity.
7. Buying the Candy
Tweens and teens are old enough to advocate for what kind of candy you pass out from your doorway — and old enough to learn how much it costs. Take them with you to Costco or wherever you go and get them to appreciate that this holiday requires some cash. Then, buy them their own little stash of whatever their favorite candy is. It lessens the blow of being too old to trick-or-treat if you have an entire bag of Reese’s to yourself.
8. Watching Scary Movies
Well, I hate scary movies, so I have not much to say here, but when I visited a friend with a high schooler last weekend, the fam had some gorefest playing in the living room like it was just the seasonal-ritual thing to do. The teen seemed pleased.
9. Answering the Door on Halloween Night
This is my favorite part of the glorious Halloween holiday. I love to see the parade of costumes, say hi to the neighbors, and tuck extra candy into the bags of especially polite kids. I’m an extrovert, and this is my time. But my kids love to hand out candy too. TBH they also still walk around the neighborhood “to look at the decorations,” even if they are not ringing doorbells. Sometimes, families we know well call them over to give them some extra candy, and I am sure they love that, too.
10. Throwing A Halloween Party
The last and obvious way to give older kids a thrill is to host a Halloween party or send them to one. As much as I love handing out candy, I am not such a party host, but I have let my son and friends hang in our home on Halloween, eat a takeout pizza, and feel the bliss of a fall holiday that does not require a fancy sit-down dinner. Halloween is the best!