Halloween is a confused holiday; loved by some, despised by others. A time for screams and smiles, trick or treats. A history steeped in both Pagan and Christian origins. Celebrations of death and renewal. No wonder Halloween is so controversial.
Some Christians will not participate in Halloween because of the history, the traditions, and the meaning behind it all. A view that is quite understandable. Others see it as harmless fun, a chance to dress up and get candy; nothing more.
As Christian parents what should we do?
I find myself somewhere in between. I am not a fan of the day because of what it represents, but I do not want my kids to miss out on the experience. The one rule we have at our house regarding Halloween and dressing up is No costumes depicting anything scary. Ghosts, witches, murderers, demons, etc. are off limits.
For parents who want an alternative to trick-or-treating here are 7 suggestions.
Group Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
Party: Throw or attend a party with your kids. You can have costumes or no costumes, non-threatening costumes or even dress up like someone from the Bible. The party can include games, singing, movies, dinner or all of it. Make it as scary, fun or as relaxed as you want.
Trunk or Treat: Look around your area to get involved with trunk or treat. They usually happen in a parking lot and all you have to do is decorate your car trunk and pass out candy. Sometimes there is food and games to keep everyone entertained.
Festivals: Some cities and churches sponsor a fall festival, or throw one yourself. The festival is filled with rides, games, food, and fun
Bonfire: An outdoor party with a fire. Invite friends and neighbors over for a chance to eat, talk and play. Bring out the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate to make s’mores.
Family Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating
Nursing Home Visit: Check for nursing homes in the area; some have trick-or-treating. Even if you don’t want to trick-or-treat, the residents at nursing homes love visitors, especially children. Brighten up someone’s evening with a hug and a hello.
Play Games: Maybe you want a fun evening with just your kids, consider playing some Halloween inspired games. Try a scavenger hunt, bowling or the donut chomp. There are lots of craft ideas and coloring sheets if a low-key night is what you have in mind.
Movie Night: Just want to stay home, then have a movie night. Pop some popcorn and tuck in for a relaxing night. Feel free to invite friends to join you.
No matter your beliefs about Halloween, you can make the evening special for your child. Start new traditions or adapt old ones to fit your style. Halloween does not have to be just about scary images and trick-or-treating, you can make it about community. Use the evening as an opportunity to witness to friends, family and neighbors. Show them a good time and your love for them.
Halloween is what we make of it, so make it more than Halloween.