For many families, celebrating Halloween is something they are not entirely comfortable with. Consider as family how you will respond to the holiday. It's never too late to begin some new and enjoyable alternative traditions.

From church events to neighborhood functions, here are several fun Halloween alternatives for your family.

  • Plan a family celebration. Invite grandparents and other relatives for a fun evening at home. If your child is 2 or under, a family celebration might keep your child from getting overwhelmed by strangers or tired at a larger function or from walking.

  • Go to a church event. Many churches have harvest festivals or events publicized as Halloween alternatives. If your church does not have an event, other churches nearby may be open to guests.

  • Plan a progressive Halloween party. Organize a progressive event in the safety of some of your friends' homes. Arrange for children to eat a meal at the first home, play games at the next, and eat dessert at the last stop. Everyone joins in the work and expense.

  • Schedule a neighborhood party. This event could be close to home but for the community at large to enjoy a few games and treats.

Themes & Costumes

  • Design a "Noah's Ark Party." Every creature in the animal kingdom is available as a potential costume. You can purchase inexpensive fleece material in the color of the animal for the costume. Use fabric paint to add details. Instead of a mask, use face paint to draw a mouth, eyebrows, and other animal features.

  • Plan a "Heroes of the Bible Party." Children can choose a biblical person. Most costumes can be made by draping material to make a robe. Use a belt or rope to tie the costume around the waist. Wear sandals if the temperature is appropriate.

  • Suggest a "Cartoon Friends Party." Children can dress up as their favorite cartoon characters. Provide material and fabric paint and use your imagination to make a costume.


  • Young children will enjoy a candy treasure hunt where candy is hidden in plain sight.

  • Older children will enjoy the opportunity to role-play as the animal, Bible person, or cartoon character as they are dressed.

  • Play a variety of games that are common to festivals such as cake walk, ring toss, and apple bobbing. Provide candy prizes for each of the events.


Involve children in making food for the event: candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies with icing, or healthy alternatives such as trail mix with raisins, other dried fruit, pretzels, a variety of nuts, and yogurt-covered treats. Check for food allergies before serving any food to children at your event. Younger children should not be given treats that are choking hazards.

Take-Home Bags

Involve children in creating take-home bags. Give small paper bags, markers, chenille stems, cotton balls, and construction paper. Guide children to create bags that match their costumes. You may include a Bible verse or an invitation to your church in each bag. Allow children to fill their bags with snacks.

Carolyn Ross Tomlin is an author from Jackson, Tennessee.