Halloween is my Superbowl. I spend weeks preparing and the full day executing a number of events in school, at home and in the neighborhood. I have always loved Halloween, but when we moved into a new neighborhood three years ago, the game changed. This neighborhood DOES Halloween. Based on what I have learned over the last few years, here are some tips to bring the Halloween spirit to your neighborhood no matter how little spirit there is now.
Start the Trend
The first thing that struck me in my new neighborhood was that almost everyone decorates their houses and yards for Halloween. There are houses with just a smattering of spider webs and there are houses with huge blow up cats and full grave yards. I am motivated by seeing what people have done and I want to participate.
No one decorates in your neighborhood? Start the trend! By putting up even a few decorations you will inspire other people who were already tempted but afraid to be the first. Starting from scratch can be intimidating, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on decorations. Start with just a few things and shop the sales. There are so many Halloween sales and coupons, especially if you start looking early. The rule in my house is that we buy one new decoration each year. It is a fun tradition to venture to the Halloween store together to pick out something new and it allows us to expand our Halloween landscape.
You may also want to check out the post-Halloween sales. Once Halloween is over, you know what worked and what you liked. You can find great deals on things you know you will use next year. It is also a fun surprise when you open your Halloween box in a year having completely forgotten what you bought. Or is that just me?
Involve Your Neighbors
We moved into our neighborhood a little over a month before Halloween. We live in a generally neighborhoody neighborhood, so we were very fortunate to have a number of neighbors stop by to welcome us or drop off goodies. One day the doorbell rang and I went to answer it assuming it was going to be another friendly welcome. There was no one there. I looked down and found a small bag of treats with a note that said, “You have been Booed!”
Never in my years of Halloween celebrations had I ever heard of such a thing. It turned out that being “Booed” means that someone anonymously drops a small bag of treats on your doorstep with two instructions. The first is that you put the included sign on your front door so that people know you were already Booed and won’t Boo you again. The second is that you copy the sign and the instructions and create two more Boo bags to drop off anonymously at two more neighbors’ houses. The idea is that the Boo will continue to spread through the neighborhood.
Despite putting up the sign, we were Booed five more times that year. My kids had a blast running around and dropping treats off at their friends’ houses (and then running away). Boo bags do not have to be expensive. I dropped in a couple of pieces of candy and a couple of small Halloween toys or rings or tattoos. The fun is more in the experience than what you actually get.
For more information on Boo bags and to get printable sings and instructions, click here.
Be the Party
Soon after my oldest daughter started her new school she came home and told me that she invited her friends to our Halloween party. The problem was that we were not having a Halloween party. I didn’t think much of it since she was six and I figured it would not go any further than some recess talk. A few days later a couple of Moms came up to me to tell me that they had heard about our Halloween party and they were excited. So…I guess we were having a Halloween party….
I had just moved, my house was full of boxes and I was seven months pregnant, so there was no way I was going to throw a Halloween party in my house. Then I had an idea. Every classroom has a Halloween party in the afternoon and then families have time to kill before they eat dinner and get ready to go trick-or-treating. I could fill that time with a casual gathering on the outside of my house and people would not stay too long because they would have to get home.
I invited my daughter’s class to a Halloween Porch Party. I bought donut holes and apple cider and set it up on the porch. I also bought a few Halloween themed games (I am not a DIY person, but if you are, you could easily make these games) like throwing balls into ghost mouths and rings on witch hats. The invitation spread like wildfire. People forwarded it to other neighbors with kids around the same age. At first I worried about the size, but the beauty of this party is that besides buying a few more donut holes, the extra numbers don’t matter. Kids played in the yard and the parents mingled. It was a wonderful way to meet our new neighbors and to keep the Halloween spirit going.
This will be our fourth year hosting the Halloween Porch Party. We only send invitations to the families in our kids’ classes, but everyone in the neighborhood is invited to stop by and many of our past guests know to come even in their kids are no longer in class with our kids.
Bring the Party
Before we lived in the ultimate Halloween neighborhood, we had a tradition of trick-or-treating with a group of friends in another neighborhood. We love our tradition of being with these friends, but when we moved to our new neighborhood, we heard rumblings of the Halloween spirit we would experience if we stayed close to home. Streets closed down for block parties and trick-or-treating, the neighborhood is filled with kids, one court hosts a haunted house and there was even a HUGE party with a stage and DJ.
Instead of having to choose one experience over the other, I asked if I could host the group. The group was happy to try something new and the neighborhood didn’t disappoint. If your neighborhood doesn’t yet have the Halloween experience you want, bringing your own crew can help create the evening you want. Plus, adding more people to the general mix only increased the feeling of a full, fun night for everyone.
Do you have any Halloween tips or traditions? Please share them below!