By Emily Roark | @emilyeroark
I had looked forward to celebrating the holidays as a mom long before I had my first child. I’d imagined pre-holiday shopping and picking out impractical, yet adorable and festive outfits. I’d imagined attending parties with a cute baby on my hip, and creating cozy traditions at home with my little family. But when it actually came time to celebrate my first holiday as a first-time mom, I found myself feeling confused when people asked, “Aren’t you excited for her to celebrate her first holiday season?” I mean, sure, I was excited to make memories as a family, but she was three months old and couldn’t even roll over yet. As much as I wanted to feel like I had a part in everything that comes with planning fun holiday magic as a mom, I knew that we weren’t going to be doing a ton of activities until we were a few years down the road.
Halloween is one of those holidays. It can feel as if there’s so much excitement surrounding the holiday as soon as the back-to-school items get swept off the shelves at Target, but if you are in a season of life where your kids are scared of the costumes, or too young to eat candy, it can feel like you’re missing out. Believe me, I have been there. This year, my oldest is in kindergarten, and I feel like this might be the first year that she really gets excited about celebrating the holiday once she hears others talking about it at school. This doesn’t mean we’ve just let Halloween pass us by for the past six years, though. We’ve found ways to create new family friendly traditions that are simple and allow the kids to go to bed at their usual time. No scary costumes required.
Here are some of our favorite Halloween activities as a family with little kids:
Costume Party At The Park
Gather a few friends, dress the kids up in cute costumes, and meet other families at the park so the kids can play while the adults socialize. When I was a first-time mom, I did this with a group of mom friends I’d met at baby story time at the library. It gave us a way to celebrate the holiday when our kids were too young to understand it.
Halloween Candy Hunt
Who says we have to save the hunting for Easter? In my home, this tradition was born out of the pandemic. Last year, in the thick of social distancing, my family opted for hunting for candy in the backyard in lieu of trick or treating. My kids and their cousins dressed up in costumes on a weekday afternoon, and searched for Halloween candy in the backyard. They loved it, and I loved that I didn’t have to take three kids five and under door to door.
Cookies And A Movie
This one is a twist on the classic Christmas tradition of baking cookies and watching movies. When my kids were three and one, we started a tradition of baking and decorating sugar cookies cut out in fun Halloween shapes, and then a viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” while eating them. We do this a little bit earlier in October, and I think it might be my favorite Halloween tradition. It’s a kick-off to the holiday season, and our home feels so cozy for fall.
Pass Out Candy, But Make It A Game
When my daughter was three, we realized that, for her, the whole trick-or-treating thing was a game. She began calling the trick-or-treaters her “customers,” and every time someone came to the door she turned into a little waitress, passing out candy. The best part was that we didn’t actually have to leave the house, and instead, we ate pumpkin-shaped pizza and watched TV on the couch while we waited for our customers.
If you want a tried-and-true Halloween tradition but don’t want to upset your kids with scary costumes or spooky decorations, trick-or-treating at an organized event might be the way to go. My family has trick-or-treated at the zoo and at a local park, but you might also want to check out churches and libraries as well. The events are typically early in the evening and catered towards families with young children.
No matter what you do for Halloween, you are creating wonderful memories with your kids, and that’s what matters!
Emily Roark | @emilyeroark
Emily is a stay-at home/work-from-home mom living in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and three young kids. When she’s not filling milk cups or sweeping up Cheerios off of the floor, she works as a freelance editor. During her alone time, she enjoys working out, baking, and binging her favorite TV shows.