Halloween gets mixed reviews; some love everything about Halloween from the trick or treating, to dressing up, to decorating the house and yard with the scariest decorations possible. Others are concerned about Halloween from a religious perspective while still others worry about all the candy their kids may be getting as well as that which they are handing out to kids.
For our family there are a lot of things we love about this time of year as well as a lot of things we are concerned about when deciding whether to celebrate Halloween. Although we are Christians in our home, the idea of celebrating Halloween does not really bother us as long as it is done in the right way. I see it more as a harvest celebration more than anything, and I always tell my kids no one has to celebrate any holiday in any way except the way they want to.
Christmas is a perfect example of this, there are several religions and races that have their own way to celebrate this holiday, and in truth many of those celebrations have been around just as long and in some cases longer than our reason for celebrating. We all need to find our own reason and way of celebrating regardless of the holiday because celebrating is really the important thing.
Why is celebrating Holidays so important?
While we all have our own reasons for celebrating a particular holiday, some of which are a reason unto themselves, sometimes it is nice to look at the act of celebrations and tradition in and of themselves, and Halloween is a perfect time to do so. Many people are scared of this holiday simply because of its roots, but what better way to put a new look on an old tradition than to put your own special meaning to it.
Celebrations and traditions are important, they are what bind us as a family, community and culture, they remind us of who we are, where we come from and what we believe in. Our pastor from years ago said it best; when he said that the key was to create a Christian Halloween that focused on the traditions and celebrations that meant something to us. It too reminds us of who we are, and perhaps because of the roots of the holiday it can do an even better job of reminding us of these crucial components of our world.
Our Family Oriented Alternatives to Celebrating Halloween
Rather than teaching our kids to not understand a particular holiday we prefer to take the power out of the holiday itself and give it new meaning and that is so for any holiday that is not within our belief set not just Halloween. It even extends to the Christmas traditions in our culture that have lost track of the real reasons for celebrating on Christmas Day.
Have a Harvest Party
You can use this day as a way to teach your children more about the seasons, how they change and what they are for. You can even help them to understand where their food comes from, since the end of October is traditionally a time when harvest festivals occur.
Create a small family oriented party where dinner is made from strictly locally grown foods, or perhaps even have a party where foods are the same foods Native Americans ate before we came to this land.
If you want to encourage your friends to be with other kids their own age, a harvest party can be a lot of fun. Bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins with friendly faces, or making caramel apples all focus on enjoying the harvest more than anything to do with scary monsters.
Sponsor a Christian Harvest Carnival
Not every Halloween party or carnival need be scary, talk to your church about having a carnival where kids can play games to win treats and where costumes are fine as long as they are fun or cute but not scary. Have skits instead of haunted houses, singing instead of scary stories, and have a costume contest for the best bible themed costume.
Have a Family Night
One of our favorite alternatives is to have a family night at home; we make healthier treats, a special dinner and watch a movie. While we are not real keen on letting our daughter participate in trick or treat for a variety of reason, we also know that she feels left out if we do not do anything at all. We don’t want her having all of that candy so we stay home and make it a fun night. We watch movies, play video games and have special treats for that night only instead of bags and bags of candy we know our daughter does not need.
If your biggest concern is not to offer candy to the kids in the neighborhood, there are plenty of alternatives. Stay away from homemade unless you know the kids that come to your door well, perhaps offer both homemade and prepackaged, since most parents will not let their kids eat something that comes from a home they do not know if it is homemade.
Instead of candy you can pass out pencils, erasers, art supplies, tattoos and a number of other items that are not edible. You can also get coupons for local restaurants and other businesses as an alternative to candy.
Choosing Better Costume Ideas
It seems these days that costumes are getting worse and worse, in my day trick or treat might have had a few ghosts or the occasional good witch, but now they are becoming gruesome, and for small kids downright scary. Rather than scaring all those small children, encourage your kids to dress up as someone they want to emulate. Does your son want to be an astronaut, football player or fireman? These are much better choices than costumes that will turn stomachs, scare small children and make other parents think twice about sending their kids out next year.
Keep Halloween Affordable
One of the biggest problems that many parents have with Halloween is the cost. To go buy a costume can set you back considerable, especially if you do more than just a cheap plastic costume at your local Walmart. These costumes are fun but expensive.
Instead you can make your own costumes easily by coming up with a theme and then visiting your local thrift store. Cowboys, Indians, princesses can easily find their attire with a bit of creativity and effort while not spending a whole lot of money.
You can also make simple costumes at home with just a bit of research and creativity.
The other problem that many families face is the sheer volume of trick or treaters that come to the door, and the cost of all of that candy. instead of candy looking for more affordable alternatives:
- Tattoos are inexpensive and they do not add to the overload of sugar most kids get at Halloween.
- Find Less expensive, smaller treats and stick to a strict limit of one per child. They will get plenty of candy so no need to feel guilty.
- Visit your local Dollar store and pick up inexpensive party favors for Halloween, they usually come several in a package for a dollar.
- Stickers are also a very inexpensive treat and little ones love them, because they are different from all of the candy they usually get it will be especially nice for them.
Halloween is For Fun and Family
More than anything I have always taught my kids that Halloween is supposed to be light hearted fun, a time for family to get together and nothing more. I don’t teach them to be afraid of the holiday and I remind them that everyone has a different way of looking at celebrations. They have picked up that message and have spent most of their Halloweens celebrating accordingly. Whether we take in a movie, have a pilgrims harvest feast or make popcorn and drink apple cider we do it together as a family and this is what we remember and look forward to every year. I honestly believe my kids enjoy this type of celebration far more than any other, because this is what celebrations are meant for.