Guys, I am SO depressed. My son, 12, has officially announced that he is done with trick or treating. He announced this last year and I begged him to give me just one more year. I wasn’t prepared. It came out of the blue! I needed closure…and one last good candy haul! So even though he really didn’t want to, he went out for one last hurrah, dressed as bacon. Everyone thought it was the most clever costume ever, but to be honest, we waited until the day before Halloween to buy a costume and that’s the only thing left in his size aside from a creepy clown. I have a strict “no clowns” policy for Halloween because I don’t want my own kid to give me nightmares for months to come.
This year, no amount of begging and cajoling is going to change his mind. I have to respect that. I promised I would, even if I do want to bribe him to give me one last last Halloween. Since the holiday is kind of a big deal to me, I can’t just let it slide by without doing something with my kid. That would be kind of like skipping Christmas! Hey, maybe I can tell him if we skip Halloween, we have to skip Christmas too! No, no no. Bad parenting move. Selfish mommy. A promise is a promise, so while trick or treating is out, I’m brainstorming some other things that we can do together to celebrate the spooky holiday!
Trick or Treating Alternatives for Your Tween
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1. Murder Mystery Party
The obvious trick or treating alternative, throw a party for your tween and his (or her) friends. Honestly, this alternative makes me cringe because I don’t want to clean up the house either before the party or after a slew of tweens have run through it. Plus, my dogs don’t have good manners and would drive everyone nuts. Still, if you typically keep your house party-ready clean anyway and your dogs won’t terrorize the guests, it’s a great option. While costume parties are grand, I love the idea of a good murder mystery party. That way, kids aren’t under so much pressure to come up with the coolest costume.
2. Horror movie marathon
For a more low-key alternative, host a horror movie marathon! Your tween can either invite some friends over or you can get in some much-needed bonding time and watch them together. You don’t have to go with over-the-top, terrifying gore to host a good scary movie fest. Jake is just starting to dabble in horror and I don’t think he can handle something like “It” or “Halloween” yet. Honestly, I can’t handle It, so that one is out anyway! Depending on your tween’s age and tolerance for terror, your movie list can range from the not-so-scary Goosebumps movies to more frightening fare like Poltergeist.
3. Haunted Hayrides and Houses
Like horror movies, haunted house attractions range from “eh, that was creepy” to “OMG, I’m so sorry I gave you a bloody nose trying to escape!” That last one actually happened. I was 14, my fight or flight kicked in, and I accidentally knocked my best friend into the person in front of us. The blood coming out of her nose was definitely not staged. Oops. Honestly, I don’t think Jake would make it through the front door of a haunted house, and they’re way too claustrophobic for me. Besides, the last time I went to one, a strange guy behind me kept trying to grope me. I spent most of the tour with my arms folded across my chest. I’m not even kidding. If the idea of a haunted house terrifies your tween, haunted hayrides are a little tamer yet still fun.
4. Giant Corn Mazes at Night
We have this really cool attraction in the Poconos called Mazezilla. The family that runs the farm cuts the huge corn stalks into new themes every year. I haven’t taken Jake at night yet, but I went once with my brother and it was a blast. It’s not scary, but definitely more Halloween-y than going during the day. Just make sure you bring flashlights and wear comfortable shoes!
5. Halloween Decorations Scavenger Hunt
Your tweens don’t have to dress up and trick or treat to join the crowds on the streets come Halloween night. Gather a few of their friends and send them off on a Halloween decorations scavenger hunt. If they’re still young, or you live in a questionable neighborhood, you can supervise them from a distance. As in, not right up their hineys with your camera clicking away. Play it cool, mom. Winner gets a big bag of candy! Or something healthy, if that’s your thing. 😀 I’m all about the candy goodness on Halloween though. In fact, how about EVERYONE gets a big bag of candy and winner gets a trophy, too? Candy for all! Or not.
You can print out my Halloween decorations scavenger hunt list. It’s nothing fancy, but it covers the major decor your tweens will find out and about. Click the pic to go to the ginormous printable size. Or you can scour your neighborhood ahead of time and make your own list. This activity is also great if you’re making your tween come along for trick or treating with a younger sibling. It gives them something to do (and a prize to look forward to) while their little brother is begging for candy.
6. Halloween bake-off competition
Again, you can invite a few friends over or just do this as a family activity. Grab a few easy Halloween recipes from Pinterest (there are only like 75 million of them!) and host a family bake-off! Either bake cupcakes together and just do individual decorating challenges, or if your tweens are like those little geniuses on Chopped Kids, let them bake something tasty from start to finish. Here’s a tip for crazy busy moms who just plain don’t like to bake: buy cupcakes from the store and just knock the frosting off, then get to decorating. Or buy cupcakes with plain white icing and go from there. Hey, don’t judge, it’s still fun!
7. Spooky camping
Honestly, I’m not much of a camper, but Jake’s been begging to do it forever. Once upon a time, October 31st was way too cold in the Poconos to go camping, Thanks to global warming, it’s not unusual for temperatures to reach 75 in November. Of course, it could always snow a foot instead. There’s no middle ground anymore. It’s disturbing. BUT, if it is going to be relatively decent on Halloween, you could take advantage of the lull in camper season and pitch a tent. Start up a fire and tell ghost stories while gorging yourselves on s’mores made of Halloween candy. Another idea: choose a camping spot known for its spookiness. I once camped in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. You know, the creepy forest where the Jersey Devil myth came from? Scared the carp out of me.
8. Monster Mash Dance-a-thon
If family dance-offs are your thing, fire up the “monster mash” playlist and dance the night away! There are plenty of spooky songs to stream, especially if you have Amazon Music Unlimited. We have the Echo Dot only version because it’s cheaper. You can get an Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial and try it out to see if you like it before you commit. If you have the Dot or the Tap, just ask Alexa to play you some spooky Halloween music. She’s pretty good at figuring out what you want.
9. Handing out candy to neighborhood kids
If your house usually hands out candy, give your tween the job this year. She can still dress up (or not, don’t push it if she doesn’t want to) and be involved in ToT-ing without leaving the house. While I went Trick or Treating until I was 19 (no joke, I lived in a college town when I was 18 and everyone went!), I always loved getting home a little early and handing out candy. Granted, by then, we were usually almost out and my brother and I gave out our rejects, but hey, it was still fun. Follow up with a family movie night with horror movies (or something else your tween has been dying to see).
10. Just let it go and do nothing
I know it stinks, but your tween may just want to skip Halloween entirely, even if you’re all gung ho about it. They’re growing up (insert blubbering cry face here) and your “things” aren’t always going to be their “things.” If you push Halloween on a tween who just wants to chill in his room and play Destiny 2 all night with his pals online, he’s going to resent it. You want him to keep all those fond memories of Halloweens past, not get sick of the holiday and hate it in the future. Trust me on that. The more I push Christmas on my husband, the more he seems to despise it. Which I totally don’t get because Christmas is only the best thing ever ever ever. I digress, as usual. The point is, as much as it goes against all your mommy instincts to make all the memories, letting your tween completely ignore one of your favorite holidays is sometimes the right thing to do.
Is your tween done with Halloween? What are you planning to do instead? If you managed to squeeze one final last “I promise I’ll never ask again” year out of them, tell me how you did it! Bribery? Begging? Breaking down on the sofa and sobbing? HOW?