By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
Trick or Treating can get, well, tricky. With unsettling things happening in the world today, finding alternatives for kids may be the wise way to go for many parents this year. So why not consider starting a new tradition, offering your kids a fun alternative to trick-or-treating? Although it’s fun for kids to dress up and gather a variety of free sweet treats, doing so these days can be filled with uncertainty and stress. The following are 12 alternative ideas to consider over making the trick-or-treating rounds.
1. Set-Off On a Fall Scavenger Hunt
Whether in your backyard, neighborhood, or nearby park, consider a fun Fall scavenger hunt for your kids where they search for items found in Fall, such as various leaves, birds, corn, squirrels, flowers, pumpkins, trees, and more. Create a chart where kids can mark off their findings and discoveries, along with snapping a phone photo of each finding as proof. Consider inviting friends and family along to create teams to race to find the items and share in the joy of finishing the hunt.
2. Follow the Leaves
Rather than following the trick-or-treat trail, why not follow the pathway to autumn leaves by taking a hike through a city, county, or national park to check out the wildlife and changing colors of leaves? Some parks even offer night-time hikes, which is especially fun during Harvest moon appearances and the chill of the fresh Fall air. Pack a picnic lunch, too, to take along for refreshment. If walking doesn’t fit your family’s style, consider driving to areas where you don’t have to get out of your vehicle to enjoy the scenery. Many states offer scenic autumn routes that lead drivers through picturesque areas, offering spectacular views and colorful photo opportunities. Load up some yummy food for a roadside picnic lunch.
3. Hitch a Ride on a Hayride or Horseback
Hitch a ride on a local hayride. If none are offered in your area, check around with nearby farmers to see if they might be willing to host a hayride and bonfire for your kids and friends. Cover the cost of his tractor fuel and bring your own snacks and wood. Make it a kid or teen-only ride, or include entire families. For added fun, have someone bring a guitar along to serenade or offer sing-along songs around the fire. Consider bringing hot dogs and smores to cook around the fire. If hayrides aren’t an option, consider taking the kids horseback riding, where they can enjoy being in nature’s splendor riding on the back of a gallant steed.
4. Detour to the Nearest Pumpkin Patch
A fun alternative might be a detour to the nearest pumpkin patch. Marana Pumpkin Patch near Tucson, Arizona, offers a family-friendly Fall atmosphere, free from Halloween’s scary influence. Activities include a gigantic corn maze sure to have you scratch your head and change directions a few times, a tractor ride out to an abundant 50-acre pumpkin patch, farm animals with pig races, paddle boats, fun carnival, and miniature diesel train rides, delicious farm food, a variety of food trucks, and more. Additionally, this family fun location offers a zip line, pumpkin/apple cannon, and rock wall. It’s safe, family-friendly atmosphere gives a fresh Fall adventure and a fun alternative to trick-or-treating.
5. Pick-Up A Few Apples
Consider taking kids to an apple orchard where they can pick and eat apples to their heart’s content, along with learning how to press their own cider. Pick extra ones to bring home for making Fall treats such as caramel and candied apples.
6. Take In a Movie
Take in a family-friendly movie at a nearby theater. Some local theaters are offering classic movies on the big screen for a budget-friendly price. Let your kids load up at the candy counter for an extra treat. Or, set up your own drive-in movie in your garage or backyard, with a big screen TV or old-fashioned movie screen. Pop some popcorn and invite family and friends to join in on the fun.
7. Get Your Game On
Set up tables on the back porch, deck, family room, or basement for a night of old-fashioned board game playing, where winners at each table win a stash of candy. Then, follow with a playoff between the winners where one winner takes home a bag of sweet treats. Or, gather everyone around for a hearty corn hole tournament, playing until one winner emerges.
8. Organize a Sweet Exchange
Set up a candy exchange with a group of family friends where each family prepares and brings candy to exchange. Save on burning up high-cost gasoline and hours canvassing the neighborhood by meeting those sweet tooth cravings in a safe home environment. For extra fun, have ingredients ready to make homemade candy and work in teams to see whose creation turns out the sweetest.
9. Stop by a Local Coffee Shop
Kids love going to grown-up establishments like a coffee shop, so why not stop in for a hot chocolate, caramel, or a pumpkin spice drink, along with some bakery sweets. Spending time talking, sharing stories, and making plans for the future makes for a lifelong memory-making evening out with your kids.
10. Sing Some Karaoke
Invite friends and family to join you in singing karaoke, either at an area eatery where it’s offered or in your backyard. Borrow a machine for the night, or check local pizzerias and other establishments for family-friendly karaoke nights.
11. Visit or Volunteer at a Christian Sponsored Alternative
Check your local community events to see what’s being offered in your area. Some churches offer alternatives to trick-or-treating by holding Fall, Harvest, or Hallelujah Festivals, offering fun, wholesome activities for the entire family. Creation Studies Institute in South Florida offers a Creation Celebration, where kids can attend dressed up as part of God’s Creation or a Biblical Character and celebrate God as their Creator with games, candy, cookies, and more.
Some Christian organizations like Youth for Christ also set up alternatives to haunted houses, where kids can walk through and see how God offers hope and freedom from various situations in life. Consider looking into the possibility of your family volunteering at one of the events for a shared family ministry experience, where you can serve side-by-side, and may potentially stir-up a desire for your kids to serve others in years to come.
12. Throw a Counter-Cultural Party
Consider throwing a counter-culture gathering this year. Since Halloween focuses on death and fear, why not start a new trend? As believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t have to follow the culture’s obsession with death and everything scary, bloody, and evil. Also, in this time of all things Halloween, with its emphasis on the devil, evil spirits, and more, Ephesians 6:12 reminds us to resist their influences.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Because Jesus set us free from darkness and the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15), why not consider having a “Children of the Light Party?” Ask guests to dress up in a costume relating to light. Ephesians 5:8 urges, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light.” Jesus has set us free from the fear of death, giving us a reason to celebrate the life and light He gives us. John 1:4 explains how “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Or consider a “Reformation Day Themed Party,” where guests dress up like their favorite Bible characters, play pin the theses on the door, hold an old-fashioned Bible quiz, and other Bible-themed games.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Images By Tang Ming Tung
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.