Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. There’s no pressure to have the perfect turkey to serve or anxiety over having presents for everyone. It’s pretty simple, candy, pumpkins, costumes & friends (plus a little spookiness, you have to have at least one spooky moment!).
I remember only trick-or-treating one time in an actual neighborhood, I enjoyed it but strangers made me uneasy and being a shy child I had a difficult time walking up to the strange & spooky houses. Fortunately for me the following year my church started a charming festival event on Halloween called “Pumpkin Palace”. It was complete with carnival games, prize tickets, candy, goldfish in plastic bags, pony rides and even an elephant that you could ride around in the straw arena. It was the most magical place I had ever seen and captured my whimsical child heart. Every year the event I most looked forward to was Pumpkin Palace.
As I got older I began to do set-up for the event, make sure booths had candy & enough beanbags, that kind of thing. I would even get to watch the beautiful elephant make her majestic entrance into the straw arena. It was still so magical and getting to watch others enjoy it made my treasured night even more precious.
It’s been 2 years since my church stopped hosting Pumpkin Palace. They wanted us to move into our own communities & neighborhoods instead of leaving them to be at church. At first I felt robbed of my prize night & felt rather devastated over the ending of such a sweet era. But, “Necessity is the mother of invention” (Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott) and with my family we planned out a wonderful new way to celebrate Halloween.
We will be carrying on this tradition tonight!
Here’s what we do:
We invite friends & family over for chili & a bonfire set up out front in our fire-pit with plenty chairs & warm blankets. We have loads of candy for trick-or-treaters and coffee travelers from Starbucks for the weary & chilly parents – this was a HUGE hit last year cause honestly, isn’t it nice for the parents to get something too? We have candles lit in the house, all our lights outside covered with those plastic jack-o-lantern from Target, and of course creepy movies playing in the background to set the mood (my personal favorites include: Sleepy Hollow – lots of spooky moments, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – you have to sing-along, and The Addams Family – hilarious!).
We polish the night off with pumpkin pies, s’mores and a reading of “The Hallowiener” – seriously one of the cutest children’s books I’ve ever read. It had all of us in stitches! Go get yourself a copy!
Last year was one of the most pleasant surprises as it kept the magic of Halloween alive for me even in the new setting.
I encourage you to put a fun little twist on your evening. See what you can do to serve & love others in your neighborhood even if it’s as easy as having some hot coco for the kids & parents. It’s a wonderful time to greet others, shed love on lives & be a place of light and joy on a dark evening.
Have a very Happy Halloween!
What traditions are you keeping up this year?