Thursday, September 17, 2015

Halloween Activity Advent Calendar

We like to celebrate Halloween for an entire month. Throughout October, in the days leading up to the actual holiday, we do activities that help spread out the joy of Halloween, instead of cramming all the festivities into one glorious and exhausting day.

When my oldest was a baby we bought this cardboard haunted house advent calendar at an after-Halloween sale. It had gummy candies in each of the 13 drawers, which I dislike but my kids' dad finds them delicious. After the candies were gone, I saved the haunted house to be a future Halloween decoration, and every year since then we've reused it, filling the drawers with surprises for our kids. I added small numbered tags that protrude from each drawer, letting my kids know which drawer to open next.
You can make your own advent calendar any number of ways, or reuse one like I've done. Over the years, we've put different things in the drawers, from tiny, Halloween themed toys to small candies. In recent years, with candy burnout and toy overload, we instead plan a festive activity for each of the 13 days leading up to Halloween, and the drawer contains a description of that activity.

halloween advent calendar
halloween advent calendar
This would involve some kind of Halloween themed craft, changing each year depending on materials on hand and inspiration.

halloween advent calendar
This is what we call our annual Halloween scavenger hunt. At the end of the scavenger hunt is generally some kind of creepy toy or gift for my kids to share.

halloween advent calendar
We have a few movies that we usually watch each October, Nightmare Before Christmas is one favorite.
Here is a list of family traditions that might be included in our Halloween activity advent calendar:
  • Decorate the house
  • Do a Halloween craft of some kind
  • Stroll through a beautiful old cemetary
  • Go to a Halloween Party
  • Watch Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Trick or Treat on Halloween night
  • Trick or Treat at the local businesses
  • See Dracula, the ballet, in full costume
  • Bathtime in the dark, with glow-in-the dark toys and LED candles
  • Rhyming scavenger hunt (see this link for scavenger hunt ideas)
  • Harvest festival at a local farm
  • Pack up unwanted candies in gift bags for the homeless
We also play spooky music throughout the month, and change our screensaver to our collection of Halloween photos from previous years, which my kids love. 
Each year we modify the activities so they're appropriate to the ages and interests of our kids, but the basic structure remains the same. We all enjoy prolonging the festivities, and I think we reduce a lot of stress by not trying to fit everything into just one day.

What activities does your family enjoy each October? Are there Halloween movies you love watching with your kids? I'd love to hear your ideas.

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