Keeping the Halloween Spirit Alive with Older Kids

I love Halloween. My kids and I can’t wait to cart the boxes of decorations out of storage and begin transforming our house. But, keeping the Halloween Spirit alive, pun intended, has gotten trickier as my girls get older. No more costume parties at school. The time we have to decorate has been taken over by school activities and sports. And teenagers just aren’t all that impressed with fake spider webs and plastic axes.

Our house all decked out for Halloween
We love decorating for Halloween!

So, what is a Halloween-obsessed mom to do? There still will be costumes, just not quite as elaborate, and pumpkin patches are being replaced with haunted houses this year.  If your kids are approaching double-digits in age, here are some things you might want to start thinking about if you too want to keep the Halloween Spirit alive.

Costumes. My favorite age for costumes was 9-10. My kids took costume construction into their own hands and created cosplay-worthy costumes that involved learning to sew from patterns and working with leather. The costumes were amazing, but the real value was the experience of designing something and then working with parents and grandparents to create what they designed. If your kids are in this age-range, show them Pinterest and get their creative juices flowing. Make it a family affair to create some great costumes, because you are about to enter a costume dead zone once they hit middle school.

Middle school is when costumes begin to get pushed aside. But, we still keep a stash of cat ears and super hero t-shirts. We have a Wonder Woman shirt with a cape attached that is a favorite. Plan ahead! We had to order that shirt and it took 3 months for it to get here.  There are a lot of places online that sell costume-like shirts, but they are shipped from overseas, which takes a long time in transit. Also, check out Etsy for costume pieces. My daughters both got Luna Lovegood radish earrings from Etsy. They wear the earrings with a Hogwarts t-shirt for a school-approved costume.

Halloween Activities. The big Halloween event is still trick-or-treating. If my kids put effort into a real costume, I still let them trick-or-treat. Your teens could offer to take younger neighbors or family members trick-or-treating and then they can join in if they are also in a costume. If trick-or-treating door-to-door isn’t an option, host a gathering and ask everyone to bring a bag of candy and do a candy swap. You could even turn the tables and head out to a children’s hospital or senior living facility and hand out treats to them. (Be sure to call first to make sure this is OK with the facility and see what guidelines they have for treats.)

‘Tis the season for pumpkin patches and hay rides, but if your kids roll their eyes at these traditional activities, there are a lot of other festive options. The Renaissance Festival, escape rooms and ax throwing are always good fun for this time of year. If you still are planning a trip to the pumpkin patch, get your older kids involved by putting them in charge of photographing the experience. If you only have time for one family outing, ask your kids to help you plan something that everyone will enjoy.

For teenagers, it could be time for a horror movie marathon or a trip through a haunted house. Most of these places recommend kids be at least 14, and unless you are ready to go back to co-sleeping with your child, I recommend you heed those age warnings! In Kansas City, we have Worlds of Fun Haunt Night, The Edge of Hell and The Beast that are all teenage-approved fun. We also have plenty of real haunted houses like the John Wornall House and the Sallie House. These experiences are little less frightening and you get to learn some history on the tours.

Happy Halloween! Wishing you a hauntingly good time this year!

Lori grew up in Olathe and graduated from Kansas State University. Sick of cold weather, she left Kansas and headed to Phoenix. Turns out the heat can be just of hard to take as the cold, so she and her husband, Bill, moved back to Kansas so they could be close to both of their families. Lori is mom to a tween (Aubree who is 11) and a teen (Hana who is 15). Despite the challenges of raising two strong-willed girls who have way too many extracurricular activities, Lori loves having daughters who binge watch Charmed and Gilmore Girls with her while making clay dragons. She is passionate about photography, traveling, exploring around Kansas City and dragons.