girl dressed as a witch getting ready for halloween by painting a spooky pumpkin

Getting Ready for Halloween: 17 Spooktacular Ways to Celebrate With Kids

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Wondering how early is too early to start getting ready for Halloween? Or are you looking for some fun ways to celebrate this spooky holiday with the kiddos all month long?

Fear not! (Unless, of course, you’re actually looking for a good fright!) 

Today’s post is all about how and when to get ready for Halloween. So if you’re looking for some fun, family-friendly activities to do together this fall, I’ve got you covered!

First, we’ll cover an extensive list of fun ways to celebrate with the whole family. Then we’ll delve into the specifics of when you should start getting ready for Halloween.

Finally, I’ll answer a few more common questions that people ask about getting ready for Halloween.

Let’s dive in, shall we? Your journey to the ultimate Halloween celebration begins here.

girl in witch costume; text that reads: 17 spooktacular ways to celebrate halloween with kids all month long

Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween With Kids

If you’re looking for fun ways to celebrate Halloween together all month long, you’re in for a treat! I’ve compiled a list of seventeen popular family activities that will really help you get into the Halloween spirit.

1. Pumpkin Patch Excursion

This is a favorite for kids of all ages! Kick off the Halloween season with a visit to a local pumpkin patch. Let the kids choose their own pumpkins for carving and decorating.

In addition to picking pumpkins, lots of pumpkin patches have other fun fall activities for kids. On our pumpkin patch excursions, our kiddos have played games and gone on wagon rides, just to name a couple.

my daughter and her cousin selecting pumpkins at the pumpkin patch as we were getting ready for halloween

2. Spooky Movie Nights

Host spooky movie nights with classic Halloween films and animated favorites. Here’s a list of family-friendly spooky Halloween movies that you can enjoy together:

  • Hocus Pocus (1993) – Three witches are resurrected in modern-day Salem and wreak havoc as they try to regain their powers.
  • Casper (1995) – A friendly ghost named Casper forms a bond with a young girl and helps her deal with her ghost therapist father.
  • The Addams Family (1991) – The eccentric and spooky Addams family deals with the challenges of the modern world.
  • Monster House (2006) – A group of kids discovers that a seemingly haunted house is actually alive and hungry for anything that comes near it.
  • Hotel Transylvania (2012) – Count Dracula operates a lavish resort for monsters, but his world is turned upside down when a human stumbles upon the hotel.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, decides to take over Christmas in this unique blend of Halloween and Christmas.
  • Corpse Bride (2005) – A young man accidentally proposes to a deceased bride while practicing his wedding vows in the woods.
  • ParaNorman (2012) – A young boy with the ability to see and speak to ghosts must use his skills to save his town from a centuries-old curse.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003) – A realtor and his family find themselves trapped in a haunted mansion as they attempt to sell it.
  • Coraline (2009) – A young girl discovers a secret door that leads to an alternate version of her life, but it’s not as wonderful as it seems.
  • Spooky Buddies (2011) – A group of talking puppies must stop a dark force during Halloween with the help of some new ghostly friends.
  • Frankenweenie (2012) – A young boy brings his pet dog back to life in a science experiment, but things take a spooky turn.
  • Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest (2013) – Curious George and his friends celebrate Halloween with fun adventures and mysteries to solve.
  • Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005) – Winnie the Pooh and his friends encounter spooky adventures while trick-or-treating.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – While not solely a Halloween movie, E.T.’s magical and mysterious elements make it a great choice for the season.

These movies offer a mix of humor, adventure, and mild spooky elements suitable for families. Perfect for a cozy and entertaining Halloween movie marathon!

3. DIY Decorations

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love crafting! Tap into your creative side by making Halloween decorations together. Create paper ghosts, spooky garlands, and homemade jack-o’-lanterns.

4. Costume Planning Party

Have a costume planning party where everyone brainstorms and creates their Halloween outfits.

Set out spooky snacks and put together a Halloween music playlist. Maybe make some DIY masks. It’ll be kind of like a miniature version of the main event!

5. Pumpkin Carving Contest

Organize a pumpkin carving contest with different categories like funniest, spookiest, and most creative.

our jack-o-lanterns from a few years ago: spooky ghost and cute kitty

6. Haunted House Scavenger Hunt

Transform your home into a haunted house and set up a scavenger hunt with treats and surprises.

7. Halloween Baking

Bake Halloween-themed treats like ghost-shaped cookies, mummy cupcakes, or spiderweb brownies.

8. Pumpkin Painting

If carving pumpkins seems daunting, opt for painting pumpkins with vibrant colors and imaginative designs. It’s a safer (and slightly less messy!) alternative to pumpkin carving.

my toddler painting a white pumpkin as a fun way to celebrate halloween with kids

9. Costume Parade

Host a costume parade around your yard or living room, complete with music and prizes for the most creative costumes.

10. Halloween Crafts

Engage in Halloween crafts like making paper plate masks, decorating trick-or-treat bags, and creating spooky lanterns.

11. Boo Your Neighbors

Participate in the “booing” trend by secretly leaving treats on neighbors’ doorsteps, encouraging them to pay it forward.

12. Fall Nature Walks

Take scenic walks to enjoy the changing leaves, collecting pine cones and leaves for crafts along the way. With a little forethought, you could go out ahead of everyone and plant a few spooky surprises for the kids to find!

13. Halloween Storytime

Gather spooky storybooks and have a cozy Halloween-themed storytime before bedtime.

Here’s a list of spooky Halloween children’s books that are perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit while keeping the scares at a kid-friendly level:

  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – A friendly witch invites various animals to join her on her broomstick, leading to a fun and heartwarming adventure.
  • Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds – Jasper Rabbit thinks he’s being followed by creepy carrots, but is it all in his imagination?
  • Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman – A witch wants to make pumpkin pie but needs help from various spooky creatures to get the big pumpkin off the vine.
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams – A brave old lady encounters a series of spooky items on her walk but remains unafraid.
  • Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara – A little girl moves into a house haunted by friendly ghosts and decides to use them to her advantage.
  • The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain – Join the Berenstain Bears as they go trick-or-treating and learn valuable lessons along the way.
  • Pumpkin Soupby Helen Cooper – Three animal friends make pumpkin soup together, but when the recipe is disrupted, it leads to an adventure.
  • The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey – A dachshund named Oscar faces his fears and proves that even a “wiener” dog can be brave.
  • The Little Shop of Monsters by R.L. Stine – This interactive book allows readers to choose their own monster to adopt from a quirky monster shop.
  • Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell – Count down from ten as ten ghosts are frightened away one by one by the creatures who move into their haunted house.
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier – A graphic novel about a girl who moves to a new town and discovers it’s haunted, dealing with friendship, family, and the supernatural.
  • Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems – Leonardo, a monster, tries his best to be scary, but he’s just not very good at it.
  • The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by J. Elizabeth Mills – A Halloween-themed version of the classic song, “The Wheels on the Bus.”

These books provide a mix of fun, gentle spookiness, and heartwarming messages. Great for reading aloud with young children to celebrate Halloween!

14. Outdoor Movie Night

Set up an outdoor movie night with a Halloween movie projected onto a screen or a white sheet. Weather-permitting, of course! But even if it’s a little chilly, simply bundle up and provide plenty of blankets for everyone.

15. Pumpkin Spice Playdough

Homemade pumpkin spice playdough is a wonderful sensory activity for kids, especially during the fall season. Make homemade pumpkin spice playdough and use it to create jack-o’-lanterns and spooky shapes. 

Here’s a simple recipe for making pumpkin spice playdough at home:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • Pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
  • Orange food coloring (optional)
  • Pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter (optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. You can adjust the quantities based on how much playdough you want to make.
  2. Add the vegetable oil and a few teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to the dry ingredients. The spice will give the playdough its delightful fall scent. Adjust the amount of spice according to your preference.
  3. Boil water on the stovetop.
  4. Carefully add the boiling water to the dry mixture while stirring continuously. The mixture will come together to form a sticky dough.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled down slightly, turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead it. If the dough is too sticky, you can add more flour a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Want to make the playdough orange like a pumpkin? You can add a few drops of orange food coloring and knead it into the dough. Keep kneading until the color is evenly distributed.
  7. If you find that the playdough is too dry, you can add a tiny bit of water and knead it in. Similarly, if you want a stronger pumpkin spice scent, you can add more spice and knead it in.
  8. Your homemade pumpkin spice playdough is now ready! With your kiddos, shape it into pumpkins, leaves, or any other fall-themed creations.

Pro Mom Tip: When not in use, store the playdough in an airtight container to keep it fresh for future play.

This homemade pumpkin spice playdough is a fantastic activity for kids to engage their senses, creativity, and fine motor skills. Plus, it adds a delightful touch of autumn to your playtime!

16. Trick-or-Treat Practice

Have a “trick-or-treat” practice session at home, complete with ringing the doorbell and saying, “trick-or-treat.”

17. Virtual Costume Party

If you can’t gather in person, organize a virtual costume party with friends and family over video call.

When Should You Start Getting Ready for Halloween?

Some people start getting ready for Halloween in July, while others wait until sometime in October. It really depends on the scale of your celebration and your personal preferences.

Generally, people tend to start their preparations in early September. Work your way through the following timeline, making adjustments to fit your needs:

Early September

  • Start brainstorming Halloween costume ideas for yourself and your family. (If you plan to make them or order custom outfits, then earlier is better.)


  • If you’re hosting a Halloween party, you’ll need to finalize the guest list.
  • Choose a theme if you want one.
  • Start planning decorations, food, and activities.

Late September

  • Begin buying or making Halloween decorations to create a festive atmosphere at home.
  • If you’re carving pumpkins, start looking for fresh pumpkins at local stores or farms.

Early October

  • Buy or make any costumes and accessories needed. This allows time for alterations or adjustments if necessary.
  • If you’re hosting a Halloween party, send out invitations to give guests enough time to RSVP.


  • Continue decorating your home, both indoors and outdoors, with Halloween-themed items.

Pro Mom Tip: Involve your children in the process by decorating their rooms or helping with simple crafts.

Late October

  • If hosting a party, confirm RSVPs, organize activities, and make sure you have all the necessary supplies.
  • Purchase Halloween candy and treats for trick-or-treaters or your party.

A Few Days Before Halloween

  • Test any Halloween-themed recipes you plan to serve at your party to ensure they turn out as expected.
  • Double-check your decorations, ensuring everything is in place and working properly.
  • Carve pumpkins a few days before Halloween to ensure they stay fresh for the big day.
  • Review safety measures, especially if you’ll have children or guests at your home.
  • Prepare any games or activities you plan to have at your party.

Halloween Day

  • Set up any last-minute decorations, making sure everything looks spooky and inviting.
  • Put on your costumes and help your kids get dressed up if you have children.
  • If you’re hosting a party, set up the food, drinks, and entertainment areas well before the guests arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Get Ready for Halloween?

People get ready for Halloween in various ways. It completely depends on the preferences and traditions of each family. Here’s a general overview of how many people prepare for Halloween:

  • Costume planning
  • Decorating (indoors and outdoors)
  • Pumpkin carving
  • Halloween party planning
  • Creating Halloween crafts
  • Attending community events
  • Visiting haunted houses and corn mazes
  • Visiting pumpkin patches
  • Shopping for trick-or-treat candy

Each family has their own unique way of getting ready for Halloween. Often, families combine several of these activities to make the most of the festive season.

How Do I Prepare My Child for Halloween?

Preparing your child for Halloween can be an exciting and fun process. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your child has a safe and enjoyable experience:

  1. Costume Selection: Involve your child in choosing their Halloween costume. Make sure it’s comfortable, weather-appropriate, and safe. Avoid costumes with long trailing fabric or obstructed vision.
  2. Discuss Safety Rules: Teach your child basic safety rules for trick-or-treating. (For example, looking both ways before crossing streets.)
  3. Practice Trick-or-Treating Etiquette: Teach your child to say “thank you” after receiving candy and to be patient in line. Remind them not to enter anyone’s home or car.
  4. Plan the Route: If possible, plan a trick-or-treating route ahead of time. Stick to familiar neighborhoods with good lighting. Make a map together and discuss the route.
  5. Review Stranger Danger: Remind your child not to talk to strangers or accept rides from them. Provide a clear plan for what to do if they feel uncomfortable or threatened.
  6. Use Reflective Gear: Have them wear reflective accessories to ensure they are visible to drivers.
  7. Check Candy: Before allowing your child to eat any candy, inspect it for signs of tampering. Discard any open or unwrapped items.
  8. Set Time Limits: Decide on a specific trick-or-treating time frame. This helps manage expectations and ensures your child doesn’t get too tired.
  9. Comfortable Shoes: Make sure your child wears comfortable, well-fitting shoes for walking. Avoid shoes that could cause blisters or discomfort.
  10. Bring a Flashlight: Provide your child with a small flashlight to help them see (and be seen) after dark.
  11. Hydration and Snacks: Carry a small water bottle and some light snacks.
  12. Practice Trick-or-Treating at Home: If your child is new to trick-or-treating, try a practice run at home. Teach them how to approach doors, say “trick-or-treat,” and, “thank you”.
  13. Avoid Scary Decorations: Be mindful of your child’s age and temperament. Some Halloween decorations can be scary for young children.
  14. Emergency Contact Information: Attach a small tag with your contact information to your child’s costume. This could be helpful if you were to get separated.

Most importantly, focus on having fun! Encourage your child to enjoy the experience and make lasting memories.

What Stuff Do I Need for a Halloween Party?

Organizing a Halloween party can be a lot of fun! Here’s a list of items and things you might need to host a successful Halloween party:


  1. Halloween-themed banners, garlands, and wall hangings
  2. Spooky tablecloths, napkins, and plates
  3. Cobwebs, fake spiders, and other creepy decorations
  4. Pumpkins, gourds, and other fall decorations
  5. Jack-o’-lanterns with candles or LED lights
  6. Halloween-themed balloons and streamers
  7. Skeletons, witches, ghosts, and other themed props
  8. Fog machine for creating a mysterious atmosphere


  1. Encourage guests to come in Halloween costumes.
  2. Provide a costume station with accessories like hats, wigs, masks, and makeup.

Food and Drinks

  1. Halloween-themed snacks like “mummy” hot dogs, “monster” cupcakes, or “witches’ fingers” (decorated cookies)
  2. Candy and treats in bowls or decorative jars
  3. Punch or cocktails with spooky names and decorations
  4. A variety of non-alcoholic beverages for kids and non-drinkers
  5. Snack trays and platters for easy access

Activities and Entertainment

  1. Halloween-themed games like bobbing for apples, pumpkin bowling, or a costume contest
  2. A playlist of spooky or Halloween-themed music
  3. A designated area for dancing
  4. Outdoor activities like a haunted maze or scavenger hunt

Party Favors

  1. Treat bags or containers for guests to take home candy and goodies
  2. Small Halloween-themed trinkets or toys

Tableware and Utensils

  1. Plates, cups, and utensils for serving food and drinks
  2. Serving platters, bowls, and trays
  3. Ice buckets or coolers for drinks

Of course, the specifics of what you need will depend on the size and type of Halloween party you’re hosting. With the right supplies and a little creativity, you’re sure to have a spooktacular Halloween party!

Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap! What are your favorite ways to celebrate Halloween with kids? 

When it comes to getting ready for Halloween, it’s never too early. If you’re a big Halloween lover, you can start planning months in advance… And you can certainly enjoy these fun family activities all October long!

More Halloween Content from The Writer Mom:

Spooktacular Ways to Use Name Bubbles Labels on Halloween

How to Celebrate Halloween at Home With Your Kids

Printable Fall Bucket List for Families

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