Halloween becomes more commercialized every year. But a classic approach to Halloween will keep your budget intact and a grin on your face throughout the spookiest time of year. If you want to restore the playful spirit of Halloween and spend more quality time with your family, let these reminders help you center your celebration on old-fashioned frightening fun. Make memories this Halloween, rather than too many trips to the store.

Pump Up Your Pumpkin Power

  • Smiling Jack
  • Evil grin
  • Cat in profile
  • Flying bat
  • Spider with web
  • Wise owl
  • Wise owl
  • Spooky ghost
  • Puking pumpkin
  • Your family’s name
  • Halloween words

What’s Halloween without those bright orange globes of autumn spirit? I’m referring to pumpkins, of course. Set a date for that trip to the pumpkin patch where family members can each select a choice carving pumpkin. Then set aside a few hours one week before Halloween for jack-o’-lantern carving. Here are some classic pumpkin designs to inspire you:

Go Green When Choosing Costumes

When it comes time to brainstorm costume ideas, challenge your kids to pull costumes together from scratch rather than purchasing pre-made. Try to inspire more creative self-expression from them and less of you making it all happen for them. You’ll find ample tutorials on the Internet and lots of costume accessories to choose from at your local resale shop. Here is a list of costume types to get the ideas popping:

  • Animals
  • Bugs
  • Heroes
  • Celebrities
  • Monsters
  • Magical Creatures
  • Professions
  • Foods
  • Cartoons
  • Fictional Characters
Halloween decorated front porch.

Use Down-to-Earth Décor

Don’t go over the top with Halloween décor. Often a few natural-looking items added to a front porch are all you need. Or search online for easy craft tutorials related to the following images. Build up a repertoire of decorations that you expand gradually over the years rather than going over the top with Halloween decor:

  • Bats
  • Crows
  • Pumpkins
  • Spider webs
  • Ghosts
  • Skeletons

  • Witches
  • Cats
  • Owls
  • Branches
  • Tombstones

Compile a Halloween Playlist

Spooky songs are to Halloween what Christmas carols are to Christmas. Recruit your kids’ help and make a Halloween playlist. Here are some blasts-from-the-past many parents will recognize. Turn them on to turn chore time into a dance party.

  • “The Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett
  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
  • “This Is Halloween” by Danny Elfman
  • “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
  • “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
  • “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
  • “Time Warp” by Richard O’Brien
  • “Abracadabra” by The Steve Miller Band
  • “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
  • “Spooky” by Andy Williams
  • “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles
  • “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
  • “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band
  • “The Addams Family” by Victor Mizzy
  • “Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley
  • “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra
  • “Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead” by Arlen & Harpburg
  • “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedance Clearwater Revival

Create Annual Movie-watching Traditions

Sharing family films is a terrific way to chillax during a busy time of year. So gather the crew and get in the Halloween mood with movies that startle without scaring the pants off anyone.

For the Whole Family to Watch Together

  • The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown 
    (not rated, for ages 4 and up)
  •  The Wizard of Oz 
    (not rated, ages 8 and up)
  • ET (rated PG, ages 8 and up)
  • Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone 
    (rated PG, ages 9 and up)

For Older Kids: Family Movies to Watch with Teens

  • The Goonies (rated PG, ages 11 and up) 1985
  • Hocus Pocus (rated PG, ages 11 and up) 1993
  • Edward Scissorhands (rated PG-13, ages 13 and up) 1990
  • The Addams Family (rated PG-13, ages 13 and up) 1991

Transform Candy into Decor

Halloween candy isn’t merely for eating. Display some classic candy choices in glass jars from the dollar store to inspire seasonal fun. Or use classic candy to decorate a wreath form to hang on your front door during trick-or-treating. Search for photos online and choose the wreath style that matches your level of ambition. Here are some candies that can add visual sweetness minus the calories and cavities:

  • Candy corn
  • Candy pumpkins
  • Black and orange Mary Janes
  • Autumn-colored Gummies
  • Autumn-wrapped candy
  • Jelly Belly autumn mix
  • Chocolate eyeballs
  • Black and orange hard candy sticks
  • Caramel-apple lollipops
  • Harvest-blend M&Ms
  • Gummy worms

Brainstorm Imaginative Party Themes

Hosting a Halloween party? Keep it simple with classic Halloween party themes. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming. Search online for easy homemade décor ideas.

  • Salem witches
  • Sleepy Hollow headless haunts
  • Roswell aliens
  • Black-and-white horror movie
  • Transylvania vampires
  • Zombie apocalypse
  • Shakespearean tragedies
  • Dancing skeletons
  • Wizard school
  • Mystical journey

Serve Satisfying Potluck Meals

If you plan to bring a meal to a potluck or just want to fill bellies with savory sustenance, serve something simple. Trick-or-treaters need substantial meals to counterbalance all the sugar typically consumed on Halloween. Try your hand at the following favorites:

  • Chili with corn muffins
  • Sweet-potato soup with zucchini bread
  • Pulled-pork sandwiches with coleslaw
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Beef stew with crusty bread
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Chicken and cheese enchiladas
  • Meatball subs with potato salad
  • Lasagna and Caesar salad
  • Vegetable soup with pumpkin muffins
  • Clam chowder with apple muffins