Halloween at Home: How to Have a Memorable Halloween!

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!).

My brother & I dressed up as Scully & Mulder from The X-Files. We had the BEST costumes! Thanks Mom!

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!

Via Barnes & Noble

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?

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hi, I’m Molly and I write for the blog here at O’Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who’s deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try.
Work at O’Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.
I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

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  • Jeff

    You are adorable! The Scully and Mulder costumes are great memories and X-Files still scares you. Perfect!

    I much prefer the home scene over the 12 hour marathon that was Pumpkin Palace. Too many people and too many hours for me. I love getting to know the neighbors and welcoming fall outside bundled up with a fire and “just tea, thank you.”

    It is a wonderful opportunity to welcome in the season, visit and meet new people. If you like that sort of thing.

    Happy Halloween Molly!

    Jeff

    • Totally agree. I love the new tradition and even though I resisted it and even felt some resentment against being told to “stay home” I’m so happy that it’s become such a pleasant night with our neighbors & friends. I’m so glad you enjoy it too!

      Thank you for reading!

  • Anne

    Molly
    The whole event sounds fun, caring, and sooo easy to pull off. You will have to let us know how it turns out, but I will bet you have found the new tradition.
    The photo of you and Andy is beyond precious! I love it!
    Thank you for sharing tips on a great, wholesome way to memorialize probably the second favorite holiday of most children.
    Love
    Anne

    • Anne,
      It went beautifully! So many of the parents we had were thrilled about the coffee! We even had one family that said, “Oh we remember you! You’re the coffee house!”. Success! It was a great evening and I think the hospitality that we tried to show really poured out on a lot of our trick-or-treaters as we had the most polite group of kids we’ve ever had! They were all so sweet & intentional about thank you’s. It was really a charming night and I’m looking forward to next year already!

  • Fitz

    Hey Molly,

    Great post! The picture of you and Andy SCARED me! It made me realize how dated I am:-) Halloween is one of my favs also. Our neighborhood goes all out. In fact, there are carloads of kids being dropped off each year to enjoy the festivities.

    I can’t give out the address though…..you’ll have to take a number.

    Enjoy!
    Fitz

    • Haha!
      I would love to see your neighborhood Fitz! That sounds absolutely insane. We had a great turn out of trick-or-treaters but our neighborhood sounds nothing like yours. Pretty calm with just a few chaotic moments.
      Thanks for reading this post! I had no idea we liked the same holiday – that kind of scares me a bit!

  • Ms. Fran Cantor

    Dear Molly,

    Hi, It has been awhile and I have been reading the Blog with interesting Titles. I enjoy reading them.
    I feel with your COMPASSION and SENSITIVITY with this blog is working out for you. Plus with your
    personal input gives it that wonderful TOUCH. My best to you for a excellent UNDERTAKING.

    Memories of my Dear Children during their younger years was Fantastic. We always had PARTY
    for my Five GOBLINS & Friends, I made up the Games, they were the best which my Father share.
    I would set up a Pile of Baking Flour like a mountain and on top I would put a Coin,then the child had
    to pick up the coin with their teeth with hands behind their back. They Loved it!!!! They would keep
    the coin if they were able to get it. Year after Year we did this. Fun was had by all!!! The Decoration
    was very scary with the help of the children. They even talk about at times. I always made it Fun for
    My Family with any occasion that came up. I love doing it!!! Still do. Take Care.!!!

    Bless you, +

    Frannie <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    • What sweet memories Frannie! I’ve never heard of that game you played with he coin and baking flour but my goodness does that sound fun! I love learning about others traditions & memories from treasured times. Thank you so much for reading the blog, for always saying something so sweet & encouraging, and ESPECIALLY for sharing your own life with me!
      Hope you have a blessed day!

  • Lori

    Molly,
    You and Andy are the cutest!! I love the picture!
    I love this idea. It inspires me to become more in tune with my neighbors next year and to initiate a similar event.
    I thought I would be the only party pooper not passing out candy last night. Much to my surprise and disappointment, my street had very little trick or treating activity. It would be fun to get my street in the spirit next year.
    Love you,
    Lori

    • Lori,
      There are some years where we can fully engage & participate and others where we need to be alone or find a different way to spend the holiday than the traditional way. I’m sorry you didn’t have very many trick-or-treaters but I have a feeling that when you want them to come by, perhaps next Halloween, they will be there.
      Or, you just come over to my house & enjoy our band of company. You won’t be disappointed!
      Thank you for sharing, I’m glad you were inspired!

  • Carrie Bayer

    Molly- you & Andy are just as cute now as you were then! I love this picture… I absolutely love the new tradition at your house, what a great idea! Not only is is fun for those who come by, it’s fun for you to host your event. What could be better? Nothing! Next year, I want to come by & participate in your wonderful festivities- thank you for sharing them with us! I hope this gives others some ideas & that they start a new tradition like yours. XOXOX Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie!
      I found it so interesting after reading your blog that there is a little bit of a resurgence in the house-going activities and parties at home. While we didn’t have a ton of trick-or-treaters and many of the houses were empty or not friendly, there was more than there was last year & a feeling of rejuvenated Halloween spirit! I have nothing against the carnivals (obviously!) but I like the idea of flexibility with these holidays that can some times seem so overly defined or preset that we fear to make them into what we want.
      You must come next year! Thank you so much for reading & sharing my enthusiasm! I love it!

  • Molly,

    Thanks for letting us in on your halloween moments. What really scares me is how old I am after seeing that photo of you and Andy. I have many fond memories of halloween as a child and young man. It was the perfect holiday for kids, of course you get to eat candy until you throw up, but you get to get away with a little mischief without getting into to much trouble. I may have taken advantage of the last perk a little to much. Boo!

    Chuck

  • Haha!
    Chuck you are too funny! I feel pretty old myself looking at that old photo – hard to believe any of us were ever that little! I’m sure you had your fair share of trouble and NOT just on Halloween! But it is so fun to have a holiday that gives everyone the excuse to divulge in desires they normally have to deny. We should all know what it’s like to eat too much candy & have awesome pictures of our 90’s hair & rad Halloween costumes!
    Thanks for reading!

  • Shayna Mallik

    Hi Molly,

    I love that picture of you and your brother!!! So cute, I love old pictures of different costumes. What an awesome memory. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Thanks Shayna!
      I thought about doing a post with pictures of all the different costume duos we were. Maybe next year! I think everyone would like to see the Skipper & Gilligan year!

  • Kari Leslie

    Because of you, I put on Nightmare Before Christmas in the living room and opened the curtains and windows for the kids who came to the door. Thanks for the idea!! I’m gonna try some other things next year, Molls, you’re the BEST!

    oxoxo
    kari

    • Kari,
      That’s what we played too & just left on repeat. It was so fun to walk into the house & be greeted with the songs & Halloweeny images. I’m so glad you were a bit inspired, what a sweet compliment! I want to hear more about your Halloween, thanks for reading & sharing!

  • Scully –
    Classic photo of you and Mulder, I remember that photo from days ago!
    Well, Jesse loves turning on our Pumpkins and Ghost in our front window ever night. Jesse will say “SPOOKY” when he is turning them on, I love it! It is amazing to see life through a child’s eyes, everything is new and fun. We go to a friends house in San Clemente, there are about four or five homes that look like a Disney set. You would love this street, probable 5000 plus kids are on the street having a great time. Jesse had two pieces of candy, I know we are so generous with his candy, no I did not eat it all. I think this is the last year he will be limited to two pieces of candy. I love your post and photos! Great job!

    • Thanks so much Neil! That Halloween tract of homes sounds absolutely insane!! What fun & chaos!

      I love “seeing the world through the eyes of a child” – it’s something I feel myself losing sometimes more than I’m gaining. I find Disneyland is the place where I most quickly revert back to my child-like vision & it’s such a joy to me when it does!

      Enjoy that little Boy, I love hearing about all his funny words & phrases. Thanks for sharing!

  • amy

    Molly,

    Great picture! Thanks for sharing you wonderful Halloween Traditions. It sounds like so much fun.

    Amy

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Molly
    I so remember you then! And I remember the Pumpkin Palace – the games – the kids . . oh the kids!

    Halloween is so much more fun for me now . . I watch my grandkids turn themselves into all kinds of crazy things. Some even I can’t figure out. But at least the little ones still dress up . . the older kids just wear regular clothes, regular faces, carry a king size pillow slip and think their gonna get candy. No way! Costumes or nothing!

    This was our little 3 year old Ella’s first Halloween that she could understand. Her TIA (aunt Kari) showed her all the ropes and she really got into it. I love your families tradition. It’s all about being together, enjoying the little ones and making new memories.

    Love you to bits!

    AP

    • Yes yes! It is all about being together, rewarding good costumes with candy & making funny memories to last you forever – just like this photo!

      I’m so glad you enjoy Halloween & that you have so many grandchildren around you to make the holiday more festive.

      Thanks for sharing!