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Festive fall-themed no-scare Halloween party tips for family-friendly fun for everyone

Playful kids enjoying the Halloween festival
Photo credit: Rawpixel/Getty Images

Halloween is a fun time for make-believe, dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, fun parties and, of course, yummy treats. If scary is your thing, the monsters and ghouls that abound this time of year are right up your alley.

But Halloween doesn’t have to be a fright show! In fact, not everyone is into gore! For tips on how to enjoy a no-scare Halloween for kids (and adults!) of all ages, we’ve got you covered.

Decor

If spooky ghosts, creepy skeletons and giant, hairy spiders give you nightmares, you can still have the best-decorated house on the block while foregoing spooky Halloween decorations. You and your young decorators will love these ideas: your home will feel festive, fun — and spooky-free.

When it comes to Halloween decorations, inside and outside decor is a must. So, get in on the fun with some festive, decidedly non-scary decorations that will welcome the littlest of trick-or-treaters.

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins

Carving pumpkins for Halloween is a tradition dating back to the 1800s. Wander through any neighborhood in late October and you’ll likely see spooky and creepy pumpkins illuminating the night as they guard front porches. But pumpkins don’t have to be scary. Heck, they don’t even have to be carved! They can be decorated in lots of fun, cute, creative, colorful ways.

MORE: Get 11 easy, free printable pumpkin-carving stencils to help you expertly carve your jack-o’-lantern this Halloween

Kids can have a blast painting their pumpkins in solids, polka dots, stripes or a mixture of their favorite colors. The more artistically inclined (and those with talented parents) can decorate theirs to resemble a favorite cartoon or movie character.

Paint pumpkins solid green, add masks around their eyes and paint in a mouth for some ninja turtle pumpkins.

Paint pumpkins to resemble your favorite sport (football, soccer ball volleyball), or wrap them in gauze and add some big, googly eyes for a mummy pumpkin.

The options are limited only by your imagination — and maybe artistic confidence.

Not only are these tons of fun, since they aren’t carved they won’t decompose quite as quickly: they can be decorated early and enjoyed longer!

Painted pumpkins will be such a blast, you and your kids will want to decorate and display several pumpkins for your porch and scattered around your home. Involve family and friends and make a whole day out of it.

As you’re out choosing the perfect pumpkins for painting and decorating, toss some itty bitty pumpkins in with the bunch to create some adorable peekaboo pumpkins for every room of your house. Add small googly eyes close to the top of the mini pumpkins and place them in locations where it appears they are peeking out of a hiding place such as in a sugar bowl, kleenex box or basket of fruit.

Pumpkin-less Jack-o-lanterns

Let’s face it: carving pumpkins can be an icky mess. For the glow of a jack-o-lantern without the sharp tools and pumpkin guts, repurpose some old mason jars or other clear containers to create your own glow-in-the-dark jack-o-lanterns.

Draw a jack-o-lantern face on orange and black tissue or construction paper, place the paper in the jar face side out and secure it with glue or mod podge so it doesn’t shift. Add a flameless tealight to create the full effect. Line these up in a windowsill, on top of a mantel or on the front porch. You’ll never miss the slimy pumpkin guts.

Wreaths

We have yet to meet a holiday that wasn’t perfect for a hanging a wreath on the front door or over a mantle. Halloween wreaths can be creative, colorful and even — we dare say — beautiful? Yes, Halloween can be beautiful.

Whether you choose solid orange or black ribbons for your wreath, go crazy with color and other adornments, a Halloween wreath or two adorning your home will give it that Halloween vibe while staying classy. Visit your closest craft shop and dollar store for all the supplies you’ll need.

MORE: 13 frightful Halloween decorations

Not-so-scary figures

To get the kids in on the Halloween decorating action, start saving used toilet paper rolls for Halloween figurine creations. Haul out your craft supplies, fabric scraps and glue and let their imaginations run wild. They’ll love to have these placed around the house and maybe even an extra friendly looking one in their bedroom.

Silly signs

Is there some scrap wood lying around begging to be used in a craft project? DIY lawn and porch signs are always a hit and can hang out before and long after Halloween has passed. All you need are a variety of paint colors, paint brushes, your creativity and your artistry.

How about some pumpkins painted around a fun Halloween quote? A sign wishing your friends and neighbors “Happy Autumn?”

Or even two large pieces of wood propped on either side of your door, with the word “Trick” going down one and “Treat” going down the other. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Games

If haunted houses, dark mazes and Ouija Boards are your ideas of torture, we feel you. How about some fun, non-nightmare-inducing activities for participants of all ages?

PUMPKIN BOWLING? Yes, please! A plastic pumpkin and some paper towel rolls are all you need for endless kid fun. You can even decorate the paper towel rolls with big googly eyes so they appear to be staring back at you as the pumpkin bowling ball comes barreling down at them. Perfect for an outside game to help the kids burn off some of that sugar energy.

KEEP IT ACTIVE: To keep kids and adults moving, how about a ring toss over the pumpkin stems, a bag race using old pillow slips decorated with big silly ghost eyes, or a race carrying a mini pumpkin on a spoon without dropping it?

AND MORE! Some other fun and simple DIY game ideas for you include:

  • Guess how many candy corn are in the jar
  • Wrap tissue paper around a balloon to make a balloon ghost and see who can sit on it and pop it the fastest
  • The classic, pin the nose on the pumpkin.

A combination of these games will be just what the doctored ordered to keep them entertained and out of the candy bag as much as possible.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Let’s face it: at Halloween, candy reigns supreme. However, it is possible to provide healthier snack options while still giving your kiddos fun, Halloween themed treats they’ll love.

Chocolate dipped treats

For a fun after school or party snack, all you need are some small apples, shish kabob-type sticks and melting chocolate. Dip the apples in the melted chocolate leaving the top peeking out to create the pumpkin look. Mix it up with mini apples and peeled mandarin oranges.

MORE: Want a tasty seasonal snack? Here are 9 mind-blowing ways to flavor roasted pumpkin seeds

Spiders on a log

Spiders on a log (celery and peanut butter with raisins on top) have been around nearly as long as Halloween itself and are always a hit with kids. These are perfect in lunchboxes, as an after-school snack and party finger food.

Jack-o-lantern quesadillas

Okay, this is an awful sounding combination, but in this case, a healthy, energy packed meal or snack to keep your little ghouls and goblins fueled and ready to go. Simply cut some pumpkin style eyes, a nose, and a mouth into one tortilla for a fun to eat quesadilla.

Fresh fruit snacks

You’ll need to carve out a little extra time for this healthy snack, but they are definitely worth the effort. Cut the top off some navel oranges, hollow them out with a spoon, carve a jack-o-lantern face into the orange and fill each “pumpkin” with a variety of fruit pieces. Your mini-humans will thank you.

Banana ghosts

For a healthy treat that tastes more like dessert, cut some bananas in half, place each half on a stick, dip them in melted white chocolate and add two chocolate chips for eyes. Viola! Ghost bananas! Smiles guaranteed.

Silly straws and plastic spiders

For an extra fun kid-friendly drink, simply pour juice or other drink into unbreakable glasses, add a recyclable, Halloween-themed straw and finish it off with a plastic spider hanging out on the side of the glass. So simple, yet so fun.

Gummy floats

And, for the piece de resistance, create a green drink of your choosing and add a bit of ice cream on which to float some colorful gummy worms. The little party goers will be in Halloween heaven.

Candy alternatives

No one wants to be the house that gets egged because of handing out unpopular treats. If you’re on the hunt for yummy yet healthy treats or even non-edible items to give out, nix the bag of baby carrots and give these a try. We feel certain your trick or treaters will leave satisfied.

Edible

LIke candy, these edible (but not candy) treats can be purchased in individually wrapped packages.

  • Juice Boxes
  • Natural fruit snacks
  • Organic lollipops (when you just can’t imagine not giving out candy)
  • Mini bags of Goldfish crackers
  • Mini graham crackers
  • Mini bags of popcorn
  • Mini bags of pretzels
  • Honey sticks
  • Animal crackers

Non-eible

The littlest trick-or-treaters that ring your doorbell will still get a kick out of fun toys dropped into their Halloween treat bags in place of candy.

  • Glider planes
  • Bouncy balls
  • Fake mustaches
  • Bubbles
  • Light up rings or bracelets
  • Temporary Halloween tattoos

Ways to give back

  1. Every holiday, if not every day, can be an opportunity to teach kids how to give back to others. Here are a few ideas on how, even at Halloween, we can place the focus on helping others:
  2. Rather than spending tons of money on a costume that will likely be worn only once, head to your local charity-run thrift store for this year’s Halloween costume. You’ll be supporting quality organizations while discovering unique costume possibilities.
  3. Buy an extra bag of candy or donate the excess from trick-or-treating to an organization such as Operation Gratitude. They will be happy to include your Halloween candy in a care package to grateful military members overseas.
  4. Consider supporting your local UNICEF by taking part in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. This organization helps people across the globe.
  5. Create community flyers ahead of time and use Halloween to support Lions Club Sight Night with the goal of collecting gently used eyeglasses for needy children.
  6. Host a Halloween party for a non-profit of your choice. Guests can still dress up and enjoy games and snacks, but ask them to bring a $10 donation in place of a bottle of wine.

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