Frightfully fun family-friendly Halloween

by Laura Sussely-Pope

Family Halloween'Tis the season of ghosts, goblins, and things that go "boo" in the night!

Are you looking for ideas to make your family's Halloween spooktacular?

Everyone in the family can get in on the act whether if you're going out or staying in.

Parents will appreciate tapping this holiday to ease their child into facing their fears with "lessons" of frightfully good fun.

While Halloween brings to mind a childhood era of trick-or-treats, it can be difficult to navigate through the dark scare-mongers, and keep your Halloween celebration family-friendly.

We've pulled together some of our own favorite activities for you to share.

Have family-friendly Halloween

Before the big day

Halloween doesn't need to be limited to a single day. In our house, we celebrate throughout the month of October. As a family, that we look forward to selecting from a variety of options to kick off the season:

✓ Look for a family farm in your area to visit -- complete with corn maze, hay rides, and pumpkin patch.

✓ Check if your local symphony or children's theater is offering a fare for Halloween. Local libraries present another option with puppet shows or other special events.

✓ Plan your costumes! Those older might have started combing the web for ideas back in January! Remember, this doesn't mean that you have to go out and buy one. Some of the most inspired and creative costumes are those you dream up -- together.

Local schools, churches, and other organizations often have their own "Fall Festivals" or "Oktoberfest."

✓ Make or buy Halloween decorations. Work together as a family, keep things light-hearted, and remain flexible.

Halloween!

Staying in? Whether you're looking to build traditions or pull together a unique festivity, you have lots of options available to choose from. Don your costume and get busy!

The menu: Generally a crowd-pleaser, consider a "make-your-own-pizza or taco" night! You can then tap some of our extraordinary Halloween recipes to add to your spread for that perfect combo of yummy and creepy!

The action: You know your family best. Naturally, you'll need to gauge the activities towards "age-appropriate." Those toddler and up, may enjoy painting or decorating a pumpkin. For young ones, consider stickers to allow them to feel that pride of accomplishment. Yes, they may be all in one spot. That’s ok!

While pumpkin carving may be limited to adults, kids of ALL ages love that ooey-gooey pumpkin guts feeling while scooping it out. It has just enough of that "ick" factor!

Have a bonfire. While outdoors for this activity is the obvious choice, you can gather a group of candles, turn off the lights, and gather around the "campfire" as you share sing-a-longs, tell ghost stories, and of course -- eat s'mores.

Play with shadows. Using flash or candle lights, take turns forming shadows on the walls. Parents, tap your memory to move beyond that bunny hopping across the wall.

Flashlight hid- and-seek! Older kids may like playing hide and seek -- inside! To play this game, limit players to one area of the house to avoid anyone getting hurt. No lights may be used except by "It" who is forbidden from stalking "home base." Good luck!

Make it a movie night. Plan a few Halloween-related selections around the ages of your kids. Preschoolers may like those of the Disney or Nick Jr. fare.

A classic option could include "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" Elementary kids may prefer something like "Haunted Mansion," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," or "Ghostbusters." Preteens may be ready to be "scared" but you may still wish to steer clear of those that would be terrorizing. Choose flicks like "Poltergiest," "The Birds," or one from Harry Potter.

There truly are no wrong choices; just gather together with your family and have a great time!

Trick-or-treat

If you plan on heading out with your own little goblins, take a moment to read our tips to "Stay Safe on Halloween!" It's a wonderful time of adventure…a time to imagine and explore that fantasy of being a super hero or the fun of play action as Count Dracula or a beautiful fairy.

By taking a few simple precautions, you'll help insure that your family maximizes the fun without having it marred by a preventable accident.

What are your plans this Halloween? Give us a shout out in the comments -- and know we love seeing your pictures, too!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.