Halloween: Fun or Frightful?

What do you think of Halloween?  Do you think it’s fun or do you think it’s frightful? Does it seem a little out of control these days?

I loved Halloween as a child, and I love it as a mother.

As a child, I loved looking over the spooky fun books in the Scholastic Book order. I loved making colorful witches, ghosts, or jack-o-lanterns out of construction paper at school. I loved coming up with creative costumes and seeing everyone else’s at the school parade. I loved watching the “Charlie Brown Special” on CBS that only came around once a year. I loved the class party at school with pumpkin cupcakes and apple bobbing. I loved peeking into my neighbor’s homes while trick-or-treating, wondering what decorations/costumes/candy would be at the next door. And my three sisters and I loved it when my Dad drove us down a dark, tree covered road on Halloween night only to turn off the engine, pretend the car had broken down, and claim he could hear the Headless Horseman coming. It scared the daylights out of us, and we loved every minute of it!

As a mother, I brought the same enthusiasm for Halloween I had as a child into my own family. Just today I was out shopping for more fall colored Reese’s Pieces to put in our candy pumpkin on the kitchen counter, and a Tim Burton movie to watch this weekend. If my version of Halloween were a word cloud, this is what you’d see: homemade costumes, spooky stories, hot apple cider, Charlie Brown, spider webs, chili and cornbread, glowing jack-o-lanterns, school parades, candy corn, hay rides, and trick-or-treating. What’s not to love?

But, alas, I know there are plenty of people out there who feel strongly to the contrary. I’ll never forget the first time I heard of someone throwing a “Harvest Party” in lieu of celebrating the devil’s holiday. I was totally confused. (What? Boycott Halloween? Evil? Huh?) We have some neighbors, good friends actually, who just pass the whole thing over, giving each of their children money to buy whatever candy they want for a night at home watching movies and playing games. They don’t like the idea of their kids begging for candy from strangers, and they are totally opposed to the gore/horror/violence of Halloween that has been ramping up over the years.

And I agree.

Last week my husband went naively into a Halloween superstore with our children looking for a few costume accessories only to be greeted by some really (and I mean REALLY) sick and gory stuff. (Who is buying this garbage?) My 14-year-old daughter has been asking to go to some of the haunted attractions being advertised on what seems like every local billboard, but I have a feeling the haunted houses of today are much more “spooky” (read gory) than what I experienced back in the day. (Maybe that’s where those decorations and costumes are going!) We’re opting for the corn maze instead.

But the opposition doesn’t stop at gore/horror/violence. There’s the whole “sexy witch/maid/nurse” phenomenon, redundant “trunk-or-treat” activities, and the dilemma of how to let your kids dispose of that 10 lb. bag of sugar. (Eat themselves sick for a night and trash the rest, micromanage it for the next three months, sell it to the dentist, mail it to the troops, I do like Kit Kat . . .)

I get it. I really do. But I’m still not jumping ship.

Opting out of Halloween because some people have perverted an otherwise fun holiday is like opting out of Christmas for some equally unsavory reasons: it’s become totally commercialized, it promotes greed in our children, Santa and his elves overshadow the real meaning of Christmas, that sugar thing again, and on and on and on.

Halloween, like everything else in life, is what you make of it. You see what you choose to see, and experience what you choose to experience. This year’s plans include a trip to the pumpkin patch, our annual Saturday-before-Halloween-carve-a-thon, watching our new Tim Burton movie while savoring the best homemade pumpkin doughnuts ever, and then, on the big night, a neighborhood soup dinner in costume before trick-or-treating among friends. Again, what’s not to love?

As for me and my family, we’re going to have a frightfully fun time.

For more ideas, check out this post: A Deliberate Mother’s Guide to Simple Halloween Fun

And this one is great too: A Do-it-Yourself Halloween

QUESTION: Cast your vote. Halloween: love it or hate it?

CHALLENGE: Create your own fun and unique Halloween traditions that defy the latest trends.


  1. says

    Halloween is not my favorite holiday and so for costumes often my kids are a rag tag bunch of what we have at home already with maybe a few accessories I buy thrown in. We don’t boycott however, we trick or treat (or trunk or treat) and make fun treats and Boo our neighbors and go to the pumpkin patch…our traditions aren’t scary but more about family fun and togetherness. I think having a big party would be more fun than the trick or treating but that may have to come when they are all a bit older.

  2. says

    We have some serious boundaries to pick our costumes within. But beyond that we go crazy. We really do it, we have a family theme and we do it up right.
    We all have a GREAT time.
    Because all of life is the spin you give it, and we ALL look forward to it.
    But I do hate the spirit store. SO much, in fact I’m boycotting it. I think it’s gross and lewd. I won’t give them my dollars. I’ll search elsewhere.

  3. says

    Dear Power of Moms,
    I neither hate nor love Halloween. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s Halloween was fairly tame. But now days people in our culture are more interested in the occult. God warns us to not go there. When raising my children, I didn’t know the history of Halloween. I suggest that every Christian mother should investigate the truth about the origins of Halloween, and then go from there. While raising my children, we used the day as an excuse to do fun family things. But, later, when my son got older and wanted to dress like the grimm reaper, I realized that I had allowed it, by compromising with Halloween. The best strategy is probably to teach our children the truth of the holiday. I recommend a wonderful book that I talk about on my blog, that tells us the history to every holiday, and gives ideas and suggestions on how a Christian family might celebrate each of those days in a way that honors God. It is a must read for Christian moms!
    It will help you, I promise!
    Mama T

    • Christina says

      Hi, Tina!
      I tried clicking on your name to go to your website, but it didn’t work. What is the name of the book you mentioned?

  4. Jamie says

    We don’t participate in the scary part of Halloween. The kids have to make their costumes from stuff around the house. We donate our candy ( because we can’t eat most of it anyway). For us, it is a time to be together as a family — picking out the perfect pumpkin, dancing to the Monster Mash, and watching Charlie Brown. :)

  5. says

    I loved the idea of seeing what you want to see and ignoring the rest. We enjoy Halloween by the traditional activities like visiting a pumpkin patch, reading silly and tame Halloween stories, dressing up, baking all things pumpkin, etc. I’m planning on starting a new tradition this year of pumpkin pancakes for Halloween breakfas, maybe with a few chocolate chips thrown in for good measure! Oh, my Dad used to do the same Headless Horseman trick!

  6. catbond says

    Halloween can be both and depends on how you make it. i don’t know if i necessarily like my daughters Christian based school promoting halloween. I wish it was more of a “Fall celebration” but I guess with the mass production of it, what are you gonna do??? We go so far as a pumpkin at the front door, costumes, and a little trick or treating the day of or if we find some event going on, we’ll go to that. I also recently watched Miss Representation and a good thing to note is how provocative the costumes have gotten for girls….

  7. Jen Rawlings says

    I love Halloween. I think it is so fun and magical. That is because I choose to see it that way. I stay away from anything too scary and gross. My kids choose to be fun movie characters and fantasy things rather than zombies and murder victims. We decorate the house and bake goodies and carve jack o’ lanterns and laugh and eat candy until we can’t eat anymore and then eat some more the next day. It is a fun family holiday for us.

  8. Annette Martin says

    I love dressing up (I am Cruella Deville and my baby is a Dalmatian puppy) but I do NOT like the idea of begging for candy. Growing up my mom didn’t allow trick-or-treating so instead we had a talent show that we could dress up for if we wanted to. For every magic trick, talent, or anything silly we could think of to do we got a king size candy bar that we wanted. We had lots of family fun but didn’t miss out on the candy. I actually felt like all other kids were getting the raw end of of the deal because half of the candy that they got they didn’t even like.
    We never went to a pumpkin patch either. We grew pumpkins every year and then us kids would sell them and make tons of money off of the holiday. It is one of my favorite memories as a child trying to barter with people over the giant pumpkins.

  9. says

    I love Halloween! I can’t even imagine skipping it! I think it’s all about where your focus is! I have never gotten into the gore. My whole porch is covered with Jack o lanters! I’ve heard the complaints over the years, but for me, it’s great fun! We love “booing” our neighbors (leaving goodies secretly), corn mazes, Old Deseret, Charlie Brown, carmel apples and popcorn, deciding costumes and then deciding again, school parties and parades, hay ride to the pumpkin patch, the whole family carving pumpkins, family games and Halloween stories, trick or treating, and all those cuties that visit our house on Halloween Night! Yep! It’s a keeper here! Now that it’s over, I’m ready for the next fun holiday! We love ’em all!

  10. 5kidsmom says

    I love Halloween! Starting with the school Halloween Costume Parade (I too despise the gory, bloody costumes). Then it’s off to the Ward Halloween carnival & trunk or treating. Followed by visits to special friends & family. Im luck enough to still get my teenagers to go along with my theme costumes – sometimes the theme is planned around what they want to be.

  11. says

    As a kid I enjoyed Halloween but now I just don’t like it. I really don’t. And I’m ok with that. I let my kids pick out a fun costume (this year it is sleeping beauty and Emperor Zurg…we are Disney fanatics) and we go to a community trunk or treat but that’s it for specifically Halloween stuff. But I LOVE Fall! It is my absolute favorite season when the leaves are changing and the weather is cooling. We go to a pumpkin patch, eat pumpkin donuts, bagels, smoothies, pie, etc., carve/decorate pumpkins, put up fall decor around the house, look at the changing leaves, watch Disney’s old school Ichabod Crane, and just enjoy our Fall traditions. Halloween is fun, but there is so much more to celebrate during Fall than dressing up for one evening.

  12. Catherine Vos says

    Interesting to read an american perspective. Here in new zealand, as a rule, christians, do not celebrate Halloween because it celebrates the opposite of what we live for.

  13. Emily @ ReMarkable Home says

    I love it!! I love the cute costumes and even some of the “scary” ones. I love trick or treating with my kids and getting to visit with friends and neighbors. I love the glow and smell of lit jack o lanterns. I love pumpkins and apples and chocolate! I love spiders and bats and mice and fun decorations. I’ve never thought of it as the Devils holiday. That’s ridiculous. Maybe that’s where it originally came from but most who celebrate us never think of it that way. Halloween is just pure fun and I love it!

  14. Emily says

    Growing up in Australia I never celebrated Halloween as a child. Now living in Canada, my two children dress up and we take them trick-or-treating to a few neighbour`s houses, but we do not get into the `gore` often associated with the holiday. I think it can be a fun holiday, as long as you choose to make it that way!

  15. Anonymous says

    Why do I keep seeing posts from years ago? There are few new articles it seems. I love this site but miss regular new things to read.

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