If you’ve got teens, like I do, you already know that celebrating Halloween is no longer the simple holiday it used to be and finding fun Halloween activities for teens can be a literal nightmare. Remember the days when your Halloween to-do list looked like this?
With teens, yeah, not so much. Halloween is not so much fright anymore as it is fraught — fraught with intense questions that can make some teens seem, well, lukewarm about the once-beloved holiday: Am I too old to dress up? Is trick-or-treating dumb? Am I the only one of my friends who still really likes Halloween? However, there are indeed cool Halloween activities for teens that they won’t be embarrassed about.
We’re not saying they’re actually letting you in on any of these musings, but you may detect a reluctance in them (for the first time) to participate in Halloween — or their wanting to do something Halloween-ish, but maybe a little more on their own terms.
It’s bittersweet for sure, because you can still remember how adorable they looked in the Thomas the Tank Engine costume you made out of a microwave box. (Sob.) But you can offer up (gently, casually — be chill) some fun Halloween alternatives for teens to keep the spirit alive. And if they’re not driving yet, throw in an offer to transport them and a few friends, and see if that doesn’t perk them up out of their existential teen Halloween doom and gloom. While some of these activities may sadly be off the table this year, we’ve provided safe at-home ideas when possible to keep the festivities alive.
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1. Host a Virtual Halloween Party
Halloween may be, ugh, Halloweird this year, but it can still be a blast for your teen. Have them get their friends together for a virtual Halloween party so they can still get their spooky on. The party planning’s taken care of thanks to this genius downloadable party, which will give you access to fun trivia games you can play during a Zoom call.
After you download it, you’ll receive a party code to give to your guests the day of the party. Then, you can share your screen and display the trivia files from this instant download.
2. Stock Up on Sale Candy
Our favorite part about Halloween? The candy sales that follow, and we’ve never met a teen who disagrees. Because the holidays came a lot earlier this year, we suggest scoping out the candy aisles on Halloween for any day-of bargains. No need to head to the store IRL, though, because Amazon already has some on sale now:
3. Brave a Haunted Amusement Parks
Depending on where you live, there might be an amusement park nearby offering some serious chills and thrills for teen and adult Halloween lovers — like Valleyfair in Minnesota, which turns into ValleySCARE on weekends during the Halloween season. Think haunted mazes, scare zones and wandering, lurching ghouls and zombies — definitely not a Halloween for little ones. If your local haunted houses are closed, may we suggest watching The Haunted Mansion on Disney+?
4. Let Them Host a Party
You’ll want to reserve the friends part of this for next year, but but you can still give your teen free rein to take over the house with the party decorations — let them go wild with fake spiderwebs, dangling skeletons, fog machines and deliciously creepy treats. Tip for when you can let them host a real party: By all means, lay a few ground rules, but stay in your lane (as in, remove yourself to a quiet parental corner and leave the party decor and effort and enjoyment to your teen and their posse). They’ll be grateful and you’ll get the much-deserved rep as the cool mom or dad. Win-win.
5. Volunteer — With a Halloween Theme
Got an introverted (or just a Halloween-meh) teen who happens to love to volunteer for charitable causes? Encourage your teen to bypass the festivities if they are so inclined, and — for instance — bake some Halloween cookies for a local nursing home or dog treats for a nearby shelter.
6. Have a Horror Flick Sleepover
Let your teen invite some friends over for a terrifying movie marathon — or a Ghost Adventures binge. And if they’ve never seen The Blair Witch Project, you know, it holds up surprisingly well for its age — especially that last iconic frame. (Shudder.)
7. Get a Psychic Reading or Your Tarot Cards Read Together
If your teen is the witchy type, they might appreciate the offer to get a real tarot card reading or get them a tarot deck of their own. Best. Bonding. Ever.
8. Start a New Tradition of Giving Out Candy Together to the Littles
My younger daughter decided she was done with Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating when she was about 13… and so she and I would snuggle on the front steps with a blanket and toasty-warm drinks and ooh and aah and all the babies who stopped by for candy. It’s one of my favorite memories, cooing with her over tiny Elsas and Power Rangers — when not so long ago she’d been one of them too.
Here’s our go-to weighted blanket pick for those chilly Halloween nights — and the entire cold season to come.
9. Rock a Corn Maze
Halloween corn mazes continue to be a crazy-popular activity, especially in the Midwest (duh). And would you believe there is actually a corn maze finder so you can find the corn labyrinth closest to you?
10. Explore a Local Graveyard
This is good one for teens who 1) geek out on history 2) have parents who geek out on history. This was actually something my older daughter and I liked to do together in the fall. It was creepy… but peaceful too. Just honor cemetery regulations and hours — most don’t appreciate folks poking around in them after dark. Or, we recommend reading a haunting book like this one instead:
11. Crack the Code of a Horror-Themed Escape Room
Escape rooms are popping up everywhere these days, and some of them have downright horrifying themes, perfect for Halloween. This one is a fab example (and note many of them require reservations, they’re so popular). Do you dare?
Since escape rooms are most likely closed in many places this year, bring the fun home with this at-home game.
12. Take in a Paranormal Ghost Tour
Most towns and cities across the world have at least one historical “ghost walk” or tour covering the alleged paranormal activity of the area — and many of these are NOT for the faint of heart. Maybe the real ghosts make a point of celebrating Halloween… you never know. Check this terrifying event happening at an old prison in Philadelphia and see if you or your teen have the cojones required to enter something like this.
So yeah, Halloween may be different with teens (and wayy different this year overall)— but trust me, it doesn’t have to be any less fun. Pinky swear.
For more teen-approved picks, check out our gallery of the coolest teen face masks below:
Launch Gallery: The Coolest Face Masks for Every Kind of Teen
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