This will be a project in progress and I will be adding new things along the way.
These are the ideas for Halloween that I’ve collected over the years… I am still collecting them.
When I was a kid in the 50’s, Halloween wasn’t just a day, it was an event. First there was a costume parade at school along with a party in our classroom, and then a school carnival (at least at my elementary school), and then coming home and waiting until it finally got dark and headed out with that pillowcase to trick or treat up and down three streets from 65th to 55th… getting full size Hershey bars, popcorn balls, caramel apples, none of this fun-size crap. Sometimes we trick or treated for Unicef. One year, my friend had a party in her garage after trick or treating… we did all of the usual including bobbing for apples and the hanging donut game.
These days, Halloween is even more than just one event. There are dozens of things you can do to celebrate Halloween so it makes sense to devote the entire month of October to celebrating this fun and special holiday
Hang a Halloween Advent Calendar (make sure buy this early in September) but one like this one:
Start reading one Halloween book now.. if you can read a book a week, you can get through 4 of them before the witching hour. (I’m reading Wizard of Oz and Wicked)
Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic
Wicked and Son of Witch
Wizard of Oz
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
Queen of the Damned
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (first in the series)
Blood Lust (there are a lot of books with this title mostly dealing with vampires, lust and blood)
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
The Shining by Stephen King
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven LaChance
The Haunting of Hill House
The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman
This year (and possibly next) be prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus Covid 19 by getting some Halloween themed face masks. This is my latest:
Inside decorations can be as easy or as detailed as you want. They range from cute to glam to scary.
Orange and white pumpkins and red, green and yellow apples in wooden or glass bowls or a cauldron of apples
A candy dish of candy corn, chains made of black and white beads or paper loops and Halloween lights in orange, green and purple.
Lots of black, white, orange, purple, green, and gold candles to brighten up dark days and evenings
Decorate you couch, chairs, bed, floor with lots of fun Halloween theme pillows.
Put up a Halloween Tree:
Make a Halloween tree; paint branches black and gather into a vase with black stones for anchors. Or use a second hand Christmas tree and spray paint it black. Add orange and purple Halloween lights, drape with dried moss, and thin black ribbons. Add black, orange, silver, and purple ornaments (many of those could be handmade), top with a black witches hat.
Greet guests with a lineup of these lighted hosts on your stoop or porch. Light with candles, battery-operated candles, electric Christmas lights.
Or use a drill and hot knife like on this one (who doesn’t like Tinkerbell?)
Or fill with dry ice like this one.
Or “carve” artificial foam pumpkins as jack-o’-lanterns or dioramas.
Or paint pumpkins if you don’t want to carve one. Or decorate a glam pumpkin with lots of bling. Some ideas here: https://www.bhg.com/halloween/pumpkin-decorating/easy-no-carve-halloween-pumpkins/
Please consider taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Not all kids can or should eat candy. FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) promotes the Teal Pumpkin Project. If you put out a teal pumpkin on your front porch, trick or treaters than know there are non-food treats for them to take. For more information please visit this sitehttps://www.foodallergy.org/our-initiatives/awareness-campaigns/living-teal/teal-pumpkin-project
Make a big pot of soup; my favorites are French onion, broccoli cheese, Hot and Sour, Tomato Bisque, Creamy Cream of Mushroom.
Make foods of fall; beef stew with thick gravy, apple crisp with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sauce, pumpkin pie with whipped cream…. macaroni and cheese (it’s orange!)
Prepare an Halloween dinner of spaghetti or macaroni and cheese, deviled egg eyeballs, raw carrot ‘fingers’, and spider bread
And how about Crescent Mummy Dogs? They would go great with either spaghetti or mac and cheese or both!!
Halloween Spider Bread Basically, I make bread dough in my bread machine and then shape it in the shape of a spider, with foil balls under each leg and bake.. Great right out of the oven with butter… we all use to fight over the legs…
See another idea using frozen bread dough (which is what I’d use now):
Make homemade applesauce, apple dumplings, apple turnovers..
Make popcorn balls
Make caramel apples
Bake pumpkin bread
Bake sugar cookies and cut out with Autumn-shaped and/or Halloween cookie cutters. Frost with chocolate, maple, and orange flavored frostings and vanilla frosting colored purple.
Decorate cookies or cupcakes icing spiderwebs, candy corn graveyards, and marshmallow ghosts.
Bake a Halloween cake. There are so many fantastic designs to choose from.
Put together a Halloween meat and cheese charcuterie board.
Put together a candy board based on charcuterie boards.
Shrunken Heads in Cider
2 cups lemon juice
2 tablespoons coarse salt
8 large Granny Smith apples
32 whole cloves
2 gallons apple cider
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 cups spiced rum (optional)
1.Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together lemon juice and salt; set aside.
2.Peel apples and cut each in half through the stem; remove seeds and core. Using a sharp paring knife, carve a face, as desired, on the rounded side of each apple half. Place apples in lemon mixture for one minute; transfer to paper towels to drain.
3.Place apples, face-side up on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Let bake until apples are dry and begin to brown around the edges, about 90 minutes. Remove apples from baking sheets and press cloves into the “eye” sockets.
4.Combine cider, lemonade, and rum (if using) in a large punchbowl; float shrunken heads on top.
Bloody Mary Syringes
2 c. tomato juice
8 oz. vodka
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. horseradish
2 tsp. hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire, horseradish, hot sauce, lemon juice, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Fill syringes with mixture and chill. Serve cold.
Make a batch of popcorn, some Halloween candy, and hot spiced cider and watch Halloween movies, and don’t forget a piece of pumpkin pie, and here are some movie suggestions: https://moondancepages.com/halloween-movies/ My personal favorite is Hocus Pocus with Practical Magic being a closed second.
Watch Practical Magic, which was filmed on Whidbey Island in Washington state. I also recommend reading the book too and the prequel “The Rules of Magic” both by Alice Hoffman, that helps tell where Gillian and Sally come from as well as the aunts.
And then make midnight margaritas. While dancing to put the lime in the coconut and then listening to Stevie Nick’s singing “Crystal” and Faith Hill’s “This Kiss”
Donate blood …. Funny story about this idea. One Halloween when I was in the hospital and had to have my blood drawn every day, the tech came in dressed as Dracula.
Finish any incomplete projects and pay off lingering bills (if possible) to close out the old year and begin the new year afresh.
Go for a walk and collect twigs, leaves, pinecones, moss, seedpods, and feathers.
Make your own broom (but I can’t promise you will be able fly on it):
Leave food out for the birds and other wild animals.
Put up bat houses like this one from
Make a Scarecrow
Tell ancestral stories and tales at the dinner table.
Play a Halloween version of Monopoly:
Have a mask-making ceremony in which you create masks to represent your ancestry.
Rake some leaves and jump in the leaves (especially fun if there is a child around to do this with you)
Make a quilt, crochet an afghan or braid a rug using Halloween colors of black, white, orange, purple and green
Visit cemeteries to do a clean up project, visit ancestors, or just immerse yourself in the history. We visit Courtney, but you can visit parents, siblings, other children, friends. Take stalks of rosemary for remembrance and also leave pennies or shells. Bake rosemary remembrance cookies and take with you and a thermos of hot mulled wine and toast to your departed family members.
Read the Wizard of Oz books and Wicked and Son of Witch (with the wicked witch of the west, Elphaba and the good witch Glinda) and then watch the movie the Wizard of Oz.
Plan a Samhain Ritual. You can do this on your own just for yourself, plan a group ritual, do a virtual ritual online. There are lots of ideas on how to do this online, just google “Samhain Ritual”.
Here are a few to get you started: https://www.gaia.com/article/modern-paganism-13-rituals-celebrate-samhain, https://www.learnreligions.com/samhain-rituals-and-ceremonies-2562728, https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/samhain-2016-traditions_n_5813717be4b064e1b4b1eff6, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/samhain-pagan-rituals, https://www.inkedgoddesscreations.com/blogs/the-inked-grimoire/samhain-ritual-for-the-beginner-witch, https://lonerwolf.com/halloween-samhain-rituals/, https://matadornetwork.com/read/celebrate-wiccan-samhain-instead-halloween-year/
Decorate the outside of your house with Halloween lights, lighted pumpkins, luminarias;
You could go as far as this house that uses Lightorama to sync up lights and music for an amazing show. http://www1.lightorama.com/halloween-videos/
Or you could just go for a simple front yard haunt like this one:
Go for a drive strictly for the purpose of foliage gazing
Have a wine tasting party
Learn to weave (think of grandmother spider)
Make a lighted spider web yard decoration (I did this one year, and loved it)..this year you could put an replica of Mike Pence as the fly.
Plant trees (Japanese maple is a great Autumn tree) and flower bulbs
Read MacBeth about the Weird Sisters Witches
“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”
Select a sexy costume from Pyramid. Or from Amazon, or Grandin Road.
Or, of course as a witch, or vampire, all of these could easily be do it yourself. The vampire could be a long black dress of any kind with a long flowing red velvet hooded cloak (check both Amazon and Pyramid) and this fabulous choker (this one is from Pyramid, but it would be easy to make. This beautiful red and black wig and then of course, fangs https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TB482PZ and vampire makeup (see below). The witch dress is just a black top with a skirt made of layers of tulle. ( Roughly 25 yards of black tulle, cut into 80″ strips. Take an elastic band wide enough to go around your waist. Tie a lark’s head knot around the elastic with the tulle.
The witch hat is a felt or cardboard rim with a pointed crochet top. The other one is all made of felt and then decorated.
Other costume ideas are some that I created on Polyvore, plus a few other random ideas.
Samhain is the best time for divination; do a tarot reading, rune reading, use the pendulum, scrying, palm reading, tea reading, ouija board.
I just need to say a few words about divination. People have told me that the devil resided in tarot cards. That crystals turned girls into witches. And that demons lived in Ouija boards and that demons will possess them. This is all ridiculous. Ouija boards and tarot cards are all pieces of cardboard. They only have the power you give it. If you believe they are evil, that’s what you will find. Please read this article: https://www.vox.com/2016/10/29/13301590/how-ouija-boards-work-debunked-ideomotor-effect
My grandmother used to read tea leaves, I’ve done palm reading. I’ve done mirror scrying and crystal ball scrying. I have runes, an ouija board, several pendulums, and a dozen different tarot decks and a huge collection of crystals. None of these things tell the future (I wish they did), they help you understand yourself and your options. I am not evil, despite the Trump supporters who say otherwise. I am a normal, well-read, long studied grandma type who cares about others. I’m not afraid of cardboard and rocks that are taken out of the earth. I’m more afraid of people who walk around Walmart with guns. Which is why I don’t go to Walmart.
Don’t be swayed by superstition. Educate yourself.
Make Soul Cakes
At one time soul cakes were given to peasants as they went door to door begging. This was the beginning of trick or treating.
The idea was that the “treat” was given to the beggar so that they would not play a trick or prank or worse, curse the homeowner. After receiving the cake, the beggars would say a prayer of thanks for the homeowner.
Two sticks butter
3 and 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 cup fine sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. each, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice
2 tsp. cider vinegar
4-6 Tbsp milk
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or a large fork. Blend in the sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and allspice; beat eggs, vinegar, and milk together. Mix with the flour mixture until a stiff dough is formed. Knead thoroughly and roll out, 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch rounds and place on greased baking sheets. Prick several times with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar while still warm.
Host a Dumb Supper
One of the most fascinating Samhain events that I’ve ever attended was a Dump Supper. A Dump Supper is traditionally held on October 31st or just before Samhain, pronounced Sow-Een (Halloween), when it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world is the thinnest and easiest for spirits to visit.
There were 12 of us seated around a table decorated all black. The hostess used disposable black plastic dishes and utensils on a black tablecloth and cloth napkins and lots of black candles scatted across the long table. The meal was a potluck and we had quite a feast… ham, roast chicken, baked potatoes, pumpkin bisque, salmon lasagna, Colcannon, roasted root vegetables, rye bread, apple bread, hot mulled wine and I brought a green salad with mandarin oranges and candied pecans. We also had pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
There was an empty chair and table setting at each corner of the long table for what spirits wished to join us.
You can set a place at the table for each guest, and reserve the head of the table for the place of the Spirits. Although it’s nice to have a place setting for each individual you wish to honor, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Instead, use a tealight candle at the Spirit setting to represent each of the deceased. Shroud the Spirit chair in black or white cloth.
We served a plate of food to the spirits as they were the guest of honor. They we each circled the serving table and quietly dished up our own plates, and went back to our seats to eat in silence. This was quite an experience. It’s pretty unique to be at a dinner table with other people and not say a word.
The entire meal was eaten in silence, hence the name, “dumb”, to make the spirits feel calm and welcomed. It was amazing.
I was thinking of what I’d serve at my own Dump Supper… my maternal grandmother’s fried chicken, my paternal grandmother’s apple crisp, my mother’s carrot bundt cake, my daughter’s Swedish meatballs, my own baked macaroni and cheese, along with broccoli salad, an trio assortment of soups (tomato bisque, broccoli cheese and French onion), deviled eggs, rolls or homemade bread, honey mead, various teas. Yeah, that sounds good.
Read more about my post about Dumb Suppers https://moondancepages168591818.com/2020/10/14/samhain-dumb-supper/
To be continue. Stay tuned for more ideas to come.