When I was a child, the anticipation of Halloween night was unbearable for me. I would sprint from the bus, shove some food down only because my mom insisted, and then spend what was left of daylight getting into a costume I had planned for months. Once darkness enveloped the neighborhood, we headed out in groups. By the time junior high school started, it was no longer cool to go door-to-door asking for candy. However, we didn’t want to give up the tradition of dressing up and venturing out on Halloween night, so we armed ourselves with shaving cream instead of candy bags, and searched for other teen groups to sneak up on. By high school, most of my friends were assigned to doorbell management. Sigh! I lucked out, however, because I still got to dress up and chaperone my little sister.
Forgive me for the pun, but I never got Halloween out of my blood. Today, I still dress up to answer the door, and I hold an annual haunted bash. Teens don’t have to give up the holiday either. There are plenty of ways teens can celebrate Halloween—without a can of Gillette!
Halloween is a great time to get teens into the spirit of giving to others. There are dozens of volunteer opportunities, and making the world a better place for others is always a satisfying endeavor.
Annie Fox, MEd, character educator, advisor to teens, and author of “Teaching Kids to Be Good People” says, “Teens are about finding their power to make a difference. Combining philanthropy with trick-or-treating is fun and altruistic. Trick-or treating for UNICEF is cool.”
Lynne Kenney, PsyD, a pediatric psychologist, author of “The Family Coach Method” co-author of “Bloom: Helping Children Blossom” explains, “Being a teen during Halloween is fabulous, and you don't have to miss out on the fun! The key is to get creative.”
Kenney suggests that teens give back to their local neighborhoods. “Many parents prefer being out in the neighborhood with their own children, so helping mind the door while families trick-or-treat is a helpful and practical neighborhood gift.” Kenney also suggests teens hold a lemonade stand for the younger trick-or-treaters.
Teens should also check with their school, city and church to see if they can lend a hand. Here is a quick list of ideas:
• Volunteer at a community haunted mansion or Halloween festival.
• Group idea: Create a neighborhood “haunted mansion.” Send fliers inviting the younger crowd. Charge a nominal fee and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity.
• Nonprofit blood drive: Volunteers can dress like Dracula and post an entrance sign which reads “I vant to draw your blood.”
• Art clubs and National Honor Society chapters: Members can create monster-themed t-shirt designs with catchy phrases such as, “It’s cool to be a ghoul.” Sell to classmates and donate proceeds toward an art scholarship for students in need.
• Some hospitals allow teens to hand out treats/small gifts to young patients who can’t celebrate the holiday due to illness. This is a great way to give back.
The School Connection
Even though showing off their costumes at the elementary Halloween parade is a distant memory, there are still plenty of opportunities for middle school and high school students to share their passion and excitement for the holiday at school. Here are some options:
• Bake Halloween treats for group fundraising events.
• Volunteer at an elementary school Halloween festival.
• Organize a “Monster Mash Bash” or “Deadly Dungeon Dance” to raise money for the senior class trip.
• Suggest a Halloween-themed concert to the music director. Musicians can dress the part. (Music selections: Phantom of the Opera, the Addams Family Theme, songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc.).
Get into Costume
Spread your love of the holiday by donning a costume for work. Many business owners allow their employees to dress for the occasion. Teens should always ask first, but the mood is often contagious and other employees might opt to dress in spooky garb as well.
Is your teen into theater? Perhaps he can direct a mini play for trick-or-treaters at your door. Teens love to put on skits with friends. Younger kids will get a kick out of it when they ring the bell.
There’s nothing like planning a Halloween bash to get into the spirit. It’s best for teens to plan a party on a weekend night when getting homework done isn’t an issue. A theme-within-a theme party is fun for the teen crowd, such as “Evil Roaring Twenties” or “Dead Rock Stars.”
Check out these links for some party inspiration:
San Diego Family Magazine’s Pinterest page
Creative snack and dessert ideas
General tips, decorations, etc.
“Teens can help the neighborhood kids trick or treat, hand out candy, or set up a fun haunted yard for the neighborhood to enjoy.” Jessica Dearden
“We set up a tarp with sides and made an awesome haunted house. My nephew dressed up as a zombie and jumped out of his chair when the kids got close to him. The kids had a great time and still talk about it!” Gloria Jean Lyons
“Teens help run the haunted house in our community. They have fun designing the house and running it on three weekends before Halloween each year.” Debbie St. Onge
Safety Tips for Licensed Teens
When driving to work or a party in costume, be sure to remove any type of head gear, long cape, shoe covering, or anything else that might interfere with your vision or ability to operate the vehicle.
Take it slow: Young trick-or-treaters will be out on roads and may not be equipped with sufficient gear to be easily seen.
Be extra cautious: Studies show that driving at night is more dangerous for teens, and Halloween night is also an evening where celebrations often include alcohol. Take particular care, and steer clear of erratic vehicles.
Abide by curfews.
Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer, columnist and author of “LIONS and TIGERS and TEENS: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you” (Unlimited Publishing LLC, 2012).
Published: October 2013