Coming up with new Halloween tricks can be a monstrous challenge. But don't be scared. These inspired traditions are guaranteed to get you in the spirit of the holiday.
SCAVENGER HUNT: Amy Kallelis and her daughters, Paige and Olivia, ages 6 and 3, regularly enjoy going for walks together in their Doylestown, Pennsylvania, neighborhood. The appeal is even greater come October, when they turn the outing into a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. In preparation, Amy creates a list of several items that they might see -- a pumpkin, witch, skeleton, and scarecrow, for instance -- and then illustrates them with sketches so little Olivia can identify them too.
SWEET BUSTERS: Ask any trick-or-treater how he measures a successful night of candy collecting, and he's bound to say the more, the better. Not a sentiment shared by parents, who view the loot as a mountain of sugar. The Barr family of Dayton, Ohio, traditionally offers up excess treats to the Great Pumpkin. After trick-or-treating, Clay, Gracie, and Caden (ages 10, 8, and 6) come home with about 10 pounds of candy, says their mother, Mary. That night they eat their fill and then pack a small sandwich bag with their favorite sweets. The rest of the candy goes into a container in front of the fireplace. While the kids sleep, the Great Pumpkin takes the loot to a local food bank and leaves a small toy for each child. One year, appropriately, the Great Pumpkin left electric toothbrushes. To keep her 4-year-old son, Asa, from eating too much candy, Heidi Kuharich of West Chicago, Illinois, decided to call in the Sugar Witch. Think of a Tooth Fairy who collects candy instead of teeth. Sometime after Halloween, the witch calls the Kuharich house when she knows no one is home and leaves a message for Asa asking him to leave a bag of candy on the front step. In exchange, she leaves him a little token, usually a toy car, and a thank-you note.
HALLOWEEN HIDE & SEEK: The Mergener-Gingerichs live in rural Paw Paw, Michigan, where homes are far apart and trick-or-treating can be an exhausting, if not impossible task. So for the past seven years, the family has hosted a Halloween party that starts with games and crafts and culminates with a much-anticipated combo hide-and-seek, treat-or-treat game. While Josie, Amelia, Robin, and Madeline (ages 14, 12, 10, and 9) and their friends are indoors making their loot bags, the parents, armed with treats to dole out, sneak into the large yard and hide. Dawn Mergener has the kids count to 50 and then go in search of the parents. The kids stick together during the hunt, yelling "trick or treat!" and collecting goodies each time they find a parent. "The party is a lot of fun and a great way to see friends," says Dawn.