Halloween is one of most kids’ favorite holidays. They get to dress up like their favorite cartoon characters and get tons of free candy from neighbors. What’s not to like? Somewhere around age 13, however, Halloween often loses its appeal for kids. They’re too old to go trick-or-treating, and dressing up may seem pointless or even childish to them. So, how can parents make this fall holiday a little more fun for teens who are still a little bit receptive to parental involvement? I asked my own 15-year old how she would like to spend Halloween night with her friends, and together, we came up with several ideas and activities guaranteed to appeal to the adolescent crowd.
### Pumpkin Carving Contest
Most teens love a little friendly competition with their peers. This Halloween, why not host a pumpkin carving contest for a small group of your child’s friends? To prepare, start with offering an assortment of pumpkin carving templates for the kids to choose from. There are lots of free stencils available for download online, and of course, creative types may want to make their own designs. Next, be sure each guest has their own carving tools. You can purchase carving kits for about $4 each, and you’ll probably want to do that because well, a bunch of teens walking over to your house on Halloween with the sharpest knives from their kitchens not be such a great idea! Then, just sit back with a cup of apple cider and watch them create their masterpieces (or join in the fun yourself!)
If you’re super ambitious, you can gather the pumpkin seeds and roast them up for a tasty snack to serve your guests after the pumpkins have been judged. You may also consider offering teen-friendly prizes for the winners. Depending on your budget for the event, these could include fun bookmarks, quirky magnets, or even iTunes gift cards. Your teen will likely know better than you what kinds of things his friends like, though, so use him as a resource when shopping! Keep in mind that your guests will likely want to take selfies with their pumpkins too, so be sure to save time for a photo-session before the party’s over! Teens may also get a thrill out of smashing their pumpkins—after Instagramming their Jack O’ Lanterns of course.
Approximate cost: $9 per guest plus optional prizes
### Halloween Treat Bags
Though they’re too old for trick-or-treating, teens still want to enjoy the night’s festivities. Ask your child if she would like to invite some friends over to prepare treat bags for the little ones who will be showing up at your door on Halloween night. Consider taking the group shopping to pick out cute treat bags as well as their favorite tricks and treats to fill the bags with. Be sure to get enough candy that your guests can enjoy some themselves! Then, help them lay out the loot and set up an assembly line for preparing their treat bags. Encourage them to personalize their bags with fun quotes or illustrations, and invite the kids to hang around to hand out the goodies themselves when the trick-or-treating begins. If your teen is up for it, make it a costume party, and let them show off their Halloween garb to the night’s little visitors.
Approximate cost: $1 per treat bag plus optional costume
### Scary Movie Marathon
When kids get older, they can begin enjoying more grown-up Halloween activities such as the age-old scary movie marathon. If your teen is game, allow him to invite a few friends over for movie night, but be sure to help him select age-appropriate titles. According to Common Sense Media, most kids 16 and over can handle R-rated movies, but you’ll want to avoid slasher movies and any others that feature blood and gore as well as those involving a lot of sexuality. For younger teens, you’ll want to stick with PG or PG-13 films. Of course, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to contact the other parents beforehand to be sure they approve. Our recommendations? Poltergeist for younger teens and Paranormal Activity for an older crowd.
Once you’ve chosen the night’s feature films, be sure to stock up on plenty of popcorn and other goodies. What’s a movie night without snacks, right? We personally prefer candy corn in our popcorn, but it may not be for everyone! Of course, with teens, you can never go wrong with pizza. Just be sure to order twice as many as you think they’ll eat!
Approximate Cost: $2 per guest plus optional pizza delivery
### Host a Zombie Party
Is your teen into zombies like the rest of the world seems to be? If so, then the perfect Halloween event might be hosting a zombie party for him and his friends. Start by decorating your yard with tombstones to make it look like a cemetery. If you want to go all out, you can toss a bunch of fake body parts around the yard and use a fog machine to set the atmosphere. Invite your guests to dress up as zombies and role play their very own zombie apocalypse. Anyone who shows up without a costume is fodder for the undead! There are plenty of great zombie recipes available online, so you can easily whip up some disgustingly tasty brain cupcakes or puff-pastry intestines for your guests. Add a zombie mystery game and end the night with a viewing of Warm Bodies, and your teen is guaranteed to be properly spooked.
Approximate cost: $20 plus optional fog machine and mystery game
There are tons of ways to keep teens entertained on Halloween. The most important thing to keep in mind is that most adolescents are extremely social and just want to hang out with their friends. Halloween provides a perfect excuse to do just that. Even if you don’t decide to plan a full-on party, allowing your teen to have some friends over and providing snacks will score you huge cool points with your kid.
How will your teen be celebrating Halloween?