Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year, and no, that doesn't mean I'm fascinated with the "dark side." Halloween is uniquely exciting because it's an invitation to flaunt creativity. My costumes are often made from forgotten items in my closet, but I enjoy the freedom to take on a different, outwardly ridiculous persona. As a fully adulting twenty-something-year-old, I am grateful that Halloween is celebrated by people of all ages. However, Halloween marketing sensationalizes death and murder, even in the "kid-friendly" section. With all the focus on vile villains and gore, it can seem like we're putting serial killers on a pedestal. So, is it possible to celebrate "spooky season" without giving your kids (or yourself) nightmares? Is there such a thing as a wholesome Halloween party?
If you're worried about sending the wrong message to your kids or feeding yourself negative thoughts, you might wonder if you should include any of the scary themes associated with Halloween. Keep in mind that this article's intent is not to evaluate Halloween's history or spiritual connotations but simply to share my personal perspective. Here's my take: There's nothing wrong with a little "Boo!" Ghosts, goblins, and thrills are distinct from truly dark imagery. Distinguishing between fiction and real evil is what makes the difference. For example, I have an appreciation for scary movies. I enjoy the suspense, but I feel uneasy when the depictions seem to give real power to something spiritually sinister. In those moments, it's important to ask: What's the point? Are these themes a healthy indulgence of imagination, or do they focus your mind on something destructive? For parents, you know your kids best and can decide when or if they should take on a haunted house or dress up as little monsters.
Sure, there are some people who use Halloween to focus on all things dark and twisted, but for the most part, our society has turned it into a launching pad for the holiday season. The end of October is when the charm of fall begins to mingle with the chilly nostalgia of winter. It's a time highlighted by colors, warm drinks, and, most importantly, fellowship. Carving jack-o-lanterns, designing costumes, and throwing zombie-themed parties are ways we bond with family, friends, and new people. That is my favorite thing about Halloween: it's an excuse to go out of the box and just have fun with the people around you. If you're concerned about the themes of Halloween, ask yourself, "How can I use this day for good?" Here are a few ideas for all ages to put a positive spin on Halloween: Parents of little ones: There are many reasons parents worry about taking their young children trick-or-treating, but there are safe ways your kiddos can enjoy the festivities without feeling left out. I still remember the first "Trunk or treat" I went to, where I recited Matthew 4:4 to about thirty people in exchange for candy. I’m pretty sure I had a bit of a superiority complex knowing I "earned" my goodies, unlike those scalawag "trick or treaters." Nowadays, many churches have more elaborate events, with games, pie eating, and costume contests. Your city will probably have a local festival or mall where kids can trick or treat from reputable givers. And if you don't want to take your super-littles out, you can always stay home with a movie and play dress up. There's nothing cuter than a baby dressed as a pumpkin, watching Charlie Brown. Parents of teens: This is where things get tricky. Many family-friendly activities don't provide much entertainment to teenagers, who likely want to go galavanting with their friends. If you don't want your teen roaming the streets, check out if your local church has a Halloween youth group event. Alternatively, you can invite them to throw a Halloween party at home. If you give them the task of planning all the snacks, activities, and decorations, you can still set boundaries without it feeling like a parent-hosted event. Another fun idea is a costume photo shoot. If you want to participate, you can offer to be the photographer and help your teen and their friends put together cool DIY backgrounds. Adults: You don't have to attend a costume contest at a bar to have fun as an adult. For the last several years, my Halloween plans were not eventful, but memories were made. There's something about comically failed makeup and cold hands clinging to a Dutch Bros cup that leaves an imprint forever. So, I encourage you to embrace the adventure of Halloween in some form. Whether you go to a haunted house, attend a singles party, paint your friends’ faces, go out for dinner in costume, or snuggle to scary movies with your spouse, it's an opportunity to do something different and spend quality time. Even if you just want to hand out candy to the kids in your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to make things festive and goofy, no matter how old you are. It’s not something we get to do every day.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.