Ghosts & Ghouls



“Mum, it’s not fair….ALL my friends are going to a Halloween fancy dress party…. They’re talking about it every day…. I feel so left out……”

When I had this conversation with my 12 year-old daughter it brought back bad memories of my own childhood experiences of Halloween.

I recall similar pleadings and crying over how unfair it was that I couldn’t go trick or treating—(the fact I lived in a village six miles from the nearest town didn’t seem to compute in my mind)!

Of course the whole trick or treat routine never seemed too big a deal while I was an Infant or Junior, but the moment I hit high school it became not just an issue, but a BIG issue.

I can distinctly remember mixing talcum powder and green food colouring in order to give me the complexion of a walking ghoul,  complete with outfit all in black and my hair back-combed and fully vertical, standing straight up with only hair spray and sheer determination. I remember screaming at my poor parents and walking wilfully down the lane in total darkness on my six-mile treck to town determined to finally experience HALLOWEEN!

My wilful confidence stood strong for a half-mile that night, until I began to feel uneasy and scared, especially sensing a car behind me that had been following me ever so slowly for far too long.

At the point when my legs felt as if they were about to buckle with exhaustion, my father drove up beside me and simply said, “Let’s go home, mum’s run a bath“….and so ended my first ever experience of Halloween.

As a Christian teenager I knew Halloween wasn’t acceptable, even ‘evil’, that you ran the risk of changing into something ghoulish should you ever have been naive enough to utter the unutterable “trick or treat”… but I never understood exactly why it was so forbidden.

Certainly we were fed stories about witches and the horrors they committed on Halloween, but all I saw were kids dressed up, munching copious amounts of sweets, and having what looked like a lot of fun in the process.

No child I knew seemed to have been scared by the experience, no home haunted and no parent branded a witch sympathiser. In fact, no-one and nothing took a battering except of course, the poor old sweet box.

Halloween as a child is very different, I have found out, to Halloween as an adult, and even more tricky as a parent.

My saying no to my daughter attending a Halloween party quickly turned me into history’s chief villain. Gone, as it seemed, were the memories of all the good parties she had been allowed to attend throughout the year, my boycott of Halloween quickly rendered me the universe’s supreme kill-joy, and the school’s most antiquated, Victorian parent! What ever happened to the good old days of Infants and Juniors, when an alternative light party sufficed? Now,they not only need more, but apparently they deserve more!


Faced with this dilemma, I do what I aways do in such circumstances, sorry, I don’t pray, I googled it.

Into the trusty search engine went the words; ‘What to do with teenagers on Halloween, christian.

As you can imagine I was met with a host of credible ideas as well as some pretty horrendous ones.

After bouncing a few around and chatting things over with my four children I arrived at what I felt was an outstanding compromise. I began, “We’ll dress up (in godly outfits) and give all the kids who knock on the door a big bag of sweets with a label attached that simply says, “no trick, just treats” with an appropriate bible verse. 

I sat back and waited for the applause and accolades, what I got instead was astonished silence. Far from thinking me the streets’coolest mum and the churches’ most contemporary woman, uncompromising on principles yet relevant and community impacting; I was quickly and unanimously branded “weird”!

They stared blankly, with an incredulous look that screamed “Are you for real?”

Eden, my eleven-year-old said,

“That sounds like taking part to me mum, but just rubbisher”.

Meka my eldest waded in, “Mum, no one is going to read the verse, they’re just going to tear open the bag and eat the sweets”.

My two boys, on the other hand, David and Bob,  seemed quite keen on the idea: well, on the bag of sweets bit at least.

If you’re a parent you’ve no doubt shared a knowing smile or two as you’ve read over the last few paragraphs, and no doubt have similar stories of your own. But,perhaps like me,neither do you want your children to be branded peculiar and odd, or find themselves cornered in a classroom being interrogated as to what they plan doing over Halloween.

As a way of meeting this challenge myself, and perhaps offering you some needful little tips, I have compiled a short list of twenty-five things you could do as an alternative to Halloween.  Feel free to adapt and developed any of them for your own children. I hope you’ll add your own or better still, get in touch with us at Activate and share some of your own “How I handle Halloween” stories.


1-family meal

2-movie night

3-invite a family over from church and have a meal together 

4-late night beach fire with lanterns

5-late night walk with friends

6-do a fancy dress party with children’s friends 

7- games night (board or computer) with treats

8-chocolate fondu evening 

9-a trilogy evening. Lord of the Rings or some Disney favourites. (We watched some episodes of the original Knight Rider with David Hasselhoff and had a great laugh in the process)

10- Do a themed evening dress-up, and so all the food in keeping with the theme (eg: Star Wars, Hobbit, Disney Pixar…etc) 

11- Create a spa, foot spa, face & hair pack evening. Get the cucumbers out and face cream etc…

12-Go indoor rock-climbing or indoor golf

13- Try a posh meal! So often we cook and tidy up for guests, but why not do a lovely meal, the best china and stem glasses etc….make a meal of it!

14- Have a bake-off night. Cookies, cakes, whatever.

15-Go late night swimming (some hotels sometimes let you use their facilities for a small fee)

16- Enjoy a take out & movie

17- Do a small treasure hunt around your area

18-Beg or borrow a pool table or table football and have a competition

19-Take a trip to the theater

20- Make something together (e.g. picture frame, birthday cards—or if your organised, start making your Christmas cards)

21- Lazer tag evening 

22-book a tennis/squash court

23- Have your very own XFactor Evening; take turns to be the judge and contestants

24- get on pintrest and get some amazing craft for teens ideas

25- Support a cause. ( make a missionary board or raise money for Compassion, Toybox or similar)

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