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How to have a Simple, Minimalist Halloween

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

Halloween is a fun and exciting time of year for children. Dressing up as something fun or spooky, going around gathering candy from neighbors and friends, playing games and tricks… What’s not to love?! Well, for parents, there can be a lot to not love. The sugar high, along with the accompanying sugar crash. The late night. The older kids and young adults who take it waaaaay too seriously and go overboard with being scary. The house filled with candy for weeks or even months afterwards. And the costumes. Halloween costumes are so expensive and elaborate these days! Either we’re dropping $20 to $50 dollars on a poorly made costume, or somehow, we’re spending months planning ahead painstakingly making the costumes by hand! If the kids don’t get an amazing costume, then they are disappointed and crying over it, and no parent wants to be the one who breaks their children’s hearts! I was born in the 80’s, and I remember Halloween from back then. Costumes were simple, and put together from materials we already had at home. Families got together most of the evening to hang out and play, then we went Trick-or-Treating for about 30 minutes once it started getting dark. Going into the 90’s things changed a bit. Stories of people sneaking poison into kids candy buckets started going around. One year, as my mom walked me from one house to the next, we passed by a tall man in a Grim Reaper costume. He didn’t try to greet my mom, and she’s certain we didn’t know him at all, but as he passed, he quickly reached and dropped candy into my bucket, before walking on and pretending like nothing had happened. That night we had to throw out my entire bucket of candy because we didn’t know what he had put into my bucket. That was the final straw for my mom, and she realized: She hated Halloween. We stopped celebrating it as a holiday, and replaced it with Harvest Festivals instead. There were plenty of parents around us who were having similar misgivings about the holiday – too much focus on being creepy and spooky, too much focus on the devil, too materialistic, too commercialized.

While sometimes we felt left out for not doing Halloween, for the most part I appreciate it now as a parent. Making a decision to simply not engage in a major social holiday is HARD, and not something parents do lightly. While I spent most of my life NOT doing Halloween, my husband grew up in a family that loved Halloween! As we’ve had kids, we’ve had to come to some compromises in how we do the holiday. I don’t mind if our kids dress up as characters from their favorite shows and books, but I am NOT comfortable with them dressing up in ways that glorify death, violence, or Satan. While I would prefer to skip traditions like Halloween (or teaching kids about Santa Claus, but that’s another post!), my husband has fond memories of dressing up and having fun together as a family. So, we compromise. As my kids get older – our oldest is 9 now – I feel a stronger pull to step away from the commercialized Halloween culture and create a simpler tradition for our family. One that focuses less on buying outlandishly priced seasonal materials that will end up in landfill, and focuses more on important things like spending time together as a family.

And thus was born my notion of creating a Simple Minimalist Halloween! By changing the focus from spending money that we can't spare on things we won't want or need long term to creating meaningful memories with our kids, I'm able to cut so many of the things that I don't like about Halloween and focus on our family (which is really the reason we celebrate holidays in the first place!)

Benefits of a Simple Minimalist Halloween: · Less Waste. Because we’re not spending our money buying things like poorly made costumes (at extravagant mark ups!) we are able to avoid wasting our money, and we reduce the demand for things that end up in a landfill. It’s just the eco-friendly option! · More Imaginative. When we make our costumes by hand, we’re able to see new uses for things that we might otherwise overlook. Kids are especially good at taking what we might see as garbage and turning it into something new! · More Family Oriented. When we move our focus from the commercialized caricature of Halloween that we see all around us today, we are able to turn it back to our families. We spend time together making costumes and treats. We throw a party for our family and friends. We make our decorations together. Instead of engaging in an elaborate commercial, we actually bond and build stronger relationships. · Creates Meaning. My children have Mexican ancestry from my husband’s side of the family, and we have Scottish ancestry from both sides! Our ancestry has beautiful cultural practices for Halloween, or as I sometimes like to remind my kids: All Hallows Eve. This holiday was originally designed to remember our forefathers and foremothers – those who have gone before us and made us who we are. In our Church we have a strong doctrine about the importance of our families and ancestors, and turning our focus to those who have gone before us feels like a better way to celebrate than simply spending money and gathering as much candy as we can. Tips to have a Simple Minimalist Halloween Involve your children in the process! If your family is accustomed to buying Halloween costumes every year, then get them involved in planning their own costumes and creating them! Kids have loads of fun creating things, and making their own Halloween costumes gives them something to be proud of. They learn skills like planning and execution, handwork skills, and they walk away from the experience knowing that they can do difficult things. Benefits that they wouldn’t necessarily get from picking up a costume from Walmart! Last Things to Know All in all, our Halloween traditions continue to evolve as our children get older. By keeping our emphasis on building stronger relationships with our families and friends we are able to avoid some of the commercial money traps that our modern society has fallen into. We’re able to strengthen our family bonds by making our costumes and decorations. We are also able to turn it into educational and learning experiences that benefit our children and give them the confidence to know that they can solve their own problems.

If you liked this article, and want to create some minimalist traditions for your own family, then check out our FREE printable here! We have some of our favorite activities to do through the month of October! (Yes, I know, the button says "Buy Now", but this product is totally FREE!)

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