Halloween, for most kids, is all about trick-or-treating, but once they hit the teen years it's a little embarrassing for them to continue begging for candy. Most teens, in fact, prefer the darker side of the holiday, with ghouls and ghosts and spine-tingling scares. Help your teen get into the Halloween spirit by planning some super-spooky fun.
Many communities offer haunted houses designed to scare youngsters, but the larger haunted attractions might only be appropriate for thrill-seeking teens and adults. Terror Behind the Walls, which was chosen by the Travel Channel as one of America's scariest Halloween attractions, is one such venue. It is on the grounds of Philadelphia's old Eastern State Penitentiary, and the website claims that it is only appropriate for ages 12 and older except on special family nights. In fact, parents must sign a waiver for any kids younger than 18 years old. Another Travel Channel pick is the Pirates of Emerson haunted theme park in Fremont, California. It features eight haunted attractions including mazes, vortex tunnels and a pirate-infested shipwreck, and its website claims that most children who visit are so frightened they need to be escorted out. Hunt around in your area to find a super-scary haunted house that can give even your bravest teens a fright.
Creative teens might enjoy creating a haunted house of their own, or at least putting on a good show to scare the pants off any trick-or-treaters that visit your house. Home decorating guru Martha Stewart suggests decorating the yard with cut-out tombstones, which can be made from cardboard or polystyrene insulation, complete with mounded dirt to look like freshly dig graves. They can also add plenty of artificial cobwebs around the door entrance, and make ghosts using tattered cloth draped over jack-o-lantern heads. If your teens are good with electronics, "Popular Mechanics" magazine recommends adding special effects including remotely operated lights, sound effects and fog. Theatrically inclined teens might enjoy dressing up in scary costumes and popping out to surprise trick-or-treaters, but warn them that this is inappropriate for very young or timid children.
Host a Halloween party for your teens and their friends by supplying plenty of seasonal treats such as apple cider, doughnuts, pumpkin bread and cupcakes or cookies with black and orange frosting. For party entertainment you can rent horror movies such as "Night of the Living Dead," "Salem's Lot" and "Halloween," all of which are featured on Boston.com's top 50 list of scariest movies. Another suggestion would be to have a scavenger hunt for Halloween novelties such as plastic rats and spiders, which can be even spookier if you hold it in a dark house with only flashlights to help them find their way around.
If the weather is not too cold where you live, your teens and their friends might enjoy a Halloween campout. They can roast hotdogs or marshmallows over a fire and drink hot chocolate as they look up into the dark, spooky Halloween sky. And of course, what campout would be complete without plenty of ghost stories? If your kids don't think they know enough stories, they can brush up ahead of time on websites such as American Folklore with its spooky campfire series or on the Ultimate Camp Resource, which also has links to scary campfire stories. Ghost story apps are available for your teen's smartphone, including “Coleman Campfire Tales” for the iPhone and “Scary Campfire Stories” for the Android.