Retro Halloween Fun With the Grandkids

A Traditional Celebration Can Be Spooktacular

Halloween is now the second most popular holiday in the United States, which means that it is usually celebrated in a big way. The grandchildren will enjoy kicking it down a notch with these retro Halloween activities that allow their creative spirits free rein. And if the projects don't come out quite right or if a big mess results, guess what? We're grandparents. We don't care!

  • 01 of 07

    Bobbing for Apples

    Boy and girl apple bobbing, a retro Halloween activity.
    The grandkids will enjoy bobbing for apples, a retro Halloween game. Image Source / Getty Images

    The most traditional of Halloween games is still fun for kids today. Fill a tub with water and float some apples in it. The smaller apples are easier to capture and also cheaper. Have the grandkids kneel in front of the tub with their hands behind their backs and try to capture an apple. Players inevitably end up with wet hair and often with wet clothes, so be prepared. To reduce the transfer of germs, float only one apple at a time. A less germy version involves hanging apples from strings.

  • 02 of 07

    Haunted House

    Grandchildren will enjoy being part of a haunted house for Halloween.
    Participating in a haunted house activity may be less scary for grandchildren than being one of the visitors. i love images / Getty Images

    Haunted houses are immensely popular today, but many are too intense for younger kids. Make a tamer version in your house or garage. Create a maze by moving the furniture around. Drape sheets, blankets or cut-up trash bags over the furniture to create tunnels that must be crawled through. At intervals, place a creepy prop, such as a bowl of "eyeball" grapes or severed hand created from a rubber glove. Light the area with electronic candles that flicker, and fire up the spooky music. Turn off the lights and take the grandkids on a spooky tour. A grandchild who is a little hesitant to tour the haunted house may be perfectly fine with being a tour guide.

  • 03 of 07

    Handmade Decorations

    Halloween decorations
    The grandkids will enjoy helping to make homemade decorations for Halloween.

    CaesaR BH / Getty Images

    Sure, the stores are full of over-the-top Halloween decorations, but the grandkids will enjoy making their own. If they don't look quite as good as the store-bought kind, that's okay. A homemade scarecrow can serve for Halloween and Thanksgiving both. The youngest kids can color printable Halloween pages which can be taped to windows. Older kids can cut out bats and black cats from black construction paper. Suspend the bats from string and put the black cat silhouettes in windows or along baseboards. Buy a package of spider web decoration and let the kids make their own spiders from black pipe cleaners.

  • 04 of 07

    Traditional Treats

    Girl with caramel apple
    The grandchildren will love retro treats like caramel apples. Will Patton | Photodisc | Getty Images

    Remember those houses in your neighborhood where popcorn balls or caramel apples were handed out for trick-or-treat? Those neighbors were the most popular people in the community, for a few hours at least. Opt for classic popcorn balls, or use candy corn to add eye appeal. Kick traditional caramel apples up a notch by coating with chopped nuts or sprinkles.  

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Homemade Costumes

    Boys in skeleton and pirate costumes holding jack o'lantern
    Homemade costumes are fun at Halloween and all year round. KidStock / Getty Images

    Halloween costumes are a big thing for most families today. Most children know what they are going to wear on Halloween long before the actual date. That doesn't keep you from having some dress-up fun with your grandchildren. These eight easy-to-improvise retro costumes can be used for playtime before and after Halloween. If you have older grandchildren, challenge them to improvise a costume using miscellaneous clothing and craft supplies. A grandparents' house is a natural place for outgrown Halloween costumes to end up. They can be added to a dress-up box for younger grandchildren.

  • 06 of 07

    Trick or Treating

    Kids trick or treating
    The most retro Halloween activity of all is trick-or-treating. Agnieszka Kirinicjanow / Getty Images

    Going house-to-house for treats was out of favor for a while but is regaining popularity in some areas and neighborhoods. Children will be safer with extra adults along, and grandparents can serve that function admirably. Grandparents who live in a neighborhood with a lot of trick-or-treaters may enjoy setting up a station on the front porch or driveway where they can observe all the action and won't have to constantly run to the door. A comfy chair and a caldron of treats will do the trick, although it's always fun for grandparents to put on costumes, too. 

  • 07 of 07

    Pumpkin Carving

    Grandfather and grandson carving a pumpkin
    An activity that's deliciously messy, pumpkin carving can be fun for grandparents and grandkids. Blend Images - KidStock / Getty Images

    Carving a pumpkin for Halloween has never really gone out of style, but it is endlessly fascinating to kids. Like visiting Santa Claus, carving the Halloween pumpkin is one of those activities that parents can claim as their own if they like. Plenty of parents, however, may be happy to pass off pumpkin duty to the grandparents. For younger grandchildren, let them draw their design on paper or on the pumpkin itself, while you do the knife work.