The Big Ass List of Family Traditions, Fall and Halloween Edition

Halloween Family Traditions

If there’s one piece of advice I’d offer new fathers, it’s to really embrace the family activity. Traditions and rituals are shown to strengthen family bonds, provide children with comfort and security, and are often the source of the longest lasting childhood memories. Not to mention, you might kill each other if you just sit inside all day.

The good news is fall is the perfect time for family bonding. The weather is beautiful, and every hobby farm in the county is running its version of the autumn/Halloween family blowout. But should you need further incentive to get out and enjoy the season, here now, in descending order for dramatic effect, is the big ass list of family traditions, fall and Halloween edition.

30. Rake a Leaf Pile

The best way to dupe the kids into a morning of doing yard work is with the promise of an afternoon spent jumping into a pile of leaves.

29. Wear a Costume

I haven’t dressed up in 7 years, and you know what? I miss it. When I take my daughter out trick-or-treating this year, I will be in costume. That seems like a solid ‘cool dad’ move.

28. Go to a Pumpkin Patch

Family Traditions

27. Carve Pumpkins

Family Traditions

26. Don’t Carve Pumpkins

I am an awful artist, and trying to detail a pumpkin using a childproof carving knife is likely to test my patience. If you, too, aren’t much for pumpkin carving, here are a few pumpkin decorating alternatives.

25. Bake Halloween Themed Treats

If there’s one thing Halloween needs, it’s more sweets. Here’s a list of some Halloween themed snack ideas.

24. Watch a Scary Movie

I still can’t walk into an unlit room without imagining the girl from The Ring crawling out from a darkened corner. Therefore, I no longer watch scary movies. But in the spirit of the holiday, here are a few terrifying previews I’ve seen…for a few seconds…before scrambling for the remote and promptly turning the channel.

The Babadook

Goodnight Mommy


The Conjuring

23. Watch a Scary Movie

Here is a much better list:



It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown


The Nightmare Before Christmas




Hocus Pocus


Where does Hocus Pocus rank on the list of greatest holiday movies of all time? Top 10? Top 5? Higher?

22. Build Your Own Haunted House

When I was a kid, my aunt threw Halloween parties and turned her garage into a DIY haunted house. That was a strong Halloween effort.

21. Visit a Haunted House

A few years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) and I attended a ‘haunted basement’ with another couple. It was one of these new age, next level attractions designed for MAXIMUM TERROR.

They forced you to sign a waiver and gave you a safe word that would stop the show in the event that you were about to lose your mind or had shit yourself and were in need of a quick exit through the back door.

This was the last place I wanted to spend my Saturday night, but I manned up and took solace in knowing that the four of us would be together so, really, how scary could it be?

The first thing they did was split us up. Then, alone and afraid, I was ambushed by a zombie-nurse with body odor, strapped to an antique wheelchair, and pushed through some mock insane asylum while she called me ‘crazy fucker’.

It was then when I realized that the type of people who VOLUNTEER to touch strangers in a secluded room of a dark basement are the last type of people I want touching me in a secluded room of a dark basement.

Anyway, I’d stick to the basic, hands-off spookhouse.

20. Walk Through a Corn Maze

Family Traditions

19. Visit an Apple Orchard

Wanna know the best kind of apple orchard? One that doubles as a winery. Two weeks ago, I took the day off, packed up my wife and daughter, and we headed to an apple orchard and winery. The girl ate apples and played at the petting zoo, and my wife and I slugged wine. Perfect family outing.

18. Read Spooky Picture Books

Here are the top 3 from Amazon’s list of bestselling children’s Halloween books:

Little Blue Truck’s Halloween

family traditions

Room on the Broom

family traditions

The Spooky Wheels on the Bus

family traditions

17. Trick-or-Treat

I am pumped to take the girl out trick-or-treating this year…and then to taste test the candy to make sure it’s safe.

16. Start a Candy Exchange

The girl has a peanut allergy, which means she can eat about 3% of her trick-or-treating haul and exactly none of the good stuff. I have long wondered how I’m going to make this up to her but have now found my solution: a candy exchange.

Used by parents of kids with diabetes — or just those who don’t want their kids eating 5 pounds of candy — a candy exchange allows the kid to select a few pieces to retain while the rest is set out overnight for some ghoulish version of the Tooth Fairy. The Candy Fairy then leaves a toy in exchange for the candy and whisks the goodies away to a far off destination like my closet, where I can snack on the loot in secrecy until Christmas. Magic!

15. Craft

Remember Blow Pop ghosts? You know, where you wrap a Kleenex around a Blow Pop and use a Sharpie to color ghost eyes and a mouth. That is a quality Halloween craft.

14. Go on a Hayride

13. Drink Hot Apple Cider

12. Light a Candle

Fall scented candles are the best scented candles. We’re about halfway through a ‘Pumpkin Butter’ WoodWick right now and omg does it smell good. I want to light it and drink it’s wax.

Also, scent, more than any other sense, can trigger positive emotions and memories. So using a similarly scented candle every fall can activate Halloween happiness from years past.

11. Play Halloween Music

10. Take a Hike

Family Traditions

9. Decorate

My neighbor across the street rocks an immaculate Halloween display. But this year I’m going to outdo him. Poor guy has no idea he’s about to get his ass whooped in a competition he doesn’t even know he has entered.

8. Eat Caramel Apples

Family Traditions

7. Roast Pumpkin Seeds

6. Build a Bonfire

5. Tell Scary Stories


4. Bake Apple Crisp

Below is my mom’s apple crisp recipe. This is my absolute favorite fall dessert, likely because it contains 200 calories per square inch.


  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 5 apples
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Peel and core 5 apples. Then slice.
  2. In a Ziplock bag, mix sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Add the apples to the bag, shaking to coat. Set the bag aside
  4. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and gently mix with a fork.
  5. Add the brown sugar and oatmeal to the mixing bowl. Mix gently.
  6. Add the shortening to the mixing bowl.
  7. Using a pastry cutter, cut ingredients. The final mixture will be grainy.
  8. Spray a 9×13 baking pan.
  9. Add half the mixing bowl mixture to the pan. Pat lightly.
  10. Add the coated apple slices to the pan.
  11. Cut the butter into chunks. Place on top of the apples.
  12. Add the remaining mixture to the pan.
  13. Bake at 350°F for 45 min. – 1 hour.
  14. Serve warm and top with ice cream.

3. Play Backyard Football

2. Watch Football

This Sunday I’m gonna make some apps, drink beer, dress the girl in her Vikings jersey, and as a family, we’re gonna watch the Vikings march toward Super Bowl 51. Also, I’m going to count this as a family tradition.

1. Take Pictures

I swear every year passes faster than the last. Last Halloween seems like it was only months ago. The only thing that has really changed is the girl. Last October she was a baby. Now she’s not. Next year she’ll be a mini human. The one thing I don’t want is to forget any of this. And with my trusty dad camera hanging from my neck, I won’t.


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