Toddler-tastic ideas for a happy {not scary} Halloween

I love any excuse to be festive. Holidays, homecoming, birthdays, anniversaries, theme parties just for the heck of it…. I always have! However, I’m not a big fan of scary stuff…. I never have been! Which makes Halloween a bit of a challenge.

Just a taste of our pre-baby costumes. Always festive.
Just a taste of our pre-baby costumes. Always festive.

I just don’t do scary. I’m the one that can’t make it through the children’s haunted house, let alone the real one.  Literally, my sorority volunteered at a haunted house in college and they had to let me out a secret exit halfway through the kiddy house– there may have been tears… Let’s just say I hate being startled, I’m petrified of spiders, and spooky stuff (still) makes me have nightmares. It’s a little pathetic and I’m totally not ashamed to admit that. I just like holidays to be happy… but more important than me is the adorable little monster that rules our house these days! Our daughter, Skylar, is almost 15 months old, and this is the first holiday that I feel like she will really be able to actively participate in and enjoy. It’s a fun age because she is amazed by the simplest things, but she gets scared easily too!

With Halloween just around the corner I’ve been rounding up some fun, festive, and simple ideas to make this year extra festive. No age requirements, no warnings or disclaimers needed before entry, no spiders, no nightmares, just toddler-tastic stuff. Here’s what’s on my list…

Festive Food:halloween ideas

I’m always worrying about what my daughter is eating, and she always wants to be eating whatever everyone else is eating. So my goal is to make a few healthy snacks that everyone will enjoy so she feels included without grabbing for the candy!

Marker Magic:

Grab your sharpie and turn your string cheese into a ghost or your fruit cup into a smiling jack-o-lantern! Mandarin orange fruit cups are perfect for daycare or school parties because they are a nice break from candy but still individually packaged, they do not need to be refrigerated, you can get them packed in water or 100% fruit juice instead of syrup, plus the expiration date is visible which I appreciate as a parent. It’s a win!

Banana Ghosts:

Banana and chocolate chip ghosts are super tasty and adorable! Just peel the bananas and cut them in half. Place the cut side down so the banana halves stand up. Use small chocolate chips to make ghost eyes and large chocolate chips to make ghost mouths.

Tangerine Pumpkins

Tangerine Pumpkins:

Tangerines are awesome at Halloween time because the vibrant orange makes a great pumpkin stand-in. I like to peel them and then cut celery lengthwise into thirds and then across into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the celery pieces into the tops of the peeled tangerines to resemble pumpkins (see photo). Or if you’re in pinch, draw a quick jack-o-lantern face on the peel of the tangerine!

Mummy Dogs:

I also have my eye on these adorable Mummy Dogs, although my daughter is still too young to get what they are!

Activities & Crafts

Pumpkin Guts:

We have always carved pumpkins at our house. My husband used to think I was crazy for making him carve pumpkins before we had children, but I insisted that it’s a tradition we had to start! I’m excited to see what Skylar thinks of it this year, but I already know that she’ll hate the slimy-sticky “guts”… the kid screamed when she got frosting on her hands during her birthday party. Messy just isn’t her thing, I guess. I’m planning to scoop the pumpkin “guts” into a Ziploc bag (reinforced with tape along the top) so she can squish and play without getting too messy.

Traditions start early!
Traditions start early!

Washable Pumpkins:

I scored a chalkboard pumpkin in the Target dollar spot last week which is perfect for little hands! Skylar scribbles for a few minutes and then we give the pumpkin a sponge bath (which she loves). I’ve also heard you can use regular washable markers on a real pumpkin for the same effect…. but I’m not about to give my 1-year-old a marker, washable or not. 😉

Jack-O-Lantern Busy Bag:

This is so simple to make, just pick up a few sheets of felt at a local craft store or even at Wal-mart (1 orange, 2-3 black). Cut a big pumpkin shape out of the orange and then different eyes, noses and mouths out of black. This is a fun way to talk about emotions and help your child create happy/sad/mad faces on the pumpkin. Pair it with this book for even more fun!

halloween ideas

Pumpkin Pie Playdough:

This is on my to-do list but I think Skylar will love it. Whip up some homemade play dough, add some orange food coloring and some vanilla and cinnamon for a festive scent! Grab some Halloween cookie cutters and kids will be busy for hours!

We’ll see how many of these things I actually get accomplished, but it’s a fun little list that really doesn’t require too much planning, prep or clean up which is totally my style. Fingers crossed that we make it out to the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and a corn maze sometime this month, too. The Corridor is full of fall fun and now our home will be, too!

Have a HAPPY (not scary) HALLOWEEN!


Jessi is a creative, organized and enthusiastic girl mom with a soft spot for country music and all that it entails. She's a single mom to two sassy little girls (born in 2014 & 2018). She's putting down roots in West Branch, Iowa, just a few miles from her hometown of West Liberty. Jessi works in fundraising, event coordination and community development and enjoys hiking, crafts, bargain hunting, party planning, and taking in the simple joys of life. She is admittedly addicted to funny memes, is passionate about philanthropy, and is completely smitten by the adventure of motherhood.


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