Halloween packs a two-fold punch of irresistible awesomeness for children: candy and dress-up. Do you celebrate it or opt to celebrate All Saints Day instead?
At Casa Paper Dali, we've had a funny sort of relationship with Halloween. We've never quite celebrated it, but we've never quite ignored it either.
When my firstborn was four (and at the age where strangers at stores ask, "What are you going to be for Halloween, little girl?"), she had a terrible allergy to Red 40 (a popular food coloring). Just a little consumption of Red 40 would unhinge her for hours, shaking and crying.
Between that allergy and her fear of Halloween decorations (you never realize how spooky Halloween decorations really are until you shop in October with a very sensitive kid), we opted to just make special dye-free treats and do a movie marathon instead. She received the fun of having a special day with treats and dressing up to hand out candy---all stress-free.
Eventually, she outgrew this dye allergy, but by then, she was accustomed to getting treats without having to knock on strangers' doors for them and choosing the flicks for movie marathons. Her siblings after her all liked the idea of dressing up to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters while eating their own treats and watching movies.
"Would you like to go trick-or-treating?" I asked the children.
"Can I just have the candy?"
Celebrating All Saints Day
In time, my understanding and love of the liturgical year grew, and I discovered the beautiful blogs of Catholic mothers, reading everything I could about how to celebrate different saints' days and feasts. (Catholic All Year's Baby Steps to Living a Liturgical Year article is a beautiful, honest guide to start doing so.)
We eventually made All Saints Day parties with friends part of our celebration, eclipsing Halloween and making time to spend with our holy friends in heaven.
There's always good food because we're Catholic and games, such as:
- St. Peter Fishing Booth
Each child tosses a mini play fishing pole and hooks a toy. You can use a kiddie pool for this. We've had a sibling hide on the opposite side of the booth and pin fun things to the hooks.
- 7 Deadly Sins Bowling Pins Game
Use a child's play bowling set, label each pin with a deadly sin, get a plastic ball and label it "grace" and then knock down as many sins as you can.
- St. Therese Flower Toss
Display a photo of St. Therese of Lisieux. Each participant receives a rose (real, paper or otherwise) to toss to the picture. Whoever's rose is closest wins the prize.
- Pin the Halo on the Archangel
A sweeter version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," participants get to pin a halo on an archangel. (Feel free to use my St. Michael the Archangel drawing for this game!)
- St. Isadore Pumpkin Roll
Each participant rolls a pumpkin from a designated starting point to a designated finishing line. Whoever gets there first, wins.
- St. Christopher Relay Race
Participants race from a designated starting point to a basket filled with baby dolls (i.e., "baby Jesus") then have to hurry back to the finishing line while carrying the baby doll on their shoulders.
- Follow the Straight Path Race
Use some wooden blocks or beams for a fast-paced balancing game. Participants race across the straight path to get to the finishing line first. You can also do an alternate version and use a stopwatch to see which child has the best time across the beam.
- Miguel Pro Dress-Up Relay Race
Designate a starting line and finish line. At the finish line, put a box and an outfit to dress into in the box. Have a box for each contestant. On "Go!" the kids run to the box, put on all the clothes and then race back. (Blessed Miguel Pro was known for donning disguises as he performed his priestly duties and evaded police during the Catholic persecution in Mexico City.)
An All Saints Day | Halloween Paper Doll Set
My younger boys love playing with paper dolls, and so I recently drew and put together this All Saints Day paper doll playset for them:
This set was difficult to name for my Etsy shop because it's both Halloween and All Saints Day. The four paper doll kids go trick-or-treating and receive treats from the three paper doll grown-ups. But the costumes are those that Catholic children use for All Saints Day.
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Feel free to share your All Saints Day ideas in the comments!