The Bare Bones: A Last-Minute Halloween Survival Guide

Trying to pull off a fantastic Halloween under the wire? With all the elaborate decorations and costumes, October 31st can feel like a mountain of work. Check out these tips to help you and your family have a fun Halloween without breaking a sweat!

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Halloween is Thursday (yes, this Thursday). If you’re not ready yet, you’re officially in “last-minute” territory. As a parent, the horrors of a haunted house are nothing compared to the thought of going into Halloween unprepared. Your home may not be decked out with decorations and your still yet-to-exist costume might stink, and that’s okay! Just take care of these 7 essentials for a terror-ific Halloween. 

Dress Rehearsal

Nothing puts a parent in panic mode like a costume crisis on Halloween morning. At the soonest possible moment, have your kid try on her costume, including every bell and whistle. If her facepaint causes an allergic reaction or her dress is too long for a trek around town, it’s good to have a day or two to fix the problem. If the costume choice is still up in the air, check out our guide to last-minute costumes.

Costume Considerations

Comfortable footwear is an absolute must for pain-free trick-or-treating, no matter how silly your kid’s filthy tennis shoes look with her pretty princess gown. Also, be sure to check the weather, so you can make sure your kid will be warm during her quest for candy. While she's deciding on a costume, remind her it may be cold when the costume really counts.

Plot the Route

Mapping your trick-or-treating route ahead of time will save you the stress of improvising along the way while trying to manage your costumed critters. When you're dropping your kid off at school on Halloween morning, ask other parents where they're planning on going that evening. Or, take a little detour to scope out a Halloween trail on your way home from work.

The Necessities

Dressing up along with your kid makes Halloween extra fun, but if it's too late in the game for you to cobble together a costume for yourself, don't sweat it—a flashlight with fresh batteries and a sturdy candy bag are all you really for your kid to have a blast trick-or-treating. Downsizing your own costume to animal ears or quick Frankenstein makeup can be a game-saver if you don't want to miss out.

Last-Minute Touches

With an eleventh-hour approach, you may worry your little one will feel shortchanged on Halloween spirit. Make up for the time crunch with a light-hearted, age-appropriate prank on Halloween morning. Switch out the bathroom lightbulb with an eerie green one. Change the wallpaper on her phone to something spooky. Put on a crazy wig or mask for breakfast and stash some plastic Dracula teeth in the cereal box. The little touches will make the day special.

Dinner Before Trick-or-Treating

In the rush of a hectic Halloween, don't forget to serve a filling, healthy dinner before going trick-or-treating. It will pay off on the final legs of your journey when candy-crazed kids begin to crash and burn, and your child will be less likely to binge on her sugary loot when she returns home. For festive feast ideas, check out our recipes for Mummy Pizza Bites and Halloween Pasta.


This might be a last-minute Halloween, but it’s still Halloween, and that means that pumpkins are required. But if you’re in a pinch, skip the messy, time-consuming tradition of carving pumpkins this year. Draw on them instead! Just pick up a few pumpkins and pull out a permanent marker. For some artistic inspiration, check out our printables with classic jack-o-lantern patterns.

You don't have to turn your house into Halloween-town or spend weeks on a first-place costume to make Halloween thrilling and memorable for your child. Taking care of a few details will have you on track for a boo-tiful night of trick-or-treating and sweet fun!

Want ideas for a deliciously spooky Halloween dinner? Here are 16 recipes any little ghoul will gobble up.

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