A Candy-Less, Costume-Less Guide to Feeling the Halloween Spirit


A Candy-Less, Costume-Less Guide to Feeling the Halloween Spirit
Henry Justice Ford – Illustration from The Olive Fairy Book (1907)

Halloween is so, so fun when you’re little. Dressing up, pillowcases full of tiny candy bars, the very specific “a-little-bit-scared-but-going-to-be-okay-because-this-is-just-today” feeling you get sharing scary stories in class.

I’ve always been a Halloween girl. In fact, I was once quoted (in my baby book by my grandmother) as saying, “I will have many birthdays and many Halloweens.” This outlook has informed my life since, EVEN THOUGH—and here’s the kicker—I basically wasn’t allowed to eat candy as a child. I wasn’t banned from the sweet stuff, but my naturopathic doctor mother ensured that I didn’t, shall we say, overdo it when October 31 came around.

After trick-or-treating I would pick out a few key pieces (Twix and Dots forever!) and the rest would be whisked away by a ~magical Halloween witch~ in the night, leaving only the memory of processed sugar as I rang in November and began planning my costume for next year. (Dorothy, again.)

Today, I am allowed to eat as much candy as I want, and I have my Dorothy costume down pat. But sometimes—when you can’t/don’t want to leave the house, when you’re trying to cut down on sugar, or when you’re sick of ruby red slippers—the modern-day traditions aren’t what you need.

Here are some other ideas to help you feel the spirit(s) this season (of the witch!!).

Do your research

There’s a lot of interesting history here; more than I feel comfortable paraphrasing. Dig a little deeper!

Lean into cozy

Today, Halloween is synonymous with that sweet fall feeling. Read this profile of queen Ina, bust out the fur-lined Birkenstocks, and put on your very favorite sweater. (Yeah! The one you save for a special occasion!) Some more inspiration if you don’t yet get the gist: blankets, hands curled around hot beverages, knit goods, and crunchy leaf white-noise machines. 

Celebrate the dead

What better way to honor the holiday’s roots than to take a little time to think about loved ones that have passed? You don’t have to do anything besides simply remember, but it can be fun to cook up a favorite meal, look at old photos, or indulge in sweet memories with someone else who knew them too. 

Find the right movie

While ABC Family notoriously gives us an option for each night of October, there are plenty of other ways to indulge Halloween cinematically if you don’t like a certain night’s lineup. Do you want a classic? Do you want modern? To be scared? Just a little creeped? Do you want to laugh? To sing? Do you want style? Do you want to cry? Zombies? Zombies that make you cry? Witches?

I suggest starting with Practical Magic. It has it all…and the best hair

The right book, too

Did you know Practical Magic was a book first? It’s prequel The Rules of Magic is delightful.

Indulge the ghosts of your past

Remember how in elementary school they would have you put on a blindfold and feel creepy textures to celebrate Halloween? Baby carrot toes and peeled grape eyeballs? For some odd reason, the spaghetti-as-brains always made me hungry for spaghetti when Halloween came around. Start boiling the water!

Have a reading

Tarot, medium, intuitive psychic, astrology. Let’s get a bit metaphysical, darlings!

Learn the “Thriller” dance

Or the “Time Warp.” Or the “Monster Mash.” (Is there a set routine for that one? Make one up if not, you new TikTok trendsetter.)

Brew a potion

Err…make a cocktail! There’s something especially cozy about sipping a warm drink as the leaves are turning. And isn’t a little steam so festive? Tie in some herbal and floral ingredients for some added seasoning to your recipe. Rose petals for love, lavender for grounding, thyme for immune support. Here’s a raspberry and thyme hot toddy punch that involves very little toil or trouble.

Find a treat

Once during a lecture in college, I was drinking a bad-tasting fresh-pressed juice. My professor saw my look of distaste and asked me why I was drinking it if it was so bad.

My answer: “Because it was expensive.”

“A treat should be naughty, not expensive,” he replied.

This was some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

What is your ideal treat? If it doesn’t pop into your head right away I invite you to do a little soul searching—you’ll be happy to know your go-tos at some point. Those ghost-design frozen sugar cookies are a little naughty, and not at all expensive.

Give in to pumpkin spice

Pumpkin spice doesn’t have to be your only fall event, or have anything to do with it at all. But wow. It does taste good, doesn’t it?

BY Sophie Vilensky - October 11, 2020

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October 17, 2020 1:14 am

Yessss – I love that more people are digging into the roots of Halloween and injecting a little ~Samhain~ into their lives.

Makes my witchy heart glad!

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