We Ranked Classic Halloween Activities by How Fun They Really Are

Halloween is about more than just secret rituals in abandoned forests and summoning demons from the netherworld. Those are great fun and obviously important. But there are also plenty of other pastimes to partake in during October. Some events and celebrations are so beloved by people of all ages they’ve become staples of the proverbial “spooky season.” Which one is the best, though? To help you plan your creeeeepy holiday festivities this year we ranked classic Halloween activities by how much fun they are! Or, in some cases, by how much fighting a werewolf during a full moon instead sounds like a better use of our time.

TownieTube/Michael Walsh

LAST: Bobbing For Apples

How in all that is holy was this ever a thing? We’ve known about bacteria since 1676, but we needed the last few years to piece together the contaminated puzzle of Halloween’s great germ swap? Forget ghouls and ghosts, is there anything scarier than the thought of putting your open mouth into a big tub of room temperature water full of partially chewed food after 17 people just did the same thing? I’d rather vacation in literal Hell on New Year’s Eve. We should call it “Bobbing for Infection.”

9. Pranks!

There are two types of people in the world. The first group thinks pranks are fun. The second consists of decent people who deserve happiness. No one has ever actually enjoyed having a prank pulled on them. If someone said differently they were simply being polite, because, again, they are decent folk. All prank lovers should be forced to live together on a remote island. We can call it Prank Isle. Or even better, let’s send them there and then never speak of it again! Happy Halloween to us, the good ones!

Note: Halloween pranks are different than “revenge,” a fun activity you can, and should, enjoy 365 days a year.

8. Visiting a Pumpkin Patch

A field of orange pumpkins ina. patch on a farm
Super Simple Play with Caitie!

Did you enjoy giving up a relaxing Sunday in September to spend way too much money and time picking your own apples at an overcrowded orchard? Did you love paying a farmer you don’t know to work for him in unseasonably warm weather just so you could end your day with an apple cider donut you remembered being a lot better? You did? Weird, but great news! You can enjoy that experience all over again in October by visiting your local pumpkin patch. It’s a place where instead of hurting your back by reaching up you can hurt your back by bending down. And don’t forget guests of all ages can also get tetanus for free by cutting themselves atop an old broken tractor that’s been rusting for thirty-seven years.

7. Attend a Halloween Parade

Imagine explaining a parade to aliens. Now imagine explaining Halloween to them. Now imagine explaining a Halloween parade. Feel silly? Don’t, it’s not like you’re currently at a Halloween parade*, an event that replaces the best parts of a Halloween party with formal start and end times, standing, not being able to see, and road closures.

*If you are currently at a Halloween parade please let us know if you’ve been kidnapped or just make bad life choices. If it’s the former we’re also curious why your captive is letting you browse the internet. Aren’t they afraid you’ll send an email or alert someone? Also, why aren’t you doing that already? You have our blessing to finish reading this later! So long as you keep this tab open and share it on social media with #ParadesAreWeird.

6. Carving a Jack-o’-Lantern

A classic Jack-o-Lantern at night with a candle lit inside
Maple Leaf Learning

Nothing says Halloween like a carved pumpkin (except maybe a Dracula). That’s because everyone rightfully loves jack-o’-lanterns. And so long as you don’t pick your pumpkin at a patch, they’re affordable fun for the whole family. The problem is actually making one is no walk in the cemetery. The interior of a pumpkin is a vile realm of smelly mush and second-thoughts. There’s also the matter of actually carving them. No matter how much you think you’re going to slice up an amazing, unique pumpkin, most end up looking exactly alike for a reason. Artfully cutting a thick round gourd takes real skill most of us don’t possess. That’s why the majority of jack-o’-lanterns have wide eyes and big mouths. Those are easy to cut… but not as easy as cutting your thumb.

5. Visit a Haunted House/Castle/Maze/Location

Now we’re getting somewhere! (Literally and metaphorically.) A haunted locale—whether a real place people pretend is full of ghosts or a seasonal exhibition full of great costumes and local theater enthusiasts—offer plenty of excitement, as a terrifying romp full of scares truly captures the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve. Unfortunately that’s also the downside of these creepy spots.

They can leave young visitors with nightmares that haunt them long after they’ve left. They can also cause cardiac events in older guests who forgot how much Jason Voorhees jumping out of a closet can disrupt your normal heartbeat. A haunted “house” of any kind should be something you enjoy only while you are there. It shouldn’t follow you home. And it definitely shouldn’t lead you to an early grave.

(If it does they should bury you at the haunted house. You earned it.)

4. Wearing a Costume

Wanda in her Scarlet Witch Halloween costtume on WandaVision
Marvel Studios

Life is suffering. We, and everyone we will ever love, begin to die the moment we’re born. All any of us can truly hope for are a few brief moments of calm waters during a never-ending struggle to survive in a sea of sadness. But none of us truly survive. We’re all simply waiting for the waves of existence to carry us back into the waters of the cosmos’ infinite and cold black ocean. Don’t worry, though. Once there the universe won’t forget we ever existed, because it never noticed we lived in the first place.

…What better way to forget all of that than by getting creative and dressing up as a totally different person for a night? That’s right! Costumes.

3. See a Scary Movie

A monster with a human head and spider-like body from The Thing
Universal Pictures

What kind of sales job do you need for movies? Movies rule. Horror movies specifically rule. Even bad ones can be super fun. That all seems sort of obvious, no?

So…uh….you ever see Poltergeist? That movie is soooo good. “This house…is clean.” Iconic line. You know some people think Steven Spielberg really directed it? I don’t. Even saying that is unfair to Tobe Hooper. Well, anyway…scary movies…highly recommend ’em.

2. Halloween Parties

Costumes? Candy? Cavorting? Halloween parties might be the best type of parties period. Whether family-oriented gatherings or adult-only soirees, they’re far less stressful than their equivalent Thanksgiving or Christmas events. And unlike weddings you won’t run into any Bridezillas, just maybe the Bride of Frankenstein! (We like to have fun here at Nerdist Dot Com.)

Also, what other type of celebration includes listening to “ Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” eight times in a single night? Check. Mate. Halloween parties are so good it’s incredible they aren’t number one on this list.

1. Trick-or-Treating

If you’re a kid trick-or-treating is the single greatest thing in the world. You get to dress up, go out at night with your friends, and strangers GIVE YOU FREE CANDY. And unlike Christmas, it’s no strings attached. No adult ever says, “If you want candy you better be good for goodness sake, because a magical elf is watching you while you sleep like a total creep.”

But here’s the thing. Trick-or-treating still rules even when you grow up. Either you take adorable kids out and see them experience true joy, or adorable kids come directly to you and think you’re the greatest person alive. Plus you can steal their candy. Kids are, like, super easy to outsmart. Everyone wins! It’s the best Halloween activity out of all the other activities. It might be the best activity of any month, not just October.

The reverse is true of bobbing for apples. What the hell were we thinking all these years?

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on   Twitter and   Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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