Live Your Best Halloween

Take our quiz, try a craft, brush up on your trick-or-treat manners, and find out where to party in your costume.



Think you’re Martha Stewart meets Morticia Addams? Is your personal Zion the Big Lots holiday clearance section on November 1? Do you start baking pumpkin-shaped cookies within minutes of witnessing the first red leaf fall from the trees? Take our quiz to figure out just exactly how hard you Halloween.

+3 Professional photos taken at a wildly crowded Sauvie Island pumpkin patch on a Saturday, which somehow end up looking like they were shot at a secluded farm in the Adirondacks.

+3 Children are wearing clean, coordinating, light-colored clothing in said photos.

+5 You and your kids spend an entire day carving plump, organic pumpkins into creative jack-o’-lanterns — without stencils — after which you roast the seeds for a nutritious snack.

+2 No one fights over who got the bigger pumpkin.


+2 Your kids actually eat the roasted seeds.

-2 You carve one anemic-looking jack-o’-lantern, and you use the stencil that came with the carving knife you bought at Fred Meyer.

-5 You use the stencil and somehow your pumpkin still comes out looking like a diseased gourd that’s been chewed on by squirrels.

+10 You throw a Halloween party for your friends and neighbors.

+5 Instead of simply scattering some themed confetti on a tray of wraps from Costco, you stay up until midnight the night before to make tangerine pumpkins and cookies that look like witches’ fingers.

+6 Children in attendance actually eat the tangerine pumpkins and witches’ fingers.

+5 You personally design and hand-sew a costume based on your child’s favorite character from a historic-yet-hip children’s book.

-3 You let your tween attend the school costume parade in a “sexy pirate” dress you agreed to in a moment of duress at the Lloyd Center Spirit Halloween store.

+3 “No, I’m not buying the inflatable poop emoji costume.”

-4 You buy the inflatable poop emoji costume.

+4 You let your kids choose a few pieces of candy and then donate the rest to a heartwarming cause.

-2 You let your kids eat all the candy.

-3 You eat all the candy.

-5 Your teenagers left the house with Jason masks from Walgreens and one pillowcase and you’re not even sure they’re trick-or-treating.


21-49 points: Congratulations! You Halloween so hard you should probably start your own lifestyle magazine.

1-20 points: You Halloween firmly, if not hard. Your kids had fun, and perhaps so did you … a little.

0 or fewer points: You don’t even know what month it is, do you?


While for us adults Halloween may be a more nuanced holiday, it’s important to remember that for kids, it’s about one thing, and one thing only: candy. Thus, the best crafts are ones that get them truly excited about what matters. This project not only recycles a good portion of what would otherwise end up as trash, it can be made both post-Halloween to enjoy the next year, or pre-Halloween with the wrappers from the fun-size items you snuck while the kids were asleep.


Newspaper or other paper to keep your surface from being forever covered in Mod Podge

Iron (optional, to iron wrappers flat)

Candy wrappers (NOTE: waxed wrappers work best; e.g., Starburst, Tootsie Roll, Dum Dums, Bit O’ Honey)


Item to decoupage, we used a votive candle holder, but light-switch plates, picture frames, vases or even shoes would work well

Mod Podge



1. Unless you’re going for an intentionally crinkly look, iron your wrappers on a low setting to smooth out creases and wrinkles.

2. Cut wrappers to desired shape, or cut pictures or words out of them for a collage effect.

3. Brush Mod Podge glue on the back of the wrappers and affix to your desired item.

4. When finished, apply a final layer of Mod Podge to seal, and let dry for a few hours.

Note: Depending on the age of your kids, this could get very messy, so plan accordingly.


As anyone who has or works with young children can attest, young ones + knocking on complete strangers’ doors = a recipe for potential disaster. Make sure you’re prepared beforehand for some of the more uncomfortable situations that could crop up and make you a pariah at the next neighborhood block party.


Your neighbor is a hoarder!

WHAT NOT TO DO: Scuttle out of view of the door when your most talkative child announces, loudly, “Wow, your house is a mess!”

WHAT TO DO NEXT TIME: Prep your kids beforehand that some houses may look different than yours, and it’s not polite to comment on it.


You bought Snickers bars to give out, and half the neighborhood has a nut allergy or isn’t allowed to eat sugar.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Begin any sentence with “Back in my day …”

WHAT TO DO NEXT TIME: Make sure to buy at least some non-food items like pencils or glow sticks. Better yet, skip the nuts entirely and just stick with Mounds bars. Mmmm, Mounds bars …


Your 2-year-old refuses to say thank you.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Run up to your child at every single door and stage whisper “SAY THANK YOU.”

WHAT TO DO NEXT TIME: If they’re not old enough to remember to say thank you, they probably shouldn’t be walking up to the door without you. Maturity and language proficiency levels may vary, but kids are probably old enough to walk up to the door on their own around age 3 or 4.


Someone’s Halloween decor is a little too realistic, sending your child screaming and crying down the street.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Invalidate their fears with “there’s nothing to be afraid of”; lambast the residents of the home for traumatizing children on purpose.

WHAT TO DO NEXT TIME: Accept that this occasionally does happen; if your child is very young, you’ll eventually get a bead on the specific types of decorations that scare them (light projectors? Animatronic witches?) and can preemptively steer them away from those houses that feature them.

Kat Merck is a freelance writer and editor in Camas, Wash., who tries not to deprive her 5-year-old son of a proper All Hallow’s Eve, but also did not score highly on the “How Hard Do You Halloween?” quiz.



Saturday, October 20, 10 am-4 pm
What’s wackier than 1,000-pound pumpkins carved into boats? Said boats being piloted by participants in scarecrow and Viking costumes. One day a year, spectators can watch one of the strangest costumed boat races around before partaking in a lively festival with food, vendors and contests in Tualatin. See for info.


Friday, October 19, 11 am and HOWLOWEEN AT THE ZOO, Saturday-Sunday,
October 20-21 & 
October 27-28, 9:30 am-3 pm
Bring your costumes to the Oregon Zoo’s annual Halloween event, which
features a dual-weekend, wildlife-themed scavenger hunt with prizes and “deforestation-free candy,” as well as animals enjoying — or in elephants’ cases, smashing — enormous pumpkins. Free with zoo admission. See for info.


Sunday, October 14, 9 am-noon
Nothing hurts the wallet quite like buying multiple $25 costumes that will only be worn once. Lessen the pain at the Portland Children Museum’s second annual costume swap, where outfits for kids age 0-12 in clean, unstained and undamaged condition can be exchanged among attendees or donated to Goodwill. Free with museum admission or membership.


Saturday, October 27, 11 am-2 pm
In October of last year, members of local paddle boarding club Stand Up Portland stopped traffic and garnered news headlines by paddling down the Willamette River in green face makeup and witch costumes. When asked if they planned to do it again this year, the response was “Heck, yes we are!” Don’t miss out on the fun. (And you can even participate if you have a life jacket, leash, invasive species permit and, of course, costume.)
At Willamette Park.


Saturday, October 27, 3 pm
Part of Thrill the World, a global effort to have as many people as possible dance to Michael Jackson’s 6-minute 1982 hit at the same time, Portland’s event features several practices in the preceding weeks. See and for updates, location and information.


Through Halloween
Sauvie Island’s Pumpkin Patch creation isn’t the only maze mowed into a cornfield in the area, but it is one of the oldest (at 21 years) and largest. It offers a different theme every year with a scavenger hunt based on goofy “corn-undrums” and multiple observation decks. Also, be sure not to miss the quaint farm stand and red barn housing various farm animals. See for info.


All October
Cult made-for-TV movie Halloweentown was filmed in St. Helens, in the ’90s, and has been celebrated ever since with a full month of events, games, scarecrows, bazaars and gift shops located throughout the town. This year is the 20th anniversary of the event, so it’s sure to be a big one. See a map and full schedule at


Wednesday, October 31, 5 pm-8 pm
Kids need energy for all that trick-or-treating. Take them to any branch of longtime reader fave Pietro’s Pizza and all kids 12 and under who are in costume can get a free 6-inch pizza and small soda.


Sunday, October 28, pm
Sellwood-Westmoreland’s Monster March is a Portland tradition that keeps growing every year. Kids get to show off their costumes during a stroll through the neighborhood and grab (even more) candy from local businesses. Starting at Llewellyn School.


Various times through October
For even more Halloween fun, head to your local community center’s Monster Mash. Our picks include the Nightmare on Knott Street at the Matt Dishman Community Center in Northeast Portland on Saturday, October 27, with a haunted house, candy, a costume contest and live music from 7 pm-10 pm. There’s a $5 suggested donation for admission, or you can bring three cans of food for the Oregon Food Bank. If you’re in Washington County, check in to the Great Pumpkin Hunt at the Garden Home Recreation Center on Friday, October 19, for pumpkin hunting by flashlight, a taste of some witches’ brew, a candy corn count and more. It’s $10 for those living in the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation, and $12.50 for others. Pro tip: If you’ve got kids with sensory sensitivities or needing mobility support, the event is reserved for them between 5 pm-6 pm; general admission starts after that and goes until 10 pm.


Various times through October
Still no costume, and Halloween is looming? No problem. The wizards at Tinker Camp have you covered. They will be at various Multnomah County Library branches throughout the month with piles of material, including plastic, cardboard, wire, felt, LED lights and even electric buzzers — everything for a create-your-own-costume extravaganza. Find more all the details at

Kat Merck
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