How can I celebrate Halloween while camping?
October 18, 2020 8:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm going camping on October 31st with a few friends. What are some fun but minimally scary things we can do to celebrate Halloween?

I always go nuts on Halloween and make a ton of plans on multiple nights with lots of people and costumes and adventure. However this year... Covid happened. So no plans, no parties, no parades.

I am however going camping with three very dear friends on Halloween night, which should still be a lot of fun. We are seasoned campers and are staying at a campsite that is basically just in the middle of the woods, with minimal amenities beyond what we bring ourselves. We'll be in tents and cooking over a campfire.

What can we do to celebrate Halloween? Here's the wrinkle. My friends are very easily scared and I dont want anyone to be uncomfortable. So much as I would love running through the woods in the pitch dark, or listening to blood curdling horror stories... these particular friends would hate that.

So I'm looking for GENTLE Halloween things to do. Any ideas for horror themed cocktails? or things I could cook/bake? Maybe some games we could play or stories we could listen to that are not THAT gruesome? I'll have my car, so I can carry/bring whatever. Also! Our campsite is in New Jersey so it'll be COLD at night. So costumes will probably not happen.

Here is an example of something I was considering scary sounds...but might be too scary. I will preview it first.
posted by silverstatue to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
Maybe bring and carve pumpkins? They could make fun lanterns around the campsite!
posted by The otter lady at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

You could make baked apples in the fire and carve faces into them like jack o’lanterns. Core the apples, carve some faces in them, and fill with whatever combination of cinnamon/sugar/nuts sounds good. Wrap in heavy foil and bury in the coals for about 30 minutes.

Neil Gaiman’s story “October in the Chair” is creepy without being gruesome, but you’ll have to read it to see if it will disturb your friends. An extra-gentle option for stories could be recordings of kids’ books. I’m partial to the Georgie series by Robert Bright.

Decor can add a lot of atmosphere! Bring some battery operated strings of lights, carve some pumpkins. You can also make luminarias: draw designs or faces on paper bags with a heavy black marker (the thinner the bag, the better the design will show up); weigh the bag down with about an inch of sand or kitty litter; place a battery operated tea light or glow stick inside. I suppose you could use real candles but it seems like a bad idea to scatter fire hazards around a campsite. I like to do ghost faces on white paper bags but the sky is the limit here.
posted by corey flood at 9:49 PM on October 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Use natural materials to make a giant face on the ground in a forest clearing. When you are done, consume s'mores or apple cider while appreciating it. Leave it behind for the forest to enjoy.
posted by amtho at 9:55 PM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think you should put out some Halloween decorations around the camp, but this situation calls for scary stories around the fire, that's traditional.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:40 PM on October 18, 2020

For people who are easily scared, I wonder if "The Monster At The End Of This Book" might be a fun read?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on October 19, 2020

Make smores using Halloween peeps and/or fun-size candy bars.
posted by belladonna at 8:07 AM on October 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you aren’t aware of Victorian Christmas ghost stories, they tend to be spooky but not super scary and intended to be told sitting around a fire(place). A Christmas Carol is a famous example of the general genre, but they aren’t all Christmassy, internet searching should find some good ones.
posted by momus_window at 8:11 AM on October 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

For what to bake or eat: I really like popcorn balls and they feel very traditionally fall/Halloween to me, but I rarely see them anymore, if you made those in advance and brought them, I'd think that was really cool. Hot spiced cider with cinnamon sticks and add bourbon or rum to make it a cocktail.

If it doesn't go against your particular belief systems, you could do some fortune telling?

-Ask a question (not something Google-able like "who was President in 1908?" but more open-ended "what hobby should I take up to be happy?"), then pour some hot wax into a bowl of cold water and see what shape it takes once it solidifies; interpret it as the answer.

-If single : peel an apple, keeping the peel as whole as possible, then throw it over your shoulder and see what letter it resembles; this is the first initial of the person you will marry/fall in love with.

-You can find books and visual guides on palm reading, which is pretty easy to do with minimal studying.

(Tarot cards can be really interesting but have more of a learning curve, IMO, and drawing something like "Death" or "The Hanged Man" can freak out easily scared people, no matter how much explaining and interpreting you try to do).
posted by castlebravo at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

You could have a ritualized writing down of things you actually ARE scared of in real life (there are plenty of those), then act them out ("I'm a virus! I'm a big scary virus!"), and burn the paper you wrote them on.

The point, I think, is to face scary things and make them less scary by making a little fun of them, then move past them.
posted by amtho at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Girl Scouts are into night hikes, and you can find some good suggestions that won't be too scary if you look those up. Some favorite activities that are a little, but not too, scary:

Take some empty toilet paper tubes. Cut eye shapes in them, each roll has one set of eyes. When other campers aren't looking, you put an activated glowstick in each roll and hide it in the bushes nearby. The sun sets and: ooooh, spooky, glowing eyes!

The thing with Wintergreen Life Savers making sparks if you chew them with your mouth open in the dark. I have never had this work for me, but so many people swear by it that I think it must just be me. Hey, at the worst you're eating candy.

Borrow night-vision glasses from some outdoorsy / hunter friends. It's a scary good time to see just what's out there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Bring paper bags, scissors, and make luminaries with pumpkin faces. If it's safe, use votive candles in glass cups, otherwise glowsticks or cheap flashlights. I find it useful to own lots of cheap led flashlights, anyway.
posted by theora55 at 6:34 PM on October 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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