The kids’ costumes are ready and the candy basket is full. But what else can you do to celebrate Halloween (besides ending the night in a candy coma?). We asked Real Simple staffers to share their favorite Halloween traditions—those sweet (or spooky!) moments that made the holiday memorable. Here, six traditions—from trick-or-treating to hand-me-down costumes—you might want to steal for your own family and friends.

By Liz Steelman
Updated October 04, 2016
Elizabeth Passerella
Elizabeth Passerella

Halloween Tradition, Elizabeth Passerella

My husband bought a ridiculous hot pink flamingo costume to wear to a party many, many years ago (when we were first married). It was a huge hit, mostly because he looks like a (sort of phallic) fool in it. He started putting it on for non-Halloween events: dinner parties, a random night during a summer beach trip… Eventually, it started leaking polyester stuffing, but instead of tossing it, he replaced it. Bought an identical version. He still dresses as the flamingo every Halloween—we’re going on at least 10 years now—and our kids and all of their friends know it’s coming. We even own a matching baby flamingo costume that both of my kids wore as infants. –Elizabeth Passarella, Staff Editor


Every Halloween, I put together a makeshift “costume” out of weird odds and ends I have around. Each costume is different, but none of them are actually anything in particular. The fun starts when I go out to a party or an event and people guess what I am! One Halloween I got Marlene Dietrich, dead sailor, cabaret singer, evil drill team leader, and spider lady—all for the same costume! – Wendy Granger, Photo Editor

RELATED: Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Nikki Conrad

Halloween Tradition, Liz Steelman

Before I was born, my great aunt made my cousin a Halloween costume—Minnie Mouse with her signature red polka dot dress, ears, and all. Ten or so years later, when my older sister was big enough to fit into it, she wore the Minnie Mouse costume for Halloween. A few years later, I wore it too! Just a few years ago, my older cousin had a daughter. You can bet she wore the Minnie costume, too, when her time came! Even after 30 years, the entire outfit is ready for the next generation to wear out trick or treating! –Liz Steelman, Editorial Assistant,


I have a Halloween tradition with my college friends where we meet up in a Brooklyn park and have an all-day potluck. Everyone is welcome with their family and pets! We all get dressed up in costumes. A few of us have defined roles in the planning every year. Of course, I am on the decoration team! A few moms do games for the kids, and others are in charge of music, food, and beverage. I love it because it’s the one time of year we all get together. – Victoria Sanchez-Lincoln, Fashion Director

RELATED: 7 Halloween Party Decorations From Etsy


I go to the drugstore on November 1 and buy a big bag of Reese’s, a big bag of Kit Kat’s, and a big bag of M&Ms for 50 percent off. – Sam Zabell, Social Media Manager,

Brandi Broxson

Halloween Tradition, Brandi Broxson

Halloween was a big event for my brother and me when we were kids. We’d go to my grandparent’s house for chili and then go trick or treating on their street. My Granny made our costumes each year by hand (endless princess get-ups and ninja suits). The residential streets in Naples, Florida are pretty long and made it difficult for us to hit very many houses without getting tired. So my Pa would hitch a trailer to his riding lawn mower (yes, really!), fill it with hay or chairs and transport us from house to house. We were the envy of the entire neighborhood! You would have thought we were riding in a stretch limo with the looks we got from other kids. It was so like my Pa to spoil us with this makeshift chariot and it's a tradition I’ll never forget. – Brandi Broxson, Associate Editor

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.