You can have tons of fun this Halloween, even if you don’t drink.
Halloween is just around the corner, so let’s talk about how to have some festive fun without the alcohol. As adults, many of us still enjoy dressing up and celebrating Halloween … but it can be hard when Halloween fun for grown-ups revolves so heavily around alcohol. Our first tip is to seek out a group of friends that have similar goals. Buddies who are also alcohol-free can make it much easier to navigate the holidays while staying sober. Our second tip is to plan some zero-proof activities. No matter the reason you want a booze-free Halloween—whether you just don’t like drinking, have a health condition that’s incompatible with alcohol, are in recovery, or whatever—here are a few ideas on how you can still have some ghastly fun without the spirits this spooky season.
Scary movie marathon
When you think of Halloween, it’s impossible not to think of your favorite spooky season movie. Make some popcorn, grab some blankets and pillows, and invite your friends over for a movie marathon! If the weather isn’t too cold where you live, you can also rent an inflatable movie screen and projector for some additional eerie atmosphere. What movie is your go-to? Is it a scary horror movie like the Scream franchise, or a light-hearted classic like Halloweentown, or Hocus Pocus (1 and 2)? If you are feeling indecisive, why not watch them all!?
Haunted house crawl or scary theme park
For those who enjoy getting their pants scared off, Halloween is full of fun sober opportunities to jumpstart your heart a bit. Maybe there is a local haunted spot with late-night tours or a pumpkin patch with a spooky corn maze. For some additional fright-seeking, many amusement parks have their usual thrill rides by day, followed by themed horror nights during the Halloween season.
It can feel awkward or scary to be invited to a party where you know there will probably be drinking. If you do decide to go to a party where there might be drinking, it’s a good idea to bring your own non-alcoholic drink options and an accountability friend, and to have an exit plan prepared in case you become tempted, triggered, or just plain uncomfortable. (Here are some additional tips for navigating halloween in recovery.) However, it can sometimes be easier to just throw the party yourself! That way you can celebrate in a safe environment with mocktails, and provide that for any friends who are looking for an alcohol-free event also. Holding a costume contest party is easier than you think! There’s no need to overcomplicate it—just invite some friends, put up a few themed decorations, turn on some music, and hold a costume party.
A fun twist to the traditional costume contest is to limit the dollar amount everyone can spend on the costume. People often get really creative when spending is restricted, sourcing costume and prop components from thrift stores, craft stores, and their own closets. Who doesn’t love an opportunity to get crafty?
Mocktail party with creepy snacks
Just because you got sober, that doesn’t mean that your Halloween has to be boring! Mingle with friends while sipping themed mocktails and listening to some spooky tunes. Maybe you have a cooler of sparkling water and soda in different flavors. With a little more effort, you can wow your guests with a signature party mocktail such as the Witch’s Brew, or Bloody Shirley Temple. There are now many zero-proof spirits on the market for those looking for alcohol-free versions of traditional spirits, like gin, rum, and whiskey without the effects. Here’s a fun twist on the classic Shirley Temple with a few extra ingredients this season:
Bloody Shirley Temple
Red food dye
Red sanding sugar or sugar sprinkles
Lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
Maraschino cherry (optional)
Pour a tablespoon or so of honey on a plate. Add a drop of food dye and mix together. Turn your glass upside down and dip it into your honey mixture to coat the rim (it will drip down for a spooky appearance). Next, pour some red sanding sugar on a small plate and dip the honey-coated rim of the glass into it. Fill the glass with ice, and pour your soda over it. Add a splash of grenadine, mix, and top with a maraschino cherry (if you like). You can make these ahead of time and store them in the fridge, or decorate a fun area to make them for guests during your party!
Potluck-style snacks are always easy when you are on a tight budget or if you just like surprises. Creating distinct spaces within the party can help your guest find an area that they are comfortable in. Such spaces can include:
- Dancing areas
- Quiet spaces
- Games (like corn-hole, water pong, or board games)
- A comfy sitting area for socializing.
Pumpkin carving party
Pumpkin carving isn’t just for the kids! In fact, it can be even more fun to carve pumpkins as an adult. You could start off by getting pumpkins as a group. Gather a couple of friends and head to your local pumpkin patch. Everyone gets to pick their pumpkin (which is half the fun) and take some silly photos together. Then head back for a pumpkin decorating party. It’s a good idea to have a head count ahead of time so that you can make sure there are enough supplies for everyone.
You can find many free designs online, purchase a carving kit online that comes with premade designs, or you can tap into your creative side and make your own design. If you are feeling extra spirited, collect the seeds and make them into a tasty treat, too. Fun alternatives with less mess to clean up include getting faux pumpkins or painting the pumpkins instead of carving them.
Halloween scavenger hunt or photoshoot
When was the last time you went on a scavenger hunt with friends? It can seem childish, but is more fun sober than you remember it being. You can find a free printable scavenger hunt online or, with a little imagination, you can make your own. Divide into teams to search for orange lights, inflatable pumpkins, giant spider web decor … whatever is on your list! The prizes are up to you, but some suggestions can include:
- Gift cards
- Themed baskets of candy
- Tickets to a local haunted house.
You can also turn a scavenger hunt into a photoshoot by taking pics with the items on your list. To add even more flair, get some cheap white sheets at the store to make old-school ghost costumes before setting off on your adventure, or bring your carved pumpkins along for some themed photos around town!
In early recovery, there is a saying that the best way to fight a craving is to volunteer or be of service in some way. A fun way to spread some Halloween joy is a tradition called “Booing Someone.” The concept is based on the idea of an anonymous pay-it-forward trick AND treat. You start by selecting one or a few “victims” to be Booed.
- Select a vessel to hold your Halloween treats, such as a basket, pumpkin bucket, or trick-or-treat bag.
- Gather some goodies to fill your container. You can go shopping with a group, or with a close friend or family member to get into the Halloween spirit. You could fill it with candy, make some baked goodies, pick up some dollar store items, get Target Dollar Spot treats, or add drinks such as packets of cocoa or apple cider.
- In the container, you also need to include a letter explaining being Booed, and a BOO sign. The idea is that they place the BOO sign on their door or window, copy the letter, get treats so they can surprise someone else, and deliver them in secret to keep it going!
Whether you’re all in on horror and gore at Halloween or prefer wholesome trick-or-treat fun, there is no reason you can’t have a blast without alcohol!