Spending Halloween Like a Kid When You're 20

Over the years, Halloween has seemed to stray away from what I always knew it as. Like most holidays, October 31st has lost its luster the older I’ve gotten. Although there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny to be revealed as a fraud, it’s undeniable that the pure joy of going out to get the perfect Halloween costume or planning your ideal trick-or-treating route has vanished completely. 

Truthfully, it’s sad when all the greatest days of the year become just another day. When the trials of your life begin to cloud your mind and all of a sudden it’s the end of the month and you had no idea. You scramble for plans, while your other responsibilities continue to pile up, and you end up having an anticlimactic time. 

Even for college students, Halloween has become just another excuse to dress up in weather-inappropriate clothing and party with people in the same capacity you might every weekend. We might hype up the holiday, get excited about it, but in the end, it isn’t truly the same. 

To be fair, I’m putting a bit of a bitter, pessimistic twist on Halloween, but I swear I have a point. I know that everyone has their own experience, but in my own life, Halloween hasn’t been right since I was in middle school. And as I come upon my 20th year, I feel the urge to do what I always do. When I’m unhappy with something, I try and change it. Something not going my way? What can I do for myself to make it better? I’m like the customer service of my own mind, except probably a lot more helpful.

So how do I revamp Halloween? Is there a way to bring back all of the feelings I once had? There’s the excitement in dressing in a way I didn’t always get to, the satisfaction in a hefty bag of candy, and the quiet pride in being able to stay up late and traverse through the night, despite my own personal fear of the dark. The ultimate formula, in my opinion, is to transform these special childhood feelings into brand new young adult ones.

Here’s the thought: Halloween season is already a successful young adult trend. Have you ever heard of the pumpkin spice latte? Yeah, figures. Basically, the key ingredient in this 20th Halloween may be to mix together the joy of autumn with Halloween. How do we do that? Well, what are some ideal fall activities? Besides pumpkin picking and caramel apple making, the main joy is snuggling up inside with a warm mug of something and a spooky movie. So, let’s start there, inside our beds or couches, alone or with our favorite humans/non-humans. 

Now, onto the specific feelings. If we aren’t going to go out and trick-or-treat, (first because our neighbors might yell at us and two because of the pandemic) then how do we recreate these feelings in a different setting? First and foremost, we have the costume aspect. I think there are two ways to do this. Now that we’re a bit older and maybe a bit more financially stable than when we were 10, I think it’s a safe bet to say that we could actually put together a pretty cool Halloween costume. The possibilities are endless. I know, I know, it can be a tough decision figuring out what to wear but think of it this way. You’re 20 years old and hanging out with some close friends (in this ideal scenario)! So, who’s going to judge you if you dress like Frodo Baggins or Dumbledore or Eleven or Madonna or whoever you’ve always wanted to be? If your friends will judge you, then don’t invite them. This is where pets come in handy. (They won’t judge). The second costume possibility caters to people who don’t get to dress cozy very often. Maybe your job demands business casual or perhaps you just aren’t a big sweatpants fanatic. Well, on this night it’s imperative that you put together the perfect fall outfit. Go crazy with whatever you want, whether that’s sweatpants and an old t-shirt, leggings and your dad’s sweatshirt from the ’80s, or even some jeans and a spooky sweater if that’s what makes you happy. I don’t know if you noticed but this Halloween is about you!

Next up, we have the satisfaction of a great big bag of candy. Being 20, your cooking experience could really range from 0-100. Luckily, we live in a world where baking/eating can be as easy or as difficult as you want. For this scenario, I suggest cooking for yourself because that’s where the satisfaction comes in. What better feeling is there than making a batch of double chocolate chip brownies from scratch and then gorging on your own masterpiece? How about the feeling of joy when the timer goes off on your Pillsbury sugar cookies with the little ghosts on them that are toasting in the oven? And even for the laziest of cooks, can’t you find just the teeniest bit of joy from a bag of assorted candy from your local CVS? All in all, the role of Halloween candy is fairly easy to fill.

Lastly, we have the Halloween trick-or-treat trek. Now, this is where my advice may become skewed because I’m a 20-year-old that also has the habits of a 75-year-old. For me, the late-night excursion of Halloween as a child was probably the craziest, rowdy thing I did in a year. Of course now, as a college student, it’s not unheard of to be awake until the morning hours and walking campus in the dark going from place to place. So, something to raise the stakes a little is the addition of a goal. Instead of staying up until 2 am watching Tik Toks or writing an essay due tomorrow, how about we decide to watch every Harry Potter movie in a single (Halloween) night? What if we marathon Tim Burton films? What if we have some sort of Halloween themed, socially distanced Olympic games out in the backyard including potato sack races and carrying eggs on spoons? No matter what you do, a Halloween activity keeping you up is much better for your health in my opinion than the ache in your back after marathoning “Criminal Minds” in bed all night by yourself. 

I think we’ve got a fairly exciting, event-filled Halloween night. We have plans, feelings, and a sense of purpose. Of course, this little soiree will take some planning and a dash of effort, but don’t you deserve it? The answer is yes. 

In the end, we won’t ever get to dress like Hannah Montana again and run through our neighborhoods looking for full-size candy bars, but there’s still happiness to be found in the adult world. Personally, I think there’s something rewarding in doing something for yourself, whether it be a small get together or a restorative night by yourself. As I said, you deserve a good Halloween whether you’re 8 or 82. So what are you waiting for?