"Ideas!" The cry on facebook had already got a lot of responses. “Is anyone interested in an alternative activity to trick-or-treating on Halloween?”

The mom who posted has young children, and the talk in their school once autumn arrives is all Halloween, all the time: what costumes kids will wear, where they’ll go trick-or-treating, what types of candy they hope to collect.

Although Halloween is often thought of as a secular holiday, its origins are religious, reflecting both ancient Pagan practices, and also the Christian holiday All Hallows Eve. It presents a challenge. For those of us who wouldn’t think of celebrating non-Jewish holidays, how should we deal with the intense peer pressure our kids face to observe this high-profile non-Jewish holiday?

While many Jewish parents might want to ideally steer their kids away from Halloween, it can be difficult to do. Here are 13 ideas to start making October 31 special for our kids, in a Jewish context.

Because it’s more fun to have company, try calling up some friends to see if they’re interested in joining you for one or more of these activities. Once you start spending October 31 your own way, you might be surprised at how many people will be glad to escape the trick-or-treat treadmill, too.

  1. Buy those bags of candy, then call up a local Jewish nursing home and see if they’d like a visit (and maybe some candy treats too).

  2. Make October 31 all about giving. Many Jewish communities organize programs that pair kids with buddies who have special needs. Consider scheduling a play-date: contact your local synagogue or Jewish center for information.

  3. This year (2013), October 31 is an important Jewish day too: it lands on the 27th of the Jewish month of Cheshvan, the anniversary of the day Noah could finally leave his ark after the Flood. Afterwards, God promised never to destroy the world again and sent a rainbow as a sign. Read about this episode in Jewish history with your kids, talk about the story, and celebrate by making rainbow projects or baking a “rainbow” cake together (look up recipes for colorful cakes on-line).

  4. October is National Clergy Appreciation month in the US. Thank your rabbi by inviting him and his family for dinner. (You might find they’re more approachable than you thought!)

  5. Try a non-scary movie night. Check out some Israeli or Jewish-themed films and invite some friends over.

  6. Jewish schools and synagogues often run their regularly-scheduled classes and programs on national holidays like October 31. Call and see if there’s a class or discussion group that interests you.

  7. When was the last time you ate home-made challah? Thursday night, when Halloween falls out this year, is a great evening to spend indoors, listening to Jewish CDs and making a memorable Shabbat dinner to enjoy the next evening.

  8. Pumpkins aren’t only important on Halloween. They’re a popular ingredient in Sephardi Jewish cooking, where they symbolize good fortune. Check out some traditional Jewish recipes, and make a special dinner for friends, featuring new uses for this seasonal food.

  9. October 31 is a sad day in Jewish history. At the height of the pogroms that swept Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, 300 Jews were killed in a single pogrom in Odessa on this day. For a more serious October 31 activity, make a resolution to give charity, or perform a new mitzvah, in their memory.

  10. One place to escape trick-or-treat madness is in a local kosher restaurant. Try checking out one of these restaurants in your town for a new experience and different atmosphere.

  11. Repurpose your candy. If your kids brought home candy from school, here’s a novel way to use it: one friend keeps a glass jar prominently displayed in her kitchen. Each time one of her kids does something kind, she puts a new treat in; when the jar is full – the whole family enjoys a celebration. Talk about this idea and establish ground rules tonight.

  12. Some Jewish communities have the custom of staying up all night Thursday night, studying Jewish subjects, in preparation for the start of Shabbat on Friday night. Consider adopting some of this custom, staying up later than usual reading a Jewish book with your kids this Thursday, October 31.

  13. Take advantage of all the dress-up outfits currently for sale, but repurpose them: surprise your kids with a few selections, and promise you’ll watch any play they put on with their new costumes. (To make it extra-special, offer to videotape their special performance.)

Share your ideas for making October 31 a fun day for our kids in a more Jewish context in the comment section below.