As most American RVers prepare their motorhomes and travel trailers for RV winterization and storage, your plans are quite different. You have those one or two last campground reservations before the RV season closes for the year. Most campgrounds will help you finish out the camping season with Halloween celebrations every weekend in October. To get you ready for the evening, here are some RV Halloween decorating ideas.
Join us as we show you how to make your coach creeptastic, learn some creative tips on what you can do to prepare for all of the fun, and get inspired to win the campsite decorating contest. We’ll show you the history and mystery of Halloween so that you can get that victory!
Campground Halloween Celebrations
In the last month of the traditional RV season, campgrounds like to go out with a bang, howl, and scream, holding campground Halloween celebrations every weekend in October. Children can enjoy pumpkin carving contests, trick or treating, and other fun events.
When campgrounds use the phrase “family-friendly,” they typically mean many activities are devoted more towards kids. But, don’t worry parents, there’s plenty of fun for you too. “All-Hallowmas“, the Middle English name, is the second-largest commercial holiday in the U.S., generating $6 billion each year.
Campgrounds hold cooking events, games for every age, and the (what some consider the most critical) campsite decoration contests. If you think that more expensive luxury RVs folks have the edge over you, think again. There are so many great ideas; it’s a level playing field. We’ve seen pictures of someone turning their softshell pop-up camper into a dragon.
Check your campground’s website for a schedule of events, so you and your family come prepared for the haunting festivities. If you’re staying at some of the bigger chains, you can start your research here:
- KOA Fall and Halloween Events
- Jellystone Park Halloween Weekends
- Sun Resorts Halloween Spooktacular
- Thousand Trails Themed Weekend Booklet
The Top 10 Best Places to Spend Halloween
If you’re brave enough, you could set your jacks down in the best Halloween towns. These locations have long histories with the paranormal and go the extra mile to celebrate on October 31st.
- The Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts
- Van Cortlandt Manor in Sleepy Hollow, New York
- The French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
- The Historic District in Williamsburg, Virginia
- Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan
- Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida
- Neewollah in Independence, Kansas
- Spirit of Halloweentown in St. Helens, Oregon
- Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
- Halloween Capital of the World in Anoka, Minnesota
A Quick History of Halloween
Halloween is a culmination of many cultural and religious influences. This time in the calendar is where the fall season ends and winter begins. It reminded our ancestors of those who passed on as trees shed their leaves and the world they knew prepared for the winter. We’ll point out some fun facts throughout our discussion, but here are some significant points that shaped what 21st century Americans know as Halloween:
- Over 2,000 years ago: The Celts of the British Isles celebrated Samhain on November 1st, dressing up in costume and lit bonfires to ward off evil spirits.
- 43 B.C.E.: The Roman Holiday of Feralia in late October commemorated the passing of the dead. The second day honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees.
- 1,000 B.C.E.: All Saint’s Day is celebrated on November 2nd, possibly to supersede Samhain and remnants of Roman pagan beliefs.
- All Saint’s Day linguistically evolved from All-Hallows, All-Hallowmas, All-Hallows Eve, to Halloween as Middle English turned into Modern English.
- Northern New England Colonies in early America limited Halloween practices due to strict adherence to Protestant beliefs, but Maryland and the southern colonies were less stringent.
- Halloween community get-togethers in the 1800s focused on celebrating the harvest.
- The post-Civil War Irish immigration popularized the European Halloween traditions nationally.
- By the 1920s, many of today’s customs like trick or treating, costumes, and other ideas solidified.
Go RVing With the Addams Family
On October 1, 2021, you can go RVing with the Addams Family. MGM partnered with Go RVing.com in the latest CGI adventure with America’s favorite creepy and kooky family. Gomez and Morticia join the RV boom by taking the family on a Class A Motorhome RV vacation in this PG adventure.
The Addams Family started as a newspaper cartoon in 1938 by Charles Addams. The TV show ran for two seasons in 1964 and 1965 on the ABC network. During the 1990s, Paramount Pictures produced two movies: The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993). Saban Entertainment added a third film, Addams Family Reunion (1998).
The latest CGI incarnation of the family is the sequel to MGM’s adaption in 2019. We suspect there will be a lot of black dresses, purple pinstripes, as well as red and white stripe t-shirts knocking on your RV door during the campground trick or treating this year. So if you want to create Wednesday Addam’s Noose Braids, here’s how to do it.
Winning the Campsite Decorating Contest: RV Halloween Decorating Ideas
Haunted houses started in London back in the early 1800s. Marie Tussaud created a wax museum that depicted the gruesome side of European History, also using illusion techniques to dazzle her patrons. The Wax Museum chain found today is based on her original concept. During the Great Depression, parents would scheme up distractions to prevent children from vandalizing the neighborhood or harassing people. However, Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion Ride in 1969 solidified the haunted house idea in the American Mind.
Many campgrounds hold special events where winning the campground decorating contest gets you a prize. It could be some type of camping equipment, free nights next season, or other enticing awards. Those who participate take this contest as seriously as neighborhood Christmas decorating displays.
If you want to give it a try, we have lots of RV Halloween decorating ideas! In an RV campground, you have a lot to work with: the land, your picnic table, fire pit (if applicable), your RV’s outdoor living space, and your RV. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you shop for your campsite decorating ideas:
- Always adhere to the campground’s rules and regulations.
- Whatever you use, you must clean up. Always leave your campsite in better condition than you found it.
- Remember you have neighbors and quiet hours, so be courteous with the noisy Halloween decorations.
- Use RV-safe tape and glues when attaching your various decorations.
- Halloween is a family-friendly holiday in campgrounds. Keep your ideas around the PG movie rating. If something in your display pushes the limit, take it down, so the evening isn’t ruined for everyone.
- It’s a good idea to have a variety of treat offerings for children with specific food allergies or whose parents ask for non-candy items.
- Consider using LED lighting for your Halloween camping lights instead of candles inside your Jack O’ Lanterns. It’s safer and lasts a lot longer.
Campfire Skeletons and RV Graveyards
In the 1800s, celebrating Halloween was a community event. It concluded the harvest season and marked the beginning of winter for rural towns. Even after The U.S. enacted national Daylight Saving Time in 1918, it didn’t normalize until the 1960s. As a result, Halloween was customarily known as the beginning of winter.
Part of the Halloween tradition was to tell folklore ghost stories to friends and family during the festivities. So when you tell your stories around your campfires, you’re continuing an American Tradition.
If your campground allows open pit fires, why not set up a campfire skeleton display sitting around a mock fire with an RV graveyard? A perfectly placed orange, yellow, or red LED light under a log pile can give you that glowing effect of fire from the nine circles of hell while roasting marshmallows or hotdogs.
To keep it light, add some clothing you no longer use for some whimsical fun. Make it diverse by adding hay-stuffed scarecrows or funny-looking zombies. Remember, Frankenstein’s Monster is afraid of fire, so keep him away if you want to be accurate.
Looking through the internet for RV Halloween decorating ideas, people have placed skeletons all over, doing interesting things on their campsites. Some have skeletons playing cards on the picnic table, crawling up/down their RV sidewalls, or other looney things.
Foam headstones come with some tongue-in-cheek sayings that can be funny, cheesy, or haunting. Many have lawn stakes that are attachable to keep them upright. There are other lawn campsite decoration items you can add, like black cats and other holiday icons.
Monsters and Vampires and Zombies, Oh My!
The creatures of the night come from folklore, misinterpreted health problems, and exaggerated truths from all cultures. For example, the Russian Babayka was an old witch-type creature that takes misbehaving children away.
Vampires come from hemophilia, the Blood Libel, the story of Vlad Tepas (known as the real Dracula), and other ideas. One study hypothesizes that Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo depicted a man with a form of neurofibromatosis.
While we live in a society of information, walking at night hearing a flock of waterfowl sleeping, making a snoring type sound can scare anybody who’s never heard it before. Feeling your heart race as your adrenaline pumps, lets that paranoid little monster in your head run wild inside your mind. Your breath quickens, and without realizing it, you start to run. Are they birds or something else?
You want to be careful with the creatures that go “bump” in the night. As we learned from 2004’s movie, Hellboy, he could be a nice guy, but our favorite demon hero scared people when they first saw him. Instead, save your best creature creations for an audience that will appreciate your horrific artistry.
There’s still a lot you can do within the family-oriented framework. Get your inspiration from the 1930s-1970s silver screen horror masters:
- 1922: Max Schreck- Nosferatu
- 1925: Lon Chaney- Phantom of the Opera
- 1931: Bella Lugosi- Dracula
- 1931: Boris Karloff- Frankenstein
- 1932: Lionel Atwill- Doctor X
- 1933: Fay Wray- King Kong
- 1935: Elsa Lancaster- Bride of Frankenstein
- Sir Christopher Lee- Anything
- Vincent Price- Anything (Did you know, Vincent Price owned a 1963 Clark Cortez Class A motorhome for his prep trailer and personal vacation vehicle.)
The Best Jack O’ Lanterns and RV Halloween Decorating Ideas
The Legend of the Jack O’ Lantern: This Irish myth talks about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” He invited the Devil to drink with him. When it came time to pay, Jack didn’t want to, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin. Instead of settling the tab, Jack put it in his pocket next to a silver cross, keeping Old Scratch in his coin form.
Jack later freed the Devil on the condition that the Devil wouldn’t bother him for a year. The trickery went on and on. Since the Devil couldn’t claim Jack’s soul (per the later agreement), Old Scratch sent Jack out into the night with a lump of burning coal to light his way. Jack placed the coal in a carved-out turnip to wander forever.
The people of Ireland and Scotland would carve scary faces into hollowed-out turnips, large beets, or potatoes to keep Stingy Jack and other evil spirits away from their homes. This tradition immigrated to the U.S. pumpkins, native to America, replaced the root vegetables in the 1800s, becoming the anti-Stingy Jack Lantern (hence Jack O’ Lantern) of choice.
Halloween and pumpkin carving go hand-in-hand. Growing up, you may have used a kitchen knife to carve out a basic face, but it’s now become an art form. To help you create the best Jack O’ Lantern, you can use many pumpkin carving templates.
As an alternative, Sharpie markers and acrylic paint adhere to the pumpkin’s outer skin. Let your imagination soar as you design the perfect Halloween-themed artwork on your pumpkin or other gourds. Once you’ve sketched out your idea on paper, give the pumpkin a good wash with water, so you have a clean surface.
RV Skirting With Haystacks
Did you know that bobbing for apples may have originated from the Romans? During the Roman occupation of the British Isles, after they celebrated Feralia, the next day was for Pomona, goddess of fruit and trees.
In the 1800s, the contest itself was a relationship fortune-telling game. Each apple in the barrel represented the potential suitors for a young lady of marrying age in one version. If the young maiden successfully grabbed an apple on her first attempt, the man chosen was a good match. Two tries, the young man would court her, but it wouldn’t work out. The third try meant the relationship wouldn’t work.
We know many grandmothers, mothers, and aunts today may have a raised eyebrow of skepticism at this idea. They would say something like, forget the games and trust my instinct; this one is good for you (referring to the potential suitor). Now eat something.
An excellent DIY solution for RV skirting is haystacks. Late October can have unpredictable weather conditions, so you never know if it’ll be too warm or cold. Keep in mind that while haystacks are great insulators, they also attract rodents and other pests if you use them too long.
Since you’re using it for insulation and decorative purposes (rather than feeding your livestock), farmers sell their low-quality haystacks at bargain prices at this time of year to offset the cost of harvesting them. So you should get a good price for the hay, but we recommend disposing of it properly when you break camp to avoid unwanted stowaways.
The Ultimate Halloween Playlist
Halloween, it’s the best time to play haunting melodies, but during the Renaissance, a composer could lose their life for writing or playing a specific chord. The Devils Triad (a.k.a. Interval, tritone, etc.) is a musical chord that uses three whole steps. Its dissonant sound is harsh and irritating.
When the Catholic Church controlled music, they wanted peaceful and beautiful melodies that sounded angelic. Anyone who was rebellious enough to conjure the Devil with this chord could end up on the wrong side of a noose.
In today’s music, you’d be surprised how many artists use it. As an average listener, you could pick it out as soon as you hear it. Modern artists use it to evoke feelings of defiance, loss, and other unwanted emotions. Examples include Busta Rhymes’ Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check, Pearl Jam’s Even Flow, Jethro Tull’s My G-D, Black Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe, and others.
Setting the mood with the ultimate Halloween playlist is easy. Now that many of today’s coaches have RV outdoor speakers, you can beam your custom playlist via Bluetooth to your RV’s multimedia center. Here are some suggested song titles:
- A Nightmare on My Street- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
- Bark at the Moon- Ozzy Osbourne
- Black Number 1- Type O Negative
- Dead Man’s Party- Oingo Boingo
- (Don’t Fear) The Reaper- Blue Oyster Cult
- Dracula’s Wedding- Outkast, Kelis
- Feed My Frankenstein- Alice Cooper
- Freaks Come Out at Night- Whodini
- Ghostbusters- Ray Parker Jr.
- (Ghost) Riders in the Sky- Johnny Cash
- Highway to Hell- AC/DC
- I Put a Spell on You- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (or the Hocus Pocus Movie version)
- I’m In Love With a Monster- Fifth Harmony
- Monster Mash- Bobby “Boris” Pickett
- Psycho- A Suite for Strings: The Murder- Bernard Herrmann, et al. (from the original movie)
- Scary Monsters- David Bowie
- Season of the Witch- Donovan
- She Wolf- Shakira
- Somebody’s Watching Me- Rockwell
- The Addams Family TV Show Theme Song- TV Themes
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia- The Charlie Daniels Band
- The Munsters Theme- Munsters Theme
- The Purple People Eater- Sheb Wooley
- This is Halloween- The Citizens of Halloween (From Nightmare on Christmas Movie)
- Thriller- Michael Jackson
- Weird Science- Oingo Boingo
- Werewolves of London- Warren Zevon
- White Wedding- Billy Idol
Trick or Treating
Dressing up in costume dates back to the Celtic Holiday of Sanhaim, but going door-to-door is an All Saint’s Day Tradition. The poor would visit wealthier houses, promising to pray for the family’s dearly departed. In return, the wealthy family would hand out soul cakes, a small pastry. This “Souling” tradition continued through much of England in the Middle Ages.
Souling stayed within the English People but evolved into children begging for food, money, or ale.
The Irish and Scots “Guising” version evolved to children having to work for their begged items. Instead of praying for the wealthy family’s dead relatives, the kids would have to perform tricks dressed as ghosts or demons to earn their treat. The trick could be a physical act, singing, reciting poetry, or a comedic joke. The rewarded treat could’ve been a coin, fruit, or nuts.
In an article published by CNBC, Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that children should be able to trick or treat in 2021 within small groups. We recommend conducting research yourself to make an informed decision that feels comfortable for your family.
If you want your children to wear face masks and other personal protection equipment (PPE), there are ways to incorporate them into their costumes. A quick search on Amazon or other retailers has every type of mask design you can imagine. If they need a scary monster mouth, a robot-speaking device look, or an animal face design, it’s out there. This year may be the year for decorated Halloween gloves.
Since 2012, the FACET organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project for children with food allergies. So when people see children with teal or blue Halloween candy baskets, they know that the child has a food allergy. Also, homes (or in our case, RVs) that place teal pumpkins outside their door will tell trick or treaters that this particular place has treats for those with food allergies.
Conclusion: More Ways to Become the Best Haunted RV
There are thousands upon thousands of ideas out there we haven’t mentioned on how to become the best-haunted RV for your Halloween camping weekend. Make sure you spend some time with our brother and sister sites to learn what they recommend, so you have a whole Halloween bag of ideas. While you’re there, sign up for their newsletters so you can receive the latest news, trends, and how-to guides every day.