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By Lia Blanchard

Walk down through any retail establishment in October, and you’ll see Halloween items everywhere. Costumes, décor, candy, and… gifts. While isn’t a classically traditional gift-giving holiday, the rate at which Halloween culture is changing is creating new traditions.

Just a few decades ago, Halloween was little more than a fun day for children to dress up in a homemade costume and score some candy from their neighbors. These days, adults have as much fun as the children, going to great lengths to decorate their homes and put together elaborate costumes – all with decidedly adult themes. A 2007 Washington Post article titled “When Did Halloween Get So Ghastly Gruesome?” noted this trend toward gory, scary, or even sexy Halloween decorations and activities.

Americans spend billions on the holiday, with 2012 on pace for a record $8 billion in Halloween sales. In addition to costumes and candy, greeting cards and gifts for far-away friends and family are often part of the yearly Halloween budget, as are gifts for party hosts.

But what in the world do you buy as a Halloween gift? Dealing with sizing and individual taste for a costume can be tricky (get it?), and a plain bag of candy is just… a plain bag of candy. We’ve come up with our picks for the best ways to share your enjoyment of Halloween with your family and friends.

Halloween cards are very popular. Both paper cards and electronic ones are easy to find and simple to send. If you’re crafty, this video demonstrates how to make a really fun Halloween-themed card.

If you’re looking for something small to give – perhaps as party favors or office gifts – we recommend any of the following ideas:

  • Fill a small mason jar with candy and decorate it with a face made of black construction paper. White candy = ghost face, orange candy = jack o’ lantern face. Use color-coordinated paper and ribbon to top the jar.
  • Small plastic tubes like these can be filled with small candies or gumballs and decorated with a Halloween-themed ring – a plastic spider looks great!
  • Fill a themed treat bag or box with candy. Finish with colored ribbon.

For a hostess gift, or a far-away family member, consider a gift basket. Art of Appreciation has several themed gifts ranging from spooky to just plain fun, for kids and adults. The Ceramic Pumpkin Gift Basket is a particular favorite, as the ceramic pumpkin container makes a fabulous holiday centerpiece to be enjoyed for years to come. Anything that can do double-duty as décor always makes a great gift!

Gift-giving at Halloween is more about sharing the “spirit” of the day than about making a heartfelt personal connection – it’s about fun!

What are your thoughts and ideas about Halloween gifts?

AOA's Best Witches Happy Halloween Tote Bag Gift Basket