Boo Baskets

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram or Tik Tok lately, you’ll know that 2023 is the year of the boo basket.

But “What’s a boo basket?” I hear you say! Just another attempt to make me part with my hard-earned cash in October?

And I get it. With the increasing cost of, well, everything, the idea of buying costumes, pails, candy, and decorations can already seem overwhelming. But isn’t Halloween a holiday that has always been over-commercialized?

Boo baskets – or boo buckets – started life as a way to treat your neighbors or friends in the spooky season. You’d fill a pail with treats, leave it on their front step (or, more Texas friendly, ring the doorbell – literally no one wants melted Reeses) and announce that they had “been boo’ed!” Boo baskets seem to have taken on a life of their own, and are now more like the spooky cousin of an Easter basket. 

Sure, it’s an extra expense and it isn’t necessary. But I’m putting together a boo basket for my son again this year, because at almost 3, a lot of the candy that is handed out isn’t really appropriate for him. I am 100% not saying that I don’t give him candy – because I do! – but hard candy, lollipops, and some chewy/tiny sweets (think Pez, Nerds, skittles) are still a hard no from me because of the choking risk. This is the first year he’s been genuinely and adorably excited for the spooky season, so I’m taking advantage and have put together a basket of items for him to enjoy throughout October.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share some ideas for boo baskets for kids of all ages – some local, some big box stores. It doesn’t have to be ridiculously showy or expensive, and I can guarantee that the biggest hits in my son’s basket will be the cheapest items I buy! It’s a simple, spooky way of bringing a little magic to the Halloween holiday.


Little ones are delighted by the simplest, smallest (and often, the cheapest!) things. Go for a mix of items with longevity and cheaper, wind-up toys that may not make it til October 31st:

  • Books – finger puppet and lift-the-flap options are always a big hit in our house! Our local Barnes and Noble has a great display right now, so do the independent bookstores around town. (Check out a list of those, here)
  • Wind-up toys, Halloween rubber ducky (Target Dollar Spot)
  • Spooky Songs for our Tonie Box
  • Halloween themed pajamas – I’d recommend a pair of deliciously soft, Texas-fall-appropriate bamboo jams from local fave Macaron + Me (their Halloween collection is currently on sale!)
  • Hocus Pocus Little People figures (found at HEB, also on Amazon)
  • A cute Halloween themed plate or cup (Dollar Tree, Target, Amazon)
  • Small plush ideal for little hands, I like this Jellycat pumpkin (above) because it’s cute but spooky

Elementary Schoolers

The prime audience for Halloween, these trick or treaters will love a basket loaded with things that glow, spin, and make noise. Mix up some of the following activities with candy, as well as something more long-lasting they can keep for next year:

  • Books – there’s a whole world of Goosebumps books just waiting out there to be rediscovered! I’ve also noticed a great selection of Halloween inspired activity, sticker-by-number and coloring books this year
  • Halloween themed dolls or creatures from local toy maker Pops of Whimsy – catch her at a market or shop her website for Jack and Sally, witches, fairies, owls, and more
  • Halloween window clings for their room (these glowing bats and ghosts are from Barnes and Noble); sheets of stickers
  • Glow in the dark fidget popper (I grabbed a ghost from Target)
  • Glow wands, spinners, and bands are perfect to take out on Halloween night (these are from Michaels, CVS and Walgreens are also a great spot for these)
  • Halloween T-shirt (lots of options! Old Navy, Target, Walmart, and more)
  • Crazy straws (Target dollar spot)
  • Kisses, M&Ms or other candy paired with a redeemable “token” for an at home spooky movie night with their choice of movie

Tweens and Teens

This can be a hard one as some kids are outgrowing the fun of Halloween parties and trick or treating, while others are not. Pivot to a “grown up” Boo Basket with some of the following:

  • Fall or Halloween themed gift cards for Starbucks, Chick Fil A, Marble Slab, or anywhere they like to hang out; a gift card to see a movie
  • Books remain a good option – classics like Sleepy Hollow and the Woman in Black are perfect spooky reads for teens
  • Halloween themed t-shirt – again, lots of options, I picked this one up at Old Navy
  • Face mask or hair product
  • Pack of spooky Oreo’s, Reese’s pumpkins or M&Ms
  • A piece of Halloween decor – I picked up this adorable little dumpling pumpkin light at Barnes and Noble, but a string of battery operated fairy lights or flock of paper bats (I got mine on Etsy) can make a striking, but relatively grown up, addition to their space

You’ll need a vessel to put the goodies in, but use what you have – an existing treat pail, reusable bag, jelly bag etc. – that can be reused to collect candy at Trunk or Treat events or on Halloween night. I put these together with a variety of vessels, including a fabric bucket I got when my son was born, a reusable tote, and a cheap jelly bag in the shape of a pumpkin. Pumpkin pails from HEB, Dollar Tree and Target are great options; as are the boo buckets included with Happy Meals from mid-October.

Whoever you choose to treat this spooky season, I hope these ideas inspire you!

Happy Halloween! 


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A post shared by Natalie Seale (@nlussey)

Natalie is the editor and content manager of Alamo City Moms. A proud Brit, she moved to Texas in late 2017 to be with her husband, a native San Antonian; she became a US Citizen in 2022. Their son was born in October 2020, and they are one and won! She spent the frivolous years of her early 20s pursuing a PhD in Renaissance history, living in Venice, Italy, and teaching. She pivoted into editing when she moved to the US, and joined the ACM team as a contributing writer in summer 2021. The rest, as they say, is history! Natalie lives on the north side of San Antonio with her husband, son, and their English cocker spaniel Oban. She loves searching out and sharing the best places to eat, drink coffee, and shop in San Antonio, and she’s never shy about sharing the highs - and lows - of motherhood. Favorite Restaurant: Tardifs Brasserie Favorite Landmark:World’s Largest Cowboy Boots Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Riverwalk Christmas Lights