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Artist in Residence: Words from the Artist

Hannah Prichard

Artist in Residence, Ceramics

My experience with Northwest Passage was particularly unique. At the start of the summer, I began as the Artist in Residence Intern but finished as the Artist in Residence. The first artist of the summer, Kat King, provided a good model of what the Artist in Residence should be and I was excited to get the opportunity to work with another artist in July. A week before the next artist was supposed to arrive I was told he had canceled last minute and I was asked to step in as the next Artist in Residence. Of course, a myriad of emotions flooded my brain: excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and doubt. I had to make the transition from supporting another artist to becoming the artist, planning and leading my own programming. Although I was not sure if I would be able to reach the bar set by Kat at the beginning of summer, I was eager to share ceramics with the kids.

I have always found working with clay to be a meditative experience. It has acted as an emotional release for me, as well as a source of joy and fulfillment. However, it was not until this summer that I realized how applicable the lessons I’ve learned from pottery are to real-world problems. Even though the kids may not realize it yet, I think they learned a little more about themselves and how they react to different situations. One resident had a hard time at the beginning of every project. Her frustration with the clay would build to a point where she was unable to think logically about the task at hand. Multiple times I told her to step away and take a break. Every time this happened, she would come back a few minutes later and conquer the project. It was only after she became angry with the clay that she was able to move forward and produce a beautiful end product. Not only did she make a quality piece of artwork, but she also expressed immense joy when she saw her finished piece. This resident’s story is a perfect example of how anger can hinder the artistic process. It isn’t until we take a step back and breathe that we can really see how to solve the issue. It also reminds me that anger is a natural part of the problem-solving process.

Over the course of the four weeks, I found that I was learning more from these kids than I could have ever taught them. I forgot what it was like to start out in clay; how difficult and new it felt. We don’t use our hands in our daily lives like we do when we are handcrafting something out of clay. However, the beginning isn’t just a time of frustration and confusion. It is the most innovative part of any new venture. Anything is possible. In addition, kids have a way of surprising you and doing the unexpected. Sometimes my instructions were not as clear as I wanted them to be and kids would create something completely different from what I pictured in my head. Although in many circumstances this was aggravating because I felt I was not communicating effectively, it allowed creativity to run free. These kids are incredibly creative and a lot of them haven’t been able to explore their artistry. Doing pottery allowed them to forge through uncharted innovation and individuality. They were problem-solving and coming up with many new ideas for other projects. For the first two weeks I had very specific plans, but once I realized their creative potential I let the kiddos expand and develop their own ideas. Of course, they needed a little structure, but only enough to get them started. Once they were started they didn’t want to stop.

There were many times a kid would call me over and ask me to do it for them. I would ask them to take a second, then follow their instincts and trust in their own ability. In almost every circumstance the resident told me the next steps to be taken and then proceeded to do it on their own. In that moment of doubt, where I can guess that many people prior had told them they couldn’t do it or simply took over and did it for them, they needed someone to tell them, “You know this, you can do it.” I can personally attest to this feeling; not knowing you had the ability until someone told you that you did. There is no better feeling than being empowered by your own ability.

It was truly inspiring to watch these young people work through and find their own creative process and find the ability to create something beautiful. Frustration is so important because it means that we’re engaged in our work and we care about the outcome. Knowing that we worked harder and really dedicated the time to perfect one-piece makes it more significant than the others that came easily too us. This experience exceeded my expectations and the moments of frustration, hope, and joy I had with these kids will never be forgotten.

 

 

Maple takes first in Siren Summerfest Chalk Art Competition

A humid, rainy day is not ideal weather for a festival, however, that’s what was provided for the Siren Summerfest Chalk Art Competition. The optimism of the Maple unit, a competitor in the contest, was abounding and brightened the gloom of a possible thunderstorm.

When we arrived at the old Fourwinds Market parking lot and saw that it was vacant of competitors, truth be told, I was nervous about the Maple units reactions to the possibility of the event being canceled. To my relief, they were understanding and said it was okay. I gave them two choices, we could turn around now and have a regular day of Saturday programming, or we could play at the park and go back when we felt tired out. When one of the residents asked to check the sign out by the road to see if there was any new information about the event, out of blind optimism, I said sure, maybe it moved.

Lo and behold, IT MOVED to Crooked Lake Park! The fish pavilion was our new destination! As we gathered our blankets and chalk, I anticipated there being a few contestants already hard at work with masterpieces, but to our surprise, Maple unit was the first to arrive! The group convinced Olivia, one of Maple’s Weekend Primaries, to participate as well and she sidled up right next to us creating her own brilliant artwork.

Maple unit began mapping out their plans and was fast at work in harmony and contentment. The artwork began to take shape and transformed into a whimsical underwater visual splendor with the main subject, a Mermaid, eating a cheeseburger. This completely encapsulates the Maple unit’s humor and style constantly quoting funny movies and telling jokes.

Time flew by and our 5’ by 5’ square was complete, but Maple unit and Olivia were the only competitors! The Siren Chamber of Commerce, Chris, pulled me aside and asked if Maple unit would enjoy the prize items that were originally dedicated for a much younger group, a large basket of Crayola art supplies, to which I had to reply “ABSOLUTELY!”

Maple unit was incredibly gracious when they accepted 1st place and were awarded the treasures of the grand prize. They stood proudly by their work for some photo ops and we ended the morning by having lunch and a treat at the local Dairy Queen, which many Maple residents would argue that Pop Rocks DO belong in ice cream. What a great day it turned out to be and I am so incredibly proud of the Maple unit’s accomplishment.

Happiness through Kindness and Service

At Northwest Passage, we understand the importance of living a therapeutic lifestyle. One important element of that therapeutic lifestyle is service. Participating in service and exemplifying kindness can help not only those at the receiving end of the generosity but also those who give. Kindness is good for a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Practicing kindness can make a person happier, improve physical health, and even lengthen a person’s lifespan.

Neuroscience and psychology offer scientific evidence that shows the physical and emotional benefits of service and acts of kindness. According to research from Emory University, when a person does an act of kindness or service the pleasure centers of the brain light up. These are the same areas that light up for the person receiving the kindness. This distinct physical sensation that is associated with helping is known as the “helper’s high”. Performing acts of kindness increases the serotonin level in the brains of both the giver and recipient of the kind act; even anyone who simply witnesses the act gets the boost! This increase in the brain’s feel-good chemical causes both the giver and recipient to feel stronger, more energetic, calmer and less depressed.

Kindness also helps to build and nurture social relationships. Showing kindness and empathy helps us to relate to others, making the relationships we build more positive and fulfilling. Any behavior that gets people interacting with one another can generate positive feelings. Naturally, any activity that involves participating in service or an act of kindness involves interacting with others. In doing service you are showing kindness and compassion for another person.

Helping others also buffers the negative effects of stress on one’s well-being. By showing empathy and doing acts of kindness a person is distracted from any negative thoughts that may be weighing on themselves. By focusing on being compassionate or kind to others, a person is responding to their own pain and the other’s pain with compassion and caring action. When you tune into another’s needs and send compassionate thoughts to them it fills you with more energy. It is human nature to want to help someone that is suffering or in need of help. We care about others and it feels good to relieve the stress we feel when we see another suffering.

Being compassionate, kind, and doing acts of service produces a sense of fulfillment. By helping others, one has a greater feeling of self-worth and purpose. You feel better mentally and emotionally when you stop thinking about negative stressors in your own life and take a few moments to help someone else in need. Being kind is good for yourself and those around you.

 

 

           

We are always looking for ways to give our residents an opportunity to engage in the community through acts of service. Over the years the kiddos have shoveled snow off numerous wheelchair ramps, planted 60,000 white pines, cleaned hundreds of miles of roadsides, stacked hundreds of cords of wood for “Interfaith Caregivers”, helped set up the Siren Lions Club garage sale for the past ten years, helped load vehicles at the local food shelf and helped clean hundreds of Northwest, WI boat and canoe landings. This is just a short list of the many ways that our kiddos get involved in the community. Service not only helps the kids on their path towards hope and healing but also allows them to foster healthy relationships with community members.

By working directly with the community the residents begin the healing process by feeling wanted and accepted. Their sense of self-worth explodes in a positive direction when an elderly lady says “Thank you, young man, for helping me”.  Hope for a better tomorrow is restored by the gratitude and the shining beacon of the local community while embracing the kids within its light and showing genuine humanity and resound.

Justin Stariha

Expressive Arts Instructor

Service gives the kiddos a sense of accomplishment, pride and overall satisfaction in knowing they are contributing to a community.  Often times, service becomes an important part of their wellness plan when they leave Passage to continue their contribution to the community they return to.

Amanda Lundquist

Program Coordinator

Maple Makes the Kinni River their Studio through Partnership with Kinni River Land Trust

Our Maple unit has been given the opportunity to join in a partnership with the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, participating in an explore the Kinni project. Every couple of weeks, the Kinni Land Trust hosts our kiddos to experience the beauty and intersection between nature and human impact. In exchange for their time and expertise, we will be taking and sharing with them photos of the beautiful Kinni River.

The kids and Kinni River volunteers have visited different sections of the river, spending time appreciating and photographing the diverse areas and scenery that the historic river has to offer. Maple has been making the Kinni their studio, taking photos at each of their visits. Along with the Land Trust volunteers, the group was joined with volunteers from Trout Unlimited. Each kiddo was paired with a volunteer to learn how to fly fish at the Red Cabin site of the restored portion of the Kinni River.

     

This partnership exemplifies multiple PassageWay elements, giving our kids a chance to practice different aspects of a therapeutic lifestyle. Being out on the Kinni River gives the residents a chance to enjoy the serenity and therapeutic benefits of nature and relaxation. Working with and spending time with the wonderful volunteers from the Kinni Land Trust and Trout Unlimited gives the kids a chance to build positive and supportive relationships. Practicing photography and learning a new skill such as fishing, is a great way to help the kids develop a passion and interest for positive hobbies that they will be able to carry with them after their time at Passage. This service project is something that is beneficial for both the kids and the partnering organization. This project gives the residents a chance to contribute to the community and share their art, as well as assisting the Kinni Land Trust in their conservation efforts by photographing the beauty of the Kinni River.

     

                       

Beauty

By: Dylan P

As soon as I saw these flowers in the prairie I got out my camera and took a picture. The beauty that lies within this picture is remarkable. It makes me happy to see nature this beautiful.

Spreading Your Wings

Taking off is the hardest part

It comes from deep within the heart

But if you don’t you won’t survive

Flying will help you thrive

So spread your wings and jump,

Because if you do

You will

FLY!

Celebrating Pride Through Acceptance

June was Pride month, and at Northwest Passage, the kids in Prairieview were given the opportunity to reflect upon Pride in a different light through discussion and artistic expression. Staff member, Leonora, asked the kids to focus not on accepting members of the LGBTQ+ community, but on those who reject it. The kids discussed what acceptance means to them and how they should not try to tell those who disagree what to think but to accept their beliefs and views in the same way they expect their beliefs to be accepted. She encouraged the kids to become advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, to help people that do not agree understand and hopefully reach mutual acceptance. The discussion not only centered around acceptance, but also around what love outside of romance or sexuality means to them and why that is important to understand in talking about acceptance.

As a member and advocate of the community myself, I find it equally important to learn to accept people having difficulty

accepting something as it is to get them to accept.

~ Leonora Otto, Youth Development Specialist

In celebrating Pride month, it is important to recognize the allies of the LGBTQ+ community and not just the supporters. It is important to give the kids the chance to have an open discussion about pride and acceptance, to help them reach acceptance not only for those that may disagree with them but acceptance for themselves.

Artist in Residence: Kat King Making Connections Through Music

Artist in Residence Kat King brings joy and inspiration through music!

For the past four weeks, creativity has been bountiful at Schaefer Cabin thanks to our wonderful Artist in Residence Kat King. Kat has spent the last month living at Schaefer Cabin sharing her talent and passion for music with the kids. Groups from each unit were able to visit Kat at the cabin each week and experience all that music can do to benefit a person’s mental and emotional state. Writing, playing, and listening to music can be a positive outlet for the kids to be able to outwardly portray and understand what it is they may be struggling with internally. Music is a great way for an individual to express themselves and to connect with a group, making it easier to open up and communicate emotions and thoughts.

At Northwest Passage, this year, the Artist in Residence program allowed our residents to explore their imagination, use

creative writing to express themselves, and find purpose in their lives through the vehicle of music. Truly, it’s been amazing 

to behold a glimpse of their stories taking flight. 

~ Molly Thompson, Expressive Arts Instructor

The process of songwriting began with the kids and Kat going on a silent nature hike down to the Namekagon River and through the woods, observing their senses and surroundings. After the hike, the kids were given time to free-write about what they saw, heard, and felt. Once everyone was given the time to reflect, the kids began to share the things in nature they observed. As the kids shared, Kat wrote down all the different expressions and metaphors that the kids used to relate nature back to their experiences. In no time the groups had established a unique, collaboratively written song. The kids then worked with Kat on the melodies, and getting their songs performance ready for the Artist Reception that was held at the end of Kat’s stay.

Many of their writings were incredibly deep and insightful and before I knew it we had a whole marker board full of potential

song lyrics and ideas. It was fun to see one kid share an idea and soon other kids in the room were lighting up and sharing

their own ideas, the room alive with a creative energy that I live for. The cabin allowed me the space and solitude to come up

with melodies to their lyrics and seeing their reactions from watching their songs come to life was incredibly rewarding. 

~ Kat King

Artist in Residence

Watching the process unfold and ideas come together, the introspection and the laughter, and the creativity and insight guided by a gifted artist and team of dedicated counselors was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Kat helped the kids to not only find the musicians and songwriters within themselves but also to incorporate lyrics with metaphors from nature and their own journeys of mental health. The songs they created helped to show their true selves and they will become part of the way that they define themselves to the world.

~ Ian Karl

Experiential Programming Coordinator

Songs

Raging Fire

By  Maple

 

If I go near the water, my flames might burn out

So I stand here staring with this fear and doubt, fear and doubt

This fast moving current fills me with dread

All these “what if’s” swirling around in my head, in my head

Chorus:

A few drops of water may dampen the flame

But the current can’t stop me, I’ll rise above the pain

I take a deep breath and my dreams rage on

Pushing past the water that’s confined me so long

My mental health may have left a smudge

But watch me trek on through the sludge, through the sludge

Jumping this river may help me say

I made it through another day, another day

Chorus:

Oh – oh – oh- oh- oh- oh- oh (4X)

Bridge:

My hopes and dreams rage on

Because of the fire, the forest lives on

My roots are settled deep and strong

I finally feel like I belong

Wooden Palace

By Willow

Birds call out somewhere above

Welcoming us with their songs of love

Let the river lead you there

It can guide you anywhere

Hearing birds sing as we walk

I would rather listen than talk

I can hope, I can dream

I can laugh, I can sing

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

Palace full of positivity

It can be your friend if you let it be

Unplugged with an open heart

Absorbing nature brings a new start

Set things free, let them live

Endless vibes nature can give

Enter in, forget your worries

Let it speak, hear the stories

Trees stand tall, peace sets in

Schaefer Cabin is a win

River of Sorrow, River of Hope

By Riverside

The river rushing by, I’m getting passed by

I’m stuck while things keep moving

Sometimes life isn’t for choosing

The process, oh, so slow

Leaves are the first to go

Now a log, but once a tree

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be

I have hit rock bottom, now it’s time to rise

Maybe getting stuck was a blessing in disguise

These layers are holding me together

My temporary home – I won’t be stuck forever

This is just a pause

The things I’ve been through, the things I have seen

The things I have witnessed – I wish my mind was clean

I’ve come to realize I wouldn’t change a thing

Everything I’ve been through

It’s made me who I’m meant to be

Once a river of sorrow

Now the river of hope

Fast or slow

Ready for the torrential flow

Life is Nature

By Oak

 

I have the eye of sight, but I can’t see

Feels like I’m being walked on like leaves

Would somebody please show respect to me

River is the path driven by the current

Taking away the pain so I won’t feel hurt

Chorus:

Standing tall and firm like a tree

And ask for what I need

I can be as confident as I want to be

River is flowin’ like the breeze that’s blowin’

Always flowing forward, I won’t go back

Looking downstream with uncertainty

Not knowing where it leads

Fill up my soul with the peace it needs

I’m beginning to see this positivity

The path that is within me

The path that is within me for which I need

I believe there’s a magic about the Artist in Residence program that no other program can grasp. I get to see the residents

engage each moment we spend at Schaefer Cabin and watch them grow as a unit and as individuals, which helps

tremendously in their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness. The program also connects them with nature,

creativity, and the relationships they form while at Northwest Passage. 

~ Molly Thompson

Expressive Arts Instructor

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Moving the Body to Move the Mind

Exercise gives the teens a positive way to cope with emotions, experiences, and stress.  Here at Northwest Passage we try to incorporate the Passageways into everything we do. The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad [RDGS] exemplified this during their performances, showing the benefits of exercise on the mind and positive personal development. Connecting the mind and the body helps us to be in tune with our needs. There are both mental and emotional benefits to exercise: sharper memory and thinking, higher self-esteem, better sleep, more energy, and stronger resilience. Exercise releases tensions in the body; when your body feels better your mind will too.

The Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a group that meets on a weekly basis to promote mastery, healthy emotional release, empowerment, confidence, nonjudgmental attitude toward self and others, and self-expression through dance. Dancing is a positive outlet giving the girls a way to get more comfortable within their own skin, express their emotions and experiences within a creative condition, gain mastery, increase their self-esteem and overall positive emotions as well as offer yet another healthy exercise means. RDGS is a place where the teens can experience liberation and emotional release in a healthy and sustainable way. Through dance, the teens are given the opportunity to take ownership and to be creative in their treatment, working through challenges and healing.

Thanks to your support, Northwest Passage is able to give the teens positive outlets and therapeutic moments like this. The RDGS would like to thank everyone that came to their performance and all the help along the way. This was a memorable experience for many reasons and they thank everyone for their support. They couldn’t do this without you, and hope you enjoyed it as much as the girls did!

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a place where teens can learn, grow, and obtain mastery. It is a place to deepen the relationship with self, while also being part of a group; a collective group that is brave enough to practice being non-judgmental and expressive. At RDGS, we dance to express not to impress.”–Lisa

“Razzle Dazzle Groove Squad is a safe and truly supportive environment for teenage girls to come together, step outside of their comfort zone, challenge and encourage one another while all expressing their thoughts and emotions in an experiential platform. Seeing the girls glow during and after their performance is an affirmation of the value of what we do for and with them.” –Gina

Winter Games Come to Passage!

The spirit of the Olympics spread throughout the building as a part of a staff-initiated effort!

Walking through the halls of Prairieview and Assessment the last few weekends you’d have heard a lot more laughter and bustle coming from the units. Kids and staff alike were all in on the Olympic games this year thanks to some above and beyond effort from the weekend direct care providers. “The Olympics are a special time where the whole world stops and comes to gather to celebrate what humanity can accomplish despite our differences. We wanted to make sure the kids had an opportunity to learn about different cultures represented at the games, celebrate diversity and unity, and most importantly just have fun!” Amanda Leckel, weekend staffer explains. Adam Parker, added, “We included activities for all levels, the arts, education, and even ethnic foods in the planning.” Adam, “And of course, a little healthy completion.”

Five units competed in a variety of contests like those listed below and earned points across three weekends. And it was a hit! Adam says of the Passage Winter Games, “I loved seeing the kids cheer one another on during the competition. It made everything we did to make these events happen worth it. We know how important relationships are to these kids and any chance we have to bring them together to work toward a common cause is a chance worth taking.” Amanda says, All of the kiddos put in a lot of effort and it was a blast watching them try new things and learn about their assigned countries.”

  • Ethnic snacks
  • Snow structure building
  • Skating
  • Unity Poetry contest
  • Artist poster chronicling the experience
  • Unit decorating
  • Flag creation and design competition
  • Obstacle course
  • Medicine ball throw
  • Sledding relay
  • Photo Booth
  • Snowshoeing

 

Doing these events helped me realize that I really can contribute something valuable to a cause bigger than myself.

Prairieview Resident

_____

AND THE WINNERS ARE

Program coordinator, Amanda Lundquist said of the events, “As a program coordinator, I’m grateful for the staff who show great creativity and initiative to bring opportunities like these to our kiddos. Amanda and Adam stepped up and made all of this possible through hard work, planning, and collaboration. I was thrilled to see what fun the kids had.”

Spreading Hope

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO YOU!

The kids had an absolute blast last week as staff passed out greetings cards with wonderful messages of hope and tasty locally made cookies.

Last week was the second annual Valentine’s Day of Hope at Northwest Passage. But, “What is this all about?” asked one new staff member as the excitement spread through the building. Well, it’s a long story, kind of. Last year a pair of staff were looking to engage people who cared about Passage in a way that was accessible, directly impacted the kids, and wouldn’t cost them a dime (literally, not even a stamp). They stumbled across the idea of asking our “friends” to send in cards with inspirational messages to our kids. “We asked our supporters to send these cards in for the kids, of course, but also for themselves. We know that any act of kindness, no matter how small, is good for us. It ties in with the power of service, one of the eight tenets of the PassageWay.” explains clinical director, Angela Fredrickson. She goes on to say, “We wanted to be able to provide an opportunity for those who care about the work we do to be a part of that work.” So, they gave it a try. The team sent out cards with a simple note asking people to send in messages to the kids. The response was overwhelming.

Our son was at Northwest Passage several years ago. It was a rough time for everyone. Even after Passage, there were challenges. But gradually, our son dug deep into his soul and realized that life could be good if he made it that way. Today, he is a college graduate with a good job, sober for several years and helping others who are on their way to sobriety. Our hopes and prayers for you are that you will receive the help that NWP offers and see the “good” in life. We don’t know you, but we love you.

Parent of Past Resident

“I found myself tearing up as I read through these heartfelt messages people were sending in,” one staff member recalls. Another one talks about the power of reading the notes sent by the parents of past clients.  “It was empowering to see the stories from parents I’d worked with in the past. To know our work changed the lives of their kids in such profound ways. I was speechless.” The cards came from social workers, educational consultants, past clients and their parents, donors, and partners who have worked with our kids in the past. And their message was loud and clear – so many people care about these kids and we’ve got to do this again. So we did!

This year we saw the response to the effort double, responses came in from across the country from hundreds of supporters. So when staff walked into the program on Valentine’s Day this year, they were able to give kids a handful of cards chock full of messages of compassion, hope, and inspiration. Not to mention a delicious sugar cookie and a glass of milk. So sit back and soak up some of the hope that flooded over our kids.

And thank you, for being a part of such a beautiful moment that touched the lives of staff, the kids, and you yourself.

Be assured, you are important. I am so very proud of the work you do each day to become the person you are meant to be!

Kathy

Please know that you are loved and that I care about you. Be confident that you have the power to overcome your obstacles. Have patience with yourself and never give up.

Deb

You will not be given any card in life that you cannot handle. You were born with the beauty and the strength to persevere through any hardships life throws your way and please don’t ever forget that you are strong, beautiful and worthy.

Ryan

Connect to the gift of life, trust is within you, let it sustain you, like the flower that blooms in the stone. Miracles are everywhere. Yes, that is also you. May universal love enfold you and sustain you.

Lori

I want to remind you how strong you are and that whatever challenges you are facing you can get through them. Be the best you that you can be, you are worth more than you know.

Jane

To learn more about how service fits into the Northwest Passage philosophy of living an everyday therapeutic lifestyle, check out the PassageWay.

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All the Boos Without the Booze: How to Have a Haunting Halloween in Sobriety

Article Submitted by guest author Caleb Anderson of Recovery Hope
Photo Credit: hzv_westfalen_de, Pixabay

While celebrating Halloween may have previously entailed dressing up in a costume, heading to a party, and drinking alcohol or using substances, now that you’re in sobriety, that’s obviously not a party you want or need to attend. Luckily, there are plenty of more low-key and sober options that are fun or scary, and some are a little bit of both. From themed parties to scary movie marathons, you’re sure to find a way to have a haunting Halloween in sobriety.

Throw a Themed Party

Hosting your own sober Halloween party is a great way to celebrate the holiday without the presence of substances. Make the party a themed celebration to take the festivities up a few notches. The decorations, food, beverages, and costumes can be centered on the theme. For example, you can host a Harry Potter-themed party, complete with a Sorting Hat game and Golden Snitch cake pops. Ask guests to dress like their favorite houses or characters.

A Nancy Drew Mystery Party and a Clue-themed party are also great ideas. Either option sets up the opportunity to have guests solve mysteries during the get-together. For Clue, guests can wear colors of their favorite characters, and a Nancy Drew can feature magnifying glass cookies and campy detective decor. Other themes can be The Nightmare Before Christmas, a mad scientist’s lab, or a haunted house.

Host A Pumpkin Carving Party

Carving pumpkins is one of the most popular Halloween traditions, so why not host a pumpkin carving party on Halloween night? You can either provide pumpkins for everyone or ask guests to bring their own pumpkins. If you choose the latter, you should still have a few on hand in case someone forgets to bring one. The best carving pumpkins are smooth, firm, and symmetrical. You can also print out pumpkin-carving templates and patterns.

Carving outside is ideal since pumpkin carving can get messy, but if the weather doesn’t permit outdoor carving, set up a station inside. Cover the tables with newspaper, kraft paper, or a disposable tablecloth. Because pumpkin flesh and seeds can be slippery, consider covering the floors too. Serve fall-inspired food, drinks, and desserts like pumpkin-shaped cheese balls, warm apple cider, and leaf-shaped cookies.

Go to a Halloween Party

Instead of hosting your own Halloween party, you can attend a friend’s spooky bash. However, planning ahead before you go is crucial if you go this route. Bring a sober friend with you if possible, and always determine transportation arrangements beforehand. Either drive your own car or have the number of a cab company in your phone so that you can leave when you’re ready, especially if you start to feel uncomfortable.

Someone may offer you a drink without knowing you’re in sobriety, or someone may try to pressure you into using substances. Think of a script to say “no” so the person knows you’re definitive in your decision. Also, when you arrive at the party, scope out the layout so you can have a smooth exit if you need to leave.

Visit a Haunted City

This Halloween, take a trip to a city with a haunting history. Whether you live on the East Coast or the West Coast or somewhere in between, there’s bound to be a haunted city near you. Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA are two of the most popular destinations. Some hauntings in Charleston have been reported since the 1700s when pirates were hung, and Savannah is dubbed “the most frightening city and seaport in all of America” by the Travel Channel.

Boston, MA is an obvious choice because of the soldiers who perished in the Revolutionary War, but it’s also home to the first person to be persecuted as a witch. San Antonio, TX features a few haunted hotels, which have been the site of murder and disruption throughout history. You can also add St. Paul, MN; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New Orleans, LA; Gettysburg, PA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Portland, OR; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC to your list.

Of course, you shouldn’t feel bad about staying home and watching scary movies or handing candy out to trick-or-treaters. You should do whatever you feel comfortable doing that doesn’t involve using substances. As long as you make a plan and prepare for the evening, you can have a fun and frightful Halloween while staying focused on your goal of sobriety.

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