Horror Writers Association Blog

Halloween Haunts: Spooky Box Tradition by Brianna Malotke


One of my earliest memories of spending time with my mom was also my first ever haunted house. I was probably the youngest person in line, but I was over the moon to venture out with my mom and her friends to prove I was fearless. I had made it all the way through the line, even with some very animated characters, creepy light effects and bloodcurdling screams coming from within the house looming in front of us. We were finally at the front, ready to enter the scary haunted house. It didn’t take long until I was absolutely in over my head. Walking down a pitch-black hallway, the only light came from the strobe light in the room up ahead with a figure pacing back and forth in the fog. I thought the length of the hallway would give me the time I needed to build up a little more courage before we reached the frightening person up ahead, but I was wrong. Walking along that hallway there were people hidden behind picture frames, and once you got near them, a head would pop out.

Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever been terrified of anything as I was that night. Jump scares still get me, even 20 years later. But it was that night, the excitement leading up to it and even the aftermath, that lead to a bond over Halloween that my mom and I have to this day. As the years went by, although I had ruled out haunted houses, we tried a lot of different Halloween traditions. Trick or treating was always a part of our Halloween and every year I had a new costume. While I was growing up, we tried corn mazes, hay rides, watching Disney movies, making cookies, and even carving pumpkins. But as the oldest of six kids, nothing was ever just the two of us again.

After moving away for college and not being able to come home much I really missed the fall adventures with my mom. I was determined to find something that we could do together, even though we now lived states apart. Somehow, we landed on a new tradition where just the two of us are involved. Each October, during the first week or so we mail each other a “Spooky Box.” The premise is some kind of Halloween themed container, so a trick or treat bag, candy container, or other item filled with Halloween themed goodies. Some gifts in the past have included misfortune cookies that tell you insults, Zombie themed hot chocolate, a skull bottle opener, pumpkin patterned hand towels, ghost themed coffee, a skeleton cat mug, and of course the best cereal of all – Count Chocula. For me it’s been the best tradition my mom and I have ever had, and all year I look forward to what I’m going to try and find for her Spooky Box.

A lot of time and thoughtfulness goes into the boxes. One year I bought a plain t-shirt and an embroidery pattern of Zero from Nightmare Before Christmas, knowing it’s my mom’s favorite Halloween movie to make a custom shirt just for her. I don’t remember where the idea came from or who came up with it, but it’s been a fun experience for the past few years. And even more so during the pandemic where you couldn’t go out and wander through stores waiting to come across the perfect little treasures to fill your box. Even though I’m a fully grown adult, receiving my Spooky Box from my mom makes me feel like I’m five years old waiting for presents from Santa to arrive. It’s a tradition that came from growing up and moving away, but it’s been amazing to see how close we’ve gotten while doing this tradition. While I’d happily try another haunted house with my mom, I’ll never give up on this tradition of ours.


Brianna Malotke is a freelance writer and Costume Designer. Some of her most recent work can be found online at The Yard: Crime Blog, The Crypt, and Witch House Amateur Magazine. She has poems in the anthologies Beneath, Cosmos, The Deep, and Beautiful Tragedies 2. In October 2021 she has a short story, flash fiction piece, and several horror poems set to be published in various digital and print publications. Looking ahead to 2022, she has two body horror poems in the upcoming Women in Horror Poetry Showcase, “Under Her Skin,” published by Black Spot Books.


Website: https://brimalotke.wixsite.com/malotkewrites


Promotional Material from “Beautiful Tragedies 2: An Anthology of the Darkest Poetry”

“40 amazing poets come together to create one beautifully tragic anthology! Join us in celebrating the wonderfully macabre and tragically beautiful world of dark poetry, where love isn’t always hearts and flowers and that noise you heard-well, we would advise against going to investigate. Here for your blood-curdling entertainment, are over 100 poems written by an amazingly diverse group of poets-including a Bram Stoker award winning poet, Amazon best-selling horror authors and our very own Dark Poet Princess-who know that poetry can be so much more than lovely, lyrical sentences strung together. Sometimes life is ugly, and causes us to bleed terrible words onto tear-soaked scraps of paper in the dead of the night. But it’s always beautifully tragic.” – Available on Amazon

One comment on “Halloween Haunts: Spooky Box Tradition by Brianna Malotke

  1. What wonderful Halloween memories! I have a tradition of decorating the house with Mom, who has also featured as principal scarer in every family haunted house I created since age 10. Now I want to try making Halloween boxes! Beautifully creepy! Thanks for sharing.

Get a few quick bites from the HWA
(delivered straight to your inbox):

Receive regular updates on our members' new releases, event announcements so you can meet your current and future Horror idols, and much more, just for Horror fans.

(Non-members are especially tasty welcome!)

Close Box

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial