Neil Gaiman has been promoting the idea of giving a scary book to friends and loved ones this Halloween. He's calling it All Hallow's Read. It's a good idea.
My family and I started this tradition several years ago (though ours has remained nameless until now.) The idea came about because my wife and I wanted our children to read more, and we decided Halloween would be a fun day to celebrate books. In our version any book is acceptable, not just scary stories, though because I have a love for the unquiet coffin, I usually ask for something with an extra helping of blood in it.
If you're looking for some ideas, I'll let you know how we've been doing it:
After we finish decorating for Halloween, we each write our name and a list of five books we want on a piece of paper. Then we fold up our lists and drop them into a cauldron (and here I'd suggest you be as creative as possible. Think HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE.)
Each of us picks a name from the cauldron (without knowing who has who) and buys three of the five books.
We wrap the books up in some fun Halloween paper and place them under a Halloween tree (a poor little dead thing.) Keep in mind: The books also make great decorations while you're waiting to open them.
On All Hallow's Eve we light some pumpkin scented candles, turn off the lights and turn on some creepy music. Then we commence to opening our books (usually with a Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee in hand.)
What started as a let's-try-it-out sort of thing has turned into a mandatory tradition in my house, and I guarantee your family will love it too.