Hello Readers! If your household is like any average household, right now your kids are getting excited for one of their favorite holidays: Halloween. This is a sugar-coma induced holiday for kids, and it can be a lot of fun for them. It can also be pretty frightening, for both kids and parents. This can be a dangerous time of the year, so it’s best to lay out some rules for the holiday and stick to your guns. So let’s break it down a little.
Trick or Treating. When I was a kid, we always went to what was called the “tree streets” in my hometown to go trick or treating. These were your average homes in the main housing area of the town. My grandfather lived on one of the streets, and because he wasn’t big on trick or treaters (but the area was the easiest to access for the holiday) my mom would pass out the candy. And while she did that, my older sister and I (sometimes with cousins or friends) would do our own trick or treating through the neighborhood. But we had rules, and it was important to maintain our rules.
First, we were expected to stay within a four block perimeter. This meant we could only go four blocks in any direction from my grandfather’s house. Second, we were expected to check in with her every half hour and let her know which direction we were heading to next. Third, we had to drop off our candy as we went. Fourth, we had to stick together. And finally, we could only go to the doors of houses with the lights on. These were simple rules, but they were effective.
Nowadays, it’s almost ludicrous to imagine sending any child out to trick or treat alone, so establish your own rules for it. I would recommend only allowing trick or treating for ages three to twelve. This means that they will always need a parent to go with them, so decide who will be going. Next, pick an area to go. For your younger kids, I would recommend a community-based event like “Trunk or Treat” or the police-sponsored ones. Every town typically will have a smaller event like this at the community center or the police department for younger kids, and it’s a great way to get them involved in the holiday while still being safe. As an added bonus, these events tend to be in the afternoon and early evening, so you won’t be out all night with your kids.
As your kids get older, you may want to establish a pattern for trick or treating. Start with your own neighborhood and street and work your way out. Remember to stick to their curfew, too, and maintain their bed time. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the typical rules shouldn’t be observed. And as they get older decide if they can go out alone or not. Again, I recommend against it, but the choice is up to you.
When they get home, set up some rules about their haul. Do you want to dump it all in a pile and pick through it for the possible issues? Do you want to go through each kid’s candy individually? The choice is up to you, but this step is crucial! Even in my sleepy small town, there were reports of tampered candy when I was little. There are weirdos everywhere, so it’s best to keep your kids safe. And, finally, keep your kids abreast of their trick or treating days. I don’t recommend letting them go past the age of twelve, or elementary school. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop for them then.
Parties and Sleepovers. When I was in middle school and high school, I started attending Halloween parties with my friends. We would listen to spooky music or watch a scary movie, or we would play games like Clue or Murder Mysteries. We had food and fun, and sometimes we wore costumes, such as my middle school parties. It was a great way to celebrate the holiday safely, and it still kept it fun for me and for my friends.
This is a fabulous way to celebrate with your kids, too. There are themes that you can do for your own parties, with their own menus of theme-inspired food. Like “Monster Mash” with foods like finger-shaped cookies and blood-red punch. Or “Harry Potter” based parties with the book-inspired foods. Or “Frankenstein” with mad-science themed dishes. The possibilities are endless! You can create a costume-based party, or you can spare the expense and tell them it’s a casual event. Invite a couple of your kid’s friends and their parents, and then let them have their own space while the parents sip wine in the kitchen. I highly recommend this for your middle school kids, and it’s sure to be a fun event for them as well as for you.
For high school aged kids, I would recommend considering a sleep over with a movie marathon. There are so many Halloween-based series that teens can enjoy: Harry Potter, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Scream, etc. You can turn it into a simple sleepover with your teen’s favorite foods, and then you can do a big breakfast the next day. As an added bonus, you can put them in charge of the candy bowl for the trick or treaters and spend the night doing your own thing. When I was in high school, we tended to watch the old classics, like Halloween and Friday the 13th because we loved to laugh at the cheesy storylines from the 70s and 80s, but your kids might find the later series like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer just as funny.
Whatever you decide to do with your kids, I highly recommend making your decisions ahead of time with your spouse or significant other and laying down some ground rules before the holiday. This event has the potential to be a lot of fun without too much stress by pre-planning and setting some boundaries. But, above all, make this a fun holiday for your kids. Let them let loose a little and enjoy the festivities!
Until next time,