When I was growing up in a small town in upstate New York, I remember that Halloween was one of the best nights of the year. We got to be anyone we wanted, and run the streets at night, bumping into friends, comparing costumes, getting as much candy as we possibly could. It was scary, but fun scary. I will never forget it.
The moms in our neighborhood stayed at home handing out candy and welcoming visitors in from the cold, and the dads took us out, stopping for the occasional conversation and drink at the houses of friends. It was a big unplanned, chaotic neighborhood party. The night ended with costumes scattered on the floor and bags of candy thrown open, so we could check out our haul.
Here are a few tips to make sure your kid’s Halloween will someday be a wonderful memory:
- Get into the Costume-Making
Half the fun of Halloween is getting ready for Halloween. Getting your child’s costume together is a great way to bond with her. It invites conversation and closeness. It’s you and your child going on the adventure together, weathering the frustrations, and ups and downs of finding the right costume, or making it yourself. Try not to dismiss this as an unwanted errand that needs to be checked off a list, it’s a great opportunity for you and your child to learn more about each other and have some fun together.
- Big Dinner First
Make your kids favorite meal before they go out trick or treating, that way no matter how much candy they eat, you can feel good they had something nutritious first. That will put you at ease, and if you’re at ease, your kids will have a great time.
- Ease Up
Halloween is the one night where I let them have a ball without Mommy nagging them. Let them have fun and then stow the rest of the goodies in a ziplock bag in the freezer. You’ll have surprise treats for months to come.
- Make Your House “The Fun House”
One of the things I loved about my childhood Halloween was that coming home was just as much fun as being on the street. Kids won’t feel bad about coming home if you make your house a festive environment. Invite people in for drinks after trick or treating, put out a few appetizers, deck the house with scary monsters, orange lights, frightening music, wear a zombie costume. Plan a scary movie night so kids can hang out and relax together after roaming the neighborhood. The more your house is a fun house, the more your kids and their friends will want to be there.
- For Younger kids, Go Early and Quit While You’re Ahead
For the little ones, it’s not about candy, it’s about the adventure. Toddlers and babies tucker out early, and they don’t want to be in a cumbersome – albeit adorable - costume for very long. So take them out for trick or treating right after dinner, while it’s still light. Think of several houses/apartments you want to visit, to plot a course. Then take your booty home and relax—and don’t forget to take lots of pictures to savor the memories for years to come!