*Always accompany your child while they go hunting for candy, or have another adult serve as a companion. Halloween is fun for most, but it can be scary for little ones. If you encounter something frightening, reassure your child that “It’s only pretend, you don’t have to look if it’s scary—I’m right here with you!” That reassurance acknowledges their feelings and makes them feel safe and secure.
*Determine a pre-planned route and a specific time you will start and end trick-or-treating. Daylight may not be “spooky” but it’s safer. If you have older kids a Halloween curfew with rules is very important—make sure you get an itinerary for their night and require check-ins if they have a cell phone. Who am I kidding, they pretty much all have a cell phone, right?
*Avoid cumbersome costumes with too many accessories. It’s hard enough to keep track of your child’s shoes, glasses and homework, let alone their vampire teeth or fairy wings—and heaven forbid you lose the candy bag!
*Make sure your child can move freely as they navigate the neighborhood. It’s easy to get tangled in fabric or miss a step because you can’t see your feet. Excessive fabric is also a fire hazard if you cross paths with a pumpkin lit by a real candle.
*Avoid masks, and paint faces with kid-safe makeup to get the effects you want instead. Masks can obscure vision and become sweaty and uncomfortable as the night goes on. (I can understand why Michael Myers was not a happy guy)
*Accent your child’s costume and candy bag with reflective tape for safety when crossing the street, and use a flashlight (or use a smart phone app) to avoid tripping or falling on uneven sidewalks, landscaping, and steps.
*Dress for the weather! My older sister will never forget the Halloween she had to leave her pink princess look behind in favor of a toasty makeshift costume made of footie pajamas, a monkey mask, and a tail. (She and our mother eventually made up in time for Christmas) but she was comfortable on a chilly and blustery night of trick-or-treating! The same considerations must be made for heat and rain—and bottom line, remember that any extreme will call for modified trick-or-treat plans.
*Let your child make their costume choice—it’s not about you and your expectations. What makes sense to your child may be crazy to you—but roll with it within reason. A big part of development is making choices and expressing creativity!
*Personally, trick-or-treating ended for me once I was taller than the adults answering the door. 12 years of age is a good cut off point for most. In lieu of trick-treating, co-host a party for older tweens—make it “cool” with a slightly older vibe. Great music, party food and fun games beneath one roof is a lot easier to supervise and ensures safety.
*This is a foregone conclusion, but please go through your child’s candy to be sure they weren’t given anything dangerous. Keep an eye open for something that may have been tampered with. Make sure wrappers are intact and free of rips and tears. When in doubt just toss it—it’ll give you peace of mind.
Now the Sweet Stuff!
What in the world do you do with all of the candy you now have at home? Clearly, you must have enough sugar in the house to fuel Michael Phelps through another Olympics, so what’s a parent to do?
*I like the idea of pre-ordering a pizza for delivery at the time you plan to be home from your night out trick-or-treating. Having a dinner treat ready to go puts some real food in your child’s stomach before they consume an army of fun-size candy bars.
*Create a candy stash to reward your kids throughout the year. The location must be kept top secret and subject to inventory. (Just kidding)
*Can you make candy educational? Yup. Take the bag and ask the kids to sort and count their treasures. I guarantee you, math never tasted so good! While you’re at it –alphabetize the stuff for an extra level of challenge!
*Play a sweet game of tic-tac-toe. Create your grid with masking tape on the floor and you candy for the Xs and Os, and the winner takes the pot!
*Freeze the candy—I have no idea how Smarties chill out, but who knows? Freezing anything slows down human consumption, and I have yet to hear of a Skittles brain freeze.
*Make homemade Blizzards. Take the candy, the ice cream of your choice and throw them into a blender with a splash of milk or almond milk. DQ has nothing on you…
*Check to see if any of your local dentists have a candy amnesty program. You bring in the candy loot and the good doctor will pay by the pound with all that sugar rush going to the troops who serve our country.
*Have the kids decorate lunch bags, fill them with their extra candy, tie up with ribbon and deliver to a homeless shelter or transitional housing. Good deeds=good kids!
*I’m famous for taking my surviving candy and making “buried treasure brownies.” The recipe is simple—all you need is a brownie mix. I chop the candy into pieces and add it to the batter—and then off to the oven and the result is simply awesome! I like to share them with my coworkers and my pants still fit post-Halloween. Everybody wins.
So there you have it! Have a safe and happy holiday, and don’t forget to visit your favorite Kids Quest to help us celebrate Halloween! Activities will vary by center, but every location will offer great fun for everyone!
Until next month,