October 15, 2009

Cut the Chaos: Halloween Fun for Everyone

Parenting contributor Lian Dolan encourages you to go all out for this year’s festivities.

I love Halloween. I am all for over-the-top house decorations, planning the kids’ costumes months in advance and hording the best candy starting right after Labor Day. My younger son once told me why Halloween was his favorite holiday. “Mom,” he said, “you get to run around in the dark collecting free candy, and you don’t have to wear itchy church clothes.” I think that sums it up from a child’s point of view. And with my love of Halloween, it’s a good thing that I moved into a neighborhood where the adults embrace the ghoulish. My corner of town is a destination trick-or-treat zone with hundreds of kids working the streets in search of candy and neighbors that create their own haunted houses that would rival any Hollywood production. Here are my tips on how to cut the chaos and enjoy a spectacular Halloween.

For the kids

  • Be prepared to buy two costumes. Or if you’re crafty, be prepared to make two costumes. Just accept that some little ones will change their minds at the very last minute. Who are the mind-changers? The kids who love to dress up! Yes, this running around at the last minute can be expensive and frustrating, but think of the two costumes as an investment in the future. I guarantee that the child who wants two costumes is also the child who enjoys being a ninja warrior in January as much as he does in October. You’ll get your money’s worth!
  • Forget art directing the pumpkin carving. Let your kids carve the pumpkins they want, not the pumpkins you want from a magazine. Remember when a jack o’ lantern was two triangles, a circle and a candle inside? Well, that still counts as a great jack o’lantern, despite the push for more sophisticated creations. Nothing looks better than a bunch of kid-designed pumpkins glowing in a window or on a porch. Go for quantity, not quality!
  • Let them eat one piece of candy a day. Why not? Chances are they will tire of the candy before they finish the bag. Some don’t even like to eat their haul. My oldest really prefers sorting the candy to eating the candy. If the candy’s not gone by Thanksgiving, throw it away while they are at school. (Yes, I am that kind of mom.)

For the house

  • Get in the spirit! Come on, get some gravestones and put on a spooky light show. Throw some cobwebs over the bushes and hang some giant spiders from the trees. Dress up to hand out the candy and fill your house with scary music. Now is the time to get that smoke machine you’ve always wanted. Candy for all who show up at the door! Once one neighbor embraces the Halloween spirit, others will follow. Think of it as your gift to the neighborhood kids. Create memories that will last a lifetime — for other people’s children.
  • Go for the big bars. Just once, forget the “fun size” candy bars and get the full-size versions. I guarantee you will not regret the expense. The look of pure joy on the faces of the trick-or-treaters when you hand them that giant candy bar is worth the cost. The kids will go nuts, running down the street telling others about your superior loot. And really, don’t you want to “win” Halloween? Be the best house on the block? One year of full-size treats and you’ll be known forever as the ”house with the best candy.“

About the author: Lian Dolan is a writer, mother, Satellite Sister and creator of The Chaos Chronicles, a podcast, blog and website about modern motherhood.

MakeLifeBetter MakingLifeBetter provides tips and smart strategies to help you feel good, look good, and get more out of life.

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