Friday, October 25, 2013

Making Hallowe'en Enjoyable for All


I am getting really excited for next week. I love Hallowe'en. Love it! Walking Maxi today I was checking out the decorations going up, paying particular interest to the progress on the haunted house two streets up. Always a hit! I thought today I would share a few of my thoughts on Hallowe'en "best practices."

These are all purely my own opinions of course, and I expect many will disagree with at least a few. Just reflections based on over 4 decades of trick-or-treating experience.  The first few are for the givers (or not - that's cool too) of treats, and the rest for the receivers. Many are common-sense. Some are me being cranky. (I find that happens more and more as I age.) Regardless, here we go!

1. Just some advice - if you are giving out treats, be prepared for the onslaught. Once there's even a hint of darkness the kids will start ringing your bell. Sometimes before. Don't be caught unawares. (I hate feeling frazzled.) When I was working downtown I used to set up our treats before leaving for work in the morning. This year I'll do it as soon as I get LB home from school. Just in case.

2. Don't plan to wander off to watch TV during the trick-or-treating hours. It will only frustrate you and the folks waiting outside your door. Just resign yourself to door duty for a good couple of hours. Sorry. (This one is a particular problem in our house when Hallowe'en falls on a football night.) I think the folks who sit outside on their porches have the best idea!

3. If you are handing out treats, have the light on over your door. A pumpkin or some other sign you are participating is a great idea as well.  (I'm all about full-on graveyard decorating, but I know that's not for everyone.)

4. Once you run out of treats ("shell out"), turn off the lights at the front of the house, turn off/blow out decorations, and hide where the folks on the sidewalk can't see you. This may get you some peace and quiet for the rest of the evening.

5. We always keep our cats indoors. Black cats are especially imperiled on Hallowe'en, but all cats are better off inside, away from the confusion of crowds and costumes.

6. For those houses giving out treats, if you have a dog think of a plan to keep her safe as well. Is she a runner like ours? High strung and nervous? The door bell ringing and the steady stream of excited, costumed children may be a problem. We settle our pup up in the bedroom with water and food, a couple of her favourite toys, and the TV on for familiar sounds. She's sheltered from the chaos and won't accidentally escape the house as someone turns for the candy bowl.

7. If you are not handing out treats, turn off the lights at the front of the house. This is to your benefit. If your light is on, your house is fair game and kids will be ringing/knocking all night. It will be annoying for you. Better yet - go out for a nice dinner and enjoy the quiet.

8. If you are trick or treating, wear a costume. It's part of the experience. It doesn't need to be elaborate, you don't need a mask. But wear something fun or scary or wild. Make us guess who you are pretending to be. For some special needs kids, costumes might be problematic, but what about a t-shirt from a show or showing their favourite character? Or a single prop? Think of ideas together.

9. If you are a teenager, you are probably too old to go trick or treating. Maybe not, but think about other fun ways to celebrate as well. Our Teen would invite some friends over for a scary movie and candy fest. Or, you could help out your parents by handing out treats at the door (you can dress up for this and even have some fun scaring the bigger little kids!)

10. If you are too young to be allowed to eat candy, I believe you are too young to go trick or treating. Babies and wee toddlers are ADORABLE in costumes, and I love to see them at my door when they are accompanying their older sibling on her rounds. But, when parents show up at the door with a 10 month old in costume and hold out a bag, that's not so cool. Who is the candy for? I don't get it. (Bringing your baby to trick or treat at their grandparents' place, or close friends or family is entirely different, and much enjoyed by everyone involved. Actually, if you know me, and have a baby, please bring them by to show me their costume!) I was able to find a few fun Hallowe'en parties for babies and toddlers at community centres in our area when LB was an infant. It was a great way to introduce him to costumes and the holiday and have a bunch of fun.

11. If you are trick or treating, don't bother the houses with their lights off. And please don't play any mean tricks on them! Not everyone celebrates the same things. Diversity is a good thing.

12. And finally, for the love of all that is good, please leave people's pumpkins alone, whether carved or not. Especially before Oct. 31, but even after as well. Smashing jack o'lanterns is just plain mean, and may be devastating to the little kids who worked on them. Just stop and think how you would have felt. (Big problem with this in our neighbourhood.)

At what time of the evening do you stop handing out candy? Hubs always gets tired of it and wants to shut down by 8 or so. But I take over then and play it by ear. If it's a school night, I'll shut down at 8:30 when I put LB to bed because I want things quiet then. On a weekend I wait for the crowds to thin and a long break between knocks. Kind of like microwave popcorn and waiting for a minute break between pops.

Would love to hear your thoughts!
Have a great Hallowe'en!

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