Halloween! It is the most paradoxical time of year for us. I love it; I hate it.
I love: The excitement in my children; the different ways people can dress up; and the fact that I can bribe my group to do anything with the promise of a piece of candy. I dislike this holiday because: The threat of cavities is real; the candy calls to me no matter where I am in the house, especially when they are all in bed; candy corn and it’s addictive qualities; my otherwise normal children turn into lunatics after two bites of chocolate; and because I teach high school students. My dislike list is pretty self-explanatory, if you ask me. So, when we decided to discuss this topic, I made a choice to focus on what works well for us.
Costumes: My favorite thing to do is to find cool costumes that are repurposed. We rarely pay full price on a costume. We have a resale store in our town that takes such good care of the costumes they are given, and the selection is so vast. I find costumes at garage sales, the Goodwill, from gracious friends etc. Like a wedding dress, Halloween attire is only used for one night. I don’t want to break the bank with three children. If we can get creative, I feel like I have won some silent mom war. Parents of older children beware! Prepare yourselves for the day that the cute costumes have lost their luster, and the shock and awe Halloween costumes become attractive to your little angels. It’s a bittersweet day, and if you don’t prepare, you could be caught off guard. I still remember the day my fuzzy little duckling and cute little Thomas the Train transformed into a scary doctor and a hazmat guy.
Candy: The candy that we receive from one night of knocking on strangers’ doors is overwhelming. Our rule is that they get one piece a night. That usually lasts us past Christmas. I have a friend who has given her children’s excess candy to needy children that didn’t get to go trick-or-treating. No matter what, the struggle for parents is the balance and control of Halloween candy. My high schoolers come to school carrying large bags of it into my classroom. I shut that down within the first minute. Although our teens are hopped up more than usual after Halloween, it pales in comparison to what it must be like to be an elementary school teacher or daycare provider. On November 1st, consider slipping those angels a latte or some office supplies. No one deserves what comes their way after a night on the town collecting and consuming sugar.
The Big Night: I really love trick-or-treating with my kids. I love that I get a nice workout while chasing them around, and I love the abundance of smiles and giggles. No matter the costume, consider arming your kids with glow necklaces or glow bracelets. That way you can tell your Elsa or Batman from everyone else’s’. They are inexpensive and worth your time. One year, my oldest went as a black blob. He was covered head to toe in black spandex with only red eyes illuminating. I was so glad I invested in the glow necklace, because those red eyes did not show up from behind. This also helps drivers see the kids. They should be maneuvering slowly through neighborhoods anyway, but we all know drivers don’t always do what they should when behind that wheel.
Age Limit: My oldest is eleven, and he told me he’d rather hand out candy than trick or treat this year. After I picked my heart up off of the ground, I decided it was for the best to let him. He’s only 11, so if he realizes after the fact that he’d have more fun trick-or-treating, then he still has a good two years left to try it again. Some of the freshmen in my classes still go out trick-or-treating. I am torn with how I feel about this. If their parents, like me, are super sad that their children are getting older, this may be a way to extend childhood.
I look at it like this though: If the child is expecting a longer curfew, a driver’s permit, a job, and the incredible freedom of a teen, trick-or-treating is over for them. If the freshman’s purpose is to get dressed up in the coolest of costumes, then they need to throw their own little Halloween party and leave the door-to-door to the children. I know there are some houses that get enraged when they see a teen at their door. While I don’t exactly feel this way, I do agree that middle school might be where it stops. One of our family friends hands out ramen noodles and Crystal Light packets to older trick-or-treaters. I think this is a great idea. Who doesn’t love ramen?
How do you feel about Halloween? What age is too old for trick-or-treating? What do you do with those teens now that the magic has worn off AND what are your tricks to keep kids safe? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.