Halloween Tricks for Parents

by: Terry Ternyila

Making traditions makes memories. Halloween doesn’t have to be all about the candy. We have so many memories of pumpkin farms, carving Jack-O-Lanterns, decorating the yard, and making spooky or funny costumes. Halloween should be a fun holiday for kids and parents. Here are some tips that my family has found useful:

Encourage Creativity

Encourage kids to think of costumes that are original and something they can make on their own or with you. Some of our best Halloweens were when we had the one-of-a-kind costume, like using a box as a Rubik’s cube or yarn, a hat and glasses to make Cousin It from the Addams family.

Come up with a family theme – see if you can get the whole family involved in the idea and dress up. We love to find ideas that get the whole family dressed up and include the dogs too, like Wizard of Oz or Pirates!

Go Out with Friends, Ghouls and Spirits

Plan to go out with friends.  It doesn’t have to be all about the kids; it can also be fun parent-time to walk around chatting with friends while the kids run door-to-door. A little travel cup with “spirits” in it always makes the night better too.

Kids Are Unpredictable

If you have little ones those bags get heavy or sometimes they just need a little break, bring a wagon to put stuff in or just give a little ride if you need to. By the end of the night I know half of the costumes have come off. You can bring jackets or a blanket with you for those chilly nights.  You can bring water with you and maybe even the dog wants to come along. It is better to be prepared for whatever happens, and the wagon certainly makes it easy.

The Real Treat Is Giving

It doesn’t always have to be about collecting candy, either. Kids have just as much fun giving out candy, and some may be less interested in all the walking around or costumes. We have always had dogs, so the door knocking can just be a lot. Set-up some chairs out front for your kids to sit and watch all the people walking dressed up. Let them hand out the candy and enjoy the fun of giving too!

Party in the Front Yard!

This is also a good time if you want to sit with your neighbors out front to chat while you hand out candy.  Pull the grill out front with some chairs and cooks up some burgers. Maybe you have a fire pit table or portable fire pit.  Make it a fun night to catch up with friends or family. Invite the grandparents over to watch.

Introduce: the Buy-Back Candy Program

The kids love going door-to-door, but they usually end up with more candy than any of us would like them to consume.  Once we got home the kids would always dump out their candy and sort it.  They would do some trading for favorites.  Then we would offer to “buy back” candy. We had a 2-cup measuring cup, and we would pay $1 for every 2 cups they would dump back in our bag for the trick or treaters.

The kids would go through their candy and pull out what they didn’t really want and what they were willing to part with and we would give them the cash to spend on a toy or save for something they wanted. This became very popular in our house and really cut down on the loads of sugary sweets they had, and it even gave them a little lesson on the value of a dollar.

It’s unlikely you’ll have enough trick or treaters to take all of these candies in your Buy-Back Program, you can check local shelters that will take the donation, or otherwise candy never fails to disappear when left unattended in a breakroom.

Although adults now, my 3 kids still look forward to doing these traditions long after growing out of the trick-or-treating phase, and those are some of my favorite memories. No matter how you choose to celebrate the day with your family, make memories and traditions.

Happy Halloween everyone!!


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