Yes, it’s fall and Halloween is almost here. Most of us have wonderful memories of Halloween; the excitement of Trick or Treating, parties, games, collecting for Unicef and way too much candy. It was all so much fun!
As parents, we want to keep the fun and joy of Halloween, and we can, even though we may have concerns about nutrition, safety or getting caught up in “costume anxiety”.
So here are some thoughts and ideas to make Halloween with young children a great experience.
Many parents become very anxious about getting their children the perfect costume, myself included. When my daughter was five she was a flower girl and wore a gorgeous red satin and lace dress, which she loved. For Halloween that year, she decided she wanted to be a Flamenco Dancer and wear that dress. Great – all she needed was the big high head piece – not that big a deal, I thought until I realized that I had to make it. Now I am seriously bad at sewing but I had to try. I got red thread, red satin, cut out a shape for the high piece and proceeded to try to sew it. As Halloween approached my panic grew. I just couldn’t get it right. Finally, in desperation, I grabbed the stapler and probably used two hundred staples to make it stand up right and fit on her head. I thought it looked ridiculous. She absolutely loved it.
It was a good lesson for me: I had imposed a “costume standard” on myself that just wasn’t necessary. A little letting go of expectations and a little imagination go a long way.
Most children under six have fairly straightforward ideas about who’ll they’ll be for Halloween: princesses, witches, fairies, super heroes, animals etc. Their ideas about costumes are pretty simple. Sparkles on a skirt, a decorated towel for a cape, some face paint and you’re there. So don’t feel pressured to get a perfect costume. (If you do feel you want to find and purchase the perfect costumes, choose ones that are made well for year round play. Dressing up is a wonderful, creative, imaginative, and educational experience for young children!)
About trick or treating:
You can actually present Trick or Treat as a time for sharing with and receiving from others. Because that is really what happens. If you include your children for part of the evening in giving out treats to Trick or Treaters, they’ll see the sharing aspect. They can put the goodies in children’s trick or treat bags and say “Happy Halloween”. And if you accompany them to the door when they go Trick of Treating, you can teach them about how to be polite, be patient and to always say thank you. This way they can learn a lot about how to receive graciously.
Remember that for very young children a visit to two or three neighbours or relatives is more than enough. Then home to give out goodies to other children, or right into regular bedtime routine. For children four and up, you can go a for a little longer, but watch for signs of tiredness and overstimulation. If they start getting cranky, they’ve had enough.
If you are concerned about sugar overload, you can set a non-sugar treat example, by giving out healthy snacks or little presents like raisin boxes, crayons, pencils, tiny animal figures, vehicles, etc.
There are also a number of tried and true tricks parents play with younger children’s treats. Young children have no idea about what and how much they actually collected, so you can do a quick switcheroo and replace their candy with either healthy snacks or little presents. Older children catch on after a while and it’s harder. But you can often do a serious trade with older children trading candy for small gifts.
You can structure Halloween in a way that works for you and your family. Keep it fun, low pressure and as healthy as you can. Happy Halloween!
PS: If you want to purchase great costumes, Mountain Baby carries a wide range of rugged and fun costumes, made for years of imaginative play!