Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. What's not to love? It's the one day a year where a lad can dress up like Batman, terrorize the neighborhood, and eat copious amount of candy. It seems my kids have inherited this passion. The other day my daughter told me that "I'd trade my birthday for an extra Halloween." Now coming from a 7 year old, that's a very serious statement!
Below are some tips that me, my wife, and my Halloween enthusiast brother-in-law have come up with to make this October 31st unforgettable.
1. Start a Halloween advent calendar: My family has been doing this for two years now, and the kids LOVE IT. It really builds up the excitement around Halloween, and makes our kids less grouchy about going back to school. You can purchase several ones on-line, but our favorite is the All Hallows Eve Halloween Countdown Calendar by the Vermont Christmas Company (pictured below), available here
2. Also keep an eye on your regular calendar: There are always tons of fun activities leading up to Halloween but they're easy to miss with all the back-to-school insanity. I recommend researching the events in your city by mid-September so that you can still fit them into your schedule. For parents living in the Victoria area, there was a great ChatterBlock post a few days back listing some of the events happening in Victoria. You can check it out here.
3. Start planning your costumes now: The last thing you want is for your kid to go in an ill-fitting costume they don't like very much, that was chosen because it was the very last thing on the shelf at Walmart. From our experience, it usually takes the better part of a month to choose, design, and make a really great costume. I remember the sad Halloween that my daughter wanted to go as Ariel, and ended up looking more like a moldy wanton. Being busy with our recent move, and my wife's new job, we hadn't even thought about costumes until the week before Halloween. What we had thought would be a relatively quick and stress-free process turned into a fiasco! Our little mermaid didn't like any of the ready-made costumes on-line, and my wife and I, in a moment of shear desperation, engineered a rather flimsy tail out of garbage bags, coat hangers, staples and part of an old sleeping bag. Needless to say it did not go over well in the kid department!
3. Make Halloween a family celebration: My wife's extended family gathers the Saturday before Halloween for a spooky, Halloween themed dinner, pumpkin carving contest, and some ghoulish board games (honestly, who doesn't love Vampires of the Night?). The house gets decked out in cobwebs, tombstones, glow-in-the-dark candles and scarecrows--and eerie ghostly music plays in the background. This tradition is ridiculously fun, unique, and a great way to bond as a family.
4. Make Halloween a neighborhood tradition: When we lived in Vancouver we were fortunate enough to be part of a street that held an incredible Halloween block party every year. It was a riot for the whole family, and also helped us make friends in the area. If you live on a residential street with lots of young families, and friendly neighbors, I suggest organizing one. Another great idea is to have a "haunted house contest" on your street. Where my brother-in-law lives, it's a big deal that has been going on for the better part of ten years. We were fortunate enough to spend Halloween with him last year, and a few of the houses were so impressively decked out that even my oldest daughter was hesitant to trick-or-treat there!
5. Moderate sugar intake: Through learning the hard way, we've now managed to avoid too many post-Halloween dentist visits. First, we always make sure our kids have a large, healthy, protein-packed dinner with LOTS of water before going trick-or-treating. This way, they are far less likely to crave sugar. Another sneaky tactic is to purchase small trick-or-treat buckets. These fill up a lot faster! We have a rule that once the bucket is full, we go home. We also restrict how much candy they can have. After the trick-or-treating is done, they are allowed to eat five of their favorite candies. Following that, they have two candies a day, until their supply is used-up.