Halloween is a great day of the year for children. They get a ton of candy and get to act the part of their favorite celebrity, magic being or creepy crawly. Even many adults easily get roped into the spirit of Halloween. Trick or treating is a popular Halloween tradition but there are pros and cons to the practice. Going door to door can be lots of fun but isn’t necessary to have a good time. If children will be going door to door it is important that they (and their parents!) follow safe trick or treating rules.
As an alternative to trick or treating, parents can get together and plan a Halloween party. One parent can be host but all of the work doesn’t have to fall on them. A group of parents can help with the planning and setup of the party and getting the children involved may help them get even more excited for the party. Make it a costume party and no one is likely to miss trick or treating on a cold night. Some tasks that can be divided among parents and some of the children depending on their age include:
• Making spooky Halloween invitations- Grab a few piles of card stock in various Halloween colors and let the kids go to town. A simple piece of folded card stock can have printed information glued inside after being decorated by younger children. Older children can cut pumpkins and candy corns from another color card stock to glue on to the party invitations. Try pairing tangy orange card stock with black envelopes.
• Designing the menu- There are plenty of Halloween “recipes” to be found. Many of them are very simple. Simply decorating cupcakes with string licorice to resemble a spider can be a good Halloween treat. Split the dishes to be made between parents and have everyone bring something. Another upside to inviting everyone to a Halloween party versus trick or treating is the parents control the content and safety of the evening’s menu.
• Decorating- Decorating for a Halloween party can be as simple or elaborate as one would like. Simple place cards and dish descriptions can be written in wavy letters to look spooky on orange card stock. Streamers make a quick and easy decoration for any party. More elaborate parties may include fake spider webs and fog machines.
When going trick or treating there are some great safety precautions to take to insure that the night stays fun for everyone. Some simple tips will keep people safe and make Halloween more enjoyable for everyone.
• Keep everyone lit- All trick or treaters and accompanying adults should have reflective tape on their clothing or carry flashlights or glow sticks. This not only makes it a little easier to get around in the dark, it makes it easier for passing motorists to see trick or treaters crossing streets or hanging dangerously close to the edge of the road.
• Adult supervision required- Children of all ages should be accompanied by an adult while trick or treating. If older children wish to travel as a group, one or two parents can volunteer to escort the entire group and make sure they stick together.
• Plan a route ahead of time- Make sure all parents know the safety route. Even older children trick or treating on their own should stick to a pre-planned route. Instruct older children not to cut through any alley or fields and to stick together with their friends.
• Safety in numbers- Travel with other groups of trick or treaters. There is usually safety in numbers and someone to react if something goes wrong.
• Insist on practical shoes- The cute costume shoes available at Halloween costume stores may look adorable but are probably better suited for parties where there will not be so much walking and where they can easily be removed. Insist children wear sneakers or other comfortable shoes to reduce tripping and pain. Adults should probably follow this advice as well.
• Avoid costumes that drag on the ground- Costumes that drag such as very long dresses can easily catch fire on open flames and can cause tripping and falls.
• Plan to be bathroom friendly- Choose costumes that are easily removed for bathroom trips. Have safe houses picked out on the route where the group can stop for bathroom breaks.
• Walk, don’t run- It may seem like old advice but it makes sense. It is dark and the area will probably be crowded.
• Avoid unlit houses- A general rule of courtesy is that those wishing to entertain trick or treaters will have their house well lit or be outside. Avoid unlit houses and give them their privacy. Some people have religious or other reasons for not participating in Halloween, or perhaps they distributed candy earlier and ran out of treats. Be respectful of neighbors and only trick or treat where it is welcome.
• Follow the rules and curfew of the area- Some townships and developments may set hours for trick or treating so everyone can enjoy the holiday. Others may even choose to ask residents to trick or treat on a different night. Contact a local representative or the office of the development to learn the restrictions placed on trick or treaters in the area before making plans.
• Choose a loot bag wisely- Bags should be easy to hold, small enough that they won’t drag on the ground and have no sharp edges. The simplest way is to give kids a backpack to hold their treats so they can be hands free when needed. Carrying a small bucket to hold treats works as well if adults have the backpacks. Then all candy can be split at the end of the night after being inspected.
• Eat before trick or treating and inspect all treats- Be sure to eat a good meal before trick or treating. Make sure no one eats candy that has not been checked by an adult. Discard all treats that are not in a secure wrapper or show signs of tampering.
• Flame resistant costumes please- Some people will decorate with open flamed candles. All costumes should be labeled flame resistant.
• Mind the temperature- Some costumes, though adorable, may not be warm enough. But too much bundling can also cause discomfort. Have a couple dress plans ready to go so they can be adjusted to the weather. For example, have thermal underwear ready to wear under costumes If needed.
Residents of areas where children will be trick or treating can also play their part to keep everyone safe on Halloween and make the evening more enjoyable all around.
• Remove all tripping hazards- Trick or treaters will inevitable try to walk around each other off the regular path. Try to clear paths of tripping hazards, extension cords and such or have them clearly marked.
• Don’t use open flame- Costumes can easily catch fire and little hands are curious. LED candles are now available as well as many types of lighted décor that appears to flicker like candlelight.
• Keep the house lit, or unlit, accordingly- A well-lit house is generally a sign that trick or treaters are welcome. Also a darkened house with curtains drawn tells trick or treaters to move along or that the candy supply is depleted.
• Secure all pets- Even the sweetest of pets can get scared by some of the costumes and excitement. Also some children are really afraid of dogs and other animals. Secure all pets for everyone’s safety.
• Consider healthier alternatives- Parents will appreciate when more people give out crackers, coupons that can be spread out for free treats etc. instead of the traditional sugar filled treats.
• Avoid driving if possible- Not every child will have reflective tape on their costume and inevitable children will dart out of reach of their parents. Drive slowly if it is unavoidable and avoid areas where heavy trick or treating is happening.
Halloween is a holiday that can be loads of fun for all ages. A few rules of common courtesy and thorough safety precautions can help ensure everyone enjoys the evening.