Halloween ideas often involve elaborate costumes or throwing fabulous parties. But if you're a working mom, you probably want ideas for making Halloween safe and fun for the kids -- and easy for you. It shouldn't be a stressful day. You and your children can enjoy the holiday with these trouble-free Halloween ideas.
Halloween Idea 1 -- Keep the Costume Simple
I'm convinced that the image of a devoted mom sewing her child’s Halloween costume from scratch is a myth. The most elaborate costumes I see at the Halloween parades are store bought. Homemade costumes tend to be dress-up clothes or creative uses of solid turtlenecks and bedsheets.
So unless you adore intricate crafts, keep it simple. Your preschooler will be delighted to wear her favorite tutu or fire fighter's helmet, with color-coordinated clothes you already own. Older children can design their own costumes if they really want something specific.
If you or your child want something store bought, check out eBay and Craigslist for deals. You can find gorgeous costumes for under $10 each, and usually you can sell them the following year. It's certainly easier than staying up all night making a monkey costume from fabric and accessories you spent hours finding.
Halloween Idea 2 -- Pick a Good Time to Trick or Treat
When to trick or treat will depend on your child's bedtime and your work schedule. Little tykes may find it too hard to stay up past sunset, so go ahead and take them right after dinner. Many parents I know leave work early on Halloween, to get a jump on dinner and trick or treating.
It's tempting to stretch the kids' bedtime but this can lead to meltdowns. The excitement of costumes and candy can be too much to bear for an overtired child. Moreover, trick or treating before dark makes it easier for drivers to spot children crossing or walking along the street.
Even for older children, it makes sense to trick or treat right after sunset. They'll most likely be going to school the next day, and you know they'll be up late counting their loot.
Halloween Idea 3 -- Make Safety the Priority
Halloween should only be scary for fun -- not for real. So keep safety above all else and make sure your children are aware of what they can do to stay safe. Tell them not to eat any candy until a parent has checked it for signs of tampering, for instance.
If it were up to me, children would trick or treat with a parent until they're too old to trick or treat. But I recognize that older tweens may protest being chaperoned. You can compromise by offering to walk some distance behind them, keeping them in view. Or arrange for them to trick or treat with an older sibling or cousin.
If you decide to let your older kids trick or treat without an adult, give them a charged-up cell phone to carry. Make sure you agree on the route they will take and when they should be home. They should carry a flashlight and promise to stay together. Emphasize that going unsupervised is a privilege, and you expect them to resist pranks that could get them into trouble.
Other safety tips include:
- Tell children to stay on sidewalks and paths. Cutting across lawns or through alleys can be dangerous.
- Make sure any masks are easy to remove and leave room to breathe.
- Choose costumes that are appropriate for the weather. We've had to use a lightweight costume for the daytime school parade and a warmer one for trick or treating after dark.
- Find a way to make your child visible to cars, whether it's light-up shoes, a glow-in-the-dark wrist band, or reflective tape.
Halloween Idea 4 -- Choose Low-Sugar Treats
I would never want to be the neighborhood grouch who gives toothbrushes to trick or treaters. But there's something to be said for handing out treats that won't rot children's teeth.
Kids will get plenty of sweets from others. Think about giving out fake tattoos or little toys that you'd put in a goodie bag. You can find them at a site like Oriental Trading or your local party store.
I'll bet the novelty will please children and the health factor will please their parents.
Halloween Idea 5 -- Find Another Way to Celebrate
For some families, trick or treating is a beloved tradition. To abandon it would be turning your back on childhood. But for some, it's easier and more fun to celebrate Halloween on a weekend day. Everyone's available, there's no racing home from work, and nobody ends up tired for school the next day.
If this idea appeals to you, explore whether some friends or relatives would want to join you for a Halloween party on the weekend closest to the holiday. But make sure your kids are on board, or you may end up fighting over whether they can trick or treat on Halloween itself. That's not the kind of memory you want to make.