It’s already fall…where does the time go? Even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet (it was 94 degrees here yesterday), that means Halloween is right around the corner. We don’t make a huge deal out of Halloween around here, but we do like to celebrate it a little bit. It has always kind of felt like a gateway holiday to me…it really kicks off the holiday season. My kids really enjoy dressing up as their favorite princess or superhero for an evening of fun.
I know many parents these days worry about the safety of taking their kids door to door, requesting little bits of sugary, sticky goodness from complete strangers. Indeed, the world has changed quite a bit since my freewheeling days as a young child in the 80s. I was wontonly set free into my grandmother’s neighborhood every year for this grand tradition (where she knew each and every one of her neighbors…and they all sat around and chatted after all the candy was gone).
You can argue with me later about whether or not we should even celebrate Halloween…that’s a different subject for a different post. I’m going to assume that if you hang in there and keep reading, you’ve already made that decision for your family.
We live in the middle of nowhere. We do have a few people who live within a reasonable proximity, however, walking all around a rural “neighborhood” after dark in costumes is just not the smartest move ever. So, we have to be a little more creative in order to engage in this time-honored holiday tradition.
Take a Treat to Someone Else
Find out if there are any nursing homes, hospitals, or children’s homes in your area. Often, these types of places will plan events for Halloween. See if you and your family can volunteer. Giving back to people who are in a difficult spot in life can be a really rewarding experience for your family. Plus, it takes the focus off the candy, and puts it on to people who currently need a little extra help. You never know, you might actually make some new friends, too!
Many shopping malls host events for kids to come and trick-or-treat around the different participating stores. Often, there are also costume contests for different age groups, as well. So, do a little research, and find out if any of the malls in your area host an event.
Neighborhood or City Sponsored Festivals
In the town just down the road from us, the Chamber of Commerce hosts an event every Halloween on the county courthouse square. Kids of all ages are encouraged to come out and walk around the square and trick-or-treat from the local businesses. We’ve gone every year since we moved to the area, and the kids have lots of fun with it. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Maybe one near you does something similar.
Many churches hold Fall Festivals each year, usually within a week of Halloween. These festival vary in size and complexity from a basic “trunk-or-treat” set up to a full-fledged fall themed carnival, complete with games, treats, and hayrides. Our kids have had tons of fun playing games at these types of events in the past. Though, I do have to mention that these festivals often bring out big crowds. My kids aren’t really used to being around huge crowds of people. If yours aren’t either, be aware that they may need a few minutes to sit and take in the scene before they’re ready to play!
Police or Fire Departments
Often, the police department or fire department in your town may have a special activity for kids on or close to Halloween. They will often have safety demonstrations at these events as well. They can be both fun and educational activities…and who doesn’t like that?
The university where my husband works always has a couple of student groups who put on Halloween events for kids in the area. We went to one with our kids one year, but due to the distance, the past couple of years, we’ve opted for something a little closer. Much like the church festivals, crowds can be an issue for these activities as well. If you have a university or college near you, find out if there is anything fun going on for neighborhood kids.
Doctor’s Office or Pharmacy.
A few years ago, Monkey was spinning in circles (trying to make me laugh) in the living room two days before Halloween. He crashed and managed to hit his eye on the side of the coffee table. The next day (the day before Halloween), he woke up with a huge red spot in his eye. So, off to the doctor we went. It turned out that he was just fine, but it sure looked awful.
All of the kids had a bit of a cold, too. Bear had been telling me all day that she didn’t feel good. But, I was so worried about Monkey’s eye, that I kind of brushed it off. I kept telling her I knew she didn’t feel well, no one felt well…everyone was coughing. After we got home, she fell asleep on the couch, coughing on and off all afternoon. Everyone else was starting to get over it, I figured she would be feeling better by the next day too. But, by that evening, she was struggling to breathe. Andrew took her to the emergency room while I stayed with the rest of the children. After a breathing treatment and a course of antibiotics for severe bronchitis, they came home.
The following day was Halloween. All of the kids were so disappointed that there wouldn’t be any fun activities because of the sickness. So, I told them that they could go ahead and wear their costumes out to the pharmacy. That helped a little. So, I took Silvermist, Tinkerbell, and a construction worker to the pharmacy to pick up all of Bear’s medications prescribed by the emergency room doctor. The folks at the pharmacy felt so bad for the kids that they gave them two whole bags of candy for them to save for after they were well (after all, lots of candy isn’t good for a recovering little one!). I was so grateful to the ladies at the pharmacy for being so sweet to the kids on what has gone down in history as the worst Halloween ever.
So, if you ever find yourself in a bad situation on Halloween, keep in mind that even mundane places (like a pharmacy) can occasionally be a fun place to go…if you have a great costume, anyway!