Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10 Halloween Do's and Don'ts

Here’s the deal: I kind of suck at Halloween. I spend too much money and I get stressed out that I'm doing it wrong. If I don't decorate my house, invariably ours is the only one on the street without decorations. If I do decorate, it always looks like the outside of my home has been vandalized by drunken interior decorators.

So this year I did some research, asked some other moms what they thought, and tried to learn from my past mistakes. One of those mistakes has always been that it sneaks up on me - "It's when?! Next week? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!" So this year, we're putting it on out radar a little early. 

Here are 10 Halloween Do's and 5 Don'ts - Mommyland style.


1. Don’t spend a schmidtload of money. Especially not on a costume that your kid will only wear once or even worse - decide they don’t want at the last minute. It's happened to me. [Editor's note: Me, too. Last year my 1 year-old had a fit and wouldn't wear his adorable $30 monkey costume the night of Halloween and instead wore an old fireman hat and his raincoat. I felt like an asshat for spending any money at all. -Guru] Hit the thrift stores. Borrow stuff from neighbors and friends. Seriously, I bet one of your mom-friends has a Jedi costume in a size 4 they’re not using. Just put the ask out on Facebook and see what happens. 

2. Don’t try to get all crafty and Pinteresty with the treats you give away at the door. We all know anything not individually wrapped ends up in the trash. Sad but true.

3. Don’t let your kids get completely cracked out on candy for a week solid. I know from experience that it’s tempting to let them gorge themselves in an effort to just get it all out of your house. But by the end of the week their teachers will want to kill you with a dry erase board.

4. Don’t kill yourself crazy decorating the house with sound effects and spider webs unless you want to. If it makes you happy – then rock on with your bad self. If it stresses you out – just skip it. Not to get all King of Thrones on you or anything, but winter is coming. We are about to enter the Halloween to Holidays Death Spiral and it ain’t pretty. Relax while you still can.

5. Don’t be a Judgey McJudgerson with other parents about what they let their kids wear or do or eat on Halloween. I did this last year. I spouted off how I thought the Monster High costumes were tramp-tastic and gross without realizing that a friend's daughter had begged her for one and worn it trick or treating. I'm still cringing a year later at how I made my friend feel. Those costumes aren't my thing, but you know what's REALLY not my thing? Making another mom feel bad about something silly like a Halloween costume.
Still not my thing. Also? Not my business.

1. Do have a chat about lowering expectations. My kids want to go batshit crazy every Halloween. I'm not just talking about buying fancy costumes. They want to have a huge party with a million people where we transform our family home into a Disney-style Haunted Mansion. It's not going to happen. They offer to do all the work themselves and everything, with earnest expressions on their little faces. Just like they did with their birthday parties. BWAAA HAAA HAAA! (wipes tear) Isn't that adorable? I slaved for a week over those stinking birthday parties while they watched TV and complained about addressing invitations. No way. Let's find a compromise - preferable something cheap and easy (like me).

2. Do have a plan if you're going to buy new costumes. At $15-$30 per kid, it can be really expensive. Here's what I started doing last year - I ask my kids in early October what they want to be. We write it down together. I wait a week or two and ask again. If the answer is the same as the one we wrote down, we are now free to buy the costume.

OMG. Plaid Stallions.
3. Do sort through all your old costumes early in October and figure out what can be reasonably re-used. If it’s truly gross, toss it. If it has potential save it. If it’s in decent shape but your kids don’t want it – donate it right away to a local homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter. (I always make sure to spiff it up first, though. Wash it, spot treat stains, or spray it down with Febreeze because I really think those kiddos deserve nice stuff – not just free stuff.)

4. Do find a place to donate candy for the day after Halloween. Here’s a great list of suggestions of places that might work. Get your kids in on this donation thing, too. If they’re on board from the beginning, they might be cool with giving some of their loot away. Another mini-do: Do go through their candy before you donate it and find a couple of really good things to stash for emergency PMS consumption. No one needs to know.

5. Do make traditions as a family. Carve or paint pumpkins together. Watch that Charlie Brown special or a scary movie together. Make it a tradition to eat carrot sticks before you go trick or treating (they're orange). Take silly photos of your kids in their costumes pretending to be the thing they're dressed up as. 

I know it sounds corny, but that's the stuff they'll remember. That's the stuff I remember. I remember my mom making my Princess Leia costume when we couldn't afford to buy one. I remember her trying to make Halloween special for us, and so it was. I need to remind myself of that and not stress out about $40 costumes and all the other stupid schmidt that doesn't matter.

Do you have any Halloween do's and don'ts? Or better yet - cheap/free family traditions to make it awesome and special? I'd love to hear them because like I said - I suck at Halloween.

xoxo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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