Like a lot of parents, I'm a bit unsure about Halloween. There are aspects of it that just feel a bit... wrong. Like Trick or Treating, it can easily turn into begging with menaces, really, if not properly organised. When Jade was small, I managed to avoid it completely, because we lived in an upstairs flat. We just turned the door buzzer off and no one was any the wiser! She never even learned about Halloween until she was quite a bit older. So, fast forward ten years or so and things have changed a bit. We live in a house now, on a development with a lot of similar aged children, so it's impossible to avoid. Perhaps because she had a somewhat deprived childhood, Jade embraces Luke's Halloween adventures, especially dressing up.
The community here is pretty small, with many of the children attending the same school and I have learned that it is possible to have a fun and relaxed Halloween, if you follow a few simple rules. If you can get organised with other parents, it really helps. It's safer to move around in groups, and, for younger children, perhaps one or two adults can go along as well. If this doesn't work for everyone, and your children end up going out independently, it is still useful to have an agreement with other parents where you all visit each other's houses, that way, the youngsters aren't knocking on strangers' doors, something that shouldn't really be encouraged, especially if they are unsupervised. If it isn't possible to organise a group activity, it is still possible to have a safe and happy halloween, by following a few simple rules. The most obvious is there should never be any 'tricking', I realise this deviates from the original idea a bit, but without that aspect, there is no chance of anyone taking things too far, or grown ups getting offended or intimidated by the little darlings getting carried away. We also have a rule that the children only visit houses with Halloween decorations up, so they know they are not bothering anyone unduly. Some of the population of our village really throw themselves into the task too, so it's all good fun. On the other hand, some residents will put up a No Trick or Treaters sign, asking to be excluded from the visits, which is a great idea, as everyone knows where they stand.
Our costumes have varied a lot over the years. My favourite one that I made was this ghost. Such a straight forward and easy design. Just a sheet, trimmed at the bottom with eye holes cut in. There's something about the classic, traditional look that is really cute and saves a lot of time if you need a costume at the last minute!
Halloween is lovely for little ones who embrace all things horror, but not all children do. For those little ones who find the whole concept a bit too frightening, these days they don't have to dress up like something from a horror film to take part. Anything goes; they could dress up as a princess or a cowboy, if that suits their personality better. There are, however, many options to consider that are slightly scary looking, but not too much, like the 'baddie' from their favourite film. The Disney Store Halloween section has lots of ideas, some I hadn't even considered, such as Malificent and Darth Vadar. Both a bit evil, but familiar and not too intimidating for children.
The important thing to remember, is that it's meant to be fun and if that means adjusting things to suit your child's preferences, that's ok. If all else fails, there's always pumpkins to carve and apple-bobbing to try! This very grainy photo shows Jade's first attempt at pumpkin carving when she was 10. You can just make out the orange she used to make a pretend pumpkin for her baby brother, because he wasn't old enough to take part!
Produced in association with The Disney Store