Happy Halloween a Day Late

First, I feel compelled to confess. Last week did not go as well as I had hoped in the organizing/scheduling sense. More on that to come…

But ever the optimist, I’m gonna tell you what I’m happy about.


I think I might have made a better 70s mom — it seems holidays were less involved. Here’s what Halloween was like when I was a kid:

We got a costume. Occasionally, it was homemade — as in pieced together at home. Mine was usually picked out less than a week in advance and honestly, I remember nothing about this process.

There are pictures of me and my brother (maybe?) in our ensembles, but we weren’t big Halloween celebrators. I think we were average among my friends and their parents, though.

My mom snapped a few pics and then my parents drove us to various friends’ homes since we didn’t live in a neighborhood where trick-or-treating was a big deal.

There was one lady on our street who always threw a big party — apple bobbing, games, seems like there were ten or so activity stations. We popped in there most years and then went to five to ten other houses, dumped our loot when we returned home to check our goods and most likely we had a sugar high for the next few days.

That was it.

And I remember it being fabulous. I certainly didn’t feel deprived.

Perhaps it was the fact that the small town where I spent my first ten years of life wasn’t big on Halloween celebrating, but I don’t even remember having Halloween parties at school — not even in preschool. Who knows, I spent a lot of my childhood in my head, so maybe we did. I could have attended Halloween parties in the physical sense while touring Europe in my head. But it does seem that someone would have taken some pictures — the major stuff was usually documented.

Here’s how Halloween looked around here this year, and this is NO different from the past seven years that I’ve been a parent:

My children began discussing their costumes mid-July. I didn’t come alive this year until two weeks prior to Halloween day, but for Piers’ first Halloween I snagged a turtle costume from Pottery Barn the first chance I got. I may have even ordered it the year before. It was a bit much. I do love that my kids get excited about dressing up. They’re creative and I like watching their visions come alive. Now they want the “cool store-bought” costumes, so it’s not especially creative but I’m still okay with it. A friend recently told me she thought it was insane to spend money on Halloween attire. I see where she’s coming from (and she does have 5 children) but my kids play in their costumes until they’re in shreds so to me it’s worth every penny — we often give dress-up clothes for birthday and Christmas gifts. I love the dressing up part of the holiday even though it can get pricey. I try to keep it around $25 per kid per costume, so my Pottery Barn costume days are over.

 In September our town posts a schedule of Halloween activities. Note to self: print this out next year and post it next to calendar; photograph it so you’ll have it on your phone.

We kick off the season two weeks before Halloween with the local fair, straight up with a huge parade just before the gates open. It’s something and apparently a big deal in these parts. The sponsoring organization does a great job and kids love it. There are multiple Halloween themes and lots of kids wear their costumes to the fair. But…it lasts an entire week. This year it coincided with drug-free week at school, which was a week of themed dress up days (camo, team day, wacky socks, mom-was-at-the-store-every-damn-night-week.)

We have LOTS of clubs at the local university that sponsor trick-or-treating activities one to two weeks before Halloween, so if I had chosen to participate, my kids could have collected ten times the amount of candy that they received last night. This is a delightful idea, but I wish it could be something other than students passing out candy. We opted out of these this year.

 There’s a downtown Scare on the Square event and again, more candy, but it’s quite a production. There’s a Halloween-themed art festival where local schools have students enter their art. There are booths set up and the local farmer’s market is one of the sponsors, which I like. There’s even a Thriller dance. We missed it this year because I didn’t look at the schedule. And yes. I was bummed.

Our rec department has a huge party. It’s okay — lots of costumes and jumpy houses. I find this one a bit overstimulating but naturally the kids love it. It’s usually on Halloween and often serves as our pre-party before trick-or-treating. We skipped it this year; everyone’s still breathing.

Then….there are the various sects of the religious crowd who believe Halloween is another opportunity to dismiss Christ and worship the devil — I don’t believe this but many around here do. How do they cope? Fall festival overload.

We have multiple fall festivals so the fundamentalists can get their trick-or-treating on. And trust me, these festivals are amazing. We haven’t been to one since the boys were in preschool, but I can name five competing churches in our town that go all out.

— Then there’s our church, or rather the “church for misfits” as one of my pals affectionately labeled it. We welcome all and value culture and learning (among other things but I’m trying to stay on topic with Halloween) so last Sunday a member talked about the history of Halloween. The kids dressed up and trick-or-treated for UNICEF and then we played Halloween trivia and Bingo.

 Moving on to school. Both kids had Halloween parties which didn’t involve me other than signing up for items to contribute — candy and juice for Wallace, themed plates and napkins for Piers.

— Book Character parade is a whole lot of fun. The public schools (at least here) can’t get away with celebrating Halloween, so they dress up like characters from a favorite book. I loved my kids’ books — Wink the Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Phillipps and If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty.

— And for the grand finale, last night Gil and I checked out a new street known for its trick-or-treating celebrations and it did not disappoint. In the past we’ve gone with crowds of friends, but this year we were more intentional and went as a foursome. Fun times, with minimal arguing. We did have to stop off for a beer and a glass of wine, which I think was better than the power struggle that was heading into screaming and yelling territory. We finished the night off with pizza and waited for the sugar to kick in…

It’s been a busy but fun week. How do you celebrate Halloween? 

14 thoughts on “Happy Halloween a Day Late

  1. First time we celebrated Halloween in North America in 30 years. I was underwhelmed by the less than 30 kids who showed up at my brother’s door. Your town does it up!


    • Seriously! A thriller dance!? It’s really fun but I’m pretty done with Halloween once the actual day arrives. Did you see Piers literally climbing the walls? This made me think of you — bet you did that as a kid. Heck, you can probably do that now, you climbing machine!


  2. I loved Halloween as a kid (60’s and 70’s) but for all the reasons you mention I have officially become a Halloween grinch. It’s all just TOO much. When the kids were little I went all out…creative costumes, decorating the house, etc, I even dressed up to give out candy! Now? Nope. We put out pumpkins that the boys carve and a few decorations and we hand out candy and that’s it.

    I even made my husband give out the candy this year.



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    • Yes! Entirely too much. We don’t live in a neighborhood where people trick or treat — it’s mostly college students and our house is in the cul-de-sac. I’m sad to say, we have lived here 8 years and have never had a single trick or treater — sad, but nice at the same time because there’s no pressure. One of these days I’m going to have a Halloween party just so people will come. When my in-laws lived in town we always went to their neighborhood and helped pass out candy. I enjoyed that part, but yeah, it’s entirely too much. I was more selective this year about what events we attended and it was less stressful and I actually enjoyed it more than I have in years. Hoping I can take this attitude into the remaining holiday season…


  3. Phew I’m exhausted reading all that! Thankfully Halloween is only just taking off in the UK. I did some craft, we carved pumpkins, and I bought half price costumes (£4 each) from the supermarket! We went trick or treating for the first time (my kids are 4 and 5) and about ten houses in our village had lit pumpkins, indicating the kids were welcome.
    We didn’t do Halloween at all when I was young so it’s all a bit strange to me. But the kids were excited to get sweets and looked very cute as witch and skeleton. Like you, I love dressing up costumes for the kids, so that was easily the best part. It’s school half term this week, so all the pumpkin trails and free craft stuff has been great this week. I’m hoping the kids never want to do more than that!

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    • Yes, that sounds nice and manageable. Obviously I can’t speak for the entire US, but holidays have exploded excessively since I was a kid (I’m 39) and for me every year is an exercise in balance. I want my children to have a good time, but I tried to pick and choose this year and it was better. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m pushing 40, but this was the first Halloween in years where I didn’t feel stressed and overextended the entire season — just had a few moments. Pumpkin carving is fun. We haven’t done that this year. Perhaps my kids are still young enough that we can do it late and they won’t point out our tardiness.

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  4. Well, we had to divide and conquer this year: daughter had a party after dance class, so I took her, while–in a light rain–my husband took our son trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. I missed getting to see him, but at least there were 2 of us to divide and conquer. Sometimes he’s had to work on Halloween, which is sad all around.


    • Yes – divide and conquer is a great option. My husband usually manages to get in early on Halloween, but he had to miss a lot of the other festivities. I noticed such a difference having him there — much more manageable with two adults.


      • Halloween is barely doable with one parent — I got my mother-in-law to help, back when my husband had to work: it was SO dark in our neighborhood, and it was good to have another adult. This year, my son did carve a pumpkin, and that was a bright spot. But I felt sad as I looked at pictures on Facebook: I realized that I personally missed seeing other kids in costume, since we never get trick-or-treaters on our dark street. Next year, I will try to be part of the street scene!

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      • Sorry that was such a brief comment – for the most part I read and comment/”like” when I do my elliptical workouts. I use my Kindle!!!! I wish I could just speak my comment into the Kindle, ha ha. I adore Halloween – I always have – and I got a big kick out of your descriptions of the options you had, etc. It was one of my favorite posts to read for the night, bar none! 😉

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        • Oh, Honey. No worries!! I totally understand. I often “like” posts and try to go back and comment especially when one really strikes me — very often I get distracted and forget. I’m glad you made it back, but no hard feelings when/if it doesn’t happen. I guess what I’m saying is I felt the love regardless 🙂

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          • Once again, you write SO well. (No wonder you’re a pro! 😉 Thank you, thank you, for getting it! To be honest, I’m happy with a smattering of comments and mostly likes for each post, as I still have the compulsion to want to reply to each comment too profusely. I don’t need to be a rock star blogger! 😉 I wouldn’t get anything done, ha ha ha!!!

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