I have three children and seven grandchildren. I worked full time while raising my family. I have been there.
Start With Decorations
Decorations can be as much fun as the treats. Let the kids help and give you ideas on what they would like. Also, sometimes the older ones would like to decorate and leave the treats to the younger generation. Whether you and the kids like scary or funny, setting up is half the excitement. Make a skeleton climb a tree with a flashlight. Light-up plastic jack-o-lanterns so you can use them next year. The old ones can be turned into melted, burned, angry, candle broke messes to add to the fun. Also, make scarecrows. Old clothes, leaves, and a plastic pumpkin with a mean look are all that is needed. Show the kids how and let them create on their own. And a small bag of treats can make the tasks more enjoyable to all.
The Tricks or The Treats
Because the holiday has begun to be more dangerous than fun, parents need to be creative and proactive with their children's celebrations. Here are a few ideas:
- Gather friends and family to set up little booths on the sidewalk or driveway. Keep it to the small area where you live and involve only the ones you know and trust.
- Have an outside party. It will be cold, dark, and scary. Decorate with balloons, pumpkins, luminaries, ghosts, black cats, whatever you want. Then let the kids play Halloween games for fun and treats. Hand out bags with the kid's name's to use to gather their winnings.
- Have a person dress up as scary ghosts and scarecrows for added fun.
- Invite those you know and trust to join for a bigger fun factor.
- Take kids to businesses that are offering treats to their customers. Try to get them involved for the safety of the kids. Walking up and down the aisles of a store is safer than any dark street.
- Get neighbors involved in a spooky trick-or-treat gathering out in front. Decorate the streets and set up spooky stops where the kids have to enter if they dare to get their treats. Cul-de-sacs are great for this kind of safe fun.
- Have an inside party with games and easy fun for the little ones.
- Older tricksters might like a midnight walk to the nearest cemetery to see who might be out and about. This one could be dangerous, so be sure everyone is dressed warmly and there is police protection, especially around the graveyard. The police can dress up and walk along with everyone else. Don't tell anyone who they are to keep the scare factor going.
Treats That Scare
Though Halloween used to mean fear and such, now it can be better celebrated with family and friends in a warm cozy room with cakes, cupcakes, and other treats made scarily delicious.
- Decorate cakes as scary characters.
- Add gummy worms clawing their way out of the cakes.
- Use sliced pound cake to make gravestones.
- Keep the room slightly dark and put lights in or around your cakes for a scarier display.
- Put moving decorations in dark corners to scare unsuspecting victims with a bowl of treats.
- Use crumbled sandwich cookies for dirt when decorating.
- Use small plastic skeletons as decorations. Maybe one can be climbing the cake on one side.
- Make cake pops but use whip licorice for legs instead of a pop stick. Instant spiders.
- Make cake pops into jack-o-lanterns and scarecrow heads.
- Fill a large leak-proof bucket (clean first) with green, red, or yellow gelatin. While it is still soft, drop in different toys. Then have the kids dig through the goo to get a prize.
- Fill balloons with notes that list something silly they need to do to get a prize, then have the kids pop the balloon by sitting on it, don't forget the special treat for trying.
Halloweens of the Past
Did you know that Halloween was actually a holiday to celebrate our dead ancestors? It was believed that the wall between the living and the dead was at its thinnest on this night. People would walk to the cemeteries and leave offerings at the graves of loved ones to keep them from rising and haunting them. Others would stay hoping to see loved ones one more time. Here are a few more traditions that different cultures used to practice:
- Many say that sitting in a chair and looking into a mirror can open a portal between the living and the dead. Be careful though, because it can also open up for something darker.
- People used to leave a plate of food outside their door on Halloween to feed those who are departed. This was supposed to keep them from trying to haunt the living family members.
- Many families would return from fun and games and gather to play with an Ouija Board. Supposedly their departed family would give them messages. A note of caution here, many claim the Ouija Board isn't just a game and warn people not to use one or be present when one is in use.
- Having a dark backyard set up to scare people was used to keep out the unwanted.
- Candy left out on people's steps was supposed to stop children from damaging people's cars and homes on Halloween night.
- Halloween pranks had been considered the work of demons that come out at midnight, or the witching hour at three.
- People used to believe that the monsters that came to their doors were creatures that rose from the graveyards. They would cover their windows and lock their doors to keep them out.
- People would build their fires high to prevent roaming monsters from coming down the chimney.
- In some cultures, people believe that wearing a costume and roaming the streets at night can predestine you to become that character in real life.
- Trick or Treaters were originally believed to be monsters that had crossed over from the world of death. Asking them who they were was forbidden because you might actually be addressing a monster that will haunt you and your family forever.
- At one point, people believed that the dead that rose up on Halloween and walked the streets with little candles was actually the ghosts of people whose graves had been desecrated or robbed.
- Many cultures would make and decorate cakes with berries and wine. They would place it beneath a tree in the cemetery to entice the ghouls and keep them there.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Cheryl Simonds
Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on October 06, 2021:
Peggy, you are so right. Times have definitely changed.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 01, 2021:
When we were youngsters, my parents only let us go to the homes of people we knew. The trick or treat part was also different. Homemade goodies like candied apples and cookies were given to us along with candy. Now that would not be a safe practice. How times have changed! I did not know much of the history that you related. Interesting!
Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on October 01, 2021:
Thank you, Pamela, I'm glad to share.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 30, 2021:
This is an interesting article, and full of good suggestions, Cheryl. I didn't know the Halloween history. Thanks for sharing all this information.