Growing up in the '80s on a 1600 acre farm, with parents who were way ahead of their time, you can only imagine how limited my simple Halloween was for many years.
Now before you start feeling bad for me, I actually consider my childhood Halloween experiences to be top-notch. I will say that I didn’t get to go trick-or-treating until late into middle school, but we had a bunch of great times trick-or-treating to the really spooky maple sugar shack in our woods. The witch that haunted the shack on Halloween always had a handful of carob and uncolorful candy. Of course, we thought we had hit the jackpot! We believed in the Sugar Shack Witch until the day we found the entire costume in my dad’s closet.
Besides taking our annual trek to the “Haunted Forest” at the Audubon Society every year – which was jack-o-lanternsset up through the nature trails, and volunteers popping out to scare you as you walked by with a guide. Think Harry Potter-ish, but in the early 1990s. My parents once hosted a Halloween Party fashioned after the Haunted Forest – all the families brought a treat, and because we lived in the already spooky market garden, it was the perfect setting. This time, my dad haunted the wooden greenhouse, with a pumpkin on his head.
Our costumes were almost always handmade, and since we’re talking Vermont at the end of October, this means that there was a high chance that it was snowing. So your costume had to fit OVER snow pants and a winter coat. Not even kidding.
As we grew up and began to go trick-or-treating with friends, my mom would switch our candy right before we sat down to look at our loot. We had no idea about all the token Halloween candy out there that we were missing out on. I hate to admit, that this is a trick that I do to this day with my boys.
So a simple Halloween wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It meant homemade costumes, no sugar (or no colors), pumpkin carving, and being with friends.
How do we do a Simple Halloween today? By slowing down and enjoying Halloween from your children's eyes.
So let’s start out by sharing your favorite Halloween memories with your kids! I started digging out old Halloween photos of when we were kids, and I've started recalling my fondest memories of Halloween. Tell your kids stories of your favorite Halloween costumes and trick or treating fun. My husband and his brothers ALL wore the same clown costume over the years that their mom had sewed for them. 2/3 of my boys wore it and their cousins did too.
Pumpkin carving is high up on my list of most favorite things to do. I don’t get crazy with patterns or designs, but I prefer to keep it simple with cool faces. I draw out a bunch of different simple designs to carve: noses, eyes, and mouths on a piece of paper – and the kids and I each choose our favorites and piece together our pumpkins. You can make it a contest or have a pumpkin carving party with your neighbors. Be sure to wait to carve until it’s close to Halloween – you don’t want your pumpkin getting all moldy! I’ve heard tricks of dipping your carved pumpkin in bleach or spraying it with Young Living’s Thieves to help preserve it a little longer. Instead of using candles, use LED lights!
Pumpkin seeds might be the best part of the carving. Save the seeds from when you scoop out the guts of the pumpkin, wash them and let them dry. Bathe them in olive oil with either savory or sweet seasoning. A simple dash of salt will do the trick. Bump your oven to 400 degrees, and pop them in. Let them cook for 5 minutes before giving them a quick stir. But be sure to NOT walk away from the oven while you’re toasting these!
Dig out a pen or pencil and paper (yes – let’s get old fashioned), and sit down to discuss which streets or groups of friends to go Trick Or Treating with. Our only problem is that we’ve been invited to so many of our favorite buddies to celebrate it their way. So we usually just stick to our own neighborhood. We actually live in a neighborhood that fully appreciates Halloween for all that it is worth!
Check your city’s page for the “Safety Rules on Halloween”. Trick or treating often starts at dusk and goes until 8 p.m. Leave your light off if you’re not giving out candy, and you can leave a bowl of candy on the doorstep if you take your kids to go out. You want flashlights, glow in the dark necklaces, or anything to keep your little ones safe as they bob from house to house, spreading festive cheer.
My boys and I have been talking about trick-or-treating. I’ve reminded them of their manners, and we’ve practiced saying “Happy Halloween” and “Thank you”. Have lights on your kid! And bring flashlights for the adults walking around.
Have you heard of the “Teal Pumpkin Project”? Maybe you’ve seen teal-colored pumpkins on people’s porches in years past, but this means that the homeowners are offering a Halloween treat that is safe for children with life-threatening food allergies. You can add yourself to the Teal Pumpkin map on FARE’s website, or on your own neighborhood network.
Did you know we even have a Halloween mood-killer law in Chesapeake, Virginia about being TOO OLD to trick or treat?! Here’s the thing, speaking from firsthand experience as someone who didn’t get the full allotted childhood trick-or-treating experience, if your teen is dressed up, I will give that child candy.
To this day, Halloween remains one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with my family. It brings back the fondest memories of my childhood! Remember to share your new memories this year on FamilyApp!