I have mixed feelings about Halloween, from the inappropriate adult costumes to the overly sexy costumes for little children to the child labor used in the commercial candy industry. My kids tend to eat too much sugar, starting at school and extending into the evening, which means they are hyper and grumpy. And don’t even get me started on the Halloween Hangover the next day, which often falls on a school day.
That said, kids love Halloween. My children’s friends love Halloween. My neighbors—if their decorations are to be believed—are also big fans of the holiday. We live in a Halloweeny culture, so I can’t just hide under a rock and pretend it’s not something that exists. So I’ve come up with a few ways to survive Halloween, as a parent, without losing my sanity. These tips help me. I hope they help you, too.
8 Mom-Approved Ways to Survive Halloween 1 of 9
Click through to survive the spooky season...
Fight the Candy 2 of 9
Feed your kids a healthy, filling dinner before sending them out trick-or-treating. Full kids will be tempted to eat fewer pieces along the way, and they'll want less when they get back home. (At least, that's what I keep telling myself.)
Ration the Candy 3 of 9
When you get home, inspect a few pieces and let the kids eat some. Just a few. The rest gets inspected by Mom or Dad. Then you let your kids pick a few favorites before distributing the rest into two piles: one to throw away, and one to donate to a children's home or hospital. Those favorites that are set aside then get rationed further: for movies, for lunch-box dessert, for a reward for doing a good job on chores or having a good attitude (choose your own treat-worthy behaviors), or for a treat when friends are over. Regardless of how you use the candy, you put it out of sight. They have to ask for it. You get to decide when they get it instead of letting them scarf it down in one night. You'll be surprised how fast they forget it's even still there.
Clean Out the Pumpkin 4 of 9
The best way to get all the goop out of a pumpkin isn't one of those cheap, plastic scraper tools you can buy. It's not your hands, either. It's an ice-cream scoop. Chances are, you've got one already.
FREE TIP: When you're scooping out a pumpkin, empty it by opening a hole in the bottom rather than the top. That way it will sit level on the ground. If you do use a candle, you can light it without burning your fingers.
Decorate Pumpkins with a Kit 5 of 9
For little kids, using a decorating kit—think stickers, glittery plastic decorations, Mr. Potato Head push-ins, etc.—is usually a good idea. You don't have to carve anything, which is great because rarely will it turn out the way they want it. If you don't want to buy a kit, just cut out black construction paper and glue it on (use regular Elmer's-style glue). Or use black duct tape.
Decorate Pumpkins with Paint 6 of 9
Potentially messy, but still much less messy than carving a pumpkin. Just use basic craft/acrylic paint, and let the kids paint a face (or whatever) a couple days before Halloween. It won't last much longer than that if the paint application is heavy. Which, unless your 5 year-old is a delicate artist with fine motor skills and even finer brushwork, it will be.
Light Your Pumpkins Electrically 7 of 9
Candles? Too much fire. Too much wax. Too much potential to get blown out. If you do carve a pumpkin and want to make it glow, use one of those little LED pumpkin lights instead. It'll stay lit all night. Some even change colors, which can be cool.
FREE TIP: After you carve your pumpkin, coat the carved edges with petroleum jelly. It'll last longer.
Have Some Last-Minute Costume Ideas 8 of 9
Your kid picked out the perfect costume...but it broke an hour before trick-or-treating. Or she's learned some other kid at the party is also wearing that costume. Things are getting dramatic. You need to have a few cheap, creative, last-minute costume ideas in your pocket.
Bunch of Grapes: Inflate a bag of purple balloons and tape/pin them to your child's shirt. (Maybe just the front if they'll have to take a car ride anywhere in costume.)
Fork in the Road: Make a line of dashes up the middle of a dark-colored shirt. This is the road. Tape a fork to it. Congratulations, you're hilarious.
Static Electricity: Gather up some socks, underwear, or other assorted laundry items, and pin them to your kid's clothes. For an extra touch, spike his or her hair up. Accessorize with a laundry basket if you want.
Smartie-Pants: Attach a bunch of Smarties candies to your kid's pants. Ta-da! Genius.
Cleaning up the Aftermath 9 of 9
â€¢ Get pumpkin out of clothing with a solution of dishwashing liquid and water.
â€¢ Get stick candy off clothes with a solution of detergent and lukewarm water.
â€¢ Get gum out of hair with peanut butter. (Really!)
â€¢ Get gum off clothes using ice. Apply the ice until the gum hardens, then scrape it off.
â€¢ Get chocolate out: Well, good luck. It's hard. Try this.