Halloween is Dan’s favorite holiday, I think. He’d tell you it’s Thanksgiving, but given the size of our ceramic Halloween decoration collection, I think I’m right. Also, the number of spooky movies, holiday specials, etc. for Halloween are only outnumbered by the Christmas ones (and I think Christmas falls into its own league, not to be grouped with the other holidays).
Anyway, there are certain things we always do for Halloween, and we want to keep these traditions up, despite the kids. We also want the kids to have fun on the holiday, without it turning into the all out candy grab and sugar-rush nightmare that it seems to generally be.
So, this year we carved pumpkins, with the big guy consulting and supervising while Dan carved. We watched It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, although we have that on DVD, so it tends to get watched every few weeks anyway. We watched Spaced Invaders, which you should check out if you haven’t already – it’s a great kid-friendly Halloween movie. And, (wait for it…) we went trick-or-treating!
We were going to opt out of that particular practice this year, and we did opt out of all the Halloween parties we could have gone to, because the kids didn’t seem terribly interested in the costume part or the spooky stuff part or any of the parts that they could really get into. And, of course, their food allergies (and the fact that sugar is poisonous and addictive) keep them from really participating in the candy part.
2 days before Halloween, though, I got out the Thomas the Tank Engine costume that I had bought for the big guy last year (that he refused to wear), and he was really excited about wearing it. So Dan and I decided that we would have him Trick or Treat in our neighborhood – basically walk down the street to the cul-de-sac and back. He’d get to ring doorbells, get some candy (but not too much), and be within a few minutes from home if he ended up being overwhelmed by the experience.
We figured Dan would go trick or treating with him, and I would stay home with the little guy and give out the candy to any trick or treaters that came to our door. We gave out individually wrapped Hostess baked goods, which seemed to be very popular. I don’t know the varieties, having not grown up here, and Dan says he only bought ones he personally didn’t like so as to not be tempted to eat any leftovers himself.
Our strategy actually worked out pretty well, although apparently the people in our neighborhood are really generous and T ended up with a lot more candy than we thought he would. Even after we weeded out all the chocolate (that he’s allergic to) and all the gum and choking hazards, he still has about a month’s worth if we limit him to a piece a day which is what we’ve done so far.
T was really excited about the whole experience. Dan says it took him almost the whole circuit to figure out that he had to say “trick-or-treat” and he kept wanting to go into people’s houses, especially if they had dogs. He also didn’t want to walk on the road (yeah, we have no sidewalks), and he kept wanting to cut across people’s lawns. But everyone loved his costume 🙂 And, like I said, he got a ton of candy!
The little guy was content to stay home and play – he had unfettered access to all the toys with his big brother out of the way. And he got really excited every time someone rang our doorbell, although he did keep trying to get outside, and I kept having to bring him back in since he refused to wear any pants 🙂
Dan and T got back after about 45 minutes, with a huge stash of candy. Dan actually had T ring our doorbell and say “trick-or-treat” and I let him have an oatmeal-raisin Hostess cookie. We got a few pictures of him in his costume before he couldn’t stand it anymore and needed to take it off. Then we all went out into the front yard for a while to look at the lit Jack O Lanterns, and let the kids run around and burn up some of that sugar-rush energy. I don’t think even the most endorphin-crazed runner’s high people get as much sheer joy from just running around as a 3 year old does 🙂
This year was our biggest group of trick-or-treaters since we moved in – probably 2 dozen kids. Twice what we got last year, which was three times what we got the year before. I didn’t see any terribly inventive costumes; my favorite was the girl dressed as a mime holding a trick-or-treat sign.
I call this year’s halloween a resounding success. Next year will be trickier, since the little guy will be old enough to want to go trick-or-treating too, but his allergies are much more extensive and severe, so there pretty much isn’t any candy he can eat. Not to mention the fact that there’ll be a new little guy or gal around as well. Still, with any luck, I won’t be pregnant this time next year, which will by itself make it much easier for us to do stuff.
We do need to work out a sugar management strategy, though. Right now, we’re sticking with the “one piece a day” rationing. The concern with this is that it gets him used to the idea of eating candy every day, which is not a habit I want to encourage. And the “it’s only once a year so let them pig out on it until they get sick” strategy doesn’t really interest me either.
Apparently there’s a church in Salem that does a candy buy back on the day after Halloween – kids get a dollar per pound of candy, and then the candy gets shipped overseas to the troops, which I think is a really neat idea.
I suggested to Dan that we introduce the idea of the “candy fairy” that takes away all the candy overnight and leaves a small toy in its place. I think it would work well, and we could still let them eat one or two pieces the night they bring it home without needing to worry about rationing it out for the next few weeks.
I’m still looking for other creative ideas. I want the kids to fully enjoy the dressing up, going around after dark, and collecting treats part of the holiday. I just don’t want the sugar-rush and all that goes with it. I want to switch us to giving out something other than sugary treats ourselves, but that’s a battle with Dan I haven’t been able to win yet. Anyone have any or hear any really good ideas for what to do with extra Halloween candy?