Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. But when I was growing up, it all seemed simpler. Today, Americans spend billions (yes, billions!) of dollars on Halloween. Julia, a freelance writer here, compares her childhood celebrations with her kids now experience.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, we made Halloween costumes out of whatever we had hanging around, ran in a pack to trick-or-treat (fueled by way too much candy) and scared the daylights out of each other in every way possible. Our parents weren’t even part of the picture – they handed out candy at home. Fast forward 30 years and my girls have a totally different experience. We host parties at home and keep track of everybody all the time. I’ve paid too much for costumes (but made some great ones, too) and get annoyed when someone is “too scary.” But they have grown up loving the holiday as well.
Here are some musings of the differences between then and now. What would you add?
Halloween Plans THEN
- The party starts in an hour -- you tell your kids to go make a costume. They can grab a shirt from dad’s closet or call a cousin for a hand-me-down costume. If you have to, zip over to Zayre’s or Kmart for anything that’s left.
- Use the curling iron to get that nice Farrah Fawcett flip in your daughter’s hair for her Charlie’s Angels costume.
- Light the candles in the pumpkins you all carved with steak knives.
- Get the yard ready: blow up a balloon, drape a sheet over it so it looks like a ghost, hang it in a tree -- done!
- Set out ashtrays for the adults. Put out a bowl of candy cigarettes for the kids.
- Get the snacks ready: popcorn balls, brownies, a big jug of Kool-Aid and cans of Fanta for the kids. Chill some Schlitz and Tab for the parents. Put crackers and port wine cheese out to fancy things up.
- Plan for a scary movie on the 13-inch TV. If not, Monster Mash will be on the radio.
- Fill a big bucket of water for the kids to bob for apples. Have a towel handy to wipe the spit and boogers from the apple bobbers’ faces. Everyone uses the same towel.
- Set up the Ouija board for the séance with great-grandma.
- Send everyone home with a wave.
- Find the flashbulb bar so you can take a picture of the gang. You’ll drop the film off to Fotomat next week.
- Open the door and send the kids out for trick or treating. Check to make sure they all have their UNICEF boxes in one hand and a pillow case for collecting candy in the other.
- Before bed, gorge on candy with the kids.
- Warn the kids to be careful with the Pop Rocks -- if they spill, they’ll get stuck in the shag carpet.
Halloween Plans NOW
- You’ve had the kids costumes planned since summer vacation. All instill confidence and pride. Even if you did spend half your salary on an original Elsa gown.
- Start planning the decorations in July. All the Halloween gear is at Target and you don’t want to miss something essential.
- Get out the faux candles and a kid-safe pumpkin carving kit. Better yet, let’s paint the pumpkins with non-toxic, non-flammable paint, you know, in case they eat it.
- Rise at dawn to blow up the huge inflatable Halloween village in the front yard. Worry the inflatable Frankenstein may collapse onto one of the kids and cause them life-scarring stress and fear.
- Spend all day making flax-seed-based lactose-free, dye-free, gluten-free granola bars – shaped as ghosts.
- Forget the hands-in-spaghetti thing. Have you seen their hands? Even the six bottles of hand sanitizer you placed around the party won’t kill those germs.
- Create a new version of every party game so everyone wins a prize, no matter what, every time.
- Banish scary movies (the TV shouldn’t be on anyhow). The kids next door have requested not to be scared. Will the spider decorations bother them? Better ask the mom.
- Send all the kids home with a Pinterest-worthy goodie bag.
- Take a photo so you can instantly post it, Pin it and share it. You’re bound to have 80 likes and 20 comments before you leave the house.
- Give each kid a reflective vest, flashlight, walkie-talkie and glow stick necklace. Line them up with a buddy and their Pottery Barn personalized candy carrier. Go over the houses you will visit and give them each a list with a map. Remind them to use their manners, even though you’ll be with them the whole time.
- Check every piece of candy, letting them eat only two pieces. It all goes to the “Candy Fairy” who replaces it with an elaborate toy that night.
- Spend fifteen hours the next day making a Halloween scrapbook to remind you of all the wonderful memories.
>> For more Halloween ideas including recipes and easy DIY costumes, go to Care.com/Halloween