Halloween is a famously loved holiday by kids everywhere. It’s a fun time to dress up like silly or scary characters and go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.
But it's also a time to stay safe.
Please be sure that your kids, regardless of their age, understand these safety tips before they go out trick-or-treating this year. Impress upon them how important these few rules are to their health and safety.
Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips to Teach Children
Wear Bright Colors
Both adults and kids should always wear brightly colored clothing. Tell them: "If you are wearing a costume that is dark in color, you must have some reflective tape attached to parts of the clothes or shoes so that you can be seen by drivers in cars." (Many communities now enforce a trick-or-treating curfew to prevent children from roaming after dark. Be sure to check for any curfew rules that may apply to your community.)
Be Sure That You Can See
Smaller children just love the store-bought costumes that come complete with a facemask. Tell them: "Before you leave the house, double-check to make sure that you can see through the eyeholes of the mask. This will help to prevent tripping, falling or running into something while out trick-or-treating."
Obey the Rules
Tell them: "If you are trick-or-treating in a city, remember to follow traffic safety rules. Always look both ways before crossing the street. Stay on the sidewalks, don't run, and walk at a normal pace."
Visit Familiar Places Only
Tell them: "It is safer to trick-or-treat at places where you know people. Do not go to strange houses or places that look unsafe. Never accept the invitations of strangers to go inside the house, even if it's to get some candy. Remember the “never talk to strangers,” rule!"
Let Parents Inspect all Candy Before Eating
This is a commonly known rule of trick-or-treating, but yet so many parents don’t follow it. And let's face it, it's hard for kids to accept or understand this one, but they must.
Parents should remove all unwrapped candy from buckets (cupcakes, homemade candy, etc.). There are just too many dangers to eating unwrapped candy or treats to take a chance with your child. It is also a good idea to look for holes in plastic candy wrappers as well.
Tell them: "Not to eat anything until they bring their "loot" home and you get to check it out first."
Always remember that kids will be excited about Halloween, and with these basic rules and any others you deem appropriate, they will have fun but remain safe while doing so.
Getting ready for a howling Halloween party this year? Spruce up your party with some icky, but yummy party food. Here are some fun food ideas for a ghostly Halloween party:
Refrigerate yellow and green Jello (any flavors) in ice cube trays. Serve chilled.
Worms in Snot Cubes
Make snot cubes, as directed above, out of Jello. Insert gummy worms in each cube of Jello then refrigerate. Serve chilled.
Using a small, sharp knife cut a small, round hole in one side of the top of an apple. Insert a gummy worm inside the hole. Create display of “bad apples” in a wooden bucket.
In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:
Bowl of Brains
Scramble several eggs. To get the gray brain color, mix in green, red, and blue food coloring as you beat the eggs before cooking them.
Buggy Ice Cubes
Insert gummy worms or raisins (for bugs) in ice trays with water and freeze. Insert frozen buggy ice cubes in your bowl of party punch.
These ideas will definitely excite the kids at a Halloween party. As for the adults ... try them and see!
Believe it or not, when it comes to the fun you can have at Halloween parties, the ideas are limitless! But over the last several years, Halloween has taken on an air of sophistication while becoming more of an adults-only type of celebration.
How about we return to the fun children had years ago with these basic but fun Halloween party ideas for adults and kids alike. Some of these activities are more suited for older kids but you be the judge of the age-appropriateness of the activities suggested below.
Apple Bobbing – Fill a large tub with water and apples. Let kids take turns bobbing for apples.
Costume Contest – Once all your guests arrive at the party, take a vote on the best and scariest costumes. Add as many categories to your list as you want and hand out a grand prize to the best costume over-all.
Pin the Nose on the Jack ‘O Lantern – This is a spin-off version of the all-time favorite game among children. Make a huge Jack ‘o Lantern, leaving off his nose. Let kids take turns being blindfolded and pin (or tape) the nose on Jack.
Pumpkin Carving Contest – Hold a pumpkin carving contest. See who can carve the funniest or silliest face into a pumpkin.
Pumpkin Painting Contest - Have a pumpkin face-painting contest. See who can paint the scariest face on a pumpkin.
Make a Mask – Give younger kids at your Halloween party construction paper, round-ended scissors, markers and glue. Let them make their own face masks for the party. Punch a hole in both sides of the mask and tie string or tiny elastic on the mask.
Guess How Many Seeds – Place counted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl or jar. Each party guest takes turns guessing how many pumpkin seeds there are. Whoever guesses closest to the correct numbers wins a prize.
Pumpkin Seed Spitting Contest – Cut the top off a large pumpkin and remove the inside meat and seeds. Give each kid five seeds and see how many seeds they can spit into the pumpkin from a distance.
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Have fun!
Kids always have fun making crafts, especially holiday-themed crafts. Here are some fun Halloween craft ideas for the kids to make this year.
Trick-or-Treat Goody Bags
Tiny Pumpkin Garland
Have fun and enjoy the quality time with the kids!
Let's face it. Halloween is all about the treats. So, how can you make some fun treats at home that your little ones will love?
It’s easier than you might think.
Do you have some Halloween Cookie Cutters? That’s all you’ll need to make these first three fun and memorable Halloween treats.
Terrifying Tortilla Chips
Creepy Cheese and Cold Cuts
Here are a few more last-minute ideas for Halloween fun.
Wicked Witch Fingers
Do you have some dough and shelled almonds? Believe it or not, you can make witch fingers.
Why not give some of these simple ideas a try this year.
You’ll be the coolest mom on the block.
Here is a really easy, kid-friendly recipe you can use for Halloween parties or special Halloween treats!
Caramel Apples Recipe
1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels
2 tablespoons milk
finely chopped nuts (optional)
Lightly butter a baking sheet and set aside.
Remove the stem from each apple and stick a craft (popsicle) stick into the top of each apple.
Unwrap caramels and place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave approximately 2 minutes, stirring half way through.
Carefully remove caramel from microwave and let cool for about 1 minute.
Quickly roll each apple in caramel until well coated.
Then roll each apple over the chopped nuts until all sides are covered.
Place on prepared baking tray and allow to set.
If you were to read the almanacs of North America, written in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, you would see no mention of Halloween in the lists of holidays. It was the transatlantic migration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish potato famine (in 1845-1849) that brought the holiday and it's customs to America. The Scotts also brought their own country's version of the holiday to North America when they emigrated to America after 1870.
By the mid-19th-century America, the holiday known as Halloween became as important to the Irish-Americans and Scottish-Americans, as the Columbus Day celebrations were to the Italian-Americans. Both of these celebrations, Halloween and Columbus Day, were about heritage and customs. Families would gather together and tell stories, play games, and enjoy traditional foods.
And while pranks and mischief were common on Halloween, the home parties would center around children's games and activities such as bobbing for apples. If you look at the games that were played, these "parlor games," as they were called, were centered around future romances and match-making.
The commercial exploitation of Halloween in America, did not begin until the 20th century. The earliest products were perhaps the Halloween postcards, which were most popular between 1905 and 1915, and featured hundreds of different designs. Dennison Manufacturing Company, which published its first Halloween catalog in 1909, and the Beistle Company were pioneers in commercially made Halloween decorations, particularly die-cut paper items. German manufacturers specialized in Halloween figurines that were exported to America in the period between the two world wars.
It seems that the mass-produced Halloween costumes did not start to appear in stores until the 1950s, when trick-or-treating became a fixture of the holiday. Commercially made masks were available earlier.
Until somewhere in the 1990's, a majority of decorations were homemade and were usually displayed inside the home. Suddenly, manufactures began producing a larger variety of Halloween yard decorations, including orange trash bags, and people in cities and towns across America began to decorate the exterior of their homes. And once again, another transformation of the celebration of Halloween was born.
I'm not quite sure when I first noticed the transformation but now, it is quite common to see a home and, quite often, entire neighborhoods, decorated with large Halloween yard decorations such as illuminated jack-o'-lanterns, creepy scarecrows, and gruesome witches, foam tombstones, creaky coffins and even gargoyles. And displayed on the roofs of some of these houses, are gigantic inflatable decorations such as spiders, pumpkins, mummies, vampires and Frankenstein. It is also quite common to see homes outlined in eerie colored lights.
Other popular decorations are spooky animatronics used in window displays or on porches, large spider-webs, fancy light displays, orange and green spotlights, and scary door decorations. I've also noticed that in the last few years, it is not uncommon to hear a wide variety of ghoulish sound effects coming from a home or two.
So in truth, Halloween in modern-day America, has become one of the most commercial and profitable holidays, next to Christmas, for the retailers and candy makers.
But along about the same time of the increased interest in flamboyant decorations, there emerged a concern for the safety and welfare of children, as well as a concern about the protection of property from pranksters. Based on these concerns, in some cities and towns across America, trick-or-treating has been discouraged, forbidden, or restricted.
In it's place, some communities stage trick-or-treating events that are held within facilities such as shopping centers or malls during a designated time-frame, a house-of-horror or, even small town Halloween parades where the kids of all ages can display their costumes.
Many families have reverted back to supervised Halloween parties in the home. These parties usually involve games like searching for candy in a similar manner to Easter egg hunting, or the traditional game of bobbing for apples, telling scary stories, watching horror movies and, getting bags of candy. Similar parties are sometimes offered in the school setting where they are supervised by the teachers.
But the spirit of the Halloween celebration is still very much alive and well in many cities and towns in America!
Also in America:
It is unclear where the celebration of Halloween will go from here in our culture, but one thing is sure. What was once new becomes old, and what was old, has now become new. People of all ages will always find a way to celebrate and, the celebration of Halloween is no exception.
Around the eighth century, the Christian church made November 1 All Saints' Day to honor all of the saints that didn't have a special day of their own. Over the years these festivals combined, the mass held on All Saints' Day was called Allhallowmas (the mass of all Hallows - saintly people). The night before was known as All Hallows Eve. Eventually this name became Halloween.
In the 1800s, when there was a huge emigration of people to America, the holidays and traditions of different cultures began to merge their celebrations of Halloween, but with a few twists. The "twists" were due mostly to the varying beliefs and religious convictions of the separate ethnic groups.
But, the celebration of Halloween was not always a happy time.
October 31, or the night before All Saints Day, took on other names. Some called it Devil's or Hell night. And to others it was simply mischief night. To some people this became a time to play tricks on others, but some of these tricks were not fun at all.
Around the turn of the century, in 1900, the government and newspapers around the country, began to encourage folks to have more of a celebration, with less empathizes on the ghoulish and frightening practices of Halloween. The community groups and concerned individuals took action, and began a process to change the Halloween celebration. The merging of the separate nationalities and their religious beliefs, including the traditions of the Native Americans, gradually changed All-Hallows Eve, into more of a family celebration and harvest festival.
So ... here we are. But wait ... let's look at some of the familiar things we now associate with Halloween and see where they originated.
Trick or Treating has it's origins in an English tradition, an event called the "All Soul's Day Parade." Throughout this designated day, the poor would wander the streets and beg for food from the more affluent residents of the town. In return for the "soul cakes," which were little pastries, they would be asked to pray for the souls of those related to the pastry giver. This became referred to as "going-a-souling." and was sanctioned by the church as a replacement for the practice of leaving food and wine out for roaming spirits.
Over time, the wandering from door to door to collect the "soul cakes," became an activity practiced by the children. They would go house to house collecting food, ale, and money from the neighbors.
Costume wearing has it's origins in both the Celtic and European heritage. It was believed by the Celtic people that evil spirits roamed the earth on the last night of the Celtic year (October 31) and that they worked mischief among the living The people believed that the ghosts of the dead would not be able to recognize an individual if he was wearing a costume. The dead would confuse the costume wearer with other spirits. (But just to be sure, and further protect themselves, the costume wearer would also leave bowls of food outside their door to bribe the evil spirits.)
The origin of the Jack O' Lantern is from a popular Irish tale. The Irish would place a candle in hollowed out gourds turnips, potatoes, rutabagas, or even beets, to ward off a character called "Stingy Jack." But when the Irish immigrants arrived in America, they discovered the pumpkin. They soon found that the pumpkin could be hollowed out and carved much easier that the other vegetables they had traditionally been using.
So you see, most of our traditions of Halloween, have originated from the traditions, cultures, and spiritual beliefs of the immigrants who settled in America many years ago. Today, dressing up in costumes and going "trick or treating", community parties, autumn festivals, and costume parades are just some of the ways that Halloween is celebrated. Halloween is no longer about the fear of the dead but instead, it is a celebration of the customs and traditions of the people who brought them to the shores of America. Most people, irregardless of cultural origins, remember their dead and keep their memories alive through personal celebration, remembrance, and prayer.