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Halloween Dos and Don’ts

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Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year, for children and adults alike. Derived from Pagan rituals, Halloween has evolved into something commercialized, sanitized, and secularized. That doesn’t bother me, though, nor should it bother you. We can all use it as an excuse to have a good time.

I’ll always remember my childhood memories of Halloween. At three years old, before I was old enough to understand what was going on, my parents dressed me up as a panda. For a few years, I was dressed up as a prototypical Halloween witch. When I was six, I actually went as King Tutankhamun! My older half-brother had gotten me a book of intricate paper masks to make the Christmas before, and my dad endured the painstaking work of gluing all the tabs together just like so. My mother went to Fabricland, a Canadian textile retailer, and made me a simple smock out of a fabric with a gold, Egyptian-style print.

My cousins from my mother’s side of the family have almost all immigrated back to Canada from Malta, now married with kids. Despite Malta not having a Halloween tradition, my cousins are making sure my little second cousins are all ready for a typical North American kid’s Halloween. My parents were immigrants, too. My mother is from Malta and my father was born and raised in London, England. It amazes me how quickly immigrant parents pick this stuff up.

A cute jack o' lantern

For at least a few decades now, many adults have made it known that they don’t want to be mere candy door greeters.  So there’s a possibly over one billion dollar industry for adult Halloween costumes. Many workplaces have Halloween parties, and there are many adult Halloween parties at bars, clubs, and friends’ houses, too.

I’ve seen a lot in the 25 Halloweens I’ve seen so far, so I have some ‘dos & don’ts’ for readers. I’m trying to cover all the bases here. Enjoy!

Make sure your kids are wearing safe costumes.

    As much fun as masks are, I’ve been taught time and time again that most masks don’t offer kids enough vision for them to behave safely. Either have your kids wear masks with large eye holes, or paint their faces instead.

    Have your kids wear costumes that aren’t too long to trip over. Young children can get really excited on Halloween night, and that makes tripping over their costumes more probable.

    If at all possible, make sure your child’s costume is visible to others, motorists in particular. If your kid is going to wear a black witch costume like I did for a few years, talk your kid into letting you put orange reflective strips on it. Those can be purchased at most Halloween shops and department stores. Lighter-colored costumes are also good for visibility.

Keep a close eye on your children.

    As I mentioned before, little kids can get really excited on Halloween night, and they’ll likely want to run around. Make it clear to your children that they are to stay near you at all times. If you are an adult supervising children for Halloween, don’t have more than three kids per adult. So, if you’re taking a lot of kids, have extra adults with you.

    This might sound obvious to you, but if you’re supervising children for Halloween, don’t be drunk, stoned, or otherwise high while you’re out with them. To ensure your kids’ safety, and your own as well, make sure you ‘trick or treat’ sober. If you’re going to drink or smoke a joint on Halloween night, do so after the kids are in bed.

    When your kids are at a door, make sure you aren’t more than ten feet away. And, never let your kids enter a stranger’s house.

Inspect your kids’ candy before you let them eat it.

    Throw out anything that isn’t in factory-sealed packaging. Little wrapped candies are okay. Also make sure you throw out anything that looks tampered with. For several early Novembers in a row, I’ve read media stories about people putting razor blades or poisons in candy. Chances are, all the houses your kids will visit will be full of nice people. But, make sure you don’t become a statistic.

If you are greeting ‘trick or treaters’ this year, make sure the kids visiting you have fun.

    Only give out candy and snacks you know kids will love. Chocolate bars, bubble gum, Twizzlers, gummy candy, and potato chips are all great. Raisins, peanuts, and those gross brown toffees in orange and black wrappers I remember receiving as a kid were all disappointments.

    Keep in mind that other parents will be inspecting THEIR kids’ candy, and make sure the stuff you give out is all in factory-sealed packaging, too.

    Put at least a little bit of effort into decorating your house. This year, I will put up some cardboard gravestones. Yes, it’s cliched, but at least it’ll show I’m trying. Jack o’ lanterns are great, make sure they’re lit. Other Halloween decorations are good as well, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money, especially if you are creative, yourself. My fiancé and I don’t have kids, but if we did, we would involve them in the Halloween house decorating process. Related to that point: being childless is no excuse to not make sure you’re ready for ‘trick or treaters’.

Be ready for UNICEF.

    When I was a grade school kid, we were all handed orange and black UNICEF collection boxes for ‘trick or treating’. I’ve seen in recent years that children all over Canada and the United States are still given those boxes. UNICEF is a great cause. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so be sure to have $20 worth of change at hand, just in case.

Behave yourself at adult Halloween parties!

    Some of us will be attending Halloween parties related to work. You don’t want to put your job at risk because you got wasted and did something stupid. If you are going to a party hosted by a friend, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your friends, or your friends’ friends. If you are going to a party at a bar or club, you don’t want to be a victim of a spiked drink, a pickpocket, or a sleazy guy. If you are going to drink at any of these settings, don’t drink more than you can handle. Be aware of what you say and do. And, certainly, don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver or taxi money ready. Make sure your friends do the same. Finally, don’t let your friends or co-workers share photos of you, on Facebook or elsewhere, in a compromising position.

Be clever about YOUR costume.

    I’m a 26-year-old woman, and females my age, as well as those who are a bit younger and a bit older, tend to love to use Halloween as an opportunity to dress as a ‘slutty nurse’ or a ‘sexy Big Bird’. I’m not joking about the latter. I’ve seen pictures of all kinds of ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes being sold that are turning children’s icons into stripper costumes. Frankly, dressing in a ‘sexy’ way for Halloween has been done to death. And, you certainly don’t want to be greeting children dressed like that, or dressing that way to a work-related Halloween party.

    Try to be original, instead. For the past few years, I’ve always dressed as a ‘Creepy Crawley’ to greet ‘trick or treaters’. Get it? My surname (It’s my maiden name, and I’m never changing it!) is Crawley, and I’m creepy. I was born on Friday the 13th. I’m lefthanded. I’m now one of the ‘sinister cabal of superior writers’ here at Blogcritics. What do you expect?

Set age limits on ‘trick or treating’.

    If you take your kids out before they are four or five years old, they’re unlikely to remember it. Plus, they won’t be able to easily follow your safety instructions. And spending an hour or so ‘trick or treating’ will tire them out! If you or your child is over twelve, people at the door may be a good sport and hand out candy anyway, but they may resent having teenage or even adult ‘trick or treaters’. Encourage teens to attend Halloween parties with their friends, instead. And, make sure they have adult supervision! The only exception made for teenage ‘trick or treaters’ is if they are supervising younger siblings.

    And last, but not least…

Take advantage of all the Halloween sales that start on November 1st!

    Do you love candy? Buy lots of it, cheap! Some types of candy, such as lollipops, will be good for you to keep in your basement and hand out next year. That obviously doesn’t apply to potato chips and the like. If you buy any candy that is post-Halloween discounted that will perish in a few months, make sure that’s the stuff you’ll eat until New Year’s Eve. After Halloween is also a good time to buy house decorations, and costumes for next year – for adults, though, not kids. Kids will often be disappointed to wear a costume that was purchased the previous year. They are also more likely to change their minds about what ‘they want to be’ than adults are.

So, there you are! I hope everyone reading this has a Happy Halloween this year. Be safe, maintain your dignity, and have fun.

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About Kim Crawley