During these complicated, layered, stressful, kind of crazy times it feels like a great relief to be writing about Halloween. I don’t have to think about the Pandemic, distance learning, wiggly kids, depressed teens, the next Supreme Court Justice, the election, or what I am cooking for dinner!
When the news came out that trick-or-treating might be banned this year, all I could think about was how children would be crushingly disappointed. We all need some relief from the harsh realities of today’s world. Don’t cancel Halloween!
Halloween has become the second highest grossing holiday in America, Christmas being number one. There is just no denying its popularity. Each year I am blown away by how many teens and adults now celebrate Halloween in a big way. It never used to be this way. But Halloween is a big deal especially for kids. This year more than ever it is the distraction we need.
First of all, there is candy. Who doesn’t love candy? I have clients who (used to) come to my office and raid my candy jar, telling me they looked forward to it all day. How about the parents who like to sneak their favorites from their child’s Halloween stash? There is no other holiday that allows and encourages us to eat that forbidden food. We need a sugar high this year. It might balance the dismal morning news.
Then there are the costumes. Besides the Jewish holiday of Purim, there is no other holiday where you get to go for it, wear whatever you want, crazy as it might be. Make up and masks, bloodied faces and ghoulish grins, ridiculous clothing, maybe even inappropriate…it’s all okay on Halloween.
Of course, there is the scary appeal of Halloween. Big kids love to shock and scare people. Kids who used to be easily frightened love to frighten others the most. The scarier it is, the more powerful the child feels. Young children particularly like to do others the very thing that troubles them, giving them some control over it.
And Halloween is social. The whole community celebrates, whether you are partying with your pals, or roaming the streets with your neighbors. Our kids are starving for social interaction. As much as parents have tried to meet this need, it is still missing from their lives. I am not so sure that Halloween can fix this one. But we need to counter balance it.
We need Halloween this year, and it is up to us to find a way to make it happen—safely. I don’t suggest that you break any rules. I don’t suggest that you risk putting your child in danger. I do suggest that you use Halloween as an example of how you turn lemons into lemonade. We all want to raise children into adults who are resilient. Now is your chance to model what we do when something doesn’t go the way we had planned and hoped. Now is the opportunity to teach problem solving. There is no better way for your children to learn this lesson than by demonstrating how we do it. This Halloween is your chance.
First of all, it is important that you talk about how COVID has necessitated our having a different Halloween this year. For sure you will hear grumbles and groans. Take the time to validate those feeling with your child. Share the disappointment. Allow it to exist…for a while. Then it will be time to move on. “Wait! No way! We are not canceling Halloween altogether. We are going to make our own (safe), super special Halloween!” Get out your pencil because it time to brain storm. Your excitement will be contagious.
- Visit a Pumpkin Patch. I know, I know, that’s a big yawn. While many of these have been closed, there are still those places that allow you to choose your own pumpkin. Buy more this year than ever before. Look for the strangest shapes.
- Of course carve or paint your pumpkins. Get the whole family involved. And if you’ve never before roasted the seeds, this is your year. How to bake pumpkin seeds. The kids may not love scooping the seeds out, but they sure will love rinsing off the slime and feeling those slithery seeds.
- Visit one of the drive-through Halloween events. I know there are a few in LA. like The Haunted Hayride. For those who are not easily spooked, there is the Urban Legends Hunt in Costa Mesa, Ca. Check these out. Halloween events
- Create costumes and wear them before Halloween. Instead of buying your child’s costume this year, make a big deal about making it. Plan ahead. Tie dye a tee, cut up one of Daddy’s old shirts, make a dagger out of cardboard. Take your time to DIY. Or because I can hear some of you groaning, go ahead and buy it.
- While the build up is great, so is the chance to wear that costume more than just once. You can even make more than one! I sure hope your distance school teacher will ask the kids to dress up for Halloween. If not, collect your kids’ friends and have a Zoom parade.
- Go crazy with make-up. Watch some how-to videos and give it a whirl. Glam and Gore has how-to videos for your older children.Make up How-To’s Children 3 and younger do not usually like to put anything on their faces. But the older ones sure do!
- Haunt your own house. Whether you use homemade posters and streamers or use last years decorations, go crazy inside your house instead of the outside.
- Play Doll in the Hall. A client shared with me this take off on Elf on the Shelf , the pre-Christmas game. It can be a Halloween themed doll or stuffed animal. But every morning the kids awaken to the fun of finding where he is that day. Perhaps on Halloween day, the Doll has little candy bags for each child.
- Trick or treat in your own home. Help each child to decorate his own room and choose the candy he wants given out. Depending upon the number of teen/adult candy givers you have, you can use many rooms and lots of candies.
- Make your Halloween dinner special. Whether you go crazy making the whole dinner all black and orange, having a memorable dinner will liven the night. For those who really want to have a splash hit, make the whole dinner out of candy: green vines for the salad course, M & M’s for the starch, fruit roll ups for the meat, etc… He’ll never forget it.
- Play special Halloween games at home. This website has all kinds of great Halloween themed games.Halloween game to play at home
- Halloween ideas galore! CNN Health’s website created 31 Ways to Celebrate Halloween this Year. You will love it .Great ideas to celebrate Halloween
This year of 2020, is unlike anything most of us have every experienced. In the end we will likely look back and exclaim how glad we are it is over . How great it would be for your children to look back and say, “Remember the Halloween we had during the pandemic? That was the best Halloween ever!” And you will remind them how you all saved the day, turning lemons into lemonade.