6 Tips for a Great Halloween

by Melissa Roja Lawlor

For most kids, Halloween is a scream. Haunted houses, trick-or-treating, funny costumes, and handfuls of candy. What’s not to love? Well, creating the costumes, monitoring the candy, keeping kids safe — all while creating a memorable and fun holiday — to name a few. Before this night gives you a fright, we asked some of our favorite mom bloggers to share their tips on making the most out of Halloween.

1. Keep one eye on the calendar. With all the craziness of back to school, Halloween can sneak up on you without warning. Blogger and mother of four, Jen Mitchell can relate. “Last year, I missed the memo about the day when the costume parade was. So I sent my son to school without it,” the Buried With Children blogger says. “He got off the bus that day and told me about the parade and then it hit me that I forgot. I apologized as best I could and promised to do better next year. My son told me his teacher gave him a witch hat to wear and then said, “Don’t worry, Mommy. I only felt a little bit left out.”

2. For costumes, let them lead the way. It’s fun to dream up a perfect theme (think: lobster and lobsterman or Three Musketeers), but in the end, kids won’t want to leave the house if they don’t love what they’re dressed as.  Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, learned from experience. “I think my favorite Halloween with all of them was when Lily was a Princess, Evan was a dragon and Ben was a spider.  It was not a theme at all and made no sense whatsoever, but they were just so cute and it was what they were into at the moment!”

3. Start a tradition. Whether it’s hosting a pre-Halloween potluck, building a haunted house in the garage, or having a family pumpkin carving contest, Halloween is a great time to start a new family tradition.  Angie Lee of Seven Clown Circus says, “Every year we buy each child (we have 5) their own pumpkin and then my husband spends HOURS carving them with them.  It’s something they all enjoy so much.”

4. Avoid sugar overload. “We only let them take one piece of candy from each house,” says Elizabeth Demers, author of the blog Bumpsmitten. “I usually let them have a handful of candy while we are out trick-or-treating and then a couple of pieces when we get home. After they’ve finally gone to bed, I usually pick out around ten pieces of candy each for them to have that following week. I’ll put most of the chocolate in the freezer for that occasional treat in the future.”

5. Don’t be afraid to dress up. Join in on the costume fun yourself! Momma Said blogger Jen Singer went as Super Mom one year for Halloween. “I wore a tennis outfit and pinned a piece of red construction paper with an ‘S’ on it to my shirt,” she says proudly. “I added a cheap cape and mask and red and white Wonder Woman boots I bought online from a go-go supply store.” Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch Fabricsraved about her husband and son’s combo costume from last year. “Last year, he was a pirate and our then-two-year-old boy was his parrot!”

6. Unleash your spooky spirits. Halloween is a great time to flex your creative muscles. Even if you’re not Martha Stewart, it can be easy to cook up something scary in the kitchen to celebrate the day. Make a pre-trick-or-treating snack with pudding and gummy worms, cut their sandwiches into ghost-shapes, make spooky faces in English Muffin pizzas, create “eyeballs” from melon balls and raisins, or hide a plastic spider in their milk. It’s fun, silly — and memorable. Plus, it might help your kids eat more.

Melissa Roja Lawlor, a freelance writer for Care.com, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care with more than 11.8M members spanning 16 countries.