This is a post by staff writer Bobbi Burger Brunoehler.
Halloween has become an expensive “holiday” full of contradictory life lessons. The average family spent $300 during Halloween last year, per CBS news. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When I was a kid, Halloween meant dressing up in your dad’s big clothes and then knocking on our closest neighbors’ doors. They had to guess who you were and when they couldn’t figure it out (because your costume was soooo convincing) they would exclaim how surprised they were that it was you and then offer you a treat. The treat was an apple, perhaps a homemade brownie, or (my favorite) an envelope with 10 shiny new pennies from the guy who worked at the bank. Oh my, times have changed!
Halloween stores start to spring up as early as September first. ALL candy to be given out is sealed in bags. People shuttle their kids to neighbors far from their homes and knock on doors of strangers.
On Halloween now, safety is key, of course. Still, we also teach our kids to:
- Talk to strangers.
- Take candy from strangers.
- Pay retail for a costume.
- Eat as much high fructose corn syrup as possible in one night.
But, relax, there is another choice that can be made for Halloween. You can teach your kids to:
- Start or attend a costume swap. There are more and more costume swaps occurring all over the country. Help turn your local costume swap into a weekly or monthly free swap so you have an outlet for trading your clothes and accessories all year long.
- Get to know neighbors. Instead of knocking on stranger’s doors in some far away neighborhood, how about knocking on your closest neighbors’ doors and introducing yourself. You can give them a homemade treat or craft or, if they are not home, a random act of kindness card. Not only will this give you a chance to create community, but will help prepare you should an emergency strike.
- Get creative and make a cool costume. There are many sites to find cool homemade costumes including BargainBabe’s annual Halloween Costume idea contest. My favorite is the Klutz Costume book. Making a homemade costume is a fun activity that can provide a great learning project that includes sewing, cutting, gluing, measuring, and general out-of-this-world imagination.
- Raise money for their favorite charity. Instead of collection candy, your kids can take a wagon with them and collect food for the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. They can also raise money for any other charity they are interested in.
Doing any of the above four ideas takes lots more time and effort than just going to a store, grabbing a costume and knocking on doors so your kids can get candy. But, the value of taking the time to treat Halloween as a “teaching moment” is priceless.
I hope you have a happy and meaningful Halloween.
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