Halloween Checklist – Strike it off before you set off trick-or-treating

Have you ever paid double for a Halloween costume you hate just because you are left with little choice at the last minute? Or opened your door on Halloween night to a bunch of little ghosts and witches, only to discover that the candy jar is empty?

Halloween is a few days away. But now is the time to make your Halloween checklist and start crossing things off, so you are ready for the big night. Do your best to ensure that this Halloween is all fun and no disappointment for your little trick-or-treaters. These tips will help you celebrate a smoother, spookier Halloween this year.

Before Halloween

  • Get the Halloween costume ready in time. Whether you’re buying a new one, recycling an older sibling’s, borrowing from a cousin or making your own, don’t wait until October 31 to get it all ready. If the costume is a used one, make sure it is clean, altered to the right size and has all tears or stains fixed a few days before Halloween. If you’re buying a new one, do it at least a week before, so you don’t end up with the last costume in the store that nobody wants.
  • Put candies on your shopping list. This one’s easy to forget. Even easier to remember. Simply add it to your list when you go to the grocery store or do your warehouse shopping this week.
  • Buy Halloween supplies and accessories. Don’t forget the pumpkins for your front porch and the pumpkin to hold the treats. If you have one saved from last year, get it out and dust it off a few days ahead. Remember to take it along for the trick-or-treating trip!
  • Plan the route you will take. If you plan to go trick or treating in a group, discuss the streets you will cover and the time you will leave home with the other parents.
  • Send free Halloween Ecards to friends and family.

On Halloween

  • Have a hearty meal before starting out. This goes for you and the kids.
  • Pack supplies. Don’t forget snacks, pumpkins to hold candies, umbrellas, coats, flashlights, sanitizing wipes, tissues and water.
  • Carry your cell phone.
  • Ensure your car has enough gas, if you’re going trick-or-treating on wheels.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. The night could get cooler by the end of your trick-or-treating trip, so make sure everyone wears layered clothing. Carry extra jackets for all the kids, especially if you’re planning to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Set rules. Remind your kids about not talking to strangers, not going inside homes without you, not getting into strangers’ cars, holding hands while crossing streets and not eating any of the candy until you have had a chance to check them.
  • Fill the candy jar at home before leaving. Inform the person who’s staying behind at home where the candy jar is, so the kids who visit in your absence don’t go disappointed.
  • Remember to leave your porch light on.
  • Take your camera along. It won’t be long before your kids outgrow Halloween and you’ll want memories of every trick or treating trip you have ever been on. Besides, pictures of you with the kids in costume would make great Halloween photo ecards or to add to your Halloween ecards for next year!
  • Halloween cards – Print out and take along printable Halloween cards for your friends and neighbors.

How to pick a Halloween Costume

Kids’ favorite time of the year is back. Seeing all the Halloween costumes on display in stores led me to wonder- how exactly do you pick a costume when there’s so much to choose from? How do you decide on a Halloween costume for your kids (or yourself, for that matter?)  Do you simply pick the one that’s most attractive? Or do you go with the year’s most popular choice? Do you shop by price?
This will be the first year I will be actively shopping for a Halloween costume for my 3 year old. And these are some of the ways I’m considering shopping.

Browse around: If I’m going to spend approximately $30 on a costume that will most likely be used just once, maybe twice, I’m going to spend some time and effort looking for the best value. Consider looking at options in at least three different stores before you decide on a costume. Browsing around lets you compare variety, prices and quality. You don’t have to set aside a date and time to do this – just keep your eyes open when you go shopping for something else or to the mall. You can start this preliminary research in late September or early October.

Discuss your budget and costume ideas with your kids: If you leave costume shopping until the last minute, you’re sure to end up spending an exorbitant amount on costumes which may not even be your kids’ first choice. Planning a little ahead is helpful, especially with older kids. Sit your kids down a few weeks before Halloween and let them know what your costume budget is for the year. Make sure they understand that any costume they pick has to be within that range.  Then, ask them if they have any particular characters or costumes in mind. So when you go window shopping, you know what you’re looking for. Encourage them to be flexible with the costume or character idea.  Keep a few backup costume ideas handy in case the one they want is out of stock or beyond your budget.

Decide on a theme: You could decide on a Halloween costume theme as a family. Come up with a theme that you all can agree on – say, for example, you all dress up as a family of witches. Be creative and come up with original themes. Your family could dress up as green vegetables – one of you could be spinach, another broccoli, a third lettuce and so on. You could go trick or treating as a salad plate!! Or maybe you could be characters from Harry Potter. You don’t have to stick to traditional Halloween ideas. Together, you can come up with a costume theme that is fun for everyone and you may be able to save on accessories when you buy them in bulk.

Look for costume’s future potential: Another aspect to keep in mind when picking a Halloween costume is whether you can reuse it. If a school play is coming up where you child plays a certain character, you might consider buying a costume that could work for both occasions. Or maybe a sibling or cousin could use the costume the following year. Halloween costumes usually have short life spans. But, if you can stretch their value a little more than usual, it’s savings you could certainly use.

Make your own costume: This is my favorite way to get a Halloween costume.  Whenever possible, I prefer reusing and recycling things at home rather than buying something off the shelf. While the finished product may not look as professionally made as the store-bought one, the pride and joy of making something, the learning experience and the time spent together as a family are far more valuable. This goes for birthday gifts, homemade gift wrappers, free halloween printable cards and yes, Halloween costumes as well. There’s a lot you can do with a piece of fabric, an old pillow cover or towel, cotton wool, brown paper, cardboard, cereal boxes and other things you’ll find if you just looked around you.

This could be a great craft project for kids and a fantastic money saver for parents. Not to mention a super-fun family time.

Tell us about how you go Halloween costume shopping!