At this time of year kids are usually planning their costumes and their trick-or-treating companions and getting excited about a scary night of ghosts and witches and raking in the candy. But this year is different because the ghosts have been overshadowed by a scarier spook: Creepy Corona. Kids everywhere are disappointed that their beloved rituals are on the chopping block and parents are struggling to figure out how to save Halloween. But fear not: COVID has thrown a curve ball into the holiday, but this presents an opportunity to create new and better traditions. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Also, mother is the invention of necessity, lol 🤣
Halloween started as a Celtic festival called Samhein in Ireland. The Celts—who lived 2000 years ago—celebrated their New Year on November 1 because it marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. Celts believed that on the eve of the New Year the line between the living and dead became blurred and ghosts returned to earth. A thousand years later, the event had morphed into a Roman holiday to celebrate the goddess of fruit and trees. The history of the holiday is saturated with superstition, mythology, fortune telling, match-making, and honoring the dead. It’s an incredibly fascinating story. Find out things you never knew about Halloween!
Back to the present: What if we could retain the things we love about the holiday—family and friends and sweet and scary stuff—and shed the more commercial trappings that reduce the holiday to stockpiling and gorging industrial candy? What do your kids love most about Halloween? Ask them!
YES WE CAN!
After contemplating my navel (and thinking about what makes people happy), I have concocted a plan that is at least as good as a witches brew (with the toe of a frog, the wool of a bat, and the eye of a newt). I believe I have the recipe that turns toad farts into mouthwatering bliss! We parents CAN salvage Halloween, and we can keep it sweet and festive while creating some new traditions for our kids, their friends, and families.
HERE‘S THE PLAN:
Make your own candy.
Why is this a great idea?
- It’s a yummy surprise! Most kids have never made candy —or even thought about it—and the possibilities are endless. You can propose a list of mommy (or daddy)-approved recipes and ask them to choose their favorites.
- Kids still get candy, but you get to control the quality and the ingredients. You can also determine how much sugar to use. Try making a healthier version of something they already like.
- It’s a totally safe, sweet, and CDC-approved way to celebrate. It may even stick…like a gummy bear.
- Make it a family project. Halloween falls on a Saturday this year so you have Friday afternoon and evening and all day Saturday to make it happen. Choosing a recipe and buying ingredients will create anticipation for the candy-making!
- Get your kids into the kitchen and interested in preparing food! This is a great opportunity to engage them in a cooking activity, to show them the tools of the trade (Will you need a baking thermometer?), and to make sure they understand oven safety. Wouldn’t it be great if they made their own snacks and meals? If they enjoy the experience, they may become your dinner apprentice, or even the occasional chef! We could all use some helper elves, especially during CoronaTimes when eating out is not always an option.
- Candy manufacturers put all kinds of things in commercial candy that you don’t want in your kid’s body. Besides the colossal amount of sugar in every bite, there are also food colorings and preservatives, and other synthetic chemicals that are known to cause ADHD, allergic reactions, asthma and heart disease; one common hidden ingredient has even been linked to cancer. Why give your kids fake food when they will be just as happy with something wholesome?
- This is a great teaching moment. Help your kids understand the value of real food. Go online and look at the ingredients of the candies they typically eat and explain to them how these foods can actually hurt their bodies. My last year’s Halloween article offers some good talking points!
- Avoid bingeing and sugar crashing by integrating the candy making and candy eating into a day of healthy meals with plenty of good quality fat and protein and lots of water.
Think you can’t make your kid’s beloved Snicker’s bar? Think again! Here’s a list of fabulous alternatives to store bought Halloween candies. Although it’s hard to avoid using sugar, at least you can eliminate dangerous preservatives and food colorings. Even better, many of these recipes are grain-free or even Ketogenic, in case you want healthier options:
Homemade Candy Recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie
More Homemade Candy Recipes from A Big Man’s World
Still More Candy Recipes by Bakerita.
Once you’ve made your candy there are two great options:
Drive-by Family Candy Exchange
Organize a small pod of friends (5 or so) to exchange homemade candy. Remember to ask each host about any allergies in their family so that you can plan accordingly. Take notes and don’t forget who is gluten/egg/dairy/nut free!
Decide whether you will use sandwich bags, little containers, or plastic plates with plastic wrap (or wax paper) to package your treats. On Halloween day, do drive-by’s to drop off your treats at the homes of your friends. You can manage this using coolers labeled incoming and outgoing in order to maintain social distancing.
Bring your kids in costume. Text when you’ve arrived so your friends can come out and say hi. Your kids can pop out of the car briefly if it’s safe to, or have a quick chat on your friend’s lawn if all the kids can responsibly social distance. Otherwise, wave and make scary faces from the car! Or just leave your treat in the designated spot and pick up the one that’s going home with you. Your kids will have 5 special home-made treats to try!! Everyone in the pod can sign up for a time slot to drive around delivering goodies—that way you’ll get home just in time for the next person’s delivery.
Stay at Home and Indulge
For those that want to keep it simple and avoid contact with others, there is still plenty to do!
- Watch age-appropriate Halloween-themed movies, like:
- Hocus Pocus (PG)
- Nightmare before Christmas (PG)
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
- Friday the 13th (R)
- Nightmare on Elm Street (R)
- Frankenstein (not rated)
- Beetlejuice (PG)
- More options!
2. Read to your kids the History Channel’s History of Halloween. Or, everyone in the family can take turns reading paragraphs. Make it silly by printing out a section and turning into into Mad Libs! Underline a few descriptive words on every line and label them noun, adjective or verb. One person solicits new words from the others, writes them in, and then reads back the fictitious piece, followed by the real one!
3. Prepare a scavenger hunt for kids. There are all kinds of variations, inside and outdoors, and you can even take kids around the neighborhood using appropriate social distancing. Here are some great ideas for organizing a scavenger hunt and many other activities.
4. Carve scary faces everywhere. Step aside, pumpkin! Who says you can’t make a scary butternut squash or sweet potato face? How about cantaloupe? Beets? Eggplant? Invite your kids to rummage through the produce bins and turn vegetables into funny characters ! For produce that’s too hard or too soft you can use magic markers or paints to make faces. Challenge your kids to get creative! Take pictures and send to friends!
Kids are remarkably resilient and adaptable. Present the new plan with joy and gusto. If you show enthusiasm, they’ll get excited, too. Halloween will be fun and sweet and delicious, and you will save the day. Yes you will!
Please share this article far and wide so that parents everywhere have a solution to THE HALLOWEEN DILEMMA!
Other useful articles on eating right
How to detoxify after Halloween