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Making Halloween Scary, But Fun For All Ages

Halloween is just around the corner, and from decorations to costumes it's important to keep in mind all the neighborhood's trick or treaters.

With Halloween just around the corner and kids as well as parents out shopping for costumes, decorations and crafts, it's hard to not get a little bit excited. 

Last year, when an early season snowstorm struck the Northeast just before Halloween, it left towns scrambling to find a way to make the beloved trick or treat tradition happen. 

I’ll never forget my son’s second Halloween. He had just turned two years old and, as an inexperienced mom, I had no idea whatsoever that Halloween costumes are best purchased far in advance. Much to my surprise buying a Halloween costume turned out to be similar to buying a bathing suit in April.  Shop early or risk not finding what you want. 

Fortunately, he was too young to argue when the only costume I could find to fit was a giant bumblebee. He even learned to say “buzzzzzzzzzz” at every door we went to. That was the year that I learned how important Halloween really was.

It might sound silly, but Halloween is just plain fun for kids. Whether they enjoy dressing up, listening to scary stories, trick or treating or, all over the above, Halloween is a chance for kid’s to simply have a good time. As my friend Colleen pointed out to me today, “Halloween is like New Year’s Eve for kids.”

The question, however, is how scary is too scary when it comes to Halloween? Yes, a little spooky can be a lot of fun but, as kids get older, it seems like the Halloween costumes get scarier and scarier. What’s appropriate and what’s not becomes a huge issue and I’ve seen many a battle break out in the local party store.

Sure, a bloody mask and a sickle are fine for a 10-year-old but what happens when they scare the wits out of a three-year-old on the same trick or treat route? 

Our policy has always been a simple one. The scary but still relatively appropriate costume is OK but off with the mask if there are any signs of trouble with a younger child. 

Same has always gone for decorations. Consider yourself warned if you come to my door. I do own a battery operated bat that drops down unexpectedly, a motion activated skeleton that sings and dances and a rock that makes spooky sounds. I don’t, however, take it much further than that. In my eyes Halloween decorations should be a smile to kids’ faces, not tears to their eyes.

For years we had what many people would consider a fairly scary dog. Yes, we knew he was nothing but a big goofball, but kids coming to the door were, inevitably, scared out of their minds.

It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that the magic of a Halloween Costume made him a whole lot more appealing. Take one German Shorthaired Pointer, add a shark costume and suddenly Jake was the most popular dog on the block. Problem solved and, in all honestly, I think he enjoyed dressing up as much as the kids enjoyed seeing him.

I’ll admit it. I was the kid who couldn’t watch scary movies without being up all night. I’m fairly certain that I was ten before I could face an episode of Scooby Doo! Today, in my mid forties, I’m finally brave enough to have a read a Stephen King novel or two but will readily admit that I’m not going to be watching the movies anytime soon.

I understand and respect that kids don’t always like to be scared and I always try to provide a fun house for them to stop at. I know that, over the years, trick or treating has gone through some tough times but it truly is a tradition that I love. Nothing makes a mom smile quite as much as seeing all the costumes and, of course, hearing all the thank you’s on Halloween night.

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