Before having children, I wasn't that into Halloween. I would lock myself in my apartment, turn the lights off, and hide. Bah humbug, spooky style - I know.
But when I had my first son, Halloween became fun again. And I feel so fortunate to experience this holiday again through the eyes of a child.
Even though I didn’t host a haunted house or deck my lawn up with witches and skeletons, my family made my son’s first Halloween memorable.
But in addition to costumes and candy, we also had to ensure a safe experience. So here are some fun hacks and safety tips we learned - that might benefit your first-time trick or treater.
- Research safe trick or treat options like malls or gated neighborhoods
Growing up in Vermont, I used to always go trick or treating around the block. I lived in a small 1-mile area town where it was like Cheers, and everyone really did know each other's name.
But when my first son was born, we lived in a city in Florida. There, I only knew a few neighbors. Apparently, I just didn't get out much after having a kiddo.
So when Halloween came around, I was at a loss for where to go. Then I found out that there are tons of safe places for kids to go trick or treating on Halloween.
We ended up taking our energetic little Tin Man to the local mall. Every store handed out candy, and some even gave away free promotional items. This was awesome considering I didn't need to worry about cars, and I could easily keep track of my wobbly, running toddler.
We also found out that there was a gated neighborhood nearby hosting an event. And, many churches in the area handed out candy as well.
Now since we've lived here a couple of years, and I get out more :) we know a few more neighbors. But we still go to the mall where my kiddo receives more candy than he can eat for a year. That’s why my husband and I steal some. What can I say? I’m a sucker for chocolate.
- Check out consignment shops for cheap costumes
Before preparing for my first-time trick or treater, it had been forever since I checked out Halloween costumes.
I always just grabbed a cheesy t-shirt or a cheap wig and called it a day (when I wasn't hiding in my apartment). So when I ventured to a legit Halloween store for my babes, I couldn’t believe how expensive costumes were!
How can a baby costume cost $40? That’s like diapers for a month! I left empty-handed but was more than delighted when I found a whole section of Halloween costumes for kids - at a thrift shop.
For my son's first Halloween, he didn't have any say in what he wanted to be. I took advantage of his limited vocabulary and was ecstatic to choose a costume for him. Choices, choices.
I stumbled upon the cutest little Tin Man outfit that reminded me of my Wizard of Oz loving days. My parents used to put that movie on for me every day at 5 AM sharp when I was three, but I digress.
Let me be clear; this was a full Tin Man ensemble for - drumroll please - 50¢.
I was psyched that I found a unique costume that saved me more than pennies. I also felt pride that I would have more money for the critical things in life, like caffeine, and okay, diapers.
My opinion: For your first-time trick or treater, there’s less pressure because your kiddo can probably hardly talk. Take advantage of this! It’s okay not to find the most popular Paw Patrol costume the first year.
You’ll have PLENTY of years when your child will more than let you know what he/she wants to be. Plus, thrift stores have some rare finds - and for a bargain.
This year I even found a Scooby-Doo costume on Poshmark - an excellent consignment shop app.
I splurged and spent five bucks. I know, I know, but this rare Scooby find come with a full body getup and a hat with ears. And now my three-year-old does have a voice.
I vote to take advantage of thrift shop costumes for as long as you can. After all, my child isn’t going to wear that thing more than once or twice. Unless he decides he wants to go to preschool as Scooby. (I shouldn’t hold that past him.)
- Use a cool children’s backpack
When I used to go trick-or-treating, I brought an old-fashioned pillowcase to stash my goodies. Why? Because it was free and handy, and you could fit a lot of candy in it. But now, with two young kids, pillowcases are hard to lug around.
So when I became a mom, I traded in the pillowcases for lightweight backpacks. Some backpacks can even compliment your rascal’s costume.
The rocket backpack from Luvabub can not only make that Buzz Lightyear costume pop, but it also can hold your candy. And the sweet ladybug bag could add some pizazz to any cute little insect costume too.
Using backpacks even falls under safety tips for Halloween because many backpacks have reflectors. Not to mention, a children's backpack gives you back your hands - unlike that pillowcase.
- Make the costume a family affair
Part of the fun of having a family is being able to dress up around a theme for Halloween.
I have seen some clever family group costumes. Any David Bowie fans out there? One family dressed up as characters from the classic movie Labyrinth. (Come on, it’s a classic to me.) The dad was the creepy Bowie character, the mom was Sarah, and their baby wore striped pajamas and went as Toby.
I’ve seen other families dress up like Sesame Street characters, trolls, Dora characters, and more.
As mentioned, my three-year-old currently has an obsession with Scooby-Doo. He loves that dog and has even developed a passion for Scooby Snacks which we try our best to regulate. Yes, they make those, and it's an evil ploy.
So it was a no-brainer that we would be going as Scooby-Doo characters this year. My three-year-old will be Scooby, my husband will make a perfect Shaggy, And I'm going to be Daphne because I already have red hair. Our baby is also going to put on a Scrappy onesie.
Talk about a funny family picture for a postcard. We’ll have a blast following one of our safety tips for Halloween: traveling in a group. Spotting the Mystery Team will be easy.
So hopefully this Halloween you have a grand old time with your first-time trick or treater. You might even get to experience your little goblin’s first sugar high - now there’s something scary!
And don’t forget to stash some chocolate for yourself and have a spooktacular time!