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The trouble with Halloween - I will say it even if it's not popular

Every year, I approach the festivities with mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s fun to dress up and I love the challenge of coming up with unique, yet low-cost costumes. On the other, what exactly am I teaching my kids? That it’s OK to run around, ask for and accept candy from strangers? And the pressure is on - statistics say the average person will spend over $75 on decor, costumes and candy. And for families with kids, those numbers add up. They add up nation wide as well: with 160 million people participating (just under half of the population of the US and Canada), $75 per person means $2.6 billion for costumes, $2 billion on candy and another $2 billion on decorations, you know - throw away fake skeletons and cob webs and the like. This means $5.6 billion - which is several magnitudes higher than what gets donated to, lets say, homelessness each year or to protecting endangered species. But our kids negotiated us out of cancelling Halloween by pointing out that it’s a great opportunity to: 1) get to better know the neighbors, 2) demonstrate restraint and wise choices and 3) show creativity by doing a low-cost and unique costume. We also role-play what to expect so that they are reminded of what is the range of expected behaviors (see previous post on how we learned to do that from pediatric expert Sal Severe, author of “How to behave so so your children will too!”). And we as a family agree to follow the “7 Rules for fun with orange and black”:
  1. Costumes need to be fun AND practical - good for days that are cold and wet
  2. We all need to stay together
  3. Don’t rush - injuries running up and down stairs can ruin fun for everyone and crossing streets is done with care (Halloween is the worst day for car accidents involving kids)
  4. Please and thank you’s are important
  5. We make it real by addressing people we meet in character and celebrating their creativity
  6. Parents get to sort out candy received and get the final word on anything that is suspicious
  7. Kids get to eat three things that they received that night and store the rest.
And this, ladies and gentlemen big and small, is how to have a safe and fun Halloween night! Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mother of three, CEO myBestHelper

Posted: October 28, 2013