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Halloween is coming and you need to get ready: you need enough time to plan and prepare what you want to do. You can do as much or as little decorating that you have the time for, or have the budget for. You will need to decide how you want to decorate, if you want to host a party, what costume you and others in your family want to wear, how to carve your pumpkins and what to have ready for the trick-or-treaters.

Decorating inside

Hopefully, you’ve kept some decorations from past years or bought some at the end of the season last year when they were greatly reduced. If not, then begin with determining whether you want to buy decorations and/or make them yourself. If what you want isn’t on sale right now, wait a week or two. Things that work well are orange- and brown-colored items like candles, pillows and items that you can find at discount stores. Also, try putting decorations on the windows and mirrors. And of course, don’t forget to place all kinds of pumpkin items around.

Decorating outside

Some people get very inventive with spooky stuff outside. No matter what extreme you go to, remember to keep it in your budget. Some start out with one or two things, then add one per year until they have what they want. Most items will be reusable the next year if you take care when you store them. Go to the local craft stores for cobweb stuff and be sure to attach plastic spiders. The craft stores also carry fake pumpkins you can carve or paint and use outside that may last longer than real ones. And don’t forget the witches, brooms and black cats to make your outside area even scarier!

Costumes

The stores have a lot of costumes in stock right now, and probably on sale, but you’ll need to act quickly to get what you want. If you can sew, or at least put items together, then try making it yourself. Maybe you want to throw a costume together by getting something from the second-hand or thrift stores. They are always reasonably priced and it might surprise you at what you find there. The last alternative is to get into your closet or the closet of one of your family members and improvise with a baseball uniform, a cheerleader outfit, an umpire’s gear, whatever you find, it is bound to be the best for this Halloween.

Carving pumpkins

I think my most favorite part of Halloween was when my kids were young and carving their pumpkins. It was a mess and took a long time, but it was well worth the effort. Start with letting your children pick out their own pumpkin (keeping in mind you should probably limit the size). For the little ones, you most likely are going to do the carving for safety’s sake. The easiest way to carve a pumpkin is to put a face on it and draw the face on first so you have something to go by. Once it is carved, then you’ll need to determine how to light it. The safest way is with a battery-operated candle or tealight. Some children decorate pumpkins by using markers to draw faces on them – that avoids all the messy trouble of scooping the insides out, and the pumpkins seem to last longer. Or maybe you want to buy fake pumpkins at a store and let your children paint them. Whichever way you decide, be sure to take pictures as the process happens.

Trick-or-treaters

Make sure you have plenty of candy for trick-or-treaters. If you run out too soon, imagine how that little guy is going to feel. Be sure to turn your porch light off if you have run out of candy or won’t be home to give it out. Put your costume on to answer the door and make conversation with the little ones, asking them what they are, and telling them how great they look. Have something available for children who can’t eat sweets like a little toy (plastic pumpkin) for younger children. If you are taking your children, be sure to stay close and dress up also. Teach them to say “thank you” when they receive a piece of candy and teach them safety in the dark (take flashlights). By the time October 31st rolls around it is generally pretty chilly outside, so be sure to dress them warmly. Most of all, take pictures to have from year to year.

Halloween party

If you plan on hosting a Halloween party, line out the games you’ll offer and what it will take to put them on: bobbing for apples, guess that scary character, costume contest, guess the number of candy corn in a jar, etc., and don’t forget the prizes for the winners. Maybe instead of games you just want to put on a scary movie for all to watch.

Halloween can be a fun time for all ages but do remember that there are people of all ages who get scared of costumes and frightening creatures, so tone it down if necessary. Be respectful of other’s property when trick-or-treating. Be sure to inspect all the candy and other items your children might accept while trick-or-treating to make sure they are safe. Enjoy the night and stay safe and warm!