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Seven days of Halloween

Halloween is one week from today – before you blink, it will be over and on to Thanksgiving, and then we all know what comes next. Halloween is one of those holidays with a big build-up but typically just one evening of festivities and it’s over. Sometimes jamming all the celebrating into one night can be problematic. I learned this the hard way early on. When I was 5 years old, my parents neglected to ask me to turn over my treat bag post-trick or treating. A glutton AND chocoholic from the very beginning, I proceeded to eat my entire bag of loot – no joke. You can imagine what happened next – it wasn’t pretty. I have since learned to pace myself, but still have the overindulgence tendencies.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate Halloween with your kids all week:

Day 1: Make Halloween cookies – home-made or pre-made, pop in the oven to bake, sugar cookies are just fine, as is pre-made frosting. Pumpkin cookie cutters are everywhere now or you could just make traditional round sugar cookies and use orange and green frosting for pumpkins, black frosting to make bat designs, etc. With kids, it’s all about the frosting and decorations.

Day 2: Have a jack o’ lantern contest. Get pumpkins for everyone in the family and invite a family member, friend or neighbor to judge. Little ones will need assistance of course. I have even seen some sort of safety knives especially for carving pumpkins now so no need to risk stitches with your chef’s knife. Be sure to roast and salt the pumpkin seeds as a post-contest snack.

Day 3: Invite some of your child/children’s friends over for a casual get together. Make sure to ask everyone to wear their costumes. Kids get so excited about wearing their costumes yet only get to wear them on Halloween, so why not give them another opportunity? Have the kids march in a costume parade outside, weather permitting, or inside throughout the house is fun too. Serve family friendly Halloween-themed food – here are some of Rachael’s favorite Halloween-themed recipes.

Day 4: Family spooky movie night. Crash on the living room floor in your sleeping bags, put on your jammies, dim the lights, pop some popcorn and watch your favorite family Halloween or spooky movie – I still love “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” My kids have been watching “Caspar and Wendy” as well.

Day 5: Decorate treat bags for Halloween night trick or treating. No need to buy any special “loot bags” – use small shopping bags with handles, even pillow cases. Put out the markers, glitter, old fabric, construction paper, glue, markers, etc. and let the kids go to town. Now no one will get their goodie bags mixed up after trick or treating.

Day6: Get ready for the big night. Make sure everyone has everything they need for trick or treating, including a game plan should the weather be less than perfect – ie, rain gear, jackets, etc., and how foul weather gear will work with costumes. A dress rehearsal is a good idea so your daughter doesn’t wait until Halloween night to realize she can’t find her fairy wand and has a meltdown. This is also a good time to take back-up pictures of your kids in their costumes in case things are too hectic – and too dark – on the real night to get to it. Flashlights are also a good idea for trick or treating.

Day 7: Halloween is finally here. One idea for families is to get together for trick or treating at one family’s house that has a good neighborhood for trick or treating, That way kids can be together, parents can share trick or treating duties. Have a casual buffet with some kid favorites to ensure some kind of dinner is eaten beyond Halloween candy. After trick or treating, be sure to have your kids surrender their candy bags to make sure they don’t have to go through my candy binge experience!

Does your family have any special Halloween traditions/activities?

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Rachael Ray