Halloween celebrations have been going on for more than 2,000 years. Traditions have changed during that time, of course, but there is one consistent theme: Halloween is supposed to be fun.
The most time-honored tradition involves kids dressing up and going door to door for trick-or-treating. While most of the "tricks" sometimes associated with Halloween have fallen by the wayside, that's no reason to phone it in when eager young neighbors dressed as princesses and pirates come knocking on the door.
Being the coolest house on the block that kids can't wait to visit on Halloween isn't hard at all. Here are eight easy steps to making sure that yours is the most memorable stop they'll make:
1. Dress up to answer the door.
To a kid on Halloween, there's nothing better than seeing an adult who is in the spirit, too. Elaborate costumes are appreciated by basically everyone, but even a simple costume to show you're fully on board with the holiday will really brighten a child's face. Feeling creative? Get the family involved in a group costume or celebrate a famous woman in history.
2. Decorate your house. Adding a few fun decorations (without going over the top and making it look like a crime scene) is a surefire way to get kids to say "We have to go to that house!" Best of all, simple inexpensive changes can make a bit difference. Get a Pandora station with some Halloween music going, replace ordinary bulbs in porch lights with black lights and some cool jack-o'-lanterns on the porch are sure to get trick-or-treaters excited to visit.
3. Ask the kids about their costumes. Choosing a Halloween costume can be one of the biggest decisions a child makes each year. It's often a beloved character or a time when they can feel free to really go crazy and dress in a way they wouldn't dare to the rest of the year, and they'll want to tell you about it. Yes, handing out candy is important, but taking the time to acknowledge their cool costume means a lot, too. If you really want to step it up, making certificates for superlatives like "best superhero," "most creative" or "silliest" will give kids a huge sense of joy and accomplishment for their costume choice.
4. Be mindful of kids with special needs and those who are horribly shy. Getting candy on Halloween should be a fairly painless transaction. Children say "trick or treat," receive the sugary goods and then go on their way. For children who have certain disorders or are just plain shy, it can be a big deal to approach a stranger and ask for candy. Rather than tell them they can't have anything unless they say "trick or treat," try to recognize when a kid just won't be up to the task and be as friendly as possible anyway.
5. Don't give older trick-or-treaters a hard time.
Despite any personal beliefs you may hold about the appropriate trick-or-treating age group, don't say anything to the person who knocks on your front door. There are a lot of reasons that you might see an older kid dressed up and asking for candy: they could have special needs and be much younger mentally than they look, they could have never been trick-or-treating before due to their parents' restrictions or they could just not be ready to let go of that part of their childhood quite yet. As long as they're in the right spirit, who cares how old they are?
6. Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. One in 13 children has a severe food allergy that results in their parents having to sort and ultimately throw away the majority of what they collect on Halloween. Allow these kids to get the full trick-or-treating experience by having a separate bowl filled with non-food treats such as Halloween-themed stickers, bubbles or glow sticks that they will cherish and actually get to keep at the end of the night.
7. Be generous. Every child knows the disappointment of going to a house only to be given a single piece of genetic Tootsie Roll-wannabe candy. Nobody likes that house. Sure, not everyone can afford to buy enough candy for kids to take as many handfuls as they want, but do what you can. If you want to have the house everybody talks about, buy a lot of candy, full-size candy bars or cans of name brand soda.
8. Don't be a buzzkill. It really can't be stated enough, but Halloween is supposed to be fun. Even if you hate the holiday or think that kids will get enough candy from others, don't use it as an excuse to be the October version of Ebenezer Scrooge. Don't pass out toothbrushes, pennies, business cards or religious pamphlets. It's just really not the time for that.
Any other ideas to having the coolest house on the block this Halloween? Let us know in the comments!
(Header image via iStockphoto)