I've been celebrating Halloween with kids for about a decade now, and as a result, I've got a few Halloween hacks to share.
1. Go to the pumpkin patch early. Some might take this advice a step further and skip heading out to the farm entirely, but not me. Those fall pumpkin pics with the kids are just too amazing to miss. But go early. Most farms are pretty empty the first weekend in October, but not so much as you get closer to Halloween.
Pro tip: Hitting the pumpkin patch early in the day also helps to avoid crowds.
That's right, no one else but us here!
2. You don't have to give out candy to the trick or treaters. My husband disagrees strongly with me about this one, but I'm a committed no-fun, no-candy parent. After a few misses over the years with the non-candy alternatives, I've finally found something the kids will not complain about: glow sticks. Trust me, give these out and no one will ask you where the candy is.
Pro tip: Save a glow stick to put in your own Jack O'Lantern, it will give off a perfectly eerie light, and you won't have to worry about the live candle flame causing burns or house fires.
3. A fabulous Jack O'Lantern does not have to be carved. After years of trying to cut pumpkins with youngsters, I've given it up in favor of other decorative ways to create a Halloween pumpkin that is a work of art. Googly eyes. A little paint. Maybe a sticky mustache. Really, anything goes.
Pro tip: Cover the pumpkin with hairspray before setting it outdoors so that no little critters take a bite out of your masterpiece.
4. Your home decoration can be minimal as long as you visit the neighbors with the good ones. I used to succumb to my kids' pressure to decorate our home all out for Halloween. But now, I put up a ghost or two, take them on a fun drive to see the over-the-top decorations of the neighbors, and it's all good.
Pro tip: Get some cider and donuts for the ride and make a big deal out of the car tour of the neighborhood decorations.
5. The best homemade costume is the one you bought. Homemade costumes are overrated, trust me. I used to try and put the DIY in do-it-yourself costumes, but now I leave that to the professionals. Whether they are mass producing in China or hand-sewing in New England, my children's costumes are made by someone else. Unless you are very talented, or really enjoy spending hours creating something your kids will say is not what they wanted at all, the costume creation really needs to be outsourced.
Pro tip: Purchased costumes can easily be re-purposed for use multiple years. Last year's vampire can become this year's witch with just a few adjustments.
Even better than a store-bought costume is one you get two Halloweens out of!
So there you have it, my five Halloween hacks for parents. What are yours?