Halloween

Dear Sharon,

Our children are under 10. There are three of them and I’m trying to find a way to make Halloween a safe holiday for them. “Trick or Treating” on the streets makes me nervous. Do you have any ideas or tips that will help a concerned parent who has a lot of reservations about this holiday and its typical behavior for my children?

Dear Concerned Parent,

Even though Halloween can bring out behaviors that are a lot to juggle for parents it also can be a great deal of fun.

For starters an internet search provided me with a long list of family friendly Halloween activities.

In Brooklyn there are a wide range of specially planned holiday festivities at the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Aquarium, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Prospect Park. Most events are scheduled for the weekend before Halloween but there is also the Park Slope Civic Council’s parade down 7th Avenue on the 31st.

Queens hosts the Halloween parade in Jackson Heights but there is a Halloween Harvest Festival in Long Island City, the Highland Park Fall Harvest Festival, as well as activities at the Queens Zoo, Flushing Meadows and the Queens Museum of Art the weekend before.

Before attending any function find out specific information about what will be happening and try to match it to your child’s age and sensibilities. Some children might love the spooky, scary themes that are offered while others could prefer the arts, cooking and crafts activities that are also available.

There can be plenty to do at home as well. If time permits you could plan or make costumes together. Scouring through drawers and closets for interesting dress up can be fun or you could shop in the many stores that have countless Halloween gear in a variety of price ranges. Making household decorations can also bring out the creativity in everyone.

If you can manage it in your busy schedule, old fashion pumpkin carving can be creative as well. If you have extra time you could even go pumpkin picking. The Decker Farm in Staten Island has pumpkin picking on Saturdays in October but there are many other farms to visit as well. When you are done carving you could roast the seeds in the oven for a healthy snack. Other cooking projects like Halloween cookies or candy apples can be a nice treat as well.

If you do plan on “trick or treating” and your younger children might become scared or confused by gruesome costumes, make sure to explain the dress up part of Halloween to them before the day comes and try to steer clear of especially ghoulish outfits or behaviors.

You could also begin asking friends and/or family members to join you in “trick or treating”. Besides being exciting for the children, it can be especially nice for parents to go with other adults who share their thoughts and concerns. Together your group might come up with plans for where to go, how much candy to allow, ways to check the safety of treats, a time to come home, etc. If possible start “trick or treating” before it gets dark when more mischief can happen. When that part of your day is over, it can be especially fun to come back to someone’s house for a simple party. You could supply pizza or other simple foods and enjoy a fun and special evening together.

In spite of the dark sides of October 31st it can be one of the most child-centered holidays of the year. It is good you are thinking through how to make it go well. Good luck and Happy Halloween!