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Parent Tips > Holidays & Annual Events > Halloween

An Eco Mom's Guide to a Green Halloween

Submitted By: Elizabeth Borrelli

Another summer has come and gone, the kids are back at school, the smell of autumn is in the air. As another crisp October beckons, kids everywhere are repeating the age-old question "What are you going to be for Halloween?" The answer wavers often, sometimes even after the costume is planned, made or purchased, but it's Halloween after all and that's just part of the fun.


Fortunately for us eco-moms, Halloween is one of those celebrations that works well in green. It's easy to switch from drugstore candy containing more wrapping than edible contents to eco-friendly treats. Do-it-yourself costumes can be a simple and inexpensive alternative to their made-in-China counterparts. Of course even with our best intentions, the double-espresso-speed schedule that so many of us run on can render any new direction daunting. It's tempting to get sucked in by all the crazy promotions and point-of-purchase displays encouraging us to grab & go in order to save some time. But with a few simple changes to hearken a more wholesome holiday, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you'll find.


Favorite Halloween Eco-Treats
Halloween treats don't have to be individually wrapped balls of artificially colored corn syrup - although kids will certainly get plenty of those. Locally grown, fair-trade or organic candy makes a more conscientious alternative environmentally. Small, sustainably-made toys are a healthy eco-friendly substitute. Halloween party-goers often enjoy all-natural or home-baked goods even more than those overly sweet, questionable ingredient-laden supermarket varieties. Look online or at your local health foods store for some of our favorite treats below:
• Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops - delicious and dye free, they come in a large variety of flavors including lemon, mixed fruit, peppermint, mango, watermelon, and pomegranate.
• Plan Toys Monkey Pencils - Made from reclaimed rubberwood, these eco-friendly pencils are as cute as they are functional - a kid and parent favorite.
• The Ginger People Ginger Chews - You'll love their spicy apple ginger chews. Made from all natural ginger, a holistic remedy for nausea, it's the perfect holiday candy.
• Endangered Species Chocolates - These delicious bite sized chocolates squares are fair trade manufactured by a company that donates a portion of proceeds toward preserving animal habitat.


Eco-Friendly Costume Tips & Tricks!
Think back to when you were a kid and how the best costumes were always the most imaginative ones, those last minute inspirations pieced together with a stapler and glue gun. Part of the fun of Halloween is in giving kids permission to use their imagination and figure out a way to create their vision, then see where it takes them. Depending on the age, they may need guidance and ideas, but it's so much better when they help to create it themselves from objects or materials you have at home.
• Host a Halloween Costume Swap: Invite some friends to join you for a pre-Halloween potluck. If they have kids, chances are they've got extra dress up, last year's costumes or accessories to swap. A perfect way to save money, go green and have fun.
• Used Clothes: Costume Shops or your local Good Will are tremendously fun to visit for Halloween ideas. Visit Goodwill for old linens to make a fun ghost or toga costume. Dress them up with leaves to show they're eco. Other favorites: gangster, wise old crone, clown or cat (cheetah print is a common Good Will find).
• Spooky Scarecrow: Over sized flannel shirt, faded blue jeans with patches, rope for belt and to tie at the cuffs of his jeans and sleeves, stuff the shirt and jeans with plastic grocery, or paper, a little bit of straw to hang out of jeans and shirt.
• '60s Hippy: This one is hard, after all its back in style! What is real, and what is costume? ;-) Tie die clothing, long wig (in the old days we called a "fall", sandals, headband, anything with fringe on it (vests, purse...) light colored sun glasses.


As every mom knows, it's got to be quick, easy and affordable to work in any color, green included, but when you can stay true to the origins of the holiday without breaking the bank, it's worth a try. This year try trading pre-packaged for reused, recycled and made by you. You'll find an eco-friendly Halloween more fun, no additional pressure or extra work - Go Green!

 

Candy: Trick or Treat?

Submitted By: Kristi Miller, Solutions in Parenting

We don't want to SCARE you this Halloween, but we can't pass up an opportunity to chat about a topic that causes seasonal upset for families, and potentially fatal results for the children of our nation: Candy.

 

Why are we so serious about such a short and sweet word like "Candy"? Because, we are entering into the "Official Candy Season". It starts with school candy bar (cookies, candy, bake sales, etc.) fundraisers, Halloween, Thanksgiving, special holiday celebrations, Valentine's Day and Easter baskets. Throw in the usual birthday parties, sports field snack-shacks, movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls, media, and grandma's house, and our children and teens are bombarded with candy and sugar-filled foods most days of the year!

 

The statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting the gravity of this bombardment. Our children are getting "fatter" and "fatter" each year. In 2007, according to the CDC, 16 percent (that's over 9 million!) of American 6-19 year olds are overweight or obese. This is a number that has tripled since 1980. Another 15 percent in the same age range are considered "at risk" for becoming obese. In other words, almost one-third of children today are at risk for becoming overweight or obese. Sixteen percent of them already are. (Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002, Oct.6, 2004)

 

Combine those statistics with the fact that 79% of our high school students ate fruits and veggies less than five times per day, 34% drank at least one soda a day, and 65% did not meet the recommended levels of daily physical activity!

 

The problem of obesity among our children is a grave one, in that it can have lasting effects on their physical as well as their emotional health. People who are overweight are at major risk for severe chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and hypertension (Institute Of Medicine, 2001) as well as gum disease, dental caries and other periodontal issues. The emotional ramifications of obesity cut deep and overweight children may find themselves stigmatized and isolated for their weight in a society that has little to no tolerance for this condition.

 

As parents, we spend an extraordinary amount of time making sure our kids and teens are safe. We hold their hands when they cross the street, teach them to wear seat belts, and give them cell phones to keep track of them. During this potentially challenging "candy season", protect your kid's health, as well as your family's peace, by following our Five Tips for Handling Halloween Candy Madness. Practice at least one of these tips, and you may find you have healthier, happier kids and families this Halloween.

 

1. Set Limits. Setting limits allows kids to understand your expectations, gives them guidelines to follow, and helps them to relax into being kids. Use Halloween as an opportunity to set limitations on candy before your kids go trick-or-treating. Decide on how much candy will be eaten a day, where the candy will be kept (*hint* not in their bedrooms!), and how candy eating may affect other opportunities for treat consumption ("If you choose to eat candy today, you will not be able to eat that cupcake as well. That's too much sugar for your body"). Setting limits first, may dramatically cut-down on power struggles and increase the amount of peace in your household.

 

2. Educate. Candy has a very important role in our nutritional lives. It's a fun, celebratory food, it tastes incredibly yummy, it is a special treat, and it usually has no nutritional value (peanuts in a chocolate-nut bar don't really count!). Parents can use Halloween as a unique opportunity to teach their kids about nutrition and healthy eating habits . Kids don't need to feel guilty for eating candy, but they do need to know that it is a special treat, to be enjoyed in moderation. Teach your children how candy can fit into their lives, while balancing their diet with healthier foods as well. Teach them to value the enjoyment of candy as a special treat, to be eaten after they have enjoyed fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. Make sure your kids know what the food pyramid looks like, and teach them how to eat balanced meals when they are young, so they can make healthy choices as they get older. Click here for a copy of the Food Pyramid.

 

3. Exchange. Halloween candy can be a fun opportunity to teach your older kids (starting at about 7 or 8 years old) the value of money. Before trick or treating begins, sit down with your kids and develop an exchange system. Decide the monetary value of different kinds of candy and offer to buy candy from your kids. For example, the little pieces may be worth five-cents, where the bigger ones may be worth 25-cents. This way, kids can choose to sell or keep candy (either choice needs to be okay), learn the value of money, and learn to make choices with the money they make from selling their candy. Make sure your family has discussed what is appropriate for them to spend money on or not. For example, is it okay for them to buy more candy with their money? Hopefully they will end up consuming less sugar, making a bit of spending/saving money, and you get to enjoy kids who feel good about making responsible candy choices. For more creative ways to use Halloween candy, click here.

 

4. A Rewarding Experience? Many parents may want to use the abundance of Halloween candy as a reward or a motivation to get kids to behave, perform chores, finish homework, or some other task. Using candy this way distorts its role, teaching children that the candy is the more important concept, and not the task at hand. Almost always, using candy as a reward backfires, creating more of a dependency and focus on the candy and more conflicts within a family. Instead, let your children experience the reward of making successful choices about their candy throughout the day. For example, if they are allowed to have three pieces a day, you can give your younger kids the choice, "you can choose to have one piece before dinner and two after, or all three after dinner. Your choice". As long as both choices are okay with the parent, it's a win-win situation for everyone. For older kids, more flexibility is appropriate. They can eat their three pieces when they choose (keeping in mind any previously made agreements); knowing that when those pieces are gone, they don't get more until the next day. Set your kids up for success by keeping choices appropriate and reasonable and chances are they will have a very rewarding Halloween candy experience.

 

5. Check Yourself. The over-abundance of candy during Halloween can be an extremely haunting experience for some adults, as well. Before Halloween comes, spend some time checking in with yourself regarding your relationship with candy. Many adults find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to regulate their candy consumption as well. Does having all of the candy around cause anxiety or temptations for you? Do you eat more candy during this season and fear weight-gain or unhealthy consequences? Perhaps candy is not a problem for you and you feel comfortable with your self-control. Whatever your feelings and beliefs are surrounding candy, you can be sure that your kids will pick up on it. So, if you want to teach your kids to have self-control and healthy beliefs surrounding food, candy and sugar in their lives, be sure to model those behaviors to your kids.

 

Try using one or more of these tips for handling Halloween candy madness and see what happens. You may just find that the madness doesn't have to be so mad after all!

 

Helpful Hints for Pumpkin Carving!

If YOU are a Halloween enthusiast, you might find these pumpkin carving secrets helpful...
1. Never carry your pumpkin by the stem. It's part of the visual allure, and if it snaps, it can accelerate the pumpkin's rotting. Always carry the pumpkin from below.
2. Store your uncut pumpkin in a cool, dry place. Once pumpkins ripen, they will deteriorate fast, and heat and light speed up the process.
3. Wash the exterior of the pumpkin well before carving. Use a solution of 1 gallon water and 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach. This will help prevent mold.
4. Draw your pattern on paper, or use a pumpkin-carving template. This is easier and cleaner than drawing right on the pumpkin, and makes revisions a snap.
5. To transfer a pattern to the pumpkin, cut it out and adhere it to the pumpkin with masking tape. Then either use pinpricks to mark the shapes and lines on the pumpkins, or use a craft or utility knife and cut through the design to score it on the surface.
6. Don't just think of face designs. Moons, stars, cats, and witches are all fun and easy to do. Using a drill to make patterned light holes is a wonderful idea as well.
7. Seriously consider buying a pumpkin carving kit. Often they can be found for just a few dollars. Kits usually contain small scoops and serrated saws that aren't commonly found in the typical toolbox. They work terrifically well when doing detailed carving work.
8. When cutting out your shapes, always use a sawing motion. Go slowly and gently. A small serrated saw is best for the detail work. Never try to cut your pumpkin with a straight-edge razor, using force; you'll damage the pumpkin, hurt the knife, and possibly cut yourself!
9. The more pumpkins in your display, the better. Four or five small pumpkins in a row have much more visual impact than one large one.
10. If scraping out a pumpkin is too much hassle for you, consider buying a hollow acrylic or craft pumpkin. These are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their realism and their ease in carving. Yes, you carve those soft plastic pumpkins just like a real one; most are made to be about 1/4 inches thick, with inside colors that match a real pumpkin. And they last forever, meaning jack-o'-lanterns for next year!

Pumpkin Carving Made Easy

Submitted By: yankeehalloween .com

(Holidays) Halloween_BooJackOLantern.jpgYou Will Need
Pumpkin, Pumpkin-carving tools, Flat-edged ice-cream scoop or scraper scoop, Paring knife, Masking tape, Ballpoint pen, Pushpins or straight pins, Petroleum jelly, Candle

Tracing paper or tissue paper, Pencil,Scissors

 

What to Do
1. Choose a pumpkin that is an appropriate size and shape for the design you wish to carve. Tall pumpkins may lend themselves better to faces. For designs with lots of cutouts, look for large, round pumpkins with smooth surfaces. Look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit upright.

 

2. Wipe the pumpkin clean with a soft damp cloth and dry.

 

3. Decide which patterns you want to use, and trace the design -- actual size or enlarged or reduced on a photocopier -- onto tracing paper.

 

4. For a lid: Draw a 6-sided lid with a V-shaped notch at the back. This notch will serve as a guide to replace the lid. For a bottom: Draw an opening on the bottom of your pumpkin if you want to sit it over a candle. Be sure to draw the opening large enough so that it will be easy to reach inside and scoop out the contents when cut.

 

(Holidays) Halloween_CrabOLantern.jpg5. Only adults should do the actual cutting. To do so, cut along the drawn lines for the lid or bottom opening with a sharp paring knife. Keep your non-carving hand away from the blade at all times. If cutting a lid, angle the blade toward the center of the pumpkin to create a ledge that supports the lid. If cutting a bottom, cut straight into the pumpkin.

 

6. Scoop out the seeds and strings from inside the pumpkin -- a good step for kids. Use a large spoon or ice-cream scoop or the plastic scraper scoop that is made for this purpose.

 

7. Scrape the inner pulp away from the area of the pumpkin that you plan to carve until the pumpkin wall is approximately 1 inch thick. To check the thickness, insert a straight pin into the wall.

 

8. Tape the patterns to the pumpkin: It may be necessary to cut slashes in the edges of the paper for the patterns to fit smoothly in place.

 

9. To transfer the patterns to the pumpkin, use a pushpin, corsage pin or the tip of the poker tool to poke holes through the paper and into the pumpkin along the design lines about 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch apart. Make sure that all of the lines have been transferred. Remove paper, and use a pen or dull-point pencil to connect the dots. Save the paper patterns to refer to while carving.

 

(Special Event Page Graphics) HalloweenJackOLanternStarsCat.jpg10. Cradle the pumpkin in your lap, and keep the pumpkin saw or small paring knife at a 90-degree angle to the pumpkin while carving. Carve from dot to dot to cut out the pattern shapes; if using the saw, don't try to slice with it, but saw with a gentle up-and-down motion, not back and forth. It is definitely easier to create smaller and rounded shapes with the saw that is made for this purpose. If an older child wants to help, the saw is much safer than a knife but still requires adult supervision. Do not exert too much pressure or the tools might break. Push the cut pieces into the pumpkin with your fingers. If a large piece becomes wedged, cut it into smaller pieces.

 

11. If you happen to cut through a pumpkin section by mistake, reattach the pieces with straight pins or toothpicks.

 

12. Rub all cut pumpkin edges with petroleum jelly to keep it fresh longer.

 

13. Insert a short column candle, votive or battery-operated light in the pumpkin. If the candle is not in a holder, form a holder from aluminum foil and secure the candle with a few drops of melted wax.

 

14. If candle smoke blackens the lid, cut a chimney hole in the lid top to vent the smoke and heat and preserve your design.

Safe Halloween

Safe Halloween

ALL DRESSED UP

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • (Site Photos) PumpkinPatchMerrickFamily2.jpgIf a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

CARVING A NICHE

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Lighted pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Remind Trick-or Treaters:
    · Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    · Carry a mobile phone for quick communication.
    · Only go to homes with a porch light on.
    · Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    · If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    · Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    · Never enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.
    · Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom).
    · Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
    · Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

**Thank you to the American Academy of Pediatrics for the above Halloween Safety Tips.

Activities & Candy

Popular NEIGHBORHOODS to trick or treat include: Your own! Ocean View Ave

(BUILT IN) (Icons/Graphics) Halloween_CandyBag.jpgHost a Halloween costume party for your kid's friends. Have other parents help with snacks, goodies and games. This is a great way to get together with your mom's group. Families can bring a decorated pumpkin for a contest. It can be fun to pre-bake sugar cookies with Halloween cookie cutters. The kids can decorate them when they get back from trick-or-treating.

Fun alternatives to handing out candy:
Stickers, bags of pretzels, trinket toys, coins, toothbrushes

Ideas for what to do with all that candy...
Have them pick out their 10 favorite pieces to be enjoyed in the upcoming days and then buy the rest from them. Maybe $5 for the bag. They can put it in their piggy bank feel rewarded for giving up their candy and you can take the candy into your office and get it out of the house.

 

Halloween Fundraising

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF' is an education and fundraising initiative that gives US children, along with their parents and teachers, the opportunity to learn about their peers worldwide who are truly in need - and to raise money on their behalf.

US children have collected $144 million by going door-to-door with the trademark orange collection boxes on Halloween and by planning fundraisers with their school or group.

 

Eat a healthy dinner. Try to get a healthy dinner into your kids before you go out. This way they will not just fill up on candy.

2013 Holidays

 

Source: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/

Local Events

Go to the Annual Events Calendar for details on upcoming Halloween Activities.

 

 

Costume Ideas

Make your own…there are great ideas on line through different parenting magazines.

Shop for props/costumes at a local thrift store.


Do a costume exchange through our classifieds. Trade your child's costume from the previous year and find something different for the current year.

If you have a daughter, you probably have a dress-up box - go through that and have her get creative with something she already owns.

Safe Halloween

Bring a flashlight for your child trick or treating to make sure your child is visible. They even sell light reflective bags or you can have your child wear a fun glow light necklace or bracelet.

Join some neighbors to walk in groups through your neighborhood.

Make sure your pumpkins are far enough out of the way so that kids costumes won't accidentally be set on fire by the candles.

Small children should never go out alone on Halloween. Make sure an adult is with them.

Encourage your kids to wait until they get home to eat their candy so that a parent can check it all first.

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