Carving out a safe and happy Halloween

‘Tis the season when adorable creatures proudly disguised as ghosts, fairies, and film characters take to the streets, amped up on sugar and sheer excitement. Last year the U.S. Census reported that in the previous year, the estimated number of potential trick-or treaters age 5 to 14 was 41.2 million. That’s a lot of doorbell-ringing! Of course, going house to house is just one option. Whether choosing traditional or alternative, considerations for celebrating extend beyond “what to be.”

In “11 Alternatives to Trick or Treating,” the blog suggests that “Halloween night can be too cold, too much walking and too much sugar for the littlest kids.” One idea comes from party planner and mom Desiree Spinner, founder of the baby and kids' blog La Petite Peach, who suggests a backyard scavenger hunt. She says, “You hide age-appropriate sweets in the nooks and crannies of your yard,” adding that kids can still wear costumes and get the fun and yummies; plus, if mom and dad get tuckered out before the kids, it’s easy to call it a night.

Blogger and contributing craft editor for Family Circle Suzonne Stirling offers up the idea of getting kids together to decorate trick or treat bags or mini gourds and pumpkins

What if you definitely plan to stay home but want to give treats to all the princesses and superheroes in your neighborhood? Parents magazine online published “Alternative Halloween Treats for Kids,” by Raven Snook. The article quotes Jessica Grant, M.D., West Care Pediatrics in New York City, who says, "Given our nation's alarming rates of obesity and hyperactivity, gorging on candy isn't smart and sends the wrong message." The article suggests that “To stop the sweets overload this Halloween, consider handing out healthy snacks and nonedible treats like crackers, miniature toys, and temporary tattoos--items you might find in a typical goody bag.”

To help get creative with the definition of “goody,” the Jenny Evolution blog offers “50+ Candy Alternatives for Halloween Trick or Treating.” Along with healthy snack options, the post suggests handing out school and crafting supplies like pencils, erasers, stickers, and stencils; small novelty items such as wax lips, fake vampire teeth, and glow sticks; and “dress-up items” that include snap bracelets and bat or spider rings.

If you do plan to either take trick or treaters out or give them treats, check out this comprehensive safety checklist from the Mayo Clinic that addresses carving, costumes (including “skip the masks”), trick or treating, and hosting/staying home, to which it would be wise to add: “Put reflective tape on costumes” and “be sure to carry flashlights.”

In the days before and after Halloween, preschoolers can learn colors and shapes with Guess Who? (Halloween), a story available as a seasonally-themed Interactive Read-along iOS eBook or as a Kindle eBook. More than just hearing or reading a story, children will enjoy solving the fun riddle. With purple yarn hair and green circle button eyes, can your child guess who it is? In the interactive version tap each picture to hear the colors and see the color word highlighted. Use the cute stickers at the top of the page to decorate each scene with more objects of the same color. The soundtrack also adds toe-tapping, guitar-strumming fun.

Also visit for more Halloween-themed games, songs, ebooks, and printables! As the sun goes down, and the moon comes out, have a howling good time whatever flies for your family.