Treat your little princesses and superheroes to a special bag of tricks this Halloween

Pull out the Cobwebs in a Can and fire up the haunted house special FX, because cool ghouls, creepy creatures, and rainbow unicorns will soon be ringing your doorbell. Mwahahahahahahahahah! Are you ready?

The National Retail Federation predicts that Halloween spending this year will reach a record $9.7 billion, up from $8.4 billion last year, and costumes make up the largest share of that estimate. They list the top 3 costumes for kids as action/superhero, Batman character/princess, and animal (cat, dog, monkey, etc.) This year, with the new film version released, Wonder Woman reaches #10 on the list.

If none of those get your little ones excited, Pinterest offers up a wealth of clever costume ideas including a peacock and a rainbow unicorn plus special costume categories for babies and toddlers, replete with lots of iterations of BB 8, the spherical droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (After all, babies are pretty round, right?)

On the treat distribution end, consider filling trick-or-treat bags with something other than candy. For example, Woman’s Day offers “13 Alternative Non-Candy Halloween Treats for Kids.” They include glow sticks, which besides being colorful and fun, help make littler trick-or-treaters more visible when out and about, and mini water bottles, which keep them hydrated. Another fun ides is temporary tattoos, and Party City offers a super selection for kids including packets of 16 for .99 and 36 for $2.99. In Halloween Safety: Tips for Trick or Treaters, the Mayo Clinic suggests that “instead of handing out sugar-laden treats, try stickers, fun pencils, rubber insects or colored chalk.”

Having a party at your place for your kids’ friends? A few sweet-but-clever treats can make it memorable. A few years back, The Bearfoot Baker blog posted adorable Frankenstein Face Cookies and last year Shannon McCook posted super-silly (and really easy) Goblin Cookies to Community Table. With a dot of black gel icing as “pupil” on a mashed marshmallow, it’s amazing how animated their goofy goblin eyes will look!

Several years ago The Party Animal website published “15 Ghouliscious Halloween Drinks for Kids.” With names like Blue Slime, Goblin Goo, and Swamp Juice, kids will slurp them up fast. To make drinks a little extra creepy crawly, Martha Stewart offers Gummy Worm ice cubes. The Our Best Bites blog explains that tonic water (both regular and diet) contains quinine, so when exposed to black light? You guessed it! In fact, they say, “Pretty much anything you can make that includes water can glow with tonic water. Like Jello for example.” Sip or nibble a little glow!

At the end of the party, why not send everyone home with a goodie bag? Think about buying a 9-book Little Busy Books Complete Collection and giving one to every attendee? (With easy tear-out pages, you can also tuck a page into trick-or-treat bags.)

Whether staying home or venturing out to trick or treat, the Mayo Clinic tips include how to “carve [pumpkins] with care” and how to choose costumes wisely; for example, they suggest skipping masks altogether to improve field of vision. They also remind parents to inspect treat before kids dig in. They also remind that “If you'll be driving on Halloween, watch for children who might pop out between parked cars. Be especially careful entering or leaving driveways and alleys.”

Make this Halloween a safe and sweet occasion, all dressed up in creative good fun.