Believe it or not, it’s time for Halloween again! Some programs include Halloween and others don’t. How do you decide?
The first thing to do is consider your own feelings. You may have strong feelings one way or the other about the holiday. If it’s not a holiday you feel comfortable celebrating, consider whether there are ways you can let the children have fun without the parts of Halloween that make you uncomfortable. On the other hand, Halloween may be your favorite holiday, and you may be bursting with ideas for activities! Before you get started, you may find it helpful to talk to the children’s families. Some families may have a religious objection to holidays in general, and others may object to the emphasis on ghosts, goblins, and witches. Still other families may be making big plans for parties, trick-or-treating, and other celebrations, and be counting on you to join the fun! Look for common ground so your plans are fun for everyone.
If you find that a traditional celebration is going to be a problem for you or for some of the families you serve, you may want to consider some alternate activities. Here are some possibilities:
- Fall Festival: Plan an event with games that celebrate the season. Play Pin the Leaves on the Tree or other games with an autumn theme.
- Farm Dress-up Day: Invite children to dress as farmers, farm animals, or scarecrows.
- Backwards Day: Invite everyone to wear their clothes backwards. Eat dessert first! Plan other fun backwards activities.
- Storybook Day: Invite children to dress as their favorite storybook character. Encourage them to bring a copy of the book where the character is found.
If you decide to have a Halloween celebration, here are a few tips:
Keep It Healthy
Who says treats have to be bad for you? Try these!
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons dried chives
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Spoon the dip into a bowl and use sliced olives, strips of bell pepper, or other garnishes to create a funny face on top. Offer sliced cucumbers, steamed carrot sticks, whole-grain crackers, or other healthy foods for dipping.
Funny Face Cookies
- Firm oatmeal cookies
- Soft cream cheese
- Bits of fresh or dried fruit
Spread soft cream cheese on firm oatmeal cookies. Offer bits of fresh or dried fruit the children can use to create faces on the cookies. Mandarin orange segments, dried cranberries or raisins, pineapple tidbits, and sliced grapes would all work well.
Encourage homemade costumes and masks. Not only will this save money, it allows children to express their originality. An easy way is to cut arm holes and neck holes to make vests from paper grocery bags. The children can draw or paste materials on the vests to create original designs. A bonus is that when children create their own costumes, it helps them understand how costumes work. They can see that a person wearing a costume is just pretending.
Keep It Fun
Plan activities and decorations that are funny and playful, and avoid those that are scary. Young children are just learning to tell what is real and what is make-believe. They may not understand that scary decorations and costumes will not hurt them.
Keep It Safe
If any children will be going trick-or-treating, talk with them about being safe. Here are a few tips to share:
- Go with a grown-up and always stay close enough to see that person.
- Hold the grown-up’s hand when you cross the street.
- Use face paint instead of a mask. This makes it easier to see.
- Choose a costume that does not drag on the ground so you will not trip.
- Only go to homes of people you know.
- Carry a flashlight.
- Wait until you get home to open your treats. Let your parents or another grown-up check them first.
Whether you choose to celebrate Halloween or not, have a wonderful October! Enjoy all the sights, sounds, tastes, and scents of this beautiful season.