My husband and I love Halloween as much as our kids do. He can still recall which of his family’s neighbors gave out the best Halloween loot when he was a child trick or treating many years ago.
Halloween is a wonderful time to make great memories with your children. But in addition to having fun and making memories, you also want to keep your kids safe. And if you want to save some money this year—and who doesn’t—consider going green for Halloween.
Playing it safe
Helping parents keep kids safe all year round is the mission of Eastside mom Kim Estes of Savvy Parents, Safe Kids. Estes is a certified child safety educator and sexual abuse prevention specialist. She will be offering a free class on class on Keeping Kids Sane and Safe During the Holidays from 6 to 7:30 on Nov. 16 at the . (Full disclosure: She has also contributed to Redmond Patch in the past.)
Estes suggests you can help keep your kid safe by starting with a safe costume. She warns against outfits that have long capes or skirts and could cause a tripping hazard and swords or other props that aren't made of soft materials.
“I am a huge fan of reflective tape and glow-in-the-dark spray paint," Estes said. "Use the tape on the costume and use the spray paint in the street to say SLOW! or BEWARE: TRICK OR TREATERS. It goes on clear when painted and does not last long in our wet weather.”
When trick or treating Estes recommends kids approach only well-lit home and use the buddy system. Parents should accompany young kids and lay out some rules with older ones, she said.
"Remind kids to be alert for vehicles and stay on the sidewalk whenever possible and look both ways before crossing,” Estes said.
Also be careful that your Halloween decorations don’t become fire hazards, Estes said.
“Use battery operated 'candles' in pumpkins on Halloween night," she said. "Kids are not paying attention and crowd together at the front door, and costumes can easily be brushed up against open flames.”
Families often like to take the family dog with the kids trick or treating, but Estes cautions that pets can become frightened by masks and other costumes and respond aggressively. She suggests parents try testing their dogs first by putting on a mask and seeing how they react. Estes also recommends WagNTrain’s website for more tips on Halloween, pets and safety.
Fun (and inexpensive) ways to celebrate
Once you have a safe costume put together and have reviewed the safety rules, it is time to have some Halloween fun. The Nightmare at Beaver Lake is one of the Eastside’s biggest Halloween events, and it takes place nearby in Sammamish starting this Thursday.
in Redmond is now open and offering a variety of fun seasonal activities. On Halloween night, don't forget to check out where trick-or-treating will be welcome from 5 to 7 p.m.
If you want to save some money this Halloween, consider going green by making your child’s costume, hosting a costume swap or buying a “recycled” costume from a local thrift stores.
Our kids love homemade costumes, and my husband takes pride in creating something amazing each year based on their creative imaginations. One year our son was a UFO with blinking lights and another a giant broccoli—complete with an “organic” sticker.
Costume swaps are another great way to keep old costumes out of landfills. You can have them with a small group, like a mom and tots group or a preschool class. Or host a larger one for the public as a service project like Redmond teacher and Girl Scout troop leader and unit manager Kate Sorenson did last year with her Girl Scout troop at the .
Sorenson's troop put on the swap as part of learning about recycling, saving energy and living green. If you host a swap for the public, Sorenson recommends partnering with a library or other public space, doing a costume drive within your group first to get a base of costumes, and providing a craft or other activity for your kid guests and volunteers to do during the slow times.
Plan ahead for next year by checking out the website for National Costume Swap Day, where you’ll find listings for local groups and organizations that are hosting swaps.
Thrift stores including offer an amazing array of many inexpensive “recycled” costumes for babies to adults, as well as a large selection of new costumes, masks and hats, and Halloween makeup.
Keep your decorating green by using pumpkins, squash and dried corn stalks to decorate the outside of your home, all of which can all be composted when the holiday is over. The Redmond is currently offering a “pumpkin palooza” with all sorts of pumpkins and other gourds in a huge variety of shapes, colors and sizes.
A great book to read to your kids about pumpkins and the “cycle of life” is Will Hubbell’s Pumpkin Jack, one of our family’s favorite seasonal books. It's available at the (go online and put a hold on one of the 12 copies). You can even grow a pumpkin next year from this year’s seeds, as the little boy does accidental in the book. Or you can bake them for a fun snack.
Now that is a healthy Halloween treat even your child’s dentist will like.