It's that time of year again where children dress up as witches and goblins or their favourite cartoon characters.
As Halloween becomes more and more popular around the UK, some parents are entering uncharted territory. From choosing costumes to discussions about stranger danger, there are things parents can do to limit their own stress and maximise the experience for everyone.
Halloween and trick-or-treat safety for kids
Kids' costumes at Halloween
Take your child's, age, size and physical abilities into account when choosing a costume. For younger children, keep it simple and remember to make sure any attachments are well secured. If you purchase a costume you may want to reattach small pieces as they could be potential choking hazards.
Halloween costumes are notoriously dark, so if you have a witch or vampire on your hands, find a way to add a reflective element to their costume. Even a reflective band on their wrist or a Halloween themed torch in their hand can make them stand out on a dark night. If they've chosen a homemade costume, try to infuse bright colours where ever you can.
It's also worth remembering that the temperature tends to drop in the evenings. Make sure that your child has enough layers under their costume to stay warm. No one wants to end the evening with a shivering princess on their hands.
Avoiding a sugar overload at Halloween
Having a limit of how many sweets are allowed to be consumed on the night and on a daily basis will mean the kids have treats for longer and the sugar highs and lows are kept to a minimum.
While you are out and about, suggest you hold on to the majority of their loot and let them carry a smaller container just in case they have a moment of weakness. Just make sure if you're holding the candy you don't get caught having a sneaky chocolate fix!
Think about group size
It can be fun to go out with a few children but remember how intimidating a large group of kids can be. Limiting groups to 5 children or less means the person at the door will be less overwhelmed and you can still keep your eye on all of them.
Mind your Ps and Qs
Unfortunately children don't always remember to say thank you and Halloween is no different, whether it's because they are shy or caught up in the moment - it's still not OK!
Grabby hands and the absence of a thank you can make people unlikely to offer sweets again next year. Be sure to address politeness before you head out and don't be afraid to remind them to say thank you every time, eventually it will become habit.
Stranger danger when trick or treating
All year we tell children not to talk to strangers and then one night of the year we encourage them to go to strange homes and knock on the doors. This means we need to set boundaries beforehand without scaring them. Reminding them never to enter a stranger's home and making sure you are always only a few steps away can help this.
Never let the kids go into a garden you don't have full sight of, especially when you don't know the person on the other side.
Where to go when collecting treats
Depending on where you live, there will be places that are safer than others for your children to Trick-or-Treat. There will be streets that you are familiar with, ones that you know a few people on and ones that are well lit.
Think about these things when you plan your route. If there are streets you don't walk down after dark, avoid them on Halloween. Look for indicators at each house before you let the children approach.
There are no hard and fast rules, but if a house has a lit pumpkin outside, they are definitely in the spirit and will have sweets ready to hand out, whereas a house that turns off all front door lighting is sending a message that they are not participating this year - or they have run out of sweets.
When to Trick-or-Treat
Setting a time limit on Trick-or-Treating is useful. Start and stop times will depend on your schedule, the daylight available and the age of your children.
Use your own household as an example, how would you feel if a group of 12 years olds turned up on your door step at 10pm? If you wouldn't appreciate it, neither will your neighbours! The general rule is 8:30/9pm = lights out! Having said that, the littlest ones will be in bed well before that.
NOTE: 12 is generally the age children should start staying home and handing out treats rather than getting them.
Wrap it up
Sometimes sweets have a tendency to escape their wrappers. While there is probably nothing wrong with these sweets, there is no way to tell where they have been or who has touched them. It's up to you as a parent but, removing unwrapped sweets from your child's haul is a safer place to start.
Over excitement at Halloween
If the kids come home from their evening out and can't sleep, remind yourself to limit their sugar intake tomorrow and take a deep breath! Most of the time, the reason they can't sleep is excitement after the day!
Make sure they have a chance to tell someone about their night whether it's someone at home or a call to grandpa or aunty, they will start to calm down once they have a chance to release some of their energy! Try to give them the same wind down you usually do before bed. Be it a familiar story, a soothing lullaby or a relaxing bath - it just might do the trick.
Happy Halloween and enjoy trick-or-treating safely.
Before you go... pumpkin fun at Halloween
Remember, pumpkins are not just for Halloween! But this time of year tends to have them in the forefront of our minds.
This time last year we published Our Favourite Things to do with Pumpkins, with lots of great ideas for kids. We're looking forward to some pumpkin soup!