Trick or Treat: Spooktacular Halloween Traditions

photo(5)Halloween is fast-approaching! It’s time to wrap-up preparations for the big day and get in the holiday mood. So far in our Trick or Treat series, we’ve brought you Halloween costume tips and tricks, our favorite Halloween books, family-friendly Halloween movies, and a fun, simple craft. Today we’re going to talk about Halloween traditions. We have a special guest, Kendra Thornton, to share her family’s holiday festivities:

It’s almost Halloween and I just love this time of the year!  Perhaps it is because it brings out the child in all of us.  I just love baking and eating all those pumpkin treats with the kids.  I will try to bake a batch of cookies or a pie for another time, but we manage to eat them before they are barely cooled from the oven.  That’s ok!  Baking has always been a hobby of mine and I love being able to spend time in the kitchen.  It’s a joy to let the kids help me every step of the way.  It reminds me of spending time in the kitchen as a child, watching my mother and grandmother bake and tell me stories about days long ago.

I decorate the inside of the house with the kids.  They get right to work with their markers to make their own versions of traditional monsters and gremlins.  Not to mention, decorating those pumpkins to place outside in advance of Halloween night.  It’s always been one of my absolute favorite holidays.  When I was growing up, we used to refer to the holiday as “eats, treats and fun.”  Pinterest has been fabulous for coming up with new and innovative ideas to try out for guests and holiday parties, something that wasn’t around way back when!

I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend making the kids costumes and baking a homemade apple crisp just perfect along apple cider on those now chilly nights.  We also make sure that there are freshly made chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate waiting for family and friends after trick or treating around the neighborhood. Our kids won’t be little forever and we truly treasure moments like this.

For the kids of course, it’s all about the candy.  You’d think that they didn’t get their fill of sweets other times of the year?  It seems that Halloween is as important a holiday to them as it was to me and my brother and sister, when we were growing up.  My husband and I chuckle as they swap out their candy bags with one another with managerial skill.  I don’t mind, as I went through those bags and checked each piece of candy or treat.  By this point, my motherly instincts are at ease.  It’s time for us to sit back and watch the kids delight in their evening’s booty.

This year, we’ll be spending Halloween with the kids in our hometown right here in Chicago.  However, there have been years when we traveled and were out of town for Halloween.  This upset the kids at first, as our traditions have always stayed close to home and hearth.  However, one year our Halloween festivities took place while we were away from home in Orlando, Florida.  We were staying at a hotel, and the kids were crestfallen.  So was I, as I didn’t quite know how to pull off a perfect Halloween away from home during one of my husband’s trips for business.

Fear not!  With a little creative thinking, any parent can make a holiday happen.  We used the pillowcases from our room and decorated them to make costumes for the kids to parade around in.  They really got a kick out of making them as well.  We had used the Family Traveler’s tribe on Gogobot and it helped make the entire trip a blast and gave us an assortment of places to choose from.

The hotel guests were in on the fun and just wonderful to our kids, giving them candy and compliments on their “hotel made” costumes.  For extra excitement, we even let the kids trick or treat down the hallway of the hotel.  Which probably gave many of the guests a trick or treat as well.  What a unique Halloween memory for our family.  The photos and videos we took will be a blessing to share with the kids when they grown up.

I am so excited to spend the holidays in Chicago this year and am already starting to feel the festivity and cheer!

— Kendra Thornton. Kendra is a former Director of Communications, now full-time momma of three. Follow her on twitter, @KendraThornton

Kendra Thornton Picture

Here at Fair Play we have some Halloween traditions of our own. Getting ready for Halloween in our house is a month-long process. It starts with a day of decorating the house. Decorations are a mix of store-bought decorations and childhood art from school that Fair Play Supermom has preserved on tri-fold boards (now including contributions from the Fair Play grand-twins). At my own house 3000 miles away, the decor is very similar but also features a lot of Halloween crafting. I try to add 1-2 hand-crafted decorations to my collection every year.

photo 33photo(5)Growing up we went to a pumpkin patch for a wild assortment of pumpkins and gourds to decorate the front porch for the duration of the fall holidays. A handful of pumpkins get carved a night or two before Halloween, and my mom, siblings, and I trade recipes for roasting pumpkin seeds. We often exchange samples by mail as well now that I’m at grad school and Fair Play Little Brother is in college. Distance seems only to have adapted, not broken, our traditions!

As we’ve written about before, the Fair Play Superparents maintain a coffee table display of seasonal children’s books year-round. Getting ready for any holiday means setting up those books and getting together to read favorite stories. This is one of my favorite traditions — it was a bedtime ritual through my childhood but persisted when we were all (mostly) grown, and now with a new generation of grandchildren, it’s brought us all back to our favorites. I love that it’s a family-wide exercise in marking the changing seasons. Reading with children is also one of the best things you can do for early literacy. Win-win!

Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween in our household without watching the animated version of the Washington Irving story Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a good, child-friendly Halloween movie with just a teeny bit of scary. This is also a tradition I keep up when I’m away from the rest of my family — in fact I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be Halloween without it! Hocus Pocus is also a favorite.

LegendofSleepyHollowPets also feature into our holiday traditions pretty heavily, being Fair Play family members themselves. My sainted childhood cat, Bailey, tolerated a costume each year. Kiki is far less tolerant but generally sports a festive collar. I think all the pets prefer the extra treats that come at Christmas over wearing Halloween costumes though!


Kiki the Paper Bag Princess and Count Dracula

Fair Play Little Brother and Bailey match!

 What Halloween traditions set the holiday tone in your house?

Trick or Treat is our annual Halloween series. We’re delighted to have been joined by Kendra Thornton for this installment about Halloween traditions. Have a specific request? Let us know here or on Facebook. Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter!


2 thoughts on “Trick or Treat: Spooktacular Halloween Traditions

  1. Great ideas–you are getting me in the Halloween mood! When we traveled with our kids on holidays we also adapted. One year it was easter bags in the Miami airport!

  2. Pingback: Happy Halloween from Fair Play! | Fair Play

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