Not everyone is in tune with the commercialized appeal of Halloween that thrives on the “gorification” of the season and an overabundance of sweet treats.
There’s the candy everywhere—too much for some. There’s the grizzly stuff like blood, zombies, and skeletons—too intimidating for the little ones. There’s the imagery of witches, devils, and ghosts—opposed by some on religious grounds.
Love it or hate it, Halloween presents a lot for a very young child to take in, some of which they might not be ready to absorb.
For sure, times have changed. Fortune.com reported last October that Americans would spend $7.4 billion on Halloween (more than the gross domestic product of Lichtenstein). The breakdown includes $2.8 billion on costumes, $2.2 billion on candy, $2 billion on decorations, and $350 million on costumes for pets.
“Halloween has become a kind of adult holiday, which was not at all true a few generations ago,” says Marilou Hyson, PhD, former associate executive director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). “With adults and teens dressing up as figures from horror movies and going to extremes to scare other adults . . . we need to make sure there is a firm line against violent/bloody/gory and generally horrific images. Not just because they are ‘too scary’ but because they do not represent the values or images that we want our children to be exposed to.”
Taking a light-hearted view of Halloween today, there’s even a popular cartoon music video by A.J. Jenkins on KidsTV123 entitled Too Spooky for Me.
Some public schools have curtailed or banned traditional Halloween activities, citing not just the gore and religious objections, but concerns about candy overload, allergies, and potentially dangerous props associated with costumes such as swords and vision-impairing masks. Conversely, major event venues such as Disney theme parks and the Louisville Z00 offer less scary, more family friendly events.
But one need not venture to Orlando or Louisville to create a fun atmosphere that’s healthier, friendlier, and more respectful in celebration of the season. Continue reading for advice from Learning Liftoff and others about how you can personalize the Halloween experience for your family.
Dressing up is fun, but going trick-or-treating might not be the right call for everyone, especially young children. Check your local event listings for Halloween parties sponsored by a local community organization or church. Alternatively, you might consider hosting your own neighborhood party.
What would keep it fun? Some classic Halloween party activities include decorating pumpkins, bobbing for apples, face painting, balloon games, and the donut-on-a-string game.
The party doesn’t even have to be held on Halloween. The good news is that October 31, 2015, falls on a Saturday, not a school night. But families might prefer to invoke a “harvest” theme anytime in the fall (perhaps during the day) rather than give in to or compete with Halloween night functions.
Also, be sure to check out our “15 Educational Halloween Kids Crafts” for ideas to incorporate school subject matter into holiday activities your kids will enjoy.
Not every Halloween outfit has to be scary. For an educational spin, check out these 15 make-at-home costumes related to science, math, literature, and history.
Additionally, Parenting.com offers an illustrated guide to simple and inexpensive costumes, many of which are suitable for young children.