Friday 16 October 2015

Alternatives to Trick or Treating

My boys are getting better at planning ahead.  Naturally this does not extend to uniforms, school bags or lunch boxes.  I am talking about Halloween here.  Since they started back to school they have been asking how soon Christmas is.  In an effort to give them a time frame handle I stupidly told them Halloween has to come first.

“Oh! Can we go trick or treating?”
“Yes!  I want to go trick or treating.”
“And me!  Me too!”
“We won’t go.  We never do.  She won’t take us.”

I’m not a bad parent.  Usually.  And my boys speak the truth when they say they have never been trick or treating.  At least I’ve never brought them, but we do have a slight problem pertaining to that annual event.

We live in the countryside. 

To go trick or treating would involve a very very tedious car drive to several houses on our road inhabited by older people who are well ensconced in their grandparent days.    We could be really cheeky and head into town and join the gangs of kids that are traipsing around the housing estates but I draw the line at that.

My boys are not impressed.

They are still asking but this year I am also planning ahead and have decided to perhaps definitely maybe absolutely get them out of the house for the day that is Halloween, or trick or treat day or 31st October.  Which very conveniently (thank ye Gods) falls on a Saturday this year which makes it all so much easier.

The first alternative to trick or treating is to take them away altogether for the day. Treat them to such a bombastic mega day out they won’t be able to complain about missing out.  If I do it right, they will be so tired that’ll be the last thing they want to do.  So where are you going to take them?

Tayto park anyone?  Or Dublin Zoo even. 

Both places have themed events scheduled for the creepy season.  For example Spooktacular Boo @ Dublin Zoo are hosting what they call “creepy arts and crafts, spine-chilling keeper talks, spooky face painting.”  You are invited to join them for monster music on the Great Lawn as well as many other festive activities.   Full details on their website.  Some events require booking.

Tayto Park have a great selection of age appropriate themed events to choose from all rolling out on 24th October.  Their Lodge has been transformed into a terrifying and spine tingling experience.   Activities include face painting, arts and crafts and live shows.   

Kildare Maze.  This family friendly venue is based in Naas, Co. Kildare and we have yet to visit.  Closed since the end of summer but now reopened for Halloween with events such as a Trail of Terror, pumpkin weigh-ins and carvings.  There will also be fireside story telling at fire pits. 

Other online Halloween tours include Glasnevin Cemetery, Kilmainham Gaol and a pumpkin trail in Rathwood, Co. Carlow.

Another suggestion is have a small get together with some friends from school.  If you think you’re hard enough you could turn it into a sleep over.  But first things first.  Invite your guests to dress up.  It could be as elaborate as proper costumes or as simple as face paint. I like the idea of making a small pit in the garden, pouring in some barbeque charcoal and toasting marshmallows. 

Hands up those who remember bobbing for apples or the infamous flour and grape game?   I remember my kids reacting with a mixture of horror and complete dubiousness when they were asked to participate in a walnut race.  They were expected to push said nut around the floor with their nose.  I can’t recall it happening but you could try with your own kids.  A much nicer ending to the grape and flour game would be to have the person whose slice of flour causes the grape to fall, eat the grape instead of having their face pushed into the flour.

Consider a PG scary movie night with your kids.  Ask their friends over.  For a spook-tacular evening, decorate the house, make some popcorn, draw the curtains and settle down to family friendly movies such as Frankenweenie, The Goonies, Beetlejuice and Hotel Transylvania.    

Then there is the other side of the coin.  What happens if you have a child who is easily over stimulated by all the Halloween festivities and winds up very upset?

Maybe a crafting day with pumpkin carving would suit them more. 

If trick or treating is simply part of the ritual that is Halloween and you would still like to observe it, perhaps keep it for the houses of grandparents or aunts and uncles only.  That way your child will still experience the tradition but a lot of fuss can be eliminated.

Without being a spoilsport, please be careful.  Keep animals and pets safe.  Some get extremely distressed at this time of year.  Keep them indoors.  Make sure little hands don’t reach sparklers and the like. 

And last but perhaps most importantly of all – watch out for Freddy Krueger.  Rumour has it, he never did perish in that fire.  


  1. I know you have four children and I only have two but* (*note: If you don't want my advice don't read any further!!): 1. We are usually at my parents house for a few days during the mid-term and then back home for Hallowe'en. While there we pick one night that the girls can put on their costumes and we just walk out of the house, down my parents' drive, back up the drive, knock on the door and shout "trick or treat". They get their sweets and we walk right back into the house. 2. I take mine trick or treating at 4pm on Hallowe'en 'night'. Even though it's not dark I bring a torch for each of us, just so their semi-false memory of trick or treating will have the special effects. We have to drive and it's a pain clicking them in and out of their seats when they're in costume. I tell them that we are going to [insert your own number here] houses (I pick 3) and that we have to go at that time because those people aren't going to be home later. Even if one or two of them aren't home when we call they still love the experience and then we're home for the night waiting for trick or treaters to call to us, watching a movie and eating junk. I do the bare minimum but they are happy that they are getting the full experience and the neighbours who are home when we call to are delighted someone knocked.

    1. Hi Joanna. That is a great idea. You have stirred a distant memory and brought back a time when we lived elsewhere and he oldest was about two. I did that very thing with him. In daylight(ish) and he was delighted. It wouldn't work now though. I know I'm mean but it lashed down rain the last two years as well.

  2. Oh jesus Freddie Krueger, I'm staying inside, he used to terrify me! We are taking L out for his first trick or treating this year.

    1. He used to terrify us too, Louise. And we LOVED it. We would watch the videos in a friend's house and then walk home IN THE DARK absolutely terrified. Loved it!