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Trick or Treat: The Parent Hub guide to Halloween

Posted on 19 October 2016

Halloween is one of the most eagerly anticipated sugar mining opportunities for children. This year, (in addition to managing sugar consumption, dreaming up costume and party ideas) many parents are concerned about older children trick or treating by themselves in light of the ‘creepy clown craze’ gathering pace across the UK.

We’ve gathered advice from safety experts, party organiser’s and yes dentists to help you plan a safe and fun Halloween for your children.

Safety tips for unaccompanied trick or treaters

The creepy clown craze aside, it’s natural for parents to have concerns about their child’s safety when out trick or treating after dark.  Older children may prefer not to be accompanied by a style-cramping adult, so here is a round up of safety tips to share with them.

There’s safety in numbers so make sure your child goes bounty hunting with a group of friends.  Plan and agree the route together.  Remind them of the usual stranger danger rules, not to enter the house of anyone they don’t know, or accept lifts from strangers.  Take care when crossing roads, carry a torch, or wear glow-sticks, anything that will increase visibility. 

Not every household welcomes trick or treaters.  A candle-lit pumpkin in the front garden generally denotes a Halloween friendly house.  

Common Halloween anxieties

Unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, little ones may take fright at Halloween.  Common fears include wearing a scary costume, spooky decorations and trick or treating.

Help to minimise these fears by choosing non-Halloween themed costumes, anything from their dressing up box will do.  Explain to your child that none of the spooky decorations are real, letting them touch the items will help to get the point across.  

Go trick or treating in daylight and plan to visit a small selection of homes, preferably of neighbours you know.  If your child is shy they may want you to ring the doorbell and ask “trick or treat” for them.  

Hauntingly healthy snacks

On Halloween, sweets reign supreme, but children tend not to miss the sugar when healthier options are dressed up for the occasion.  Slate their thirst with a bloody cocktail by whizzing raspberries, strawberries, banana and black grape juice in a blender.

Spooktakular savory options might include witchy hands made from pizza cut into five fingers of varying lengths, tipped with fingernails of red pepper cut into triangles.  Or how about filling a hollowed out, small squash with houmous and serving with vegetable crudité.  Pigs in blankets can be given a Halloween makeover, cut ready rolled pastry sheets into thin strips, wind strips around a hot dog sausage, bake in oven, remove when cooked and decorate with two dots of tomato ketchup for eyes.

For pudding how about ghostly boo-nana lollies?  Chop a banana in half and split each half lengthways.  Dip lolly sticks in white chocolate and insert into banana.  Dip banana in white chocolate, stick two chocolate chips on for eyes and leave to set.  Or create a zombie smile, quarter an apple and gently create two slits in each quarter and remove the middle piece to create the effect of an open mouth, coat the inside of the mouth with peanut butter or jam and push slivered almonds into the apple for teeth. 

Party games

Kick off with a classic, apple bobbing.  Fill a bucket with water; pop in the apples, each guest has a go at lifting one out with their teeth. For added hilarity set out a tray of flour sprinkled with marshmallows for older children to fish out with their teeth immediately after apple bobbing.

All age groups enjoy a spooky treasure hunt.  Write age appropriate clues and hide spooky prizes and sweets around the house.  

How about a game where the joke is on the adults?  Each child is assigned an adult whom they wrap in toilet roll creating ‘mummies’ with hilarious results.

Tricks for making sugary treats disappear

The very idea that your child might do something other than eat their sweet haul will be doubtless be greeted with howls of protest. Here are some ideas for the more community minded.  Some dentists run a programme where children exchange sweets for money that goes to a good cause.   Alternatively, why not donate sweets to the school Christmas fair. Hold on to some of the loot though your child will be amazed at how many science experiments and craft projects you can use them for.  Happy Halloween.