Families with Style: Celebrate Halloween

Now, for the trick-or-treating '- how do you pound the pavement?
I'm an urban mom, and I think it's easier for us. It's fun to trick-or-treat with friends who live in large apartment buildings. You don't have to leave the premises. No weather issues. No coats over costumes. The kids have more freedom to ring bells on their own. But whether you're in the city or the suburbs, getting together in a group always makes it fun. The kids love to show off their costumes and see what their friends are wearing. And your family festivities shouldn't end when they've finished making the rounds. After your kids go out trick-or-treating, it's fun to just be at home and receive trick-or-treaters by answering the door together '- and making a night of it.

Should Mom let them eat whatever they want '- after all, it is Halloween?
I have such fond memories of trick or treating '- and yes, it is just one night. When we get home, I go through the candy. I take out anything that I dislike '- perhaps because of the size, or maybe because it's unwrapped. And those decisions are non-negotiable. In fact, I recommend that you don't even do this in front of your child. I do it after mine have gone to sleep. If they don't see it, they won't miss it! But on Halloween night, they always get to eat a small amount '- maybe two or three pieces. You're asking for a major meltdown if you deny them that! I always mark each child's bag, so they know what's theirs. And I make a deal that they can eat it all eventually '- just not in one sitting. Maybe three pieces after dinner. Or a special treat I'll pop into their lunchboxes.

What's the smart way for busy moms to decorate without spending too much time and money?
There's a lot of fun, easy stuff you can do with the kids. No mom should feel pressure. Holidays with strong themes rein you in, and make decorating pretty straightforward. I go with the colors of Halloween '- black and orange. I love to bake, so the kids and I make things like chocolate cupcakes with white icing and orange food coloring, topped with spiderweb designs. I like to bake yummy things from scratch because it takes no more time and tastes so much better.

If we're planning a party, I'll sprinkle candy corn and chocolate kisses on the table. My kids are four and six, and I don't want it to be scary at all. It's great to find fun uses for some of the things you see at the supermarket. I'll pick up white doilies because they look like spider webs. Sometimes I use them as placemats with plastic spiders on them. It's fun to have the kids draw Halloween images. It's fun to carve pumpkins and use them as centerpieces.

We don't go crazy decorating our home. After all, it's one night. Get orange streamers for the hall. Get a cute decal for the front door. When you have young kids, you really don't need that much. Their worlds are smaller. Less is more. And if you're frantic, you can't enjoy the time you're spending at home with them.

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