The time for donning costumes and parading the town is upon us. We head out with our kids in search of the jackpot houses who give out the king size candy bars (they really do exist, my parents are proof!). Not always do I appreciate the gift of growing up and adulting on a daily basis, but Halloween is one time of the year that I love getting to “decide for the best of my children” what candy they get to keep….and what candy I will graciously keep for once they are fast asleep. To be honest though, I kind of dread this time of year. It’s not just the copious amounts of candy and sugar-highs or persistent requests to eat said candy for days at every meal. What gets me it the incredible cost these kid favorite times of year can inflict on our wallets. I previously blogged about being creative during the Easter season and keeping it simple. So, keep reading if you want to know my secrets to staying sane and simple during Halloween.
- Costumes on the cheap
Have you seen the cost of new costumes at the stores?! My daughter stumbled upon a Wonder Woman costume she wanted and I was floored when I discovered the infamous price tag. I kindly told her she could be a Wonder–ful Little Woman instead, and she was already wearing the PERFECT costume. When it comes to saving some money on costumes I try to exhaust the following options first:
- Get creative with the things you have lying around the house (play/dress up clothes, spare material if you are gifted with sewing talent, or older kids’ past costumes that could be reused or modified). One year I used a little bear outfit from the closet and turned it into a Star Wars Ewok.
- Head to Goodwill or similar consignment shop. With a little imagination you can pick up pieces like a grey sweatshirt and pants to create an elephant costume that the kids could reuse on a normal day. Or, get lucky and score a well loved costume needing minimal adjustments. Last year, I scooped up a $5 bumblebee costume for an infant that I used for my one year old by ripping the stitches at the bottom, and used a pair of already owned black leggings to make up the difference. Worked like a charm!
- Swap with other moms! Hit up Facebook and post that you are looking for something and willing to swap for something you already have.
- If at all possible, plan ahead. Stores clearance out left over costumes post Halloween. You might just find the perfect new costume for a future need. Again, shop with a creative mind on what could easily be adapted to various requests of your children.
- Decorations DIY and Simple
Kids love something to do, and why not use them to help with your decorations. Some old shipping boxes and grey paint can create some fun tombstones for the front yard. Scoop up some artificial pumpkins after the season at Hobby Lobby and use them year after year with flashlights inside. Kids can still carve these, and you eliminate some of the dreaded mess. Or use empty mug jugs to create a ghost-lit sidewalk to your house. With a black marker “carve” the face and then cut a hole and stick an artificial candle in the bottom. Check out this great post for more ideas and instructions.
- Take Advantage of Local Kid-Friendly Events
Looking for the non-traditional trick-or-treating local events is one of my favorites for this time of year to keep the tradition simple. Look to the following places for ideas and check out Marshalltown Moms event calendar too!
- Many of the local nursing homes or assisted living homes LOVE to have kids come trick-or-treat. These are great safe places where the kids are giving the gift of smiles and company to individuals who may not see that often in their lives. Residents seem to love watching all the kids come to their room.
- Local churches tend to put on Trunk-or-Treat events in their parking lots and are usually open to the community. These are simple and safe ways to enjoy going to many “doorsteps” without actually having to walk blocks and blocks.
- The Marshalltown Mall and local Hy-Vee grocery store usually hosts a trick-or-treat or fall event and again are great safe and simple adventures for your family. Plus depending on our Iowa weather, this gives you a great indoor option.
- Halloween Dinner Simplified
This was a great tip I received from a seasoned mom. It goes without saying you still have to feed your kids on Halloween and year after year it tends to always be a busy and tiring day. Plan ahead for that chaos and buy or pre-make a meal. I’m all for a STOUFFER’S® Family Size Entrée that fits right in your freezer and requires no defrosting. Added tip: Buy your large bag of candy (if trick-or-treaters come to your door) at the same time you buy your family’s dinner. Sometimes those lovely Sam’s Club memberships are a blessing and you can save quite a bit. The bulk candy too much for what you need? Go in on it with a neighbor or another family and split the cost and candy, you’ll both be on the winning end of that deal.
- Family Fall Fun
This time of year isn’t just about October 31st and dressing up in costumes. A lot of what makes this time of year special is spending time as a family doing fall things. Local area pumpkin patches are open and have so many options for families with kids of all ages. You can pick your own pumpkins, take a hay ride, get yourself lost in a corn maze, play in a pool of corn kernels, or simply enjoy a bonfire and hot apple cider. If you look for the deals, this can be a low cost family activity. If you want to steer away from cost and people, grab the kids and take a hike on some of the Marshalltown trails, venture out to Grimes and see the leaves change and end with some hot chocolate back at home. Not big on the outdoors? Start a new tradition of having a movie marathon with older kids and their favorite silly or spooky Halloween movies. Remember, keeping it simple is the key. Experiencing family fun doesn’t necessarily have to cost you anything.
Check out just a few of the things going on in Marshalltown this month:
- Wednesday, October 25th (10:15AM) – Storytime: Trick or Treat Costume Parade @ Marshalltown Public Library
This annual event invites any preschool children (of any age) to wear costumes (optional) to enjoy a short Halloween-themed storytime, followed by a parade around inside the library to “trick or treat” to different service desks. Our last stop will be the large meeting room with a chance to choose the best treat of all: a free book to keep!
- Thursday, October 26th (5:15PM-8:30PM) – Family Halloween Trunk or Treat and Party @ Elmwood Country Club
Dress up the kids and bring them out! Bring your friends, cousins, and neighbors to the trunk or treat, the more the merrier! Weather permitting, we’ll have the trunk or treat from the parking lot out to the (recently haunted) #13 gazebo. We’ll be serving kids and adult drinks there. Outside event 5:15-6:30. Afterwards, we’ll have a family party for you and your guests in the ballroom with a kid-friendly buffet, games, and crafts. Adults can order off the regular menu.
- Saturday, October 28th (10AM) Costume Contest @ Let’s Play Bounce
Let’s have some family fun, with a costume contest!!! Please join us Saturday, October 28 at 10:00 am for a super fun time! Check in will begin at 10:00 am, with the contest starting at 10:30 am. Our contest winners will receive a 3 MONTH MEMBERSHIP!!! All children who dress in costume and participate in our contest are welcome to stay after, and bounce for FREE!!!
- Tuesday, October 31st (5:30PM-7PM) MHS Trunk of Treat @ Marshalltown High School South Parking Lot
Come enjoy a night of fun and safe trick-or-treating, hosted by the MHS Student Senate
- Marshalltown City Wide Official Trick or Treat will be Tuesday, October 31st from 5:30PM-7:00PM