There are two Halloweens: one for you, and one for your kids. As parents, there are things you should do or be aware of that kids shouldn't have to worry about.
There are also things your children need to know that parents may not remember from their time trick-or treating. Go ahead, kids. Ask your parents what their moms dressed them up as. If you don't know who MacGyver or Madonna is, Google it.
Halloween has a tendency to bring out the "weirdo" in a lot of us. Prepare your children to understand there is an extra energy that comes with dressing up and eating all that sugar. Where much sugar is given, much care is required.
When people put on masks, they do things they might not do at any other time. If what's going on around you feels weird, just leave or find a friend or an adult.
Keep your costume simple. Make sure that hats are out of your eyes, and you are wearing shoes that fit. Mom's heels are OK for the party but not for trick-or-treating. The same goes for loose masks, masks in general, scarves, ripped edges trailing in an oh-so-ghostly way and anything that makes you walk funny.
Be extra careful with plastic swords and knives. If you have to have one, get one made from foam or plastic. Don't grab a knife out of the drawer in the kitchen. The cool sword or the nun chucks from your dad's Shogun collection are not for Halloween.
Most store bought costumes are made out of flame retardant material. However, you still do not want to take any chances. Warn kids to stay away from open flames and keep their costumes away from lit jack-o'-lanterns. If you are making a costume out of old stuff around the house, be aware of the fire hazards. "Stop, drop and roll" is a good thing to be taught any time of year.
Try to stay away from black for your trick-or-treaters. It blends in way too well. Adhesive reflectors are easy and cheap to apply to costumes. As a decoration, one parent I know used cute little circles of reflective tape all over the clown costume and no one knew the difference - except oncoming cars.
Your children are going to eat some of the candy while they are out trick or treating. Negate some of the bad effects of this by sending your children out on a full stomach. This way, they won't be eating uncontrollably throughout the evening. They don't need to know why they have to eat a warm bowl of cheese chili and tortillas, but you know.
Tampering with treats is still a problem. So, teach kids to eat professionally wrapped items, or wait until evenings end when an adult can check for tampering. Parenthetically, I find it best to eat a few candies under the guise of "just checking" for a little Halloween-dad fun.
Don't eat any homemade snacks. It may be OK to take a donut from grandma friendly on the corner - the lady you have known all your life. But don't mess with it until your parent says it's safe.
Flashlights are fun, and pretty cheap these days. Have your mom or dad fish out the ol' Coleman battery lantern so you can always see where they are.
Don't you just love candy? I have my favorites - Lemon Heads for one. Yum. Know that your mom or dad is not kidding when they say you will get a stomach ache if you eat too much.
I know you want to run and get as much candy as possible. I would, too. But, don't run on lawns unless you can see clearly. No one wants to be clotheslined by a clothes line, or tripped by an unseen fence or garden Gnome. Walk. Don't run from house to house.
Unless you are accompanying the kids (highly recommended) they are going to run. It's up to you to make sure costumes are not dangerous. Also, running may be OK for the sidewalk, but not for the street or between cars.
Don't let your kids go into any house or apartment without you, and dress children well so that no one needs to warm up. If you can incorporate gloves or coats into their costume, even better.
No lights on at home? Unless you see someone successful at the door, move on.
Apartment complexes are great. So are condos for over-age 50 couples. Lots of lights, lots of people, lots of candy and a reduced walking distance. Go for it.
Put in a few colored light bulbs in the porch light or tie a sheet over the post light to have fun. Scary music or sound effects are fun, as well. Keep drapes open with a light on in the front room. It will make parents feel better, and others may take note.
Of course, many of these situations can be avoided when you or your spouse accompany a herd of children. Horde? Gaggle?
Halloween should be fun for everybody. Keep an eye open for safety and your kids can have the fun that you did a million years ago when you were young.
Other Halloween safety references