• Pick up objects in the yard, sidewalk, or driveway that could create safety issues and be sure any tools are safely put away. Check hoses, flower pots and extension cords.
• Think "trick or treat safety" when decorating. Safety experts recommend using plug-in or battery-powered jack-o-lanterns instead of using a live candle.
If you do opt for a live flame, make sure it is away from any possible exposure to trick or treaters' costumes or where they will be walking or standing.
• Keep your house well-lit and inviting, or if going for a spooky home theme, make sure trick-or-treaters know your house has a welcome-mat extended.
• Be sure your pets are secured and put away, or appropriate arrangements are made. Some pets become frightened; others may become territorial or even aggressive.
You don't want your pets scaring trick or treaters any more than you want kids frightening your pets. Be especially careful with cats, who might dart out of open doors.
• Carefully consider treats such as healthier food alternatives than candy. Non-sweet items like crackers, chips, raisins or popcorn could receive thumbs up from parents.
Some also give the "treat" to trick or treat by way of pencil, spider ring, glow in the dark decal, etc.
• Halloween tips for child care providers:
If possible, know the parents' wishes or expectations for their kids for Halloween when in your care. Obviously, this is easier for a provider in a home setting with fewer children than in a daycare with many.
For some families, Halloween is not observed; others may insist on "non-scary" only. Still others look forward to costumes and Halloween-type activities and encourage provider activities.
• Some providers work Halloween festivities into a storybook day, in which kids are invited to come in costume of their favorite storybook. Others may have children make simple masks out of paper plates or fun foam, and have a fall party. One provider asks some of her closest neighbors to allow her childcare kids to trick or treat in the morning in costume; kids then return to the home for some special fun.
Another has parents bring a special treat for all kids (which can be as simple as a plastic spider ring). Providers are so creative, and can make the time around Halloween special and memorable, whether or not Halloween is officially celebrated.
• Providers can utilize some of the Halloween themes into a fun and enjoyable learning experience. Learning about bats and their habits, and then making a bat out of construction paper, perhaps with red glitter for eyes, can be lots of fun. So can watching a pumpkin be carved, and then the seeds be baked.
• One provider plants pumpkin seeds and then children enjoy watching the pumpkin "patch" grow and flourish in time for fall harvest. Some adventurous providers take children to pumpkin patches for free fun; others make arrangements for a short hay ride or visit to the apple orchard.
• If costumes are to be worn, providers should insist that parents bring a change of clothing and also understand that accidents can and will happen on occasion.
One provider lamented that parents of a 3-year-old brought her to child care in an exquisite princess costume, then became outraged when she tripped and ripped the hem. If parents don't want any possible harm to come of a costume planned for evening trick or treat, then perhaps an alternative should be brought instead.
Costumes are often itchy, uncomfortable, or warm, and after the initial excitement of seeing friends in costumes diminishes, providers often change kids back into playclothes and perhaps celebrate with a fun fall frolic at a neighborhood park.
• One babysitter makes the day's lunch a special "unscary" and exciting treat, such as "finger" sandwiches, goblin juice (colored juice, witches noses (carrot sticks), and bats (jello molds). She says it is her favorite day of the year. Another has a special treat with the caramel apples, in which she carves out noses and face to look like a mini-jack-o-lantern and offers caramel dip with some sprinkles for kids. Other providers may opt to not do anything different and save the sugar-highs and costumes for parents entirely.
Regardless of whether you are a parent of a young child, a resident who most likely will be inundated with happy ghosts and goblins, or a child care provider, the key to Halloween is to stay safe, have fun and make it a "spook-tacular" activity for all.