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Your Halloween Problems, Solved!

Your Halloween Problems, Solved!



Local parents share smart solutions to the trick-y troubles that seem to haunt us all in October.

 

Scary Situation: It’s downpouring.

Solution: Sing in the rain. And strut and dance and eat. Nobody ever plans on a soggy Halloween, but, hey, we don't live in Arizona. So it pays to have a Plan B. “We live on a close-knit block, and I always made sure we had a back-up plan by volunteering my house just in case,” says Camille Iorio, a mom of two in Queens. “One year I was put to the test. But somehow that’s the year everyone remembers.” Iorio recalls ordering pizza, setting up an impromptu ice cream sundae bar, hiding candy around her home scavenger-hunt style, and putting on a costume fashion show set to popular dance tunes.

Even if you didn’t plan ahead, you can still make the best of a puddle muddle.  Put on your most colorful rain gear, grab a big umbrella, and take a couple photos to prove your family’s spirits can’t be dampened. Then head to the nearest mall. You’d be surprised how many stores give out candy on Halloween. And many malls hold some type of holiday festivities, like a costume parade or contest.

RELATED: Get more ideas for Halloween fun in all kinds of weather

Scary Situation: Bedtime bellyaches after a candy supper

Solution: In a word: soup. Your regular sit-down dinner has about as much chance of happening on October 31 as your kids not eating any Laffy Taffy until they get home. A few years back, Christine Rossetti, a mom of two in Nassau, took that problem and turned it into a new Halloween tradition. “I make Halloween soup. I only do it once a year, and now the kids look forward to it.” Rossetti says she asked her kids to decide on what kind, and they settled on chicken, but chock full of pastina and mini meatballs. “It’s usually pretty chilly when we get back, so it’s an easy sell. Even my picky son slurps it up.” And it’s something that can simmer in a slow cooker while you're at work.

Scary Situation: You lost track of time, and the costume he’s been talking about all month is sold out. Everywhere.

Solution: Take a picture of the character and ask your child what he likes about it: the metallic lightening bolt? The sword? The wand? The hair? The cape? The shade of red? “Accessories are your friend,” insists Jennifer Kelley, mom of two girls in Manhattan. “Make a beeline for the nearest big craft or party store, and let your kid load up on extras to create something that keeps the spirit of the original.” Her daughter, Bella, had her heart set on Katniss when The Hunger Games first came out—but so did everyone else. Kelley saved the day by adding a wig and a bow and arrow to a too-small black jumpsuit she had in her closet, and viola! Bella made a great huntress, if not Miss Everdeen, exactly.

Scary Situation: The kids are determined to make your daschund the Snoopy to their Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Solution: Know thy hound. With dressed-up doggies going viral on YouTube this time of year, the plea to put your pooch into a costume may be hard to dodge. Ruth Angstadt, a mom of four in Suffolk, knows the drill. The family has always had one or two dogs. Some made happy trick or treat companions. Others, not so much. “I took it on a case by case,” Angstadt recalls. “We had a Newfie who loved people and actually posed for pictures in his teddy bear costume at each door.” Then there was the Boston Terrier her Dorothy tried to turn into Toto. “Yeah, that didn’t end well. He accidentally scratched her trying to get away, barked and barked. After he threw up, we took him home!” 

If your pup is easily spooked, leave him behind. If nobody can bear to give up the wee sombrero and poncho on your Chihuahua idea, then suit up Pepi and take a pre-trick or treating family photo for posterity.

Scary Situation: The costume your little darling is begging for is a bit…mature.

Solution: Deep breaths and a dose of perspective. This is a problem that seems to pop up only with female children. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems to stress out dads especially.

“What happened to a princess?” asked Michael Falcone, dad of two in Westchester, when his 10-year-daughter, Olivia, trotted out in a short, tight witch get up. “I kind of overreacted. But it was a shock. Year after year, she was always something sweet and cute. Then it was a miniskirt and purple eyeliner.”  Falcone tried to make Olivia change, but tears—and the lack of an alternate—caused him to relent. His advice to other dads of daughters? “Ask to see her costume before 3:00 on October 31! Seriously, though, I worried she’d want to wear miniskirts and makeup all the time. She didn’t. I read way more into it that she did.”



Indeed, what we see as sexy, a tween girl likely only thinks looks cool. So try not to read too much into her choice. If you can’t let her pick go, then consider allowing it with the addition of tights, a tank top, or other modest underpinnings.

Scary Situation: Your sister-in-law shows you her toddler’s costume. It's the one you told her you had your heart set on for your baby. 

Solution: Feel the love. OK, at least try to. This happened to me. I know it sounds petty, but I was peeved. A baby’s first Halloween costume is a sacred thing. It makes grandmas swoon like nothing else, is in more photos than any costume to follow, and will be fodder years later for trivia questions by teens trying to prove you don’t know them at all. I wanted to be able to answer, “You were a peapod! There never was a more adorable piece of produce!” without having to add “except for cousin Kenny.”

Then a friend pointed out it was obvious she loved me and my baby a ton, and this seemed like an attempt to bond. So I let it go, after briefly considering switching my bambino to a cuter vegetable, like a carrot or radish, for spite. (This was not a proud moment.)

So you have two choices in this scenaro: either change your child’s costume to Piglet to complement the new Pooh, maintaining individuality. Or smile and see it as adoration. It also helps to imagine what you would do if you and a friend showed up at a party in the same dress. You’d surely laugh, not sulk. Then you could both get on with the business of having fun. 

Scary Situation: The pumpkin met an untimely demise.

Solution: Proactive protection. It’s worth your while, as not much is worse than a preschooler finding the guts of a lovingly painted gourd she’d named Peter on the walkway.  To foil mischief makers, keep ol’ Pete near your front door or under an outdoor light. Motion detectors rigged with sound work, too, and those will also scare off raccoons.

Elena Koehler, a mom of two in Nassau, discovered a way to keep an early-October-carved jack-o’-lantern mold-free through the big day. She opens up those little silica packets, the ones that say “don’t eat,” inside new purses and shoes, and sprinkles the contents inside. You can also buy pumpkin preservative at your local garden center. Of course, the later you get it, the better. “Raymond and Emilie start begging for pumpkins as soon as we see them in the supermarket. That’s barely after school starts! I know nothing will keep it fresh that long,” says Koehler. “I hold them off with those hard, pre-painted mini pumpkins. Those last forever.”

RELATED: Find the best local spots to pick your own pumpkins. 

Scary Situation: Three’s a crowd.

Solution: Whenever a group goes trick or treating, it’s virtually unavoidable that one kid gets left behind as the others seem deaf to his cries of “Hey guys, wait up!” I know it’s like a knife to your heart to watch this, but give the benefit of the doubt. What with everyone hyped up on Pixie Stix, it’s quite possible it wasn’t an intentional snub.
Stefanie Mullin, a mom of three in Rockland, agrees. “When his two pals took off around the corner without telling Tony, I hoped it wasn’t that they were trying to ditch him. So I suggested going around the block the other way. We soon met up with them, and they hadn’t even realized Tony wasn’t with them, they were so excited.”

If you’re the only parent in charge of the group, you don’t have much choice but to try to keep up with them, and call one of their parents if you can’t. But if not, taking your kid on an alternate route, trying to be as positive about the situation as you can, teaches a valuable lesson. You can’t control what other people do, only how you react.

RELATED: Get our FREE fall activities ebook

 

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Christina Vercelletto

Author:

 Christina Vercelletto is a former editor at NYMetroParents, ParentingScholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her kids, a chiweenie, Pickles, and a 20-pound calico, Chub-Chub.

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