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Candy taxes: Is it stealing or entitlement?

I have some bad news for parents who claim a “candy tax” by taking a portion of their kids’ Halloween candy: THEY ARE ONTO US.

A few years ago, we went to our church’s Halloween party and my kids came home with bucket loads of treats. For the most part, I let them have at it but started putting on the brakes the next day. After all, they have to save their gluttony for The Main Event on Wednesday.

I made a healthy dinner with the one thing my 8-year-old daughter abhors most: eggs. She usually chokes them down but we are entering the tween moody stage (hurray!) and she suddenly thinks she should have a say.

I don’t know when she started thinking this was a democracy, not a dictatorship.

Tips, Tricks (and Treats) for Celebrating Halloween During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Halloween 2020 might look a little different, but it can still be fun. With the right precautions in place, you can plan costumes, devour candy and enjoy some of your favorite Halloween haunts. You can even create some new traditions. 

From virtual costume parties to candy hunts, Children’s Colorado’s pediatric infectious disease experts offer several ideas on how you can keep your Halloween happy, healthy and safe. Regardless of how you celebrate, though, you should keep the following in mind: 

  • Wear a face covering when out in public or around people who are not part of your household. Halloween costume masks are not a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
  • Avoid celebrations in confined spaces and with people outside of your small social circle.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet when you interact with people outside of your household.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
  • Clean items that are frequently touched.
  • Do your best to stay close to home and within your own neighborhood.
  • If you are sick or know someone who is, stay home and away from others.
  • Follow regular Halloween safety tips such as decorating costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and carrying glow sticks or flashlights to help increase visibility among drivers.
  • Always follow the guidance of your local public health department since COVID-19 risks and spread vary between communities.  

Modify your trick-or-treating 

We can all imagine that it’s a little risky to go trick-or-treating this year at the homes of people we don’t know. So instead, our experts recommend planning ahead and getting creative.

Organize a “Trunk-or-Treat” with your school pod 

If your child attends school or is sticking to socializing with a small group, take advantage of that. Those children and parents are in your “bubble,” meaning they’re people who you and your family have already been exposed to. Ask if they want to get together in the school parking lot or other large outdoor area and have a Trunk-or-Treat where kids can safely go from car to car to collect candy while maintaining social distancing. An adult can help screen all participants (those giving out and receiving candy) to make sure everyone is healthy, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. It’s also best for one person at each station to drop candy into bags, rather than lots of little hands reaching into the same candy bowl.   

Communicate with your neighborhood 

Instead of having kids ringing doorbells and picking out candy from a community bowl, make the suggestion that neighbors put candy in individual containers like paper cups or plastic bags. They can line the cups or bags along their sidewalk or porch for kids in the neighborhood to safely take. Plan ahead and keep your own stash of Halloween candy on hand for the day-of. (More on that below.) 

Think about costumes and face coverings 

Unfortunately, costume masks (such as rubber or plastic masks of scary characters) are not a substitute for an approved COVID-19 face covering. Just like preparing a costume that can incorporate a winter coat, our experts recommend helping your child think through their costume and how an approved COVID-19 face-covering fits in. Consider: 

  • Is your child OK wearing a facing covering under their Halloween mask?
  • Can they comfortably breathe? If not, suggest ideas of characters that wear face coverings, like a healthcare worker.
  • Can you get creative with the face covering? For example, paint whiskers on a plain black face covering or find a patterned face covering that works with your child’s costume. 

Consider a “hands-off” period for collected candy 

Our experts say one of the safest things you can do for your family is have your child wait 48 to 72 hours before digging into the Halloween candy they’ve collected while trick-or-treating.  This is because the candy is coming from multiple households and mingling together in a bucket or bag. Studies have shown that COVID-19 can survive up to three days on some surfaces. That’s a long time for kids to wait, so parents should consider having a small stash of candy on hand that they’ve purchased ahead of time for their kids to enjoy immediately. 

Create new traditions or enjoy old ones safely 

Halloween is on a Saturday this year, which means you can celebrate during the daytime. Think about how you can use parks, parking lots and open space for some safe, socially distanced fun. 

Plan fun activities at home 

The options are endless: make Halloween treats or bake cookies, carve or decorate pumpkins, make Halloween art, watch a Halloween movie, or host an online contest for best, funniest and scariest costumes or face masks. 

Host a scavenger hunt 

Like an egg hunt but for Halloween candy. You can either host a hunt for just your immediate family in your own yard, or you scale it up and make it a neighborhood event. Kids can dress up in their costumes and safely hunt to find hidden candy while keeping their distance. 

Watch a scary movie outdoors 

In some cases, it can be OK to host smaller and carefully organized events that promote safe practices like face coverings, hand washing and social distancing. These events should be held outdoors, which can be a challenge in late October in Colorado. But for example, consider projecting a Halloween movie onto the garage door of a home in the neighborhood. A small group of kids and families can come watch the movie as long as they’re following local public health rules for groups, like wearing face coverings and spaced at least 6 feet apart. 

Organize a neighborhood costume parade 

Those who have kids can plan to participate. Everyone else can plan to watch from their porches or driveways. For those participating, have them meet outside of their houses at a certain time. Then, everyone can start to walk or bike around the block in a circle to show off their costumes until everyone ends up back at their own house. Assign older children or adults to make sure younger kids are staying at least 6 feet apart during the parade. 

Decorate your house or have a contest with neighbors 

Give your year-end holiday lights a run for their money by lighting up your home and block with Halloween-themed displays. Remember, decorations don’t have to be expensive. Recruit your kids to help with some of the following ideas:  

  • Make drawings to hang in the windows.
  • Create paper chains to put around the mailbox.
  • Use old Halloween masks, wigs, costumes or clothes and turn them into funny or scary mannequins for your porch or yard. (Stuff the clothes with extra plastic bags you’ve saved from the grocery store.)
  • Cut up extra cardboard boxes and paint them to look like headstones around the front yard.
  • Decorate doors and trees with ghosts and pumpkins.  

Pumpkin patches, hayrides and corn mazes 

If you’re interested in doing any of these traditional activities, our experts recommend calling the business or person who’s hosting the activity and asking about the safety measures they have in place. Knowing that might help you make a participation decision that’s right for your family. In general, the organizers should have protocols that limit the number of people in the location at one time, allow plenty of space between groups and require face coverings and proper hand hygiene. 

A friendly reminder

And overall, remember: There’s never been a way to eliminate all risk. That’s true for this Halloween and even last. But by planning ahead, keeping an eye on the spread of COVID-19 in your immediate community, taking precautions and remaining flexible, you can still enjoy the holiday, and make Halloween 2020 one to remember.

Find even more coronavirus resources, curated just for families and be sure to check-0ut the CDC’s official guidelines for Halloween

Don’t be spooked, let your little goblins eat the candy corn

Across the nation, parents like me are bracing for the annual sugar rush known as Halloween. I’ve got pounds of mini-treats to pass out to neighborhood goblins and ghouls. But many parents struggle to balance our kids’ mania for sweets with a nagging feeling that all that candy can’t be a good thing.

Everybody knows: Candy rots kids’ teeth. Candy ruins kids’ dinner. Candy makes kids fat. Any and all sugars will pitch the fragile child into a lifelong battle with diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

But a lot of this worry about children and candy isn’t about candy at all. It is about whether children have a right to their own pleasure.

Consider the lollipop, the ultimate symbol of children’s innocence. The sweet lollipop is a few licks from the illicit, and Lolita with her bright-red candy on a stick is just the beginning. Search online for an “all-day sucker,” and you may find a kid in a candy store — or accessories for an X-rated bachelorette party. Children’s candy pleasure is unabashedly sensual, and that is part of adults’ problem with it.

Creative Ideas to Keep Your Food-Allergic Child Safe this Halloween

As a parent of a child with food allergies, does Halloween make your skin crawl?  What’s a parent to do when they want to keep their child safe but their little goblin so desperately wants to join in on the door to door fun? Here are a few strategies to consider:

Enlist the Help of a Few Neighbors 

 1.    SECRET PASSWORD:  Nobody wants a child to miss out on the big night.  Most friends and neighbors will be thrilled to stash your candy alternatives by their front door.  If your alternative treat needs to be kept separate from other food substances,  be sure to let them know.  If your child is old enough and/or you are not present,  just tell them that  Mrs. Smith needs to hear the secret password (e.g. “monster mash”) because she is saving something just for them.

New Goosebumps Movie Delivers Scary Fun

‘Tis the season to scream.

Everywhere you look, the creepy and the ghoulish are doing their spindly, bloody best to horrify with one oversized spider or lurching zombie at a time. Movie theaters love to pile on the scary fare, too. Usually, they offer plenty for adults to see, leaving kids out of the mix. Not this Halloween. Goosebumps bursts into theaters this Friday, October 16th, just in time for Halloween.

For nearly 25 years, kids have devoured Goosebumps books in astonishing numbers. The man responsible for creating the wildly successful universe of monsters vs. children is R.L. Stine. In a very clever twist, the Goosebumps film asks a question: What if R.L. Stine’s imagination was so powerful, his creations could come to life? This fun premise serves as the springboard for the story. Portrayed by kid-favorite Jack Black, R.L. Stine is a reclusive, mysterious man with a sweet daughter and secrets. What happens when a new kid—with problems of his own—gets nobly nosy?

The Goosebumps movie starts slowly, building suspense at a measured pace. The first twenty minutes feel like a typical teenaged love story. There’s a new boy in town. There’s a girl next door. Cue the magical, romantic locale, the overbearing dad, the kooky aunt, the nerdy wingman. You think you know where it’s heading, but then suddenly a creature literally bursts onto the screen and Madison, Delaware will never be the same again. It’s time to save the town from a villain so detestable, you will want to chop up all the wood in your house lest it be used to ever craft a dummy.

That’s right. I called him a dummy.

Goosebumps_(film)_posterOnce the movie gets going, it doesn’t stop. It’s one shuddery squeal of a good time. The special effects are fantastic and full of surprises. Many of Stine’s biggest and baddest make appearances as part of a nasty, seemingly unstoppable army. You’ve never seen garden gnomes team up with a gym short-sporty werewolf until now. Guaranteed. It’s a mash of monsters.

But can you enjoy the Goosebumps film even if you haven’t read a Goosebumps book? Absolutely. The monsters showcased are familiar to everyone, but fans of the books will catch nods and inside jokes. It’s pure, accessible fun with no prerequisites or required reading.

It’s also intense and truly scary at times. Younger kids might find Goosebumps to be nightmare fodder, which isn’t fun for anyone. Mature tweens and teens who are fans of the books and other scary media will love the fast-paced story with crazy twists and great characters. There are no deaths or gory moments. It’s rated PG and opens everywhere on October 16th, 2015.

Trunk or Treat FAIL

Last year I took my kids to a Trunk-or-Treat at a nearby high school. The event had been advertised for almost a month and promised treats, fun and games. I naturally assumed it would be a good fit for my two-year-old. A nice introduction to understanding the rewards for having to wear itchy ladybug antennae.

For those of you unfamiliar with Trunk-or-Treating, it’s exactly what it sounds like: Going from car to car to get candy. Where your biggest disappointment is how many accidental lug nuts end up in your child’s goodie bag. It’s supposed to be a one-stop-shop for Halloween carnival and trick-or-treating.

This Trunk-or-Treat had none of those things, unless you consider rain, cold and no indoor backup plan part of fun and games.

It, for a lack of a better term, sucked.

So, to those high school kids in charge of next year’s event, here’s a quick little study to let you know your trunk-or-treat is a failure:

1. There are only six cars in the parking lot built for 3500.

2. Your only signs and decorations are mostly deflated balloons.

3. Your balloons are orange, black and: “It’s a girl.”

4. None of the trunks are open.

5. It’s 45 degrees, raining and the event is still outside.

6. The only game you offer your attendees is guessing to see if you really have a backup plan.
*Winner gets to go home with sad kids.

7. The person in charge of organizing the event never did.

8. A group of high school kids dressed as high school kids walk by with all the candy.

9. You aren’t sure which lot is for the Trunk or Treat, and which lot is the janitors who are working.

10. The spider webs on the red PT Cruiser look suspiciously like shredded, rain-soaked toilet paper from last week’s homecoming game.

11. You have more candy in your purse than all the “event” cars have in their trunks.

12. Your toddler asks if they can go home and take a nap. 

This year, I think we’ll just stick to traditional trick-or-treating. Sure, we might get a few apples, popcorn balls or toothbrushes—my husband once handed out ketchup and mayo packets, to be fair he was in college and probably not sober.

Still, there’s a certain nostalgia about trick-or-treating the old fashioned way that belongs to childhood. Sure, trunk-or-treating might be a more modern alternative, maybe some argue it’s much safer. But, going house to house gives you the thrill of making it past the creepy, scarecrow man waiting on the front lawn. Where the biggest disappointment is running out of time before you can reach every house in the neighborhood.

We’ll leave the trunks to the lovers of one stop candy shopping. As for me and my family, we’ll make sure the rain-soaked toilet paper wrapped around your shrubbery is good old fashioned fun and not just a leftover from last week’s homecoming game.

Christina lives in Denver with her husband, two daughters and two cats who still haven’t perfected the art of litter-boxing. You can follow her third pregnancy journey over at Pregnancy & Newborn’s Knocked Up Blog or find her rambling on The Mediocre Housewife.

Denver Deal:Spirit, Halloween Deals and Free Days

If you are like me you might be a procrastinator (although I usually couch it as “waiting for a good deal”), Spirit Halloween store is your lifesaver! I was not going to do anything for Halloween. But the kids and I had such a great time at the Spirit store the house is now decked out in screaming things, tombstones, spider webs, pumpkins, and I’m ready with a cauldron looking candy bin. My kids are excited about their costumes this year. There were TONS to chose from – and they were not out of what my kids wanted to be!

Halloween Deals (valid only on Halloween Day):

  • Krispy Kreme – free donut for anyone in costume.
  • Chipotle – $3 burrito, bowl or salad from 4 p.m to close for those in costume.
  • Sonic Drive-in – 50 cent corn dogs all day.
  • Sweet Tomatoes – Kids eat free with paid adult (valid Oct 28-31).
  • IHOP – Free Scary Face Pancake all day to kids 12 & under.

Candy Buy-Back

LiveWell Colorado and Bellco are hosting two candy swaps – November 7 (11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Downtown Bellco Branch) and November 9 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Englewood Bellco Branch). Kids can trade candy for healthy treats, prizes and even a chance to win tickets to see Selena Gomez in concert!

FREE Days

Symphony Discount

Mile High Mamas readers can now receive a discount rated ticket for any of the Colorado Symphony shows through the entire season! Super Group Discount will give you 20% Discount for Masterworks (Friday/Sunday ONLY), Pops (No Holiday), Family, and ITS. To purchase tickets use Code: MILEHIGHMAMAS. http://tickets.coloradosymphony.org/single/EventListing.aspx?promo=4170 Group tickets are also available for your group (school/church etc). For more details contact Harrison at 303-308-2462.

Sesame Street Live! “Elmo Makes Music”

Mark your calendar for monsters becoming musicians in Sesame Street Live “Elmo Makes Music” on Friday, Nov. 22 – Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 at the Bellco Theater. Save $3 per ticket! Use the code ERNIE online at ticketmaster.com. (Offer excludes Gold Circle, Sunny Seats & Opening Night.  Cannot be combined with other offers or used on previously purchased tickets.)

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Community Feel-Good:
Aveda Institute downtown is hosting Pink: A Hair and Makeup Show to benefit breast cancer. Event takes place November 9th at 7 p.m . at the Aveda Institute Denver (700 16th st. Denver, CO 80202). Ticketss VIP 1st Row $35 / VIP 2nd Row $25 / Standing $15. For more details on purchasing tickets and location information, please call 303.567.7500.
Spirit of Children program at Spirit Halloween stores, hosts nearly 100 Halloween events for hospitalized children across the country. Spirit of Children has supported Children’s Hospital Colorado – which has funded a variety of resources  including music and art therapy programs, aid in purchasing games and toys, and assistance in funding additional services. They take donations at Spirit Halloween stores or online at SpiritofChildren.com

Visit Panera Bread and purchase Pink Ribbon Bagel.  Twenty-five cents from each PRB sale will be donated to Rocky Mountain Cancer Assistance to support Breast Cancer Patients in our community. Don’t forget to also purchase a Pink Ribbon Bagel Coffee Tumbler for $10 (net proceeds will also be donated to RMCA).  Not only will you have a great looking tumbler, but you will also receive FREE BREWED COFFEE thru Oct. 31st! Coffee tumbler quantities are limited!

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It’s that time of year again – now is the time to get all your ski deals! If you plan on skiing/snowboarding this year look at all the great deals that we have rounded up already. http://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2013/08/27/denver-deal-labor-day-starts-ski-sales/

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

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If you’re a twit follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Ladybugasaurus Rex: a costume suggestion for an indecisive toddler

I was assigned the challenging task of selecting a Halloween costume this year.

I’m buying her costume because I can’t sew. I can glue like nobody’s business. But it’s too risky. I could construct the most amazing Mrs. Potato-head costume out of tacky glue, construction paper, foam and rubber cement; only to have it fall apart halfway through trick or treating. Because you never know when Colorado will decide that humidity should go from 0-95%. In a block and a half. Before it snows. At 95 degrees. Suddenly my child would stop getting treats. The homeowner, seeing her holding all her potato parts, would think she’s looking for a trash can.

The last two years she’s been a lion. Wearing an adorable costume my mother-in-law sewed from scratch. This year her sister will be inheriting that legacy, because the costume fits. My two-year old is too tall for a third year in that thing. Though I contemplated sending my child door to door in a costume that was high watered—it just wasn’t worth the headache of a conversation we’d have when she turned fifteen. The conversation that would start off, “How could you guys let me go out looking like that?” Then I’d have to hunt down, and destroy, all the photos of her wearing my little pony panties on her head.

Fun-Sized Season is No Fun for Peanut Allergic Kids

It’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween and Fall harvest parties. How do I know this? Because the stores told me. The moment the first bell rang on the first day of school, clerks everywhere sprang into action. Out with the lunch boxes and in with the treat buckets! If you don’t have your costumes chosen or created by now, you might as well start cutting eye holes in your Egyptian cotton sheets. Show me your treat sack. Here’s a rock.

Because it’s the season of Fun Sized candies, I start getting nervous. Walking down aisles of candies, candies, and candies confirms we are a country deeply in love with our peanuts. I won’t mention brand names, but the deluge of Futterbingers, Nickers, and Peese’s Reanutbutter Goblets scream how popular dusty little legumes can be—especially when coated in chocolate. Who doesn’t like the tiny but mighty peanut?

Those of us who have peanut-allergic kids.

Mama Drama: Calming the Candy Crash

Dear Mama Drama:

Every year I dread the post-Halloween crash. My kids are exhausted and alternately hyper and cranky from sugar highs and lows. After they spend so much time planning costumes, decorating the house, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating, I don’t have the heart to limit their candy. How can I help them moderate their candy intake without ruining the fun?

~Crash Tested Mama

 (photo credit)

Dear Crash Tested:

The hype, anticipation, and preparation for Halloween do make it a holiday many parents struggle to manage. However, just like with other parts of parenting, it’s our job to set limits and create structure for our children.

I’m assuming your kids are a bit older as you have experienced this a few times. First, I would talk with your children about what you notice when they binge on their candy and how it effects how they feel physically and emotionally. They may notice the connection of the highs and low or it may be a good learning moment for them.

Next, negotiate a reasonable plan for eating their candy. Some things to include in the conversation are eating plenty of fruits and veggies as well as protein to even out those highs and lows, eating candy after meals, and limiting their overall intake each day.

Depending on their age and how trustworthy your kids are, you may also need to address whether the candy is out for them to access independently or should be put away for you to dole out. I would involve them in this decision as well, asking them how they think they’ll be able to handle regulating themselves. They may each have different needs or skills, so be flexible.

How do you manage the Halloween candy aftermath?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.