It's the spookiest time of the year, and with that comes some major prepping for your kid's Halloween costume, dreaming up ideas for spooky treats and getting them ready for the most ghoulish of parties.
Amid all the spooktacular preparations, it's important to start planning the not-so-fun stuff: rules and emergency procedures to ensure everyone has a safe time.
We talked to child developmental pediatrician Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin of Texas Children's Hospital about planning the perfect Halloween night shindig - keeping communication seamless with both parents and the little guests, and ensuring everyone has a good and safe time. This also applies to parents who are chaperoning a group of rowdy kids and taking them trick-or-treating.
At the Party
"First of all, parents of children need to be aware of what the rules for the party are so everyone is on the same page," says Dr. Spinks-Franklin. For example, it's important to know whether no sharp, long accessories or certain kinds of face makeup are going to be allowed. Props should be short so they don't hurt anyone else (You don't want anyone accidentally poking someone in the eye with that fake sword!) If everyone is adhering to the rules, kids won't feel like they're unfair.
As a host, you should make your expectations clear to both parents and kids and have a direct way of communicating with the parents all night long. Adults should communicate what these rules are beforehand to their kids. It's not up to the host to have to introduce kids to the rules for the very first time.
Next, it's up to you to ask parents what their expectations are and if there's anything you need to be aware of, like allergies or dietary restrictions.
"The adult who is planning the event needs to have information about the severity of each allergy as well as an emergency plan," says Dr. Spinks-Franklin. That means having any epi-pens or benadryl dropped off with the kids.
Once the kids are arrive at the party, they should be divided into age-appropriate activities and groups.
"For example, there should not be a race where a 12-year-old kid is racing a six-year-old kid," says Spinks-Franklin. The same goes for scary movies that might not be appropriate for younger kids.
If this is a strictly indoor party, an adult needs to be monitoring doors and exits to keep kids from slipping outside and getting into to mischief. If any activities are outside, there need to be multiple chaperones keeping watch. At the beginning of the party, have each kid assigned a buddy to check in with a couple times during the night. You can use brightly colored tape to keep track of all your little guests.
Bringing a big group of kids trick-or-treating? Don't worry! With a few easy tips, you can ensure everyone will have a fun and safe mission to find candy!
Stand in the back so you can direct the kids where to go. It's better to be in the back where you can see everyone than in the front and not be able to see everyone at all times. Before you go out, put brightly colored tape on kids' costumes so they're easy to see. Give everyone a "buddy" that they should keep track of at all times. Sometimes it's also helpful for the buddies to walk pairs. If you have a group of younger kids, make a game out of it by having a rope that everyone needs to hold on to. At various times of the night, play games like rhyming or make up a story where each kid comes up with a different word to keep listening for their own part.
Finally, make sure you are aware of any kids who have allergies and check their candies before they are allowed to eat them.