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Don’t Let Halloween Scare You

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If you are one of those people who finds Halloween to be a bit stressful, you’re not alone. While it can be a great, fun time for kids and adults to play make-believe, stretch their creative skills, and socialize, there are some aspects of the fall holiday that can be anxiety-inducing.

Here are a few things that you may be feeling stressed about leading up to Halloween and how you can modify them to be more enjoyable.

Halloween-Related Costs

Nothing causes some peoples’ blood pressure to spike like the thought of spending extra money. Starting with Halloween, expenses can be higher in the last three months of the year than any other time. Below are some of the costs that you might encounter surrounding Halloween and how you can mitigate them.

  • Costumes: The expense of costuming yourself and your family can be stressful. Consider searching thrift shops, asking family members to borrow old costumes, or repurposing some of your old clothes to make costumes. Using these techniques can decrease your stress both by being easier on your pocketbook and by allowing you to use your creativity, which is stress-fighting in itself. Just remember to start early, so you aren’t stressed by a time crunch.
  • Candy: If your budget isn’t looking forward to the extra expenditure of candy for trick-or-treaters, consider buying it in bulk online. You can get it for much less money than buying several small bags at the store, and an added benefit is that you will probably have some candy that is different from what everyone else is giving out. Alternatively, consider giving something like glow stick bracelets. These are quite inexpensive, kids love them, and they help keep kids safer if they are still out Trick-or-Treating when it gets dark.
  • Parties: If you love giving Halloween parties, but the expense has you feeling stressed, use some of these ideas to lower the costs and increase the fun.
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    • Ask some friends to co-host with you. This may not only lower the costs that each person will incur from the party, but the fun of party planning with your friends can also decrease your stress.
    • Provide the venue and make it a potluck. You can rent an inexpensive room for a few hours or just use your home for the party, then ask everyone to bring a dish to pass. Use the tips in the next section for inexpensive decorating.
    • Make it a Trick-or-Treat party. It can be a lot of fun to gather a group of adults with kids to go Trick-or-Treating together. It provides a nice walk, time to chat, and the fun of seeing the kids enjoy themselves.
  • Decorating: Many people love decorating their homes for fall and Halloween, but it can get expensive to load up on the trimmings. Instead, use these tricks to create a beautifully decorated home for less money:
    • Check thrift shops for great deals on decorations that people have donated.
    • Get creative by using natural objects that you can find outside such as leaves and twigs to decorate.
    • Repurpose old items that you already have but aren’t using with some spray paint, hot glue, and imagination.

Food Allergies and Halloween

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If you are the parent of a child with food allergies, Halloween can be stressful for you. You may worry that your child will feel left out when he or she can’t enjoy the treats that the other children can. You may even stress that somehow the temptation will be too much and your child will eat something he or she is allergic to and suffer an uncomfortable or even dangerous reaction.

You may also worry about handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. After all, you wouldn’t want to give a child with a food allergy a treat that they can’t have.

There is a movement to provide alternatives to food for Trick-or-Treaters with food allergies. Called the Teal Pumpkin Project and spearheaded by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education, foodallergy.org), the idea is that people who have non-food alternatives available can place a teal-colored pumpkin on their porch as a sign for those who have food allergies.

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The website also provides printable posters to use to alert people that your home is food allergy friendly. Leading up to Halloween, share the Teal Pumpkin Project information with your friends, family, and on social media to increase the number of homes near you that participate. Families may also choose to provide traditional treats in one bowl and small toys, stickers, glow sticks, and pencils in another. For more information about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

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Pets and Halloween

Pets can find Halloween quite stressful. Many of them are afraid of people wearing costumes or the noise that occurs during parties or on Trick-or-Treat night. Some of them even bolt out the door in an effort to escape, becoming lost.

Combat this worry by being prepared. Create a safe space in your home, such as a small room, where you can put your pet during any Halloween parties you may throw and during Trick-or-Treating. Make sure your pet has everything she’ll need to be comfortable in her safe space, such as food, water, a bed, toys, and a litter box and scratching post for cats.

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You can play a classical CD for your pet in the safe room both to drown out noises that may scare her and to help relax her.

Children and Halloween

Some children may have a hard time with Halloween. Kids with certain disabilities may find it hard to Trick-or-Treat or interact with people in costumes. The same may be true of young children, who don’t necessarily understand yet that these things are make-believe.

Halloween can be stressful for the parents of children who become timid or have trouble participating fully in the festivities because we all want our kids to be able to experience the joy of the holiday.

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The key here is not to push your child toward things that are uncomfortable for him. Talk to your child about these issues a few times before Halloween. You know your kid best, so if you feel that he would benefit from your encouragement to reach a little beyond his comfort zone, then do so, but be sure that he knows that you are there to support him.

Some kids enjoy handing out treats more than going Trick-or-Treating themselves. This allows the child to retreat into the house if he becomes overwhelmed.

Consider taking your child Trick-or-Treating only to the homes of people you know he trusts and feels comfortable with. Even if that is only a few places, your child will have fun and so will you.

You may also consider forgoing Trick-or-Treating for a small party in your home instead. Your child may feel more comfortable celebrating Halloween in a familiar space with known people, lowering both your stress level and his.

Overextending Yourself

Many people feel overextended during holiday times. This can lead to exhaustion and stress. As much as you would like to attend every event, drive to nine stores to find the perfect costume or decoration, and throw three parties of your own, it might be better if you don’t.

Take stock of the things you are saying “yes” to as Halloween approaches and have a frank conversation with yourself about whether you are likely to get overloaded and overwhelmed. If the answer is yes, cut some things out.

You will enjoy the holiday more if you attend fewer events but thoroughly immerse yourself in them than if you attend lots of things but stretch yourself too thin.

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