The black and yellow wings tugged at my shoulders and the tights scratched my legs. Little bits of sugar clung to my chin as I peered behind my grandma passing out candy to the neighbor kids.
We were passing out candy and in my preschool mind, Costumes + Candy = Best.Day.Ever.
But except for the one time I helped my grandparents pass out candy, my family didn’t really *do* Halloween.
Most years we avoided the issue altogether by hiding in the basement, and other years we had a fun family night at the indoor amusement park. One year we attended a “harvest festival” put on by a local church and I discovered that Pentecostals are a lot of fun. True story.
As a teenager my friends weren’t terribly interested in trick-or-treating (although we were known to go Christmas carolling in mid-summer…) and as a young adult I helped out with my church’s “spookless Halloween alternative”.
Then I started working at my current church, and in my first year, I ran a “Noah’s ark party” on the evening of the 31st. It was a total bust…a whopping 6 kids showed up.
That night, I discovered that there are Christians that trick-or-treat, and I was flabbergasted.
It was possible to be a Christian AND trick-or-treat!
This was mind-boggling for my Halloween-avoidance mindset.
After chatting with many lovely Christian folks from my congregation who loved (LOVED) trick-or-treating and reading several articles about how trick-or-treating is a great way to meet neighbours and show community spirit, I figured, LET’S DO IT!
So every year my husband and I blithely go on our way with our decorated children. Of course, we always have to pick a costume that will fit over a winter coat, because we practically live in the North Pole. And off we tromp to go “meet our neighbours.”
Except the drawback of living on the Canadian prairies is that Halloween is in winter.
In my neighbourhood, the kids go up to the door and do their thing while the parents stand shivering behind them, hands shoved deep into pockets and ears tucked into collars against the cold.
Over the past several years I have had a total of 2 conversations with another family – one of which was at a house that had a pig as a pet (so cool), and another was a family we already knew.
So…apparently trick-or-treating is not actually a great way to meet the neighbours (at least not in my neighbourhood).
It doesn’t help that most people open the door to their home, toss out some candy, say “oh how cute!” and shut the door so fast that not a single molecule of warm air can escape into the frosty night.
So this year, I’m trying something new. Oh yes, my kids are still going trick-or-treating with their dad. But this time, instead of going with them, I’m going to dress up in a costume, drag my glider out on the deck along with about 2 dozen blankets, fill up a thermos of hot chocolate, and sit there to greet families with a hot drink for everyone.
Frankly, I have no idea how it will go. Maybe people will think I spiked the hot chocolate and will refuse it, or maybe it’ll be a hit. At the very least, I hope it will be a conversation starter amongst neighbours!
Either way, that’s where I’ll be this Halloween.
Come say hi, and take a cup of hot chocolate for the road! I promise to make sure it’s extra warm.
UPDATE: we’re approaching year 3 of this! Here’s a picture from year 1, in which I dressed as an old granny and snuggled in my rocking chair to keep warm. In year 2 I used a heater. ?
Want to do this too? Here’s what you need:
- Paper cups with lids (I try to avoid styrofoam. The environment and all that…)
- A crockpot
- A ladle
- Chocolate syrup (you don’t want to use the powdered stuff in this quantity. Trust me.)
- A costume
- If you live in the tundra like I do: a way to keep warm!
lisa evola says
Great idea Christie! Our neighborhood isn’t very meeting friendly either, and my youngest being 18, we just don’t bother. I used to every now and then offer a dinner to neighbors for after the trick or treating was done. We would stand and talk sipping soup and nibbling homemade bread. I even made cabbage rolls one year. The feast always included cupcakes and Carmel apples too and there was always a pretty good turnout. Not from new people mind you, but friends from around town and the kids friends. Then I got busy. I miss it sometimes….wish I would have thought about this sooner….a resurrection of traditions may be in order!!
Wow, a dinner! Now THAT’S going all out! Maybe it’s time to do something simple again!
Tessa Cahill says
This is totally our plan too. We’ve invited neighbours over and we are pulling the firepit into the front yard. We’ll hand out candy, glow sticks and warm drinks or something for the adults. 🙂 our hope is people will stop for a minute to warm up around the fire and chat for a bit.
I LOVE the firepit idea!! I’d love to here how it goes!
Levi Breederland says
This is a great idea!
As a kid, my mom and I would create costumes out of whatever we could find in the house and some face paint. One year I made myself into a garbage can with cardboard, tin foil, suspenders, and, well, garbage. would have friends over and it was great! Some years we had people over to carve pumpkins, have hot drinks and enjoy the festivities. Then we would all file out into the night and trick or treat. We may not have met every neighbour, but we there was joy and happiness in the festivities for friends who came over and went out together. This year, my community league is hosting an event and I can’t wait to go and meet more people in my neighbourhood. I’m also building relationships with friends, decorating, eating, and drinking hot chocolate. It doesn’t just have to be about the free candy, though that’s nice, too:)
Oh I love neighbourhoods with community leagues! Have fun!
I love your thought patterns. We winter in AZ in an all adult community so no kids out on Monday night. When our kids were little we did the Trick or Treating – lots of fun – getting dressed up – the candy part not so much. Now I know why they always caught a cold after Hallowe’en. Too much sugar.
But on Sunday our pastor here in AZ encouraged everyone to go out and meet the neighbours. It is warm down here – so everyone does get out (only time in the year I guess).
I don’t personally like the idea of Hallowe’en – the witches, the goblins and ghosts – but if you treat it as community and fun I think it’s great.
Thanks for stopping by Janis! I am also not a fan of the witches, goblins, and ghosts, and won’t let my kids dress up as things like that. I’ve actually talked with my kids about the difference between good, clean fun, and the evil parts of Halloween, because I want us to be consistent in how we talk and walk!
Julie Kieras says
That’s such a nice idea. We don’t get a lot of trick or treaters and most are driven house to house by car…We don’t trick or treat with the kids, but I do hand out candy if we are home, but sometimes we are at church or out.
Have you ever considered having an electric teakettle of hot water and using the powdered hot chocolate packages? This might help parents not worry about whether you put something into the hot chocolate! LOL (I know you are safe but I totally get how parents can get!).