YOU Magazine - October 2007 - Halloween Hints:Tricks for Making Your Holiday a Treat
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Halloween Hints:
Tricks for Making Your Holiday a Treat

Halloween Hints:Tricks for Making Your Holiday a Treat

Halloween is right around the corner. While it may not be a big deal to you, it's sure to be a highly-anticipated day for someone you know. If you have children, or even live in a neighborhood filled with kids, there's a good chance that you will play some role in the evening's festivities. The question is… (cue scary laugh) are you prepared?

While we are all familiar with the revelry surrounding Halloween, how many of us actually know how it began? Before we hand out our Halloween hints, we thought it appropriate to haunt you with a little history.

History of Halloween
There are many variations to the story of Halloween, but most historians agree that its origins date back to the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland. During that time, summer officially ended on October 31st. The Celts held an agricultural festival on this day and referred to it as "Samhain" (SOW-en), a word meaning "end of summer". In addition, they believed that during the evening of October 31st, the boundaries between the living and the dead became somewhat blurred.

One account says that spirits of those who died the previous year would look for living bodies to inhabit in the upcoming year. This obviously didn't sit well with the living. In an effort to scare away the anxious spirits, ancient Celts would dress up like ghouls and parade noisily through town.

The origins of the term, Halloween, can be found in Catholicism. In the year 835, Pope Gregory IV standardized November 1st as a day of observance in honor of saints, also known as All Saints Day, or All Hallows' Day. In turn, the evening of October 31st became known as All Hallows' Eve, or All Hallow Even. The word, Halloween, is simply a corrupted contraction of these terms.

Halloween came to the United States in the 1840s via Irish immigrants, but the arrival of trick-or-treating is much less clear. While it resembles many of the older European customs of ritual begging on Halloween, its inception within English-speaking North America was not until the early 20th century. This leads many historians to believe that American trick-or-treating developed independently of any one culture. Nowadays, it is considered by most American children to be the night's main event.

Halloween at Home
In terms of celebrating Halloween, many of us will choose not to leave the comfort of our own abode. If this sounds appealing to you, then keep reading because these tips will help to ensure your Halloween is a happy one.

If your plan is to open your home to trick-or-treaters, there are several things you'll want to keep in mind. Prior to the big day, it's important to survey your front yard. Make sure it is clear of ladders, hoses, flowerpots, or any type of debris. This is essential, as any loose objects could be a potential hazard for children passing through.

It is equally important to make sure that the front of your home is properly lit. For starters, a lighted front yard and walkway lets people know that you are welcoming trick-or-treaters. It also helps to prevent any trip-and-fall mishaps.

Jack-o'-lanterns are a very common piece of Halloween décor. For safety reasons, it is recommended that you use battery-powered candles as opposed to a real flame. If you decide to use regular candles, make sure to place your jack-o'-lantern(s) away from any walkways and clear of any yard decorations made from cloth.

If you are a dog owner, you will want to take the appropriate steps with your pet as well. In general, dogs are not big fans of Halloween due to the outdoor noise and constant doorbell ringing. You know your pet better than anyone. If there is any chance of your dog becoming overly agitated, you'll need to find a way to secure him or her. The last thing you want to deal with on Halloween are the potential ramifications of a terrified pet.

Regarding your choice of treats to pass out, the options are many, with various types of candy topping the list. Some people are opposed to handing out candy and go the opposite route with healthy snacks like packages of raisins or nuts. While we applaud anyone who takes this high road, we also would like to remind you that healthy snacks might not be received so well. After all, it is Halloween.

If taking the healthier route, we suggest you split the difference a bit. Treats like yogurt-covered raisins, caramel-covered popcorn, and chocolate-covered peanuts offer the sweet satisfaction of candy but do it with much less sugar. Many of these treats now come in individual packages, perfect for Halloween. Another option is to not hand out food at all. Instead, hand out packages of stickers, pencils, small plastic toys, action cards, or even coins.

Another concern regarding treats is how many to buy. The only thing worse than running out of candy is having mass amounts left over the next day. If you don't believe us, pop into your company break room on the morning of November 1st. It's our guess you'll see the offerings of co-workers who purchased far too many bags of chocolate bars and suckers.

If you are new to your neighborhood, ask your neighbors about the foot traffic on your street prior to buying candy. Otherwise, take an educated guess, making sure to err on the side of "less is more". Hand out two candies to each child. If you still have a lot of candy by 8:00 pm, start giving three pieces to each child. Trust us when we say that leftover candy only sounds like a good idea.

Halloween on the Road
If you have kids, you'll most likely spend a portion of your Halloween away from your home, escorting them on a trick-or-treating venture through the neighborhood. Here are a few suggestions for making it a positive experience for everyone.

To begin with, it behooves both you and your children to eat dinner prior to any trick-or-treating. It gives everyone involved the energy they need for a night of fun. Putting it off until after trick-or-treating means trying to get your kids to eat healthy food while staring at their pile of candy. Good luck.

Trick-or-treating in large groups is fun for kids and parents. Prior to Halloween, talk to the parents of some of your children's friends, and see if they're up for joining you. Your children will enjoy sharing the holiday with their friends, and you'll enjoy conversing with other adults.

If purchasing your child's costume, look for one that's made from fire-retardant material. Avoid any ill-fitting costumes as they pose a potential hazard to your child's safety. No part of the costume should drag on the ground, and shoes should fit perfectly. Stay away from masks that completely cover the head or face, as they have a tendency to obstruct your child's vision. We also advise that you limit any props that accompany a costume, especially ones that resemble weapons.

All parents should carry a cell phone and a flashlight, and wear a watch that can be read in the dark. Depending on the age or the number of children you're supervising, you may also want to consider carrying a shoulder pack with a few appropriate supplies.

Prior to embarking, make sure your kids understand the rules of the road:

1. Stay with the pack and no running ahead.
2. Walk on the left-hand side of the street in order to see oncoming traffic.
3. Obey all traffic signs and stop lights.
4. Stay away from any strange animals.

Halloween is a great opportunity for you to teach your children how to have fun while remaining respectful to others. Start by keeping away from any homes that are not lit up. Also, stay on walkways and sidewalks as opposed to walking on lawns or through flowerbeds.

Upon returning home, make sure to inspect every piece of your child's candy. While tampering is somewhat of a rare occurrence, throw away any candy that looks at all suspicious. We also recommend that you take control of the candy as opposed to handing it over to your child. Put each child's treats in a separate container and dole them out at your discretion. If they complain, tell them that pacing their candy consumption is a great way to prolong the fun of Halloween.

Good luck and happy Halloween!

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