In the final days before Halloween, our house is filled with an almost frenetic excitement about the big day and a seemingly singular focus on candy (why eat real food before the Halloween carnival, party, trick-or-treating, etc. when it would only take up space that should be reserved for candy?). This year, we've had success channeling that energy with some "preparation" activities, and we've had luck pushing real food by making it holiday themed. Here are some tips to help keep the energy positive and the blood sugar at a reasonable level in the days leading up to Halloween:
*note: these all involve either things that we already have or that can easily be added to a grocery run (i.e., minimal additional cost and effort)
1. Ghost Pancakes
With costumes on and heads focused on school parties and the evening of trick-or-treating, it's hard to get kids to sit down and eat breakfast. Yet, starting the day with some real food is key to avoiding meltdowns later in the day and to regulating the junk that is consumed throughout the day. I skip the syrup and use raisins eyes to minimize the sugar involved. You can make these just like you'd do any other pancakes, just add some food coloring and top with raisins. Or you can go fully fancy here: Halloween Pancakes.
2. Halloween-Inspired Fruit
Fruit and veggies can be a hard sell on Halloween, but a few reasonable snacks can help hold off afternoon monsters. Adding a little spook-factor to a snack of fruit makes it much more appealing to my people. Plus, for older kids, they can do the decorating themselves, which makes it a good activity and a good snack. We're having neighbors over for Halloween, so my daughter decorated a stack of mandarin oranges and bananas and put them out as a centerpiece. She's been happily snacking on them, hopefully the neighborhood kids will too! See detail for these (and some other healthy ideas here): Easy Halloween Food Ideas
3. Spider PB&Js
Just add some pretzels and raisins to the standard PB&J to make it into an impressive spider sandwich. I used a glass to cut them into circles - it maybe added 3 minutes to overall lunch prep time, making the juice well worth the squeeze. Better yet, kids can help make these. My preschooler recently learned that spiders have eight legs and had fun counting the pretzels out and putting them in there. While it's tempting for kids to skip lunch with party excitement coming, hopefully they won't pass up this scary sandwich. And, they're so quick to make, they're an easy addition to a Halloween party or if you need a quick after-school snack. Get the full details here: Spider PB&Js.
4. Spooky Lanterns
I like this craft because it's quick, easy, we have the supplies, and it's a good addition to our Halloween decorations, particularly for Halloween night. We had a few mason jars left over from Christmas presents last year that we used, but you could use any type of glass jar. Add some glue and tissue paper and you're in luck. The directions link you to some stencils in Pinterest, but my kids drew ghosts on construction paper and we used those (the finish product looks slightly less professional, but well worth adding their personal touch). It took us a lot longer than ten minutes, but not so long that we were left with half-finished crafts or that I was forcing them to finish. It's the perfect amount of mess and challenge for a fun Halloween craft. Perfect for killing a few hours before trick-or-treating begins! Get the full instructions here: Spooky Lanterns.
5. Pumpkin Apple Stamps
We're trick-or-treating at some special houses this year - a great aunt and uncle, grandparents, special neighbors. We used these stamps to make little Halloween cards as a treat/some gratitude to share with them when we go by. The kids were intrigued with the fact that we were putting paint on an apple (note: prep the younger ones for this - once there is paint on apple, we no longer eat apple unless you want a full reversal of "an apple a day...") and that it worked as a stamp. I liked how good the finished product looked with very little effort - just need an apple, orange paint, green paint, and a paint brush (we have copious amounts of red and yellow paint, but no orange, so I just premixed some orange before getting the kids involved). A good Halloween eve activity, and a way to show some gratitude for all the treats! Get more details here: Apple Pumpkin Stamps.
6. Make a Monster
For this activity, I did make a trip down the craft aisle at Target - for pipe cleaners, beads, and googly eyes. Other than that, I put out a bowl with beads, one with eyes, cut some pipe cleaners, and gave everyone a ball of play-doh. They had fun being creative and silly and it kept us busy and in the Halloween spirit. (Note: lots of little pieces, so might not be appropriate for some of the littlest ghosts.) This was quick, easy, and fun. It'd also be good to use for a class party or group activity, as you could give each kiddo a bag of monster-making supplies. Create your full monster kit here: Make a Monster.
Hope these help channel everyone's excitement and fuel your ghosts and goblins this year. Happy Halloween!