It's been a terrific season for fall fun in Oklahoma City, with plenty of local events, Halloween parties and themed festivals.
Last night, my oldest son and I watched a PBS documentary about the "War of the Worlds" broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938 and tomorrow will be Fall Festival at his school. It's all part of a countdown to the date: Oct. 31.
Halloween is on a Saturday this year and I am so glad we can celebrate together during the day instead of scrambling to get everyone dressed and rush out before the sun sets.
I haven't yet decided what we'll attend during the day but I'm pretty sure it's going to involve a haunted house, since Sam has his eye on Frontier City's Fright Fest and I have put that off until the last possible minute.
If you're still looking for something to do during the daytime too, click here for events taking place in and around the OKC metro area on Halloween.
At our house and many others like it with small children, the evening is reserved for trick-or-treating.
Visions of sugar plums aren't exactly what's dancing in my sons' heads these last few nights before Halloween. They're excited to go house-to-house and bring home Pixie Sticks, Snickers and pumpkin-shaped mini pretzels. Isaac is 3 and what he doesn't know from experience, Sam, 8, eagerly fills in with great detail.
"What you do is you knock and say 'Trick or treat!' The person who answers the door lets you choose one piece of candy. One piece. You look the bowl over for chocolates first. Don't choose raisins, pencils or toothbrushes. Look for the wrappers that you know, not anything too fancy," he reminds. There's strategy to everything these days.
Sam offers advice from recent experience. Isaac's memories of past trick-or-treating are somewhat fuzzy, much like the costumes of Halloweens past: a baby lion, Elmo. This year, he's The Flash and so much, well, faster than years past. It's Gabriel's first Halloween, though, so trick-or-treating presents some logistical challenges when you're leading kids ages 8, 3 and 9 months.
Here are three tips of my own to keep trick-or-treating a fun time for all:
Plan for dinner: Get the evening off to a good start with some food. Enthusiasm for getting going prevails over hunger and a peaceful dinner at my house, every year. I can remember hurrying through my chicken soup as a child to be allowed to put on my costume. Decide what time you're leaving and set a timer to count down. If kids see there's an end in sight, they're more like to be cooperative. Going trick-or-treating on an empty stomach is the kid equivalent of going to the grocery store hungry. It's a lot easier to leave the Sugar Babies in the plastic pumpkin and keep moving if you're not all starving. There are some good restaurant deals, like an $8 jack o'lantern at Papa Murphy's that's easy to pair with a Mediterranean salad.
Take jackets for the kids: I know, no one wants to put on a jacket over his or her costume. When the sun has set, though, it gets chilly and I can think of two Halloweens in the past eight years that would have been much better with something to throw over a shivering Thomas the Tank Engine and a baby lion whose teeth chattered. I wished for one too, dressed as I was in street clothes. There are few things worse than curbing that Halloween excitement because it's freezing. Throw the jackets in the car and they'll be there if you need them.
Have something fun to come back home to together: I don't think there's an official end time to trick-or-treating but 9 p.m. is approximately when we I know we need to call it a night. Keep a last trick up your sleeve with a final treat. Plan something of an exit strategy and give plenty of warning, i.e., "Three more houses! Two more houses!"
Each year, I do a quiet, just-us Halloween after-party: spiced cider and a spooky Halloween story are waiting for us at home. Sam and Isaac look forward to blowing out their jack o'lanterns and sorting their loot together.
P.S. If you want to donate that candy to a great cause, click here for MetroFamily's list of candy buy-back options.