Halloween, having its roots in the Gaelic Samhain Festival, is a wonderful time for family fun and games. As parents, we need to take precautions to ensure the safety of our children without taking away from the fun. Here we offer tips to help make Halloween safe and fun this year:
- Consider having a party in your own home for your children and some friends. Trick-or-treating can start about 4pm and a little party from 6-8pm.
- Play some games at home such as biting the apple from a string or finding coins in green gunk. Wall paper paste mixed with green food colouring makes excellent, low-cost goo that’s fun for children to squelch their hands in. Click here for more games ideas.
- Try making costumes at home which can be great fun and cost effective. Use flame-resistant materials and if you plan to go out to trick-or-treat in the evening, you might want to attach reflective strips to dark-coloured costumes.
- Experiment with face paints. Let children practice on you too, they’ll really enjoy that. You might like to test a small area of your child’s skin for allergic reaction in advance, and always follow the instructions on the packet.
- Try making Halloween treats together: children enjoy supervised cooking. Making things together will support good quality relationships. Visit Bord Bia for Halloween recipes to make together.
- Carving pumpkins to create ‘jack-o-lanterns’ is lots of creative fun but never let a young child do the carving. If you are allowing an older child to pumpkin carve, give them age-appropriate tools only, follow a simple design, and supervise them carefully. And of course, never leave children unsupervised in a room or area with candles lighting.
- If you are going trick-or-treating, encourage children to learn ‘treats’ such as singing a song or reciting a poem. Performing a song or poem on the doorstep was traditional at Halloween in most parts of Ireland until recently. Children feel very proud of themselves when they actually do it.
- Be vigilant and aware of safety at all times. Agree a route (for trick-or-treating) in advance and what doors they are allowed to knock on. If you are driving anywhere, remember to slow down and watch out for other excited little trick-or-treaters.
- Never allow children under 14 years old out on their own. Children should never be allowed into the homes of strangers. Always be very close by, watching the engagement and ready to intervene if necessary.
- Be conscious that some children may be anxious or scared at Halloween. It’s dark, there may be the loud noises of fireworks, there are lots of strange figures about.
Most of all, enjoy the celebrations. Happy Halloween!