Parenting | Enjoying Safe Halloween Fun

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

Parenting | 10 Ways to Have Halloween Fun

Halloween children 150x150Halloween celebrations have changed a lot in Ireland over the past ten years or so. What once was a simple celebration (when a black plastic bin liner served perfectly well as a costume!) has now become much more expensive, especially at a time of year when parents are just recovering from back to school expenses and Christmas is looming.

Here are some suggestions towards enjoying a less expensive, fun Halloween for all the family.

  1. Source costumes by swopping with friends, and visiting second hand shops.
  2. Encourage older children to be creative and maybe spend some time in a second hand shop with you too, finding the perfect bits and pieces to create their own look.
  3. Have a party in your own home and invite each child to bring a gruesome dish with them. There are so many of the old games children will still very much enjoy too, such as ‘Pass the Apple’. These can be great fun without much expense.
  4. Chocolate dipped apples for the callers can be fun to make with your child and you can get good value on small apples; or maybe your neighbour has some growing, you never know! Halloween doesn’t have to mean just a basket load of sweets and chocolates.
  5. Dress up yourself and get into the spirit of things. Enjoy the day with your children, make it an annual family tradition. It is a day you can laugh out loud and enjoy the innocence of childhood.
  6. Encourage your children to make their own decorations instead of buying many. It will help you be creative and have fun together while doing it. You may need to visit the euro shop and stock up on some craft bits and pieces. Pumpkins can be relatively cheap and maybe you have chanced growing your own this year – carving them out is great fun and brings out your and your child’s creativity.
  7. Agree what children are allowed to do on Halloween with them in advance. Many communities have organised free events which can be a good way to meet your neighbours and get out of the house for an evening.
  8. Do not allow children to trick or treat without constant adult supervision. Encourage children to actually have a ‘treat’ ready, like a song.
  9. If you have older children, know where they are going and with whom. Call other parents and check out plans. Don’t worry if your teen thinks you are too protective or ‘nagging’; it is better to know than not to.
  10. Finally try to not dread it or hate it. Halloween can be simple fun without much expense. Your children will get such pleasure from enjoying it with you.

Happy Halloween!

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

LIVE Facebook Q&As with Geraldine on parenting topics are held in our One Family Parenting Group which is open to all to join (but a closed Facebook group meaning that only members can read posts). Post your questions and share your experiences.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email