The Editor’s Desk: A Halloween How-To List

My daughter, Allyson, loves Halloween. She takes weeks to decide who she’s going to be come October 31—a witch, a character from Harry Potter, a witch, or a witch. I’ll bet you can tell “which” one she’s been most often. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Even though she’s a dreaded middle-schooler this year, she’s already talking about Halloween—and I’m writing this as school just reopened for a new year. I’ll take that as a good sign.

My wife, Karen, usually helps pass out candy down the street at the Millers’ house. Sure, they’re our friends, but their chosen residence is central to all the best loot. Ours is on a small cul-de-sac.

I usually assume my traditional role with all the guys, as we take the kids out trick-or-treating. We know we’ve done a good job if no one cries and if we return with the same number of kids. Whether they’re ours is another matter.

Yes, we’re veterans of the annual Halloween Haul, having supervised this detailed operation for going on a decade now. So what should you do this year? Here are a few suggestions, courtesy of The Dads:

1. Too Old To Treat—No, not us. We’re never gonna grow up. But your kids should probably trade in the costumes for a central party by high school, earlier if your son has facial hair in the sixth grade. To keep this a family affair, be sure to keep the older kids supervised.

2. Think Small—Mike and I have seen an armada of children jump out of a moving trailer in a full-on assault of the subdivision. It looked like a military invasion, with some kids even dressed as soldiers! If you know you’re going to have a large number, please consider breaking them into smaller groups and move up and down the streets in different directions.

3. What Not To Wear—I’m always amazed at what some folks consider a costume. Here’s what isn’t appropriate: anything that makes your underage daughter look like Britney Spears, work uniforms (wrong on so many levels), and a sheet à la Charlie Brown. Be sure to comment on the really cool costumes, though. Allyson and I pick our absolute favorite each year.

4. In A Manner Of Speaking—Halloween should never resemble the L.A. riots. “Please” and “thank-you” are not just suggestions. We also make our kids walk on the driveways and entry paths unless the homeowners say otherwise.

5. Lights Out—If the house is dark, tell your kids to stay away. Make sure the older kids especially know this rule. Kids can do stupid things anytime—and even stupider things when they’re together.

6. Work It Out—Don’t drive your children all over the area to collect candy. With gas prices so high, make them earn their reward by walking door to door. Plan your route accordingly.

7. Stay Local—Just like Detroit’s auto manufacturers, imports are not preferred. No one likes pintsized mercenaries and their overzealous parents who only see a house in a nice neighborhood for its candy potential. Work where you live first—or check out the giveaways at local grocery stores and the mall. Besides, if you come into our neighborhood, there’s less loot for us.

8. The Daddy Tax—Yes, I did say “us,” as in grown-ups, too. Jim, Mike, and I have told our children the same thing—that a portion of their haul goes to us. Sure, we got moans and groans the first year, but now Allyson knows my favorites. The peanut M&Ms are mine.

Who said Halloween is just for kids?

All my best,


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