Gray skies and howling winds outside Richmond homes today are certainly worthy of a Halloween spookfest, but forecasters expect Hurricane Sandy to move out and skies to clear in time for the holiday festivities on Wednesday.
With schools closed and most of the city housebound, however, moms turned to the TV and the pantry to keep their little goblins happy Monday.
“The kids made chocolate chip cookies with [their dad] today,” Karin Wallace of Midlothian said Monday, and other moms joined the baking chorus, whipping up cupcakes, cookies, and breads in the kitchen as the storm whipped leaves and branches around outside.
As long as the electric lines hold, a Halloween movie festival is another popular kid-entertainment option. For parents who aren’t fond of the tube, family activities were the favorite. But what to do when every board game has been played (twice) and there’s nothing else to “spy with my little eyes?”
Well, fellow mommy, come on in and park your galoshes and umbrella by the door, let me grab you a cup of coffee, and let’s talk kid-friendly activities that will keep you all from going stir-crazy.
What to do?
Glow bracelets: I grab a package of these every time I’m at Dollar Tree, so we have a stash in the closet. When it gets dark, open a package and shut off the lights (if Sandy hasn’t done that for you) and let the kids go to town. My monkeys can get two full hours of happy play out of a $1 tube of glow sticks.
Crafts: Kids love to make anything, and a quick check of Pinterest will find you hundreds of projects large and small. An easy on my monkeys loved: cut orange and green construction paper into 1 1/2-by-3-inch strips. Curve and staple to make rings, and glue rings to another sheet of paper in a pumpkin pattern. Add two green rings to the top, or draw and color a stem to finish your pumpkins.
Spooky stories: turn off the lights, turn on a flashlight, and sit in the floor to tell spooky (but not too spooky for the little ones) stories. For a twist, try a continuing story where one person tells the beginning, the next picks it up and tells the middle, and someone else tells the end.
Once Sandy has passed and the sun is shining again, try these tips for a spooktacular Halloween:
Candy bucket block party: this is a popular Halloween night activity, when residents bring chairs (and occasionally fire pits) out into their driveways and cul de sacs and chat with their neighbors while passing out candy.
Spooky potluck dinner: at this pre-trick-or-treat feast, the neighborhood children (and parents) gather at one house and everyone brings a dish (or a pizza). The little ones get to have a festive dinner with their friends before setting off to collect candy, and parents who are trying to get children out the door to trick or treat on a school night don’t have to cook dinner.
Keep it safe
Amid the fun, it’s helpful to remember some basic safety tips.
Parts of Richmond, especially in the suburbs, can be dark at night, and the terrain is not always even. Costumes can make it harder to see, so take a flashlight — especially if your trick-or-treating route includes trails or wooded areas.
The Chesterfield County Police Department’s crime prevention office advises costumes that are brightly colored or have reflective tape on them, are easy to walk and move around in, and don’t include masks (consider face paint as an alternative).
Police also recommend that parents accompany young candy seekers, and that if older children plan to go with their peers, parents should know the route and what time their child plans to be home.
Going to familiar houses, and houses where the lights are on is another standard Halloween safety procedure. Police also reminded residents to walk to the left on the roads, so that they can see the oncoming traffic.
Parents, the CCPD also asks that you remind your children to never go into someone’s house without you.
For folks who have decorations out for the holiday, halloweensafety.com urges use of battery-operated lights in lieu of flames to prevent injuries.
The website, which contains several pages of holiday safety tips, also reminds pet owners to be careful with their furry friends around the holidays: animals who are distressed by the onslaught of trick-or-treaters are better off upstairs for the night, and solid (or mostly) black animals, especially cats, should not be allowed outside the house for the days surrounding Halloween. Residents should also remember that chocolate is not good for pets, and resist the temptation to share treats with them. Large dogs with wagging tails and curious cats have also been known to knock over candles, so consider your pets when placing decorations.
There you have it, fellow mommy: how to weather the storm, have fun and be safe this Halloween. Enjoy the holiday with your own little monkeys. This book fairy will be chaperoning trick-or-treating with Super Why and the spelling bees on Wednesday.
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