There are many things I love about Hallowe’en, but it can easily be perceived as a festival that encourages children to be greedy. It certainly seemed that way to me when I first moved here.
How many goodies can they collect?
Who gives the biggest and best treats?
Who has the most elaborate costume?
It doesn’t have to be that way. Hallowe’en can be a perfect opportunity to encourage children to reuse, recycle and support their community. A number of initiatives persuade children to trade in excess candy and if we help children make their own costumes, they can utilise objects that might otherwise be thrown away. One thing I hadn’t considered until now is that donating and shopping at Goodwill thrift stores could help my kids be more socially responsible this Hallowe’en.
Last week I was invited, with a group of fellow Seattle bloggers, to visit the Milgard Work Opportunity Centre in Tacoma, a job training centre funded by Goodwill. When I donate or buy from Goodwill, I am glad to be reducing landfill and helping a good cause but I’ve never really looked into where the money actually goes.
Goodwill thrift store profits and donations, fuel programs that help people with limited income, disabilities and disadvantages to overcome barriers to education and employment. There was a lot to take in at our visit, the facility was inspirational and the staff and young people were unreservedly passionate about the facility. The model reminded me of Children’s Centres in the UK – a one stop shop with multi-agencies under one roof but for young adults rather than families. A place to go for training, support and education.
Some of the facilities available at the Milgard Work Opportunity Centre are:
A job resource room
A culinary school (they served us a really delicious, high quality lunch)
Youth build (learning the construction trade whilst working towards the GED)
Drop in Math support
Warehouse and Logistics Training
Computer and Office Skills Training
The following graphic explains the centre’s community impact.
The second part of our visit was to the Goodwill Hallowe’en Thrift Store in Spanaway – the largest such store in the country. It was a treasure trove of costumes and accessories.
I rarely buy new costumes. Part of the thrill of dressing up for Hallowe’en is deciding on a costume and using materials from Goodwill, Buy Nothing Groups or things we have at home, to create something unique. Rushing to buy the an expensive, ready-made costume feels like cheating to me.
Some of my favourite costumes over the years, have been made from simple materials. This girl in my daughter’s class was a vending machine-made from a cardboard box.
Every year my daughter’s school dance in the Thrill the World Event in Redmond Town Centre. The zombie costumes are great fun to make and each year they decide on a theme. Last year we put together this Hamilton inspired zombie from a dress somebody donated.
My younger daughter is joining in this year and wants to be a zombie fairy. I found some great items at the Goodwill Costume Store which I will share with you soon. We have a family trip to Goodwill scheduled this week. My youngest wants to make a bat costume and I’m hoping the others will find inspiration for their costumes. I’ll share the fruits of our labours soon.
I know it can be tempting to simply run out and buy a ready-made costume but consider these great reasons for creating your own.
Recycling old costumes and clothes helps reduce landfill
Your costume will be truly unique
Encourages creative thinking
Encourages working together and problem solving
Encourages sharing as you request materials from friends and community.
Encourages forward planning and design
It is a great family activity
It raises money for worthy causes.
Why not donate last years costumes at a local thrift store/ charity shop or organise a costume swap to encourage your kids to recycle and help those less fortunate?
When it comes to Hallowe’en my repertoire of songs is not as large as some other seasonal favourites. Tweaking a few nursery songs and finding a few favourites online, I put together a small package of activities for a preschool music session.
5 Little Pumpkins ( A Popular Rhyme in the US)
5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate
The first one said “Oh my, it’s getting late”
The second one said “There are witches in the air”
The third one said “But we don’t care”
The fourth one said “Let’s run, Let’s run”
The fifth one said “Isn’t Hallowee’n fun?”
Then woooooo went the wind
And OUT went the lights.
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
There’s a Spider on the Floor ( To the tune of ‘Put your Finger on your Head)
Move the spider up your body and make rhymes with different body parts eg There’s a spider on my tummy and I really want my mummy, there’s a spider on my knee and he’s very scary. Lyrics to the first verse are here.
If You’re a Monster and You Know It (Spooky Version of If You’re Happy and You Know It)
If you’re a monster and you know it then say ‘raaaaggh’
If you’re a witch and you know it say ‘HA HA’
If you’re a ghost and you know it then say ‘Oooooooo’
If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe out fire.
Call me a humbug but I’ve been a little relieved in the past few years that Hallowe’en isn’t that big in the UK. My kids would dress up, sometimes go to a party, we’d carve a pumpkin and may go trick or treating to a few friends’ houses. We didn’t have many trick or treaters in our street so I could usually find something to give them without going mad.
Now we are in the US it is a whole other ball game. The shops are filled with Hallowe’en decorations, costumes, crafts and sweets to the same level as Christmas in the UK. I’ve been told I need to stock up because we will get loads of kids at our door at Hallowe’en. The idea of it all fills me with dread. Do I need to spend hours and money decorating my house? How many treats do the kids expect? What can I get away with without looking like the miserable British Family? Will a talking pumpkin suffice?
Can anyone help me understand what is socially acceptable?
Then there is Thanksgiving…….. What on earth is that one about??
When I worked in a nursery we displayed a Hallowe’en Pumpkin in our entrance hall. It was placed on a table covered with a table-cloth. Under the table-cloth we put a tape recording of the pumpkin’s voice that we would play when it was lit. The children would be mesmerised.
I taught a wonderfully imaginative little boy who particularly loved the pumpkin. He went on to school and told his teacher all about the talking pumpkin, his belief that it really talked was genuine. Rather than stimulating his natural imagination she told him, ‘ Of course it doesn’t talk , it was just the teachers making the voice’. I was so sad when I heard this story, talk about shattering a child’s illusions .