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Mama Knows Halloween | Tips and Traditions

Mama Knows Halloween | Tips and Traditions

October: Time for apple cider, cool nights, bonfires, fall foliage, and Halloween! And with Halloween comes...the quest for your child’s Halloween costume.

Christmas retail starts before Halloween ends, but Halloween retail starts early, too! I was surprised to see pop-up Halloween stores open before the end of August. I was even more surprised that my daughter loved going to these pop-up stores to see the gory and extremely creepy floor displays. Turns out most kids love these stores. Visit any one of them and you will see for yourself. A few in my area are Spirit Halloween and Halloween City.


I grew up making my own costumes, but as a parent stretched for time I was happy to oblige to my daughter's request for a werewolf costume found at one of the pop-up stores. What I neglected to realize is that she would want to wear it every day since we bought it last Saturday. We've got a long way until the 31st, but isn't the buildup half the fun?

Keep scrolling for other stories of Halloween costumes, traditions, and more from the Mama Knows It Team!



November 1st is a big day in our house. This is the day I begin planning our annual family Halloween costume for next year. There are no princess costumes or Marvel characters in our Halloween plans. Oh no. Not in this house. It’s all about the THEME (remember the whole birthday party thing? Yeah, that happens at Halloween, too).

As a family of five there are so many great group costume ideas to choose from, many of which don’t require much creativity (The Incredibles, anyone?). As a working mom I prefer to gather ideas from Pinterest and then just buy the costumes as opposed to busting out the glue gun and tulle. However, before choosing a theme for our costumes, there are always some considerations that need to be made.

When the kids were younger it was important that their costumes could be put on and taken off easily for potty breaks and quick changes before the school parties. We always opt for make-up free ideas and those that don’t require significant hair styling. The more prep that goes into getting in and out of costumes, the more likely your kids will resent you for limiting their candy acquisition and sampling time.

Also, as folks who live in the midwest, keeping in mind costumes that can have layers UNDER if necessary is a must. So many parents spend money on costumes only to throw a coat over their kiddos’ Stormtrooper or Merida costumes. Work with the climate, people! We always plan for it to be somewhere between 50–80 degrees. For real.

Also, while I love costume planning, my husband loathes the idea of having to dress up. His favorite family costume to date was this one:

Dooley Bees.jpg

Mine, on the other hand, was this:

Dooley Hotdogs.JPG

I will say he is a good sport and goes along with every crazy idea I’ve had to date, most of which I tell him about the week of Halloween. Our costumes for this year have just arrived and we can’t wait to wear them...stay tuned!


At our house, Halloween traditions rival those for Christmas in enthusiasm—I am talking decorations, music, parties, the works. We live in New England so pumpkins are everywhere, the leaves are falling, and there is a definite chill in the air. You can’t help but get into the spirit of it all. Here are some of our regular traditions, from our family to yours:

Just Dance

We try to do it up right with fun dance parties to Halloween songs in the living room. My husband has the best playlist for little kids to dance to:

  • “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett
  • “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
  • “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
  • “Time Warp” (Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack) by The Dark Passengers
  • “The Purple People Eater” by Sheb Wooley

Post Trick-or-Treating Candy Trade

We get whatever kids are still kicking around into the living room and everyone dumps their candy into a pile in front them. M&M’s are given to the chocolate lovers in exchange for sour candies. Little kids trade up their gum. Almond Joys are bartered away for Mounds. And then the adults come in and get a spare Snickers every once in awhile to keep everyone honest.

Spooky Room


Grammy and Grampy do a “spooky room” each year. In the spooky room, there is music, strobe lights, toy spiders, webs, you name it. Grammy makes spooky snacks and the adults drink spooky wine. Otherwise known as wine. All the kids get into the spooky room and start dancing. Dancing + annual picture of all the cousins? Halloween magic.

Headless Horseman, Anyone?

We listen to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving on audio book in the car. Some of the language goes over the kids’ heads, but the scary story carries through. Driving around at night drinking hot cider in the minivan is about as spooky and fun as it can get for this New England mama.


It makes me chuckle to think about the evolution of me as a parent over the last few Halloweens. It can be summarized like this:

Halloween 2013

Status: 8.5 months pregnant with my first child

Pinning adorable DIY costumes on Pinterest that I’m convinced I’ll make for my baby (the rabbit in the hat one was my favorite).

Halloween 2014

Status: Daughter is 1 year old


Previously pinned Pinterest costumes now seem completely unattainable. I feel like the ghost onesie with a white tutu is about the height of my DIY ability (in my mind ordering the onesie from Zulily and the tutu from Etsy equals DIY).

Halloween 2015

Status: 6 months pregnant with my second child; daughter is 2 years old


Patting myself on the back because she loves Curious George and I bought her a Curious George costume. To top that off, I bought the Man in the Yellow Hat costume for my husband (and for those of you who know my husband know this is a perfect costume). When the day comes, we have to beg and plead for her to go up to one single door. And that was the end of trick or treating for the night.

Halloween 2016

Status: Daughter is 3; son is 9 months old

Curious George costume gets worn for the second year in a row (rationale: She doesn’t really remember last year, right?). My husband and I leave work early because THIS is the year our daughter will be into Halloween! Reality: She refuses to walk up to any of our neighbors’ doors to say “trick or treat”. Did I mention she doesn’t like candy?

The baby wears a costume in daycare for about 10 minutes. I get texted a picture. I am 100% okay with the fact that this is the extent of his first Halloween and my participation in it.

Halloween 2017

Status: Daughter is 4; son is 21 months old

Curious George gets a THIRD life! Best $21.99 I’ve ever spent. Now it’s my son who’s enamored with “Monkey George” (pray hands emoji). Daughter is super pumped about her Jessie from Toy Story costume. This is the year when they’re going to enjoy going trick or treating, right? Right?! RIGHT?!??!!?!

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