What a Lifetime of Halloween Has Taught Me

October 29, 2018

Posted By: Jessica Geary-Cecotti


If one were to apply Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours-rule to Halloween and me, then I'm pretty sure I'm a master (or would it be mistress? —OK, maybe we don't go there) . . . of all things orange and black. I inherited this passion for disguise and masquerade (along with my brows and devotion to cheese) from my mother who has never left the house in anything less than full makeup and perfect hair — never overdone; always just right. For my first Halloween (in pre-Amazon 1971 Michigan) I was an astronaut in a little yellow snowsuit with a giant silver ski mask and oversized mittens. In subsequent years, we did Dorothy (Mom stayed up all night gluing individual red sequins onto my white Keds); a Japanese Geisha (which I realize is now politically incorrect, but my kimono was one my parents got me in real, actual Japan — epic); a Pierrot Harlequin doll with requisite face paint and tears . . . every year, we went all out and had a ball.

Now, let me be clear: I'm no seamstress. My sister-in-law handstitched designs for her girls that were so intricate and beautiful they could be hung in the Costume Institute at the Met. Not me. My kids still have scars from the pinpricks and glue-gun burns that came with the territory of cobbling together creations like a Ghost Bride (in vintage wedding gown), Thorin from The Hobbit (in fur cape), Jack Frost (in full-body shimmer makeup) and a Zombie Pirate.

So. With all of this under my (duct tape) belt, I am ready to share with you what I believe are the tenets to being the best Halloween parent you can be and ensuring your children's everlasting loyalty and admiration forever . . . . mwah-ha-ha-ha

*Your baby's first two Halloweens are gimmes. In other words, primarily fodder for your own entertainment purposes. Why? Because baby won't remember that you dressed her up as Pablo Escobar (a guy in my office actually did this) and you get to destroy the evidence. Unless, of course, you want to include the pics in her Rehearsal Dinner slideshow (a savage move that I highly recommend).

*Once your child turns 2, he is going to have opinions. A lot of them. Try — hard as it may be — to honor those opinions and let him dress up however he wants (unless, of course, it's the one-eyed trouser snake costume he found at Spirit). Also remember that not all children like going door-to-door and talking to strangers. I learned this the hard way when my introvert panicked, refused to move and insisted on going home when we tried trick-or-treating for her third Halloween.

*Get your party on. Once your child acclimates to the concept of collecting butt-loads of free candy, make it a party for them, you, their friends, your friends, their parents, really any interested parties in the neighborhood. We often hosted a chili/soup/salad potluck at our house so that everyone had a nice, solid layer of healthy goodness before ingesting obscene amounts of candy and beer. Personally, I find that beer or hard cider is the perfect pairing for Butterfinger and Reese's — unless it's cold out, then a warm spiked wine or cider can be very nice.

*Remember, when making your child's costume, that the end product is paramount. Nothing else matters. Not your child's comfort, not your budget, not your sleep, nothing . Do you understand? This is critical. As I admitted above, we've had some gnarly close calls at my house. I mean, do I regret spraying hair dye into my son's eyes, blinding him briefly? Sure, I do. Was it a bad idea to staple my daughter's cape onto her costume while she was wearing it? Probably. But, look, these are the sacrifices we make and — frankly — I'm pretty sure they would have it no other way. At least this is what I like to tell myself. Anyway, just do what you have to do, OK?

*Enjoy. Relish. Savor. Every last second of it. Even the rough stuff — like surviving the crushing crowds during Main Street trick-or-treating, consoling your toddler who just spotted Chucky for the first time and even cleaning up the puke that follows the first serious candy binge. Because, before you know it, they are 19 and in college and probably going to a frat party kegger for Halloween and maybe, if you're lucky, you'll see it on Snapchat.

Good luck out there!

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