What’s Your Halloween Personality Type?

1. What’s your pumpkin-carving style?

A. I choose the perfect pumpkin, create an original design on paper, create a template, and then cut the pumpkin very precisely and painstakingly.

B. I dig the plastic pumpkin out of the back of the hall closet and blow most of the dust off.

C. I don’t decorate for Halloween.

D. I carve my start-up company’s logo into the pumpkin, then take pictures and post to all my social-media sites. It’s a festive decoration and free advertising.

E. I enjoy carving faces.

2. What’s your approach to distributing Halloween candy?

A. I engage each child in conversation to determine whether their treats need to be gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free.

B. I point at the candy bowl and say “help yourself.”

C. I turn off the porch light and don’t answer the door.

D. When parents come to the door with their children, I invite them in for a drink and a marketing presentation.

E. I make sure everyone gets what they deserve.

3. It’s two days before Halloween. What last-minute supplies do you buy?

A. None. I’ve already carved my jack-o-lantern, sewn homemade costumes for my children, put up decorations, and bought a carefully-selected assortment of candy.

B. A few bags of fun-sized candies to replace the ones I bought last weekend but ate already. And some beer.

C. Blackout curtains and a “No Solicitors” sign for my front door.

D. None. I’ve already picked up the candies that I had custom-wrapped my company’s logo and web address.

E. Extra-large garbage bags, duct tape, an area rug, and a shovel.

4. Halloween is a good time to …

A. Impress the neighbors.

B. Eat candy.

C. Turn out the lights and hide in the dark.

D. Network with people from the neighborhood.

E. Dispose of a body.

Happy Halloween! If you’re looking for last-minute advice, you may find some of these older posts useful:

For costume ideas, why not try some of these Reese’s-themed fashions?

Don’t want to spend the evening handing out candy? Try some of these alternate candy distribution methods

And it’s always a good idea to follow these simple Halloween safety tips

I’ve switched to a different mail-sending mechanism, so if you get these posts by mail and anything looks strange, please let me know. And as always, please feel free to follow my sad, lonely Facebook page.

Oops! Some of you may have gotten two copies of this in the mail. Sorry about that — it won’t happen again.

I’m Sorry Your Child Disliked My Halloween Treats

Look, I’m sorry. I know everyone expects candy on Halloween. The thing is, I’ve been on a kind of health kick lately, and I would have felt hypocritical handing out sugary junk. I thought a selection of healthful snacks would be a nice alternative.

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I realize that Habanero peppers and durian aren’t to everyone’s taste — I included those mostly as an option for more adventurous kids — but I had no idea the apples would be so controversial. I honestly thought most people liked apples, and that kids in particular liked those little single-serving packs of apple slices. I wanted to give out something like that, but without the chemicals they use to keep the slices from turning brown — because really, who can say with any certainty what the long-term health effects are? I’d feel terrible if an innocent child suffered because I gave out apple slices loaded with artificial preservatives. So, out of concern for the children’s safety, I gave each one something even better: a slice-your-own-apple kit containing a locally-sourced organic apple and a slicing implement. And yes, razor blades may not be the ideal tool for the job, but paring knives and even steak knives are prohibitively expensive, and disposable plastic knives are bad for the environment.

I understand that, for whatever reason, you disapprove of my entire selection of treats, including the apple slicing kits. Lesson learned. But it’s not like I held a gun to your kid’s head and forced him to take them. Not a real gun, anyway, although I admit that, as toy guns go, mine is actually pretty realistic.

Again, I apologize. I can see now that you and your kids had your hearts set on candy, and I’m sorry I disappointed you.

Got leftover candy? Check out last year’s advice on what to do with it.

Towards a Less Intrusive Halloween: Alternate Candy Distribution Methods

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking forward to handing out candy to all the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood, except for the part where you have to stop whatever you’re doing, open your front door, and dole out candy every time the doorbell rings, which in my case is every 90 seconds or so for about three hours. The good news is that there are several less labor-intensive candy distribution methods available; this guide will help you select one.

Start by looking at your front door. Is there a doggy door installed? If so, chances are you own a dog, which  you can probably train to pick up a piece of candy and carry it to the children outside while you relax in comfort on your sofa, sipping an adult beverage and cheerfully yelling “Happy Halloween! Fido’s had all his shots, so don’t worry about any tooth marks or dog slobber you may find on the candy!” Note: do not attempt to do this with a cat. Cats have better things to do with their time.

Even if you don’t have a dog, you can still take advantage of the doggy door. Just use whatever robotic or remote-controlled device you happen to have handy — a Roomba, a bipedal bicycle-riding robot, a toy car, or a robotic toy mouse — to transport candy from inside the house to the children outside.

If you don’t have a doggy door and can’t or don’t want to install one, you still have other options. If you have a large front porch or a flat roof, you can set up a candy catapult, which is pretty self-explanatory. The great thing about the candy catapult is that the kids don’t need to get anywhere near your front door to get their Halloween treats.

The one disadvantage to the candy catapult is that you have to stay on your porch or roof to operate it. If you want to be able to move around during the evening, consider setting up a system of pneumatic tubes running from your front door to various locations throughout the house. Just leave a supply of candy near each endpoint, and you can shoot a treat to the front door whenever you hear the doorbell.

If you don’t have a large front porch or roof access, and your landlord stubbornly refuses to allow you to install a doggy door or pneumatic tube system, you can always have an Internet-themed Halloween. Simply create a web form that prompts the user for his or her name, address, candy preferences, and food allergies. Then generate a QR code for the form, print it out, and tape it to your front door. Instead of ringing your doorbell, kids will use their smart phones to read the QR code, visit your web site, and enter their information. The next day, you can distribute candy to anyone who filled out the form, by either going door-to-door or using FedEx.

The cost of Halloween candy for dozens of trick-or-treaters can really add up. If you’re on a tight budget this year, consider setting up a candy vending machine by your front door. Let the kids pay for their own fun-size Snickers.

Check out these Halloween safety tips from last year. They’re just as relevant now as they were then.

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Here are some simple tips that should help keep it safe and fun for everyone.

1. When planning your children’s trick-or-treating route, stick to residential neighborhoods. Try to avoid deserted industrial areas, construction sites, and toxic waste dumps.

novelty contact lenses2. Novelty contact lenses can add a new dimension to a Halloween costume.  Please get yours from a licensed eye care professional; resist the temptation to create your own using an empty plastic water bottle, a razor blade, and a set of colored markers.
Continue reading “Halloween Safety Tips”