“Mom, can we get Skelly from the basement?” my son breaks through my daydreams as I pull into the driveway. “Skelly’s just for Halloween” I reply. Another drive home with yet another request from him. “Mom, we need some Halloween decorations!”, he yells from the back seat. “Son. It’s September. School just started!”, I try to reason. Unfortunately, there’s no successful type of reasoning with my 1st grader.
When I celebrate Halloween with my kids, I always feel a little guilty. This feeling swirls around me all month long, becoming my excuse for not fully embracing the ‘spirit’ of the holiday.
It’s not what you think. I have no problem with the mass distribution of sugar from strangers and neighbors. In fact, my kids don’t realize how excited I am when they bring home their loot. They sort it all like they’ve found a backdoor into Willy Wonka’s factory, build a modest stack of their favorites and the rest are donated. A few may disappear into mommy’s secret Tea Tin in the cupboard.
Despite this, the mixed feelings about Halloween are hard to put aside because they have simmered for a long time.
I grew up in the islands in the Caribbean, in either rural or conservative neighborhoods. In Jamaica, we didn’t even know about Halloween. October 31st was just another swelteringly hot day of the year. Later on, in the Bahamas, the concept of Halloween was shunned by some members of our community. It was an evil day! How dare you dress up as wicked creatures and embrace Satanic rituals!
My dear friend Abigail and her family in the Bahamas tossed those protests to the wind. They dressed up their home each and every year, much to the delight of their young neighbors. It also didn’t stop my school from having a costume party – Abigail lent me her Princess Jasmine costume and my friend Eldacia put eye-liner on my face for the first time. I was transformed into someone I didn’t know. I loved it!
Over the years, and especially after having children, the ominous perception of Halloween has faded. I’ve learned to have a little fun.
The trick-or-treat tradition is a way to connect with our neighbors, some of whom we don’t see again until Christmas Caroling in the winter. I have also learned the etiquette of trick-or-treating. “Kids, what do we say when it’s our turn?” I would prep them in the shadows. “Trick or Treat!” yelled my costumed kids. Of course, they promptly forgot as they approach the front porch and stared nervously at our neighbor and his humongous dog, whom they’ve seen walking a million times this year. The “Thank You!” is barely perceptible to me and my nagging begins again in-between homes. It’s exhausting but I’m not giving up on turning this shindig into a lesson on manners!
On a side note, I can’t be the only high-strung parent on these walks. Darn it, next time, we walk with the parents who carry the wine in their canteens.
Even my parents love to go trick-or-treating with their grand kids since they missed the chance with my brother and I. Before my dad retired from teaching, he would take the excess candies that my kids collected and share them out to his high school students.
But, perhaps the best part of this strange holiday is how crafty you can get. And I don’t mean that in a sinister way.
The cool people make their own coordinated costumes or throw ghoulishly fun parties with scary food and creepy surprises in the corners (SERIOUSLY, where is my invite?).
Others, like me, merely aspire to creating adorable favor bags with goodies for my kids’ classmates and friends.
And, now, I’m finally sharing my ideas with you!
HALLOWEEN PARTY FAVORS
Holiday party favors for school can be challenging though. Over the years, serious allergies and the Wellness Committee have turned my favor bags into non-food treats.
This year, I adhered my tradition of visiting that magical store named Michaels. The store is positively shaking with excitement this time of year. I scoped out the Halloween trinkets, usually 25% to 50% off, aiming to make party bags for about 30 kids. When I check out, the total rings up to a little over $16. Bingo! Hey, I’m on a budget here! You find whatever you think the kids are going to want to use and not drive the teachers crazy (e.g. bouncy balls).
Here’s what my choices look like:
I also created a unique insert, which I will show you soon!
Here’s a closer look at my Michael’s non-food selections:
I assembled all the items into this awesome zippered bag, found in their seasonal bakeware section.
I prefer these types of bags that self-close but you can also use cellophane bags.
Here’s one I did a few years ago.
DON’T FORGET THE TAGS
Now for the part that I spend hours on – the favor tags!
I scoured Etsy and found cute graphics from Partymazing’s shop. (Check out Maria’s spunky and adorable artwork at www.partymazing.com and all her other awesome sites!)
In my little workshop, i.e. the computer desk shoved in the corner of my dining room, I got to work. I set up the layout, personalized the tags, printed them and punched out all my creations with my 3-inch scallop paper punch. As I watched them drop, I beamed with pride. Yes, I do get a little carried away.
But, that’s good for you! I’ve done all the work and you lucky devil you, you can just grab my free download, print it out and you’ve got your own tags for your favor bags!
Here’s the final product:
And here are the free tag printables:
There are two pages of favor tags – the first has circles so you can cut them out with a scissors if you don’t have a paper punch. The second page is free of circles so you can punch away – a 3” paper punch is fine, plain or scalloped.
Here’s a bonus insert! I’ve created a few Halloween-themed printable activities if you want to include these in your treat bags.
I recommend that you print all the designs (tags and activities) on card stock. For the activities, you can even print on the reverse side so you conserve paper.
Just remember – the contents of your bags are entirely up to you. Share your favorite stuffings below and give me some ideas for next year!
My son is happy now. Skelly is up on our door, for all to see. Yes, kids, stop here for treats!
Kindly note that these free printables are for personal use only. Redistribution and/or reselling for commercial use is strictly prohibited. I’d love it if you link directly back to this post – just don’t link directly to the download file. Thanks so much!