This year I’ll be hopping on a commercial broomstick to Florida to celebrate with some old friends, and their new baby boy for a much needed mini-holiday break.

Tigress Tatjana Rhodes
I confess, I had a little “baby clothes addiction” slip, but it IS his first Halloween! It’s my duty as his “Auntie Jewels” to teach him that it doesn’t matter if you’re an itty-bitty baby, a twenty-four month old toddler…
Two year old Tatjana Rhodes
… or a twenty-four year old adult, Halloween is synonymous with dressing up and party time,
Primrose Milvain, The Mummy, Tatjana Rhodes, and Elizabeth Scott
Hoping all of your Halloween celebrations will be as much fun as I plan to have, but please be extra vigilant in keeping your children safe. Halloween is a magical day for children and overgrown kids like myself. It’s also a time when kids get so excited (and filled to the gills with sugar) that they don’t make the best decisions – making it prime time for accidents to happen, and predators to pounce. Here are five ways you can help keep your children safe, while enhancing the fun, and eliminating the need to scare them half to death with lectures.

1). Think of safety when buying or making a costume for your kids. For instance, I don’t like the idea of highly flammable fabrics (often in unwieldy costumes much bigger than your child) brushing up against a burning jack-o-lantern, or accessories that might cause serious injury to a child if they were to trip and fall.

Tatjana and friend Christian

2). Halloween parties are a great way to keep the majority of the creepy fun within the safety of your own home. Invite the moms and dads too – you want plenty of eyes on your mob when the trick-or-treating begins.

3). I know preteens may they think they are too old to have mom tagging along, but maybe not if mom is in Halloween mode too. Have some fun and let your inner kid out – dress up, let them see “fun mom,” and they will want you to join in. I was lucky to be close enough to grab my eight-year-old daughter, and pull her back just in the nick of time when she went racing out into a street (without looking) to get to the next treasure trove of candy. The car wouldn’t have had time to stop. She knew better, but excitement and sugar greed impaired her better judgment.

4). Make a special spooky meal to fill them up, and they will be much more obliging to the rule “no treats until we get home.” Inspect everything before your kids dig in. Any homemade goodies that aren’t from people you know well should be tossed out, along with any candy in wrappers that aren’t intact.

I always did love Casper the friendly ghost

5). Make it family tradition to read ghost stories together, play games, or watch a scary movie while waiting for the next ghost or goblin to ring the bell. You should be at the door to supervise whom they open it to. Call me paranoid, but what better time for disguised beasts of prey to wage a home invasion, or grab a little one and run? I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Clare Crespo’s Tarantula Cookies, photo by Eric Staudenmaier

As if your little devils won’t already have enough sugar going on – I couldn’t resist sharing Clare Crespo‘s recipe for Tarantula Cookies. They make a great table decoration as well us a creepy crawly treat that is perfect for any Halloween celebration.

Servings: Makes 25-30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) thin, short pretzel sticks
  • 1 large bag (11 1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • small red candies

Directions:

1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3). In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.

4). Gradually add the flour mixture and cocoa powder. Beat to form a smooth dough.

5). Roll a tablespoon-size ball, and place it on a baking sheet. Arrange 8 pretzel sticks around the ball like spokes on a wheel. Press the tips of the pretzel sticks firmly into the dough ball. Continue with the rest of the pretzels and dough.

6). Bake until the cookies brown around the edges, about 7 – 10 minutes.

7). Lift the cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula, and place on wire cooling racks. Let cool completely. Place the racks on aluminum foil or wax paper.

8). In a double boiler (or the microwave), melt the chocolate chips with the vegetable oil.

9). Pour the melted chocolate over each cookie. Coat with chocolate sprinkles. Press in two red candy eyes at the front of each head. Eeek!

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  • October 29, 2010
    5:47 pm

    Great tips, Jewels! Our family's Halloween tradition is to make a big pot of chili for dinner. This started when my parents tired of answering the doorbell and returning to a cold plate of food. With the chili, you could serve yourself a little at a time and always have a hot meal, which was especially nice after trick-or-treating outside all night!Just a reminder: If you're in an area that recognizes daylight savings time, don't forget to set your clocks back by 1 hour next Saturday night (November 7)!

  • October 29, 2010
    9:28 pm

    heck yeah………………………………Carly Guerrero

  • October 29, 2010
    11:52 pm

    The Tarantula cookies are adorable! Makes me wish I had a little ghost or goblin to help me make them. The picture of Tatjana dressed up as a witch is adorable. You have such a great collection of pictures of her all through her life. I wish I had pictures from my younger days, but the couple I do have with my mother are cherished. Have a wonderful time in Florida and enjoy holding a wee one in your arms. Nothing beats holding a freshly bathed baby. The smell of baby powder/lotion on a sleepy little person is truly one of life's pleasures

  • October 30, 2010
    2:31 am

    Thank you for writing this! Tips I will certainly take to heart. I received an email from my local moms' group today that also made an excellent point. The writer's daughters both had life threatening food allergies, including peanuts, which are contained in so many Halloween candies. It broke her heart to see her girls come down front porch steps with big sad looks on their faces because only chocolate/peanut candies were offered. She asked people to consider also picking up a box of stickers, plastic rings, bouncy balls, or other non-food items in case children with food allergies come to the door. In her words, "There are a growing number of children with severe food allergies, and it will mean the world to these children to be able to choose a treat they can keep, and participate in the fun of Halloween just like their friends." I thought it was worth sharing. A Safe and Happy Halloween to all!

  • October 30, 2010
    5:08 pm

    Great tip, Cynthia! I have some card games leftover as favors from my son's birthday party last weekend. I'll keep them by the door in case a child or parent mentions a food allergy tomorrow night.

  • October 30, 2010
    5:12 pm

    Not only is this a wise and thoughtful tip, I like the idea that Halloween treats do not have to be all about candy! I'm considering doing ALL party favors instead of candy next year. Thanks for sharing that Cynthia!

  • October 30, 2010
    5:16 pm

    BTW, in the spirit of full disclosure – I had to cancel my broomstick to Florida tomorrow. I felt crushed telling my friends I couldn't make it, but it is for a really fortuitous reason. Hoping they will understand.

  • October 30, 2010
    5:22 pm

    Sorry you had to cancel your trip, Jewels. Hugs to you. Lara HayesP.S. LOVE the pic of 2-year-old Tatjana in her costume. Too cute!

  • October 30, 2010
    7:40 pm

    shame you had to cancel your trip.Sadly we haven't really embraced the American Halloween until very recently so I have to confess I have never been to a Halloween party or dressed up, hopefully my nephew and niece will have a chance to do this.

  • October 30, 2010
    8:34 pm

    tatj!!Giusy Zagari

  • October 30, 2010
    8:34 pm

    So cute! I wish you could spend the day with her, but I'm sure she's missing you too! Happy Halloween, Julie! Camila Smith

  • October 30, 2010
    8:38 pm

    haha! Looks like she did her own makeup, LOL!Susan Woodcock Lindahl

  • October 30, 2010
    8:38 pm

    I ♥ that picture!Lara Coker Hayes

  • October 30, 2010
    8:39 pm

    Awwwww! Precious!!!My Katie is going to be a "bat-a-rina"– bat/ballerina, and I will also have a little fairy princess named Ellie.Rhonda Davis Crombie

  • November 1, 2010
    7:14 pm

    Carly – tell her straight from me, I totally messed up my metabolism doing that. Makes it so much harder to lose when you are older, and reinforces food as the enemy. Look forward to your contributions Melinda – the book rocks!

  • November 1, 2010
    7:24 pm

    Julieanne, I agree with you and Cynthia about offering alternative, non-food items as treats. My daughter is 11 years old and was diagnosed as a type 1 Diabetic at age 8. Halloween is always a challenge. Micaleh loves to dress up but gets depressed because she cannot eat the candy. I try to do alternative things, one year we went to Disneyland, this year thankfully we had two family friendly costume parties on Saturday so she got to dress up and they had regular food for her to eat. Sadly though she misses the fun of trick or treating. 264 million people are type 1 diabetic. And while it is "manageable" there is NO CURE. The only time a piece of candy would be appropriate is if she were experiencing a low blood sugar. Anyway, sorry to digress, but I find it frustrating that children with Type 1 get forgotten about when it is becoming more and more common (I've read about 1 of 8!) and yes with balanced diet, exercise and of course the 4x daily insulin injections my daughter will live hopefully a longtime. But I still want her to get to be able to partake as a kid and not be forced to worry about carb counting and BG levels all the time. 🙁 Penelope