If you only had a dollar for every time you heard the word “candy” during Halloween season. You’d be able to make a pretty sizable donation to your favorite charity! Philanthroparent would like to put that word to #socialgood use. Using the acronym CANDY, here’s some smart ideas for helping this Halloween.
Start a costume drive with your school, neighborhood or group of friends. Collect new and gently used costumes for a nonprofit that works with local families in need. Costumes could be collected ahead of time for this holiday, or if your residence is a Halloween hub, ask people to bring costumes when they come to trick-or-treat (for kids’ benefit next year). You could also focus on your own costumes. You’ll likely see plenty of superhero costumes being worn. What message of social good could you share with what you wear? Introduce your children to some real-life characters who have been champions for change and social good. I’ve seen Gandhi, Philippe Cousteau and John Wooden costumes get rave reviews. Maybe you can challenge your family or Halloween party guests to a design-your-own superhero theme (invent characters that addresses a real-world cause). You could also just go as a real-world problem. A 2014 pick: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Halloween is a holiday favorite, but perhaps there is a gentle way to discuss with your children some of the potential challenges that come with this occasion. You might start by asking, “Halloween is so much fun for our family, but can you think of any challenges some people might face for this holiday?” The discussion might lead to the topic of sugar overloads, not being able to afford a costume, litter on the street the next morning, or not having proper warm clothes/shoes to stay comfortable while trick-or-treating in the cold. Maybe they will recognize that not everyone has a residence or neighborhood that allows for trick-or-treating. Whatever the need is that they discover, see if you can help them find an organization that supports this cause. Give them a voice to advocate for their socially conscious revelation! Ask the organization for pamphlets that could be handed out with candy or as you’re out and about trick-or-treating.
It’s easy for parents to develop a love/hate relationship with this holiday. Kids are bubbling with excitement and imagination. Tons of priceless family photos are captured in costume. However, there’s late bedtimes, lost costume accessories and… the dreaded battle over how much candy is collected and consumed. Discuss with your family how to balance this day of candy gluttony with good nutrition. What other healthy habits can be reinforced on this day? Maybe toothbrushes could be a quirky party favor or hostess gift. Plan the Halloween menu with your children so that they are coming up with creative, healthy food options too. A printed menu with your nutritious ideas could be passed out to families visiting your door or party guests. If you can’t seem to conjure up your own menu ideas, this Pinterest page has you covered!
Haunted houses and creepy costumes are scary, but they don’t compare to the real-world concerns of some families, like a parent struggling to provide clean water or nutritious food for their children. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a fundraising campaign to help address the basic needs of children all over the world. You can set up your own fundraising page that can be shared with friends and family. UNICEF also has teaching tools that can help you explain these concepts to your children. These world issues might be a bit scary for kids to think about but (as the campaign says), it’s also a chance for them to realize it’s “scary how much good you can do.”
Beware! This is the most daring of all the service ideas here. Think of all the people coming back and forth towards your door, especially if you live in a well-trafficked trick-or-treating neighborhood. You wouldn’t have to do any advertising for a yard sale- the customers are already coming to you anyway! This could be a joint operation amongst families or a social group you’re a part of. Money from items sold could be donated to a local charity. You could even make it Halloween themed by selling secondhand decorations or costumes. It doesn’t have to be a “yard sale” per se. A witches brew lemonade stand or haunted labyrinth in your front yard might spark your kids’ interests more.
Halloween is a holiday for the imagination. These ideas are a starting point, but more importantly, let your child’s cauldron of creativity bubble over. We’d love for you to share your own family’s ideas in the comments. Wishing you a happy, healthy (and helpful) Halloween!