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A Halloween Night Dinner: To Dream the Impossible Dream

October 29, 2009

As we clomped home from a festive pre-Halloween family party last night, dragging our whiny, jacked-up-on-sugar kids home too late on a school night, I felt that familiar wave of Halloween angst. I know it’s the best night ever for kids; I remember it well from when I was a girl. But now, as a parent, the pleasure of the holiday is tinted with the anxiety of watching my kids ricochet off the walls, waiting for the impending injuries and tears. We wonder how many fun-sized bars to let them inhale before gently stepping in and prying their sticky little fingers from the handle of the plastic pumpkin loot bucket, trying to make sense of the fructose-induced babble.

Pumpkin whole

Photo credit: Joseph De Leo



(Sorry, quick digression: “fun-sized bars.” Why would the smaller bars be the “fun-sized” ones? It seems like the “king-sized bars” are even more fun.)

Believe you me, come Saturday around 8:30-ish you’ll find me digging through the piles of loot for a stray Twix bar or  a Tootsie roll, maybe even a cheerfully wrapped chunk of Double Bubble. I like candy, too, man. I also like to start a betting pool where the parents guess what time the first kid will cry. I know it’s mean. But it’s fun, and you can sometimes win big.

My older son, Jack (age 9), just asked to have a word with me about Halloween dinner. This was the word: “We really don’t want to have dinner that night, as it might fill us up, and we won’t be able to eat as much candy.” Ah. Excellent point, young grasshopper.

I have fought this particular fight for 9 years now, and I have a few straightforward strategies for the pre-trick or treating dinner. You should pick and choose from amongst them, understanding that there are no money-back guarantees being offered.

-Put out bowls of cut up veggies and fruit while the costume dressing is taking place.  Then you won’t be harassing them to eat their vegetables at the table.

-Dinner has to be fun and quick: tacos, pizza, chicken soup with noodles and/or matzoh balls, (that’s the call this year in my house), meatballs, or something on a stick (chicken satay, beef kabobs, chicken yakitori, etc.).

-Offer them the opportunity to choose what dinner will be on Halloween.

-Familiar foods: this isn’t the night to introduce rutabagas for the first time.

-Messy dinners must be consumed before the costumes are put on.

-Pick something you can make ahead, that requires last minute heating, and no last-minute fussing.

-A big glass of milk should be offered, and maybe another with the candy fest later in the evening.

-A glass of wine (don’t be silly, that’s for you).

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2009 11:39 pm

    LOVE this post. I’m facing my first Halloween where junior actually understands what’s supposed to go down. Dude’s been asking about candy for a good week now. I’ll have to steal some of your tricks, Katie.

  2. Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief permalink*
    October 30, 2009 12:06 am

    The first few are freakin’ adorable. They’re sated with like 2 pieces of candy, and then they forget about the big bag in the closet…later it gets a little ugly.

  3. Julie permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:45 am

    I kept reading your blog and thinking “so true, so true”. I used to try to feed my kids healthy food for dinner on Halloween. But that was when my kids were younger. Now that they are 10 and 14 there is only one rule: Mom gets all the Reese’s peanut butter cups!

    • Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief permalink*
      October 30, 2009 3:47 pm

      Excellent rule, and you’re totally right: Halloween is definitely an “if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em” holiday (though that phrase has always seemed vaguely distasteful to me.)

  4. October 30, 2009 4:27 pm

    I remember Halloween both as a kid and as a mom. I actually liked it better as a mom. I was able to have a bit of control over the situation. Not much, though.
    My nephew tended to get pretty rowdy, but I had girls and I think it wasn’t as bad.
    I can’t wait to be a grandmother. I think getting to be a grandmother at Halloween is going to be the best.

  5. Abby permalink*
    October 31, 2009 2:30 am

    Katie! You’re making me want to go trick or treating tomorrow night. And you’re making me remember how much fun Halloween night was when I was a kid. I remember my family always had a dinner party for all our friends and their parents before we went out in costume, and we always had empanadas.

    Such good memories!!!

    Have fun with Jack and Charlie tomorrow…

  6. sufitt permalink
    November 2, 2009 5:48 am

    I dunno how we did it, but we somehow got our kids really unexcited about Halloween. I think we paid our son a buck a pound for his loot, so it became more of a collecting game for him (he’d cash out @ 50 lb), and my daughter has always preferred to be the one doing the handing out. x

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