There was a time when Halloween was only a kids-only holiday—a day where they get to dress up and indulge on every imaginable treat. Now, it's a month-long event that saturates us in orange for the entire month of October and can cost hundreds of dollars.
So, through the sugary haze, let’s take a minute and remember what Halloween was like when we were kids.
Our Halloween: There seems to be this quaint notion that we once made our own costumes from scratch. We did not. You could buy costumes of the Fonz or Farrah Fawcett or Rainbow Brite—they were essentially just plastic bags with printing on them and a rigid plastic mask. But it's more likely that you wore your Superhero Underoos and dipped into your mother’s makeup kit for fake freckles or to draw a scar. You rarely ever bumped into someone with the same costume.
Our kids' Halloween: The costume discussion starts as early as August—or, if you're unlucky, the day after Halloween. Ultimately, a last-minute run to the over-priced costume store results in tears and, finally, acceptance. Each costume has to perfectly match the child’s special and unique personality. The early years of trying to create a Martha Stewart costume from scratch with 20-pounds of tulle can still brings back nightmares.
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Our Halloween: In the days before political correctness, we had no concept of what was considered offensive. We often waded into cultural appropriation (Geisha Girl, anyone?) or went as a homeless person—complete with pictures of us lying in piles of leaves.
Our kids' Halloween: Halloween costumes are extremely gender divided and are made of materials that are not found in nature. The sexualization of girls seems to be OK on All Hallow’s Eve as little girls wear short skirts, corsets and thigh-high boots, which begs the question: Why does a pint-sized cop need go-go boots?
Read more: Inappropriate Halloween costumes for kids>
Our Halloween: The majority of your candy haul were stale boxes of raisins, the black candies that tasted like a cross between licorice and gasoline and those sugary rockets. An occasional full-sized chocolate bar was like winning a golden ticket. Our parents used to inspect our candy with a magnifying glass, looking for hidden razors and pins. The candy hysteria hit maximum peak in 1982 because of the Tylenol tampering. That year, some helpful hospitals X-rayed candy for free.
Our kids' Halloween: Nowadays, parents inspect their kids’ candy for its negative nutritional impact. The stacks of candy can create a tower nine feet tall. There is much parental hand-wringing over how to handle so much sugar in the house—should parents act as the jailer, doling out one candy at a time or let the kids gorge for a day? Meanwhile, parents have been snacking on the mini Coffee Crisps since they went on sale after Labour Day.
Read more: What to do with your Halloween candy>
Our Halloween: Parents bought some candy, and a pumpkin to carve. Neither Canadian Tire nor Becker’s had a Halloween section at the time.
Our kids' Halloween: Stores salivate for a piece of the almost seven billion dollar Halloween business. Some retailers' entire annual profit is from Halloween sales alone. Home Depot sells blow-up lawn ornaments the size of a child for $109—because people actually buy them.
Our Halloween: If people threw a white sheet over their front porch they were considered über-creative.
Our kids' Halloween: We buy new and interesting decorations each year. We devote an entire weekend to creating decorations for our house and then hope that it doesn’t rain and soak your faux graveyard and spider-webbing. Consider getting a storage locker for your animatronic devices that you order from overseas, while judging the low-key neighbours across the street who lack Halloween spirit.
Our Halloween: WTH? Eat your candy and go away.
Our kids' Halloween: Create a spooky fruit bowl with "boo-nanas," clementine pumpkins and a watermelon brain. As soon as you have done that, start on the mummified hot dogs, pretzels that look like fingers and deviled eggs with spiders—but don’t forget the cupcakes with elaborate toppings. Contemplate turning every meal for the month of October into a Halloween-themed event. Blame Pinterest.
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Our Halloween: Carve a pumpkin and put it outside with a candle. Pick up the remnants the next day after the raccoon is done with it.
Our kids' Halloween: Check out what Martha Stewart, the parenting magazines and Pinterest claim is the biggest trend in pumpkin carving this year. Buy four large, perfectly shaped pumpkins. Place in a hermetically sealed cold storage. Set up a corner with drills, specialized carving tools and exotic spices for the leftover pumpkin seeds. Print out a stencil— or be a rebel and attempt to do it free-hand. Carve. Swear a lot. Blame Pinterest. Put pumpkins outside and don’t let anyone near them as you take 107 photos. Upload said photos to various social media sites and email them to your own parents to show them what a better job you are doing. Judge every other pumpkin you see.
Read more: 6 no-carve pumpkin idea>
Our Halloween: Parents went to work—or they didn’t. But they certainly didn't show up to school in the middle of the day to help with the class party. After school we'd head home and watch the Bewitched and The Flintstones Halloween specials.
Our kids' Halloween: Set the alarm two hours earlier than normal. Kids race out of bed to put on their costumes, and expect to have full hair and makeup done before you even pour your coffee. You waste 10 minutes searching for the sewing kit to patch up their cheap costumes. Kids won’t leave until you put on your costume too—so, grab your little black dress, put on your witch hat and go. Take the day off work because the Halloween parade is conveniently placed in the middle of the day. But that’s OK, the intern is doing the work while everyone else is with their kids on this new, unpaid, unrecognized national holiday.
Our Halloween: You joined a random group of kids to roam the neighbourhood. Parents stayed home to hand out candy and drink Long Island Iced Teas. You could enter people's homes and eat homemade cookies.
Our kids' Halloween: Kids are assigned to teams with two parent volunteers. Call the back-up grandparents to give out candy as you stay glued to your kids’ sides. Check out Google Maps, create a plan, do not deviate from the mission for maximum candy gathering. Carry your kids' extra bags and become irritated with the whole event. Remind yourself to carry wine in a coffee tumbler next year.
Our Halloween: You can still remember the feeling of the kitchen twine digging into your neck from the heavy Unicef box. Parents collected pennies all year round for the orange boxes, and you were thrilled with each penny drop.
Our kids' Halloween: The leftover candy gets donated to a parent’s office for the less-fortunate intern who didn’t get to go out trick-or-treating.
Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.
Check out more Halloween fun with this Halloween sticker craft!