Thursday, August 30, 2007

5 Ways to Celebrate Halloween Without Trick-or-Treating

(MS) - Trick-or-treating and Halloween go together, well, like witches and black cats. For years it has been a custom to haunt the neighborhood dressed in costume and coax the residents into filling bags full of treats or tricks.

However, trick-or-treating has always posed a set of real dangers, beyond spooky, costumed creatures. Parading around at night (Halloween conveniently falls around the start of daylight savings time for this part of the world) makes it difficult for pedestrians and drivers to see trick-or-treaters. Plus, this day of joy and controlled chaos for children can be the ideal time for a child predator to attempt something dangerous. Sad but true.

That's why many choose to skip the trick-or-treating and look for safer - yet equally fun - activities instead. Here are some spooktacular alternatives:

1. Haunted gathering: A chaperoned, organized Halloween party is as good as scouring the neighborhood for treats, wit a lot less mileage. If guests still want a feel of hunting for treats, organize a scavenger hunt around the house with clues pointing to hidden candy treats or ghastly tricks. You can even make your event a themed Halloween party (where everyone is required to dress in a particular way: pirates, jungle, Hawaiian, etc.) and everyone votes on the best costume.

2. The shopping circuit: Many towns and individual retailers organize trick-or-treating jaunts in area malls or shopping plazas. This way children can visit reputable stores in a safe manner and come home with candy, coupons and more.

3. Spooky sleepout: The crisp, autumn weather can be the ideal time to sleep under the stars ... or amid the tombstones. Invite a small gathering of brave friends to stake out their spots in the backyard. Scary ghost stories, s'mores and "truth or dare" type activities are a must on All Hallows Eve.

4. Treat-tasting event: What baking cookies does for Christmas, treat-tasting can do for Halloween. Invite a group of friends over to concoct and sample a host of devilishly delicious dishes. Or, host a Halloween pot luck where everyone brings their own favorites. There are plenty of recipes out there, but here's a quick idea: Crush an Oreo® pre-made pie crust to create chocolate crumbs (much easier than separating the cream from the cookies and crushing). Use the crumbs to coat frosting on cupcakes or cakes, or to cover pudding. The result looks like dirt and can be used to create small-scale gravesites, earthworm homes and so many other spooky ideas. Plus, it's the best-looking - and best-tasting - dirt you'll ever devour.

5. Be charitable: Less-fortunate children in shelters or orphanages also want to experience the joys of Halloween. See if you can organize a scary movie viewing (tailor the scariness factor to the age of the audience), or throw a Halloween bash for them to enjoy. Who knows, you may be able to get a local restaurant or store to donate some food or supplies. Not only will you have fun, you'll create an enjoyable evening for a lot of others who can use a smile and a treat.

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