Why I Hated Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.I wasn’t the kind of parent who produced daily  science/art/math projects for my children, or thought up of special field trips once a week, or was creative in any way.

In my mind, that meant I didn’t stack up any “good parenting” awards. I hated working on anything “arts & crafty,” which included just about everything except reading a children’s book out loud.

So when school began each year, and the air became crisper, leaner, more aromatic, I began to gnaw my fingernails.

Halloween would arrive sooner than I wanted, and any time was too soon.

Because I hated Halloween.

I just wasn’t good at it.

“What can I be this year? young daughter would ask by mid-October.

And every year, I’d respond the same: “A gypsy?”

Halloween, costume, gypsy costumeI have photos of her when she was 4, and 5, and 6 (and beyond!) wearing one of my old patterned skirts and a worn down shirt, strands of costume necklaces, a bunch of bangles, a neck scarf around her head, and lots of red rouge and lipstick.

Viola! A gypsy girl.

My little boy, however, came home with tales of his friends’ moms making them elaborate ghost costumes, or turning them into Luke Skywalker, or even worse, fashioning cardboard boxes into honest-to-goodness real looking silver rockets.

“No,” I always stated. Sadly, yet defiantly. “Your mom doesn’t do that.”papter bag, Halloween

So most Halloweens, my boy insisted on wearing a paper bag over his head, with holes for the eyes, and a pair of my old cowboy boots.

“I’m a monster,” he’d insist, year after year.

But the year our family splurged for a vacation to Hawaii, I got clever.

Not artsy crafty, but clever.

I came home with children-sized Hawaiian shirts, grass Hula skirts, and plastic leis. When I showed the kids their Halloween costume the third week of October, the expressions were less than enthusiastic, but they appeased me and wore them on the 31st.

Halloween costume

Happy Halloween…?

That was the year my boy’s best friend’s mom sewed her little guy a huge green Tyrannosaurus outfit, the kind that could win a ‘BEST KID’S COSTUME IN THE WORLD’ award. Trexbig

My daughter’s best friend’s mom dressed her little pumpkin in a glittery pink and purple fairy queen outfit with gossamer fairy wings and sparkly silver shoes that lit up when she walked.

My children came home from trick or treating early that year, claiming they were tired, no joyous shouts as they counted their candy treasure.

I suggested they change best friends.

Then I castigated myself for not being a good creative parent.

However …

            Every October

                         I read to my kids

                                    a LOT of terrific Halloween books.

That should count, shouldn’t it?

Halloween books, Halloween

41 thoughts on “Why I Hated Halloween

  1. Ha Ha, reading to them may be better in the long run but no points for Mummy in the short term. How about checking the kids costumes on ebay which can be many and varied without being expensive. You could create a wardrobe of dressing up clothes since this is also good for their imagination. Or maybe you have a service you could swap with another Mum who has sewing skills? If you buy some old material and they make it up.
    One old favourite from my daughter’s dressing up days was the headless woman. using an old dress of yours which goes above her head, just add padding and a bloody neck ( a polystyrene jewellery stand from ebay) and then either a well painted of papier mache balloon under the arm.
    Frankenstein for boys should be easy with a too big jacket of Dad’s, some green eye shadow and neck bolts applied to an alice band he can wear round his neck? Have fun.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


    • Oh, I love all of these ideas. However, when my little kiddies were Halloweening, there was no e-bay! (believe it or not, and I don’t, they are now 31 and 33 – and I’m sure perpetually scarred from my lack of artsy crafty abilities…)

      But, I’m going to pass on your idea of a headless woman (or man) to my daughter-in-law (who loves dressing her three little boy monsters on Halloween). That is a brilliant costume! Actually, same with the Frankenstein. Jeez, wish I’d known you 20 years ago!!!


  2. Once again you strike a cord…my Mom the night before Halloween would ask me “what are you going to be for trick or treating”? She wanted nothing to do with the costume. She sewed beautifully, as you know, and was happy to go thru my candy and pick out her favorites when I got home, but I was on my own thinking up a disguise. Several years I filched a white pillowcase out of the linen closet and cut out 2 eyes, a bum was a popular choice since I borrowed a flannel shirt and old hat from Dad then just dirtied my face, one year my grandma gave me her old bathing suit – a sailor dress of navy blue wool – I almost died from being so hot, I can’t believe she ever wore it in the summertime and she would have sunk if it got wet!
    So, then I get my own kids. Starting with what seemed like the first day of school, they would suggest a million ideas for Halloween costumes. Thank goodness our daughter started ballet young and she was happy wearing her recital outfit from the spring! But, our son….we cut eyes out of white pillowcases, borrowed Dad’s flannel shirt, put a baseball cap on and dirtied his face – another generation of ghosts and bums! We lived on a small street out in the boonies, so those dozen houses were the only places they trick or treated and they were happy.
    I love fall! It is my favorite season! Pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn,cornstalks, apple cider – wonderful! Halloween, no thanks.


  3. But, I forgot about the Best Halloween Ever! Last year. The lake always has a Halloween Parade for kids and grandkids, followed by a picnic of hot dogs, cider and s’mores. We are usually at Capon and miss it, but last year we had our then 3 yr old granddaughter up for that weekend and her clever Mom had made an enchanting Tinkerbell costume. She waved her wand and had a wonderful time. After the picnic, she asked if she could go see Nana. Nana was in a rehab facility recovering from an intestinal blockage. But, I loved that she wanted to show Nana (her great grandmother) herself all dressed up, so off we went. The smiles on all the residents as she skipped down the hall saying “hi! I’m Tinkerbell ” made it a very special Halloween indeed. Thanks, Pam, for reminding me…now I’m going to go have a little happy/sad memory cry…..


    • Oh Carla, you have me laughing and crying at the same time. First, you had to have been the most adorable bum in the little town of Pitman. You would have been a perfect gypsy too – same concept. And yes, I like your ballet recital Halloween costume for your little girl – mine wore her leotard one year with pink frilly tutu, pink ballet slippers and a crown and a baton – that was a favorite of both of us, I believe.

      But your granddaughter’s skipping trip down the halls of the rehab facility – beautifully tearfully triumphantly spectacular.


  4. YES!!! We never had money–to do the costumes, even if I had wanted or been crafty enough to do. Most of the candies, with numerous allergies and migraines, were a definate NO anyway. I think that some of my best thinks about costumes, the ones that won the kiddos cuddos at least, came from wearing ‘normal’ clothes but speaking with signs or actions. One year, I let them go out in footed jammies, after dinner (how smart THAT, no fighting and changing later!) and an empty pillow case. I covered the pizza pan with foil and hung it round my neck with string. We were Winken, Blinken, and Nod–by the light of the silvery moon. Another year, I put them into their gym uniforms, slapped Christmas deer antlers with ribbons and bells onto the girls’ heads wrapped some strands of yarn, handed these to my son who wore an elf hat, and gave him a sign that said Reindeer Trainer. They thought that one was soooo STUPID–they won money baby!

    My eldest E, made me read to her-and an entire gathering of other dorm residents, the Teeny Tiny Ghost, every darn year for three days in a row. (rolls eyes). They all chipped in and got a copy so they could see the pictures while I read it with the voices. Stories are FUN!


  5. As a kid I was lucky enough to have killer costumes; my grandmother was a seamstress and she loved to create something cool for me.

    But, costumes aside, I always hated Halloween. I felt weird going house to house begging for tiny “fun size” pieces of candy that I might not even like.

    I felt like I was doing a lot of work for very little benefit. And that work involved being put on display for strangers, which weirded my out a little.

    So I went into early retirement and segued into the handing-out-candy role without any regrets.


    • Velllllly interesting (as a cartoon vampire once said, right?). You were a philosopher and “interpreter of life” and old soul even when you were young. I’m not surprised one bit. Yes, a too-wise little boy should ponder the necessity of entertaining the old farts at home just for a tiny piece of candy. I like your attitude, and wish I’d inspired a little of that in my own kids. They, unfortunately, wanted the costumes and the bags of loot.


  6. I’ll probably be the mom that scours ebay for stuff already put together at a reasonable price. We’ve also got a lot of discount stores around here with decently priced costumes. Of course my kids would probably end up going as people the other kids hadn’t heard of because of my extensive taste in odd movies and shows. 😉

    Tell your kids they’ve got it lucky. All we had were nasty pieces of sheet plastic with the costume printed on it and a crap plastic mask. Now costumes are sweet! I’m still feeling envious for my kid self.


    • That is so true – I could definitely tell my kids ‘you got lucky, the costume could be plasticky junk.’ Yes, kids have it MUCH better these days than we did.

      But I’m still wondering if that’s a good thing…


  7. Man…I TOO hate(d) Halloween! I despise it! I want it to DISAPPEAR! Thank goodness the kids are gone and we’ve been ousted by our friends who love(d) Halloween. Life is too short to try to pretend.


    • There you go – I like the DITCH HALLOWEEN attitude.

      Also, there must be quite some story about the friends who ousted you. Well, they had a problem anyway, if they loved Halloween.


  8. Funny, as a child I hardly noticed Hallowe’en and, as a parent, our kids weren’t bothered one bit. It’s a bit of a non-event here really. I believe its origins were from the feast of Samhain in Pagan Ireland and the festivities were brought to America by the Irish emigrants.


    • Good point. In the U.S., Halloween has become a bigger and bigger event every year. I can’t figure out why. The newspapers give statistics about how much money people spend each year on Halloween – costumes, candy, decorations – and the line on the chart goes up up up. I don’t get it.

      I’m all for pagan celebrations, but this has gone too far! :-0


  9. Pam, if you’re looking for a sweet Halloween book, my kids – at home and in the classroom – loved The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Stephen Kroll. Linz just ordered it for Celia and Gwenny from Amazon and they are enjoying it, too!


      • Pam, your post really resonated with me as my daughter’s BIRTHDAY is ON Halloween. Imagine the pressure! One year (and one year only) I gathered up enough courage to make her a Unicorn costume. It was pretty cool, I must admit. She loved it. I decided since I couldn’t top the Unicorn in the future store-bought costumes would do. BTW, she loved those, too :-).


        • You’ve beaten me on the ‘tough Halloween choices’ with a birthday on top of the same day. Ouch. You get gold star mother award for making her a most beautiful unicorn costume, and gold star plus for realizing you should never try to outdo yourself on another Halloween!


  10. I was a gypsy one year! A politically-incorrect Indian princess another year, loads of other things I can’t remember. I don’t think I was very creative as a mom, and as a grandmother, I don’t have to worry about it – it’s someone else’s job now! Mostly my grands are happy with store-bought.


  11. That was really funny. I was totally raised by a Mom who lacked creativity (or energy, with 5 kids) in the Halloween area and I am pretty sure I had a string of years in which I dressed as a gypsy as well. Then I moved on to being a hippy. All courtesy of the parental wardrobe.


  12. I enjoyed your post; although, I was one of those moms who made elaborate costumes, until she was old enough to make her own. To this day my daughter’s favorite fun day is Halloween. I still enjoy giving out candy to the few children who still trick-or-treat in my neighborhood. But we aren’ all alike and that is the very thing that makes the world and people such a delight. You are a delight to read. 🙂


    • Thank you for still liking me, and my writing, even though I failed as a costumey parent. You are my hero(ine). Truly, if you had lived nearby when my kids were in the trick-or-treat stage, I would have come to your doorstep with hands in prayer arrangement, asking for Halloween help.
      By the way, you have delightfully made my day. THANKS.


  13. We loved Halloween! And I loved making costumes…never very crafty and usually out of cardboard boxes – everything from robots, to TV sets, to a box of popcorn. I miss those days!


  14. My mom’s not good with a sewing machine. I’d usually decide what I wanted to be at the store and we’d get a cheap kid’s costume. 🙂


  15. Ha, yes! I’ve often aspired to be an arty crafty kind of parent, not just at halloween, any time, but it’s never worked out well. Halloween has generally consisted of just going to the store and buying a complete costume, but this year funds aren’t allowing for that, I tried the “Now that you guys are 11 and 14, you don’t actually still want to dress up for halloween do you?” approach, but apparently they do. So for my son, we’re putting cuts and slashes into an old white t-shirt and trousers, and then putting some red paint dragged bloodied handprints on them, and splatters (that’ll work right?). My daughter is making her own catwoman type thing which I’m sure will be good and much better than anything I could make!


    • So, yes, exactly that’s the way it ended for me. My daughter became artsy crafts Martha Stewartyx10. Ack! She has three little ones 4 and under and guess how creatively they’re dressed up for Halloween? It’s downright scarily spooky. My son calls wearing dress shoes, ‘dressing up for Halloween,’ so a paper bag would now be too much for him. My take? Whatever our kids are at 10, they’ll be that, but even more, as adults.


  16. So funny. This was exactly like my mom and me. She was not creative at all, but I got all the Martha Steward genes. It didn’t matter though. It was all about the candy anyway.

    And reading to your kids is better than anything else. 🙂


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