Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thinking Ahead to the Holidays Part 1 - Halloween

Halloween 2011 - Red clothes from goodwill and online printables.
Some of you will cringe at the title of this post - I understand.  I am not one of those people who starts getting excited about the holidays way, way ahead of time either.  I have found, however, that if I give them some thought in advance, I can make the holiday season less hectic and more enjoyable.  For me, this is about the time I start to think about the holiday season. 

We live far from our families and our holidays are probably simple compared to those of many people.  We like them that way, and we consider a more low-key, simple holiday to be a reflection of our philosophies and beliefs.  We do not go into debt for the holidays, and we try to make them a time to enjoy family and friends, rather than running around shopping, cooking, and generally overdoing it.  With that in mind, here are some of my thoughts and plans for this year's holiday season. 

First off, I am re-reading a book I read last year that I like very much...Hundred Dollar Holiday - The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, by Bill McKibben.  If you ever feel like the holidays - Christmas in particular - have gotten out of hand for you, this book is a real inspiration when it comes to easing up on the excess and finding ways to enjoy the real purpose of the Christmas season.  This is not a terribly new book, and by getting it now, I was able to borrow it from the library with no wait time.

I am also looking through some Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas idea books so that I can plan some fun activities, menus, gifts to make, etc.  For me, doing all of that early makes more sense, even though our holidays are low-key.  And because I use the library, it means no wait time for those seasonal titles.  I am also considering (finally!) setting up an account with pinterest, so that I can gather a few ideas for each holiday....but so far, I haven't bothered.  If I make a pinterest board (is that what it's called?)  I'll share it with you, if that is allowed.

Halloween.  Halloween is not a big holiday here.  For one thing, we live in the country, and after 18 years, I think it's safe to finally say it:  No one trick-or-treats here.  Our daughter loves to trick or treat, and our next-door neighbor likes for her to stop, so we call first, come by, and they always have a really nice baggie of treats for her, but I'm pretty sure that is all the trick or treating that happens on our entire dirt road.  We take daughter to a residential area that is near here, and she trick or treats for about one street, then she is ready to go home.  Because of a generous friend whose children had outgrown some things, Daughter already has her costume for this season.  She is very excited, and I'm sure you'll see a photo or two of this year's look when the time comes!

Trick or Treating at the mall in Hawaii - Spyro, 2012

We are now part of a homeschool group as well.  Will they have a Halloween get-together?  I have no idea, but I do have some ideas for cute, healthy Halloween treats.  This is where a pinterest board might come in handy, but I can explain these to you, for now.  One is those little 'cutie' oranges, peeled, with a small piece of celery pressed into the top like a pumpkin stem.  They look amazing, and they are so simple!  The other is bananas, cut in two, with the un-cut ends facing the top.  Press in two mini chocolate chip eyes and a standard chocolate chip for a mouth, and you have a choco-banana ghost!  If we end up at a party or other gathering, this is what I plan to take.

Even though we don't get 'traffic' here, we do decorate a little for Fall/Halloween.  I have a box if things we'll get out, and we generally decorate some pumpkins for the front step.  This year, I'm not even sure our vines are going to make pumpkins.  One is blooming now, and the other is just getting started for some reason.  Germination was poor this year...you know...the year I bought premium seeds?  I guess I have to stick with the cheap seeds from here on out.  At any rate, whatever pumpkins we decorate, we'll do it without carving them - we can paint/glitter/whatever them, then scrub all that off after Halloween and use the pumpkin for pie, breads, etc.  Most of our Halloween décor is really about autumn, so it stays around for November too.

Halloween 2008, she didn't make it home awake!
There is one more thing you should know about our Halloween 'traditions'.  Ever since Daughter was old enough to trick or treat, I've pillaged her candy in order to fill her Advent calendar for Christmas.  She knows I do it, and actually thinks it's pretty neat.  So 25 of her Halloween treats go into her calendar (and a few into her parents, but hey, we drove her around to get those treats!).  One of the reasons I like doing this is because it saves a little money, but it also means she's got less candy to try and eat all at once.  Bonus - there is a lot of variety in her Advent calendar treats from day to day.

I'm popping back in to add a tip.  The candy sales that happen the day after Halloween can be a great opportunity to stock up on colorful candies for making gingerbread houses at Christmas.  By all means, raid the kid stash first, but if you need some more skittles for a roof top or something, there are lots of great discounts the day after Halloween.

What are your Halloween tricks and tips?  Do you go all-out, or is it a low-key holiday for you and yours?

Next:  Thinking Ahead to Thanksgiving...


Sheila said...

We don't spend a lot on holidays other than Christmas. The thing that has eased my stress about Christmas spending more than any other thing has been starting a savings account where money is automatically transferred to that every month and never touching that money until Christmas time. I have done it long enough that I don't even think about it any more.

Laura said...

That's a great way to do it - much better than going into debt and paying Christmas off over the course of the following year! We have a 'gift' envelope where we put some money each month, but it's really more for things that come up during the year, like birthdays. Still, there are times when there are some funds remaining there, and we can use those at Christmas. When I get to the Christmas post, I'll talk a little more about our philosophy about Christmas, spending, etc. :)


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