Living in an apartment with kids presents certain challenges: outdoor play time, noise issues, space – but during the holiday season, it can get particularly tricky (and not very treat-y.) It is almost time for kids everywhere to put on their costumes and head out in search of candy. If you live in an apartment community, this may present some challenges – especially if there aren’t a lot of kids in the area.
Some families choose to drive to a nearby neighborhood and trick-or-treat. Others choose to go to a more formal trick-or-treat location (when I was a kid living in Florida, the mall was our go-to place. The stores would post someone out front with candy and we’d trick-or-treat from the tiny boutiques to the large anchor stores). But there are ways to enjoy this holiday without leaving home.
First of all, consider the benefits of apartment-complex trick-or-treating: with the units close together, you’ll get done faster and earlier. Kids won’t be near busy streets, and if your building is indoors, the kids don’t have to worry about a heavy coat covering their cute (or scary) costumes. And this is an excellent way to get to know your neighbors. If your apartment complex is already actively trick-or-treating every year, then you’re all set – you just have to grab your plastic pumpkin container and hit the hallways.
If this will be a new venture, check with your apartment manager first. If you are given the green light, your manager may want to set some ground rules. First, it should be made clear to everyone participating that only the decorated doors or the doors with a light on (or perhaps a sign) may be approached. Some apartment complexes make up a map, showing participating apartments. Trick-or-treaters use it as a guide through the complex (this sounds like fun – almost like a treasure hunt for candy.) Also, a time frame should be set – from 6 pm to 8 pm, for example. And all children should be accompanied by a parent – even the older ones. A group of pre-teens can get loud or rowdy without a parent to supervise, so take pity on your non-participating neighbors and go with them. With clear ground rules posted or distributed to everyone, the evening should go smoothly.
If your apartment manager doesn’t want to allow door-to-door trick-or-treating, ask about setting up elsewhere – in a community area or in the club house, for example. Everyone who wishes to participate brings a chair and some treats (and perhaps some hot apple cider for the adults), sets up, and the kids can make their rounds that way. This can turn into a lot of fun – if your complex is pet-friendly, you may even consider asking pet owners (of well-behaved pets) to bring them out on a leash in costume. Have a pet costume contest and hand out dog treats. This is a super way to get to know your neighbors – sitting around chatting, handing out candy, and sipping cider. This may even become an annual tradition, creating a strong sense of community in your complex.
If on-site trick-or-treating is simply out of the question, consider going to a festival or haunted house instead. If you can find other families with children to go along, it can be just as much fun as trick-or-treating – and a lot less sticky! You may also consider a “trunk or treat” event (these are sometimes hosted by churches, or you can do your own). Everyone invited drives to a designated parking lot and opens a candy-filled trunk. The kids go trunk-to-trunk – a fast and safe solution to the traditional trick-or-treating.
No matter how you choose to spend October 31, keep basic safety rules in mind. Be sure to inspect candy before your kids eat it, make sure costumes fit properly, and don’t allow children to wear masks that obstruct vision – face paint is a much safer (and more comfortable) alternative. Use reflective tape on costumes if you will be outdoors and give kids flashlights. Remind your kids to never go inside someone else’s place – candy should always be handed out from the doorway. And whether you travel to a nearby neighborhood, trick-or-treat in your complex, or stay in to watch movies – have a fun (and spooky!) Halloween.