1. Try on the Costumes, Again: Even if you just purchased your family costumes a couple of weeks before Halloween, pull them out again 3 days before Halloween. If you or your children will be wearing the costumes prior to Halloween (to school or an early party), pull out the costumes 3 days prior to that event. Have every child, adult, and pet try them on again. Include all accessories (tights, masks, hats, shoes, gloves, jewelry, props, etc...). Check for fit, tears that could have occurred when taken off the last time, wrinkles, missing buttons, missing accessories, and itchy costumes that need a solution now rather than on Halloween night. After ensuring that everything fits and is ready to go, place all of the accessories needed for the completed look (even make-up) in the same bag. The hanger bags that costumes often come in are perfect. If all of the accessories don't fit in the costume's hanging bag, get a jumbo-sized Ziploc bag and place the overflow items into the bag, zip it up, then hole-punch it and add it to the hanger.
2. Walk in Your Shoes (or flippers, mermaid tails...): A week prior to Halloween, start wearing your shoes around the house each day and take them for a stroll on the pavement. This will help loosen them up and add scuffing on the bottom of the shoes to make slips less likely.
3. Get Your Candy & Bowl Early: By the time Halloween rolls around, Halloween candy and décor have been in the stores for months! Save the headache of a mad dash to the store because you forgot to provide for the trick-or-treaters. Get the candy (or your preferred treats) as soon as it appears on the shelves. Put it all in a decorative bowl (or bag made of recyclable materials) and hide it from your kids!
4. Let Your Children Know the Schedule: This year, Halloween is on a Wednesday. That means preparations for a school night must be made. To make things run smoothly, follow these steps. Go ahead and fill those lunchboxes before the festivities begin. Let your kids know the plan. If you tell the kids in advance when they will be eating dinner, when they will be getting dressed up, and when they will start and stop trick-or-treating, things will go much more smoothly. Also, tell them when bath time will be, bed time, and how many pieces (if any) of treats they are allowed to add to their lunchbox on Thursday.
5. Know Your Trick-or-Treating Route: Plan out where you will trick-or-treat ahead of time. Use an app to plan your route. Better yet, go old school and get on the web and print a detailed map of the neighborhood and highlight your route. This will prevent you from getting confused in the dark, allow you to plan in advance for safety, and gives you any easy clear-cut way to tell the kids when the route is complete. A printed map with a highlighted route allows you to sneak some education in the mix!
6. When to Decorate: You don't have to decorate at any particular time. It's okay to be early; it's okay to be right on time. The important "when" in decorating is to ensure your entire family is available at the same time so that you can make it into a fun family activity. Try to avoid one person having to do the decorations after a long day's work, or after a long day of chasing after the children. If you are a perfectionist, and want every decoration placed just so, try to give in a little. See what your kids' creativity leads to.
7. Reusable Decorations and Packing Away: Try to use as many reusable decorations as possible (ex. peel-off window displays) so that you will be ready to go next year. If you don't have any (or if your decorations get ruined this year), take advantage of the after-Halloween sales. However, be sure to pack them all away in an organized manner, using sealed plastic containers. Only buy what you have room for within your storage containers. After the items are packed up, label the containers as "Halloween Decorations" and be sure the labels are clearly visible however they are stored.
8. Dinner on Halloween: Consider eating leftovers before setting out for trick-or-treating. Or, go pick up some healthy fast food choices before the goblins start to roam the streets. Make it a quick and easy dinner that the kids will be sure to eat before being exposed to all of that candy.
9. Mark it all Down: Mark all of the tips given here and your own Halloween plans on a calendar that the entire family can view. Add things like, walk in your shoes, try on costumes, and buy treats for trick-or-treaters. If you are throwing a party for Halloween, be sure to follow a detailed to-do list with a time frame. You can find and print a great "planning-a-party-guide" at realsimple.com.
10. Stay-at-Home Fun: There are a lot of Halloween events going on around town that are fun, but can be costly. Pick your family's favorites, then make some special, yet simple, at-home celebrations. One idea is to pop popcorn and watch a Halloween movie as a family. Adding pillows and blankets makes this activity all the more exciting. Check out the Top Ten Halloween Movies provided by realsimple.com (https://www.realsimple.com/magazine-more/inside-website/daily-finds/best-halloween-movies)