How to Have a Happy and Safe Halloween

Halloween

Halloween is synonymous with sugar. The whole idea of trick or treat is really mostly treat so kids always look forward to this holiday.

Here are a few tips to keep your kids – no matter what age – happy and safe halloween as they scour the neighborhood for candy.

Costume Choices are Critical

When choosing a store bought costume make sure it repels fire and if you’re making it at home, ask the sales clerk about whether the material is fire resistant. This goes for material, wigs and masks.

One of the scariest things that can happen to a smaller child is that the mask she is wearing obscures her vision. Opt for a mask with large eye and mouth holes or, better yet, use a hypoallergenic face paint instead.

Light colors are easier for drivers to spot on dark streets and slapping some reflective tape on a costume will give you added peace of mind.

For smaller kids, make sure they aren’t wearing high heeled shoes that could be a trip hazard. And any props like wands should be short and flexible.

Safety First

Kids under 12 should have a chaperone or go in a group with an adult. Older tweens and teens should have a curfew.

If your kids plan to go trick or treating with a group, ask who she will be with and what the planned route is. And reinforce that she should call you from time to time just to check in and let you know she’s okay. If possible, suggest that the group go up a well-lit street on one side and down the other side to avoid crisscrossing the street.

Talk about what might happen if she is invited inside the home of people she doesn’t know and give her a way to back away from a situation like that easily.

 

Check the Loot Before They Eat It

Sift through the booty before doling some out to your kids. Not only will this give you a chance to see what’s there, you can pick through the pieces you like too.

Toss any candy with a torn or loose wrapper. Unless you know that your neighbor made the toffee apples, dump anything that isn’t wrapped.

If you think your child will scarf down candy on the go, try filling him up with pasta or pizza before he heads out the door.

You might talk with your kid about giving some of her Halloween candy to kids who are home bound or hospitalized and can’t go trick or treating.

Stress Free Visitors

For your home, make sure to use battery powered candles or, if you want to light a carved pumpkin, a votive candle is safest.

Make sure to pick up any rugs that could cause a trick or treater to trip and light up your porch and walkway for good access.

Carving Up Ol’ Jack

Pumpkin carving is a great activity with your kids but must be supervised. Let littler kids scoop out the innards with their hands. Pick up any flesh and seeds that fall to the floor and remember to save the seeds for roasting.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

[Image 1] [Image 2]

Party Drinks for Kids

13-12-2 pina coladas 900x603

Holiday parties are a time for family and friends to get together to celebrate. Hosting a party is fun and rewarding, but it takes a little extra consideration to make sure that everyone feels included. Non-alcoholic party drinks for kids will let them feel like a part of the grown up crowd.

Tropical, Fruity Drinks

Children are attracted to bright colors, which makes tropical fruity drink variations a sure hit at any gathering. Sweet punches are easy to make and can be modified in ways that appeal to the younger taste, and also fit the theme of the holidays.

Lime Sherbet Punch

  • 2 Quarts of Lime Sherbet
  • 2 Liters of Ginger Ale or Sprite
  • 1 Can of Pineapple Juice
  • Assorted Fruit (orange slices, Maraschino cherries)

Mix all of the ingredients into a big bowl. This punch is a bright, festive green color. The additional fruit and floating sherbet dress up the presentation, intriguing kids to take a taste. If they're old enough, let them stir up the punch. You can also make ice cubes in advance using the juice instead of water.

Mocktails

Non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks are perfect for teenagers who want to taste classic recipes but are not yet old enough for liquor. Consider having a signature cocktail for the night, one for adults and one suitable for the kids to drink. A Pina Colada is simple to make, and can be dressed up for a holiday party with creative garnishes.

Virgin Pina Colada

  • 1/4 Cup of Ice
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Cup of Coconut Milk
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple Chunks

Blend all of these ingredients for up to 4 servings at a time. To make a few batches ahead of time, repeat the recipe and add the finished product into a punch bowl.

Serving Tips

Let the kids use fancy cocktail glasses or holiday theme glasses for their drinks, but be sure they are easy to distinguish from the ones used by adults. Let them have fun decorating their drinks with an assortment of garnishes that can be set out buffet style. Demonstrate how to add a wedge of fruit to the side of the glass. Also create small skewers of cherries, grapes, and other small fruit to make non-alcoholic drinks as fun as real cocktails.

 

Holiday Help From the Kids

13-11-18 boys doing dishes 900x597

The holidays are here and moms across the world are working way too hard to get everything prepared. If you haven't enlisted them already, it's time to let the kids do some of the work for you. Kids love helping in the kitchen and there are ways they can do so without being in the way or needing too much supervision. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Dishes

While you are cooking, you build up a huge collection of dishes used for cooking. Measuring spoons, bowls and cups pile up quickly. Everything starts collecting in the sink. These are the kinds of things that kids can wash, or rinse off and put in the dishwasher. Even the youngest ones can get involved and help the older ones.

Cooking

One of the biggest duties of a cook is stirring and mixing. Children can help with that. The older ones can even do the stirring on the stove top. The little ones can help mix the ingredients for you. There are even recipes that are easy for kids. They can make puddings or fun colored gelatins. Or they can make some very easy peanut butter cookies:

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg

Directions:
Mix all ingredients until a large ball is formed. Break the ball into 16 similar sized balls. Mash with fork in two directions on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 16 minutes.

In this recipe, the younger kids can do everything but put the cookies in the oven.

General Cleaning

Young children love to clean more than you might think. Give them a broom and they will do the best impression of sweeping the floor that they can. As they get older, they tend to grow out of this, so take advantage of it while you can! Give them a broom. Give them a duster. When they are old enough, let them run the vacuum, especially if you have a smaller, lightweight type. They will feel all grown up. Make sure to let them set the table; they love that. Teaching them to set a nice holiday table is not only a big help to you, but will give them something valuable to be proud of, too!

Conclusion

Children love to feel needed. They love helping adults because it makes them feel important and useful. The holidays are a great time to help improve their confidence by letting them do a lot of the chores, and you can have more time to enjoy the festivities.

 

Holiday Side Dishes

13-11-4 green bean casserole 900x600

Simple Holiday Side Dishes for the Busy Mom

The holidays are supposed to be a time for relaxing with family. Between entertaining, cooking and taking care of kids, however, we are usually left feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So to make meal planning a little bit easier this year, here are three fool-proof vegetable holiday side dish recipes. Best of all, these dishes can all be baked at the same temperature, making it easy to cook several sides at once.
Green Bean Casserole
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup diced onion
1 cup sour cream
3 (14.5 ounce) cans green beans or equivalent frozen beans
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup crumbled butter crackers
1 Tablespoon melted butterMelt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour, and cook for one minute. Add in salt, sugar, onion, sour cream and green beans. Stir until coated.Pour mixture into a 2 ½ quart casserole dish. If preparing the day before, cover and refrigerate overnight.Sprinkle cheese over casserole. Toss cracker crumbs and melted butter together, then add that over the cheese.Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Baked Asparagus Side Dish

1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegarArrange trimmed asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.Bake asparagus for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, and pour over asparagus before serving.Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
2 pounds thawed hash brown potatoes
½ cup melted butter
10.75 ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
8 ounces sour cream
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepperMix hash browns, butter, soup, sour cream, onion, cheeses, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a 3 quart baking dish.Cover and refrigerate if preparing the day before.Bake covered for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.These holiday side dishes were created with the busy mom in mind. Both the green bean and hash brown casseroles can be prepared the day before. Then, you only need to worry about placing each of dishes in an oven at 350 degrees F together. These vegetable and potato sides are sure to be hit at your holiday table.

Planning a Potluck

13-10-28 holiday potluck (Thanksgiving)900x600

Many of us have experienced a tightening of our financial belts in recent years. We'd like to have a lavish holiday gathering, but we just can't afford it. Others may have young children and don't have the time or energy to cope with entertaining a big crowd. How can you solve this problem? The answer is:  have a potluck dinner.

Plan now how many guests you can accommodate and whether you want to invite family, friends or both. Do you want to have this potluck dinner on the actual holiday or around the holidays? Are you are going to send written invitations, e-mail invitations or call your family and friends?

If your party is on the actual holiday you may want to cook a turkey or ham, and have everyone else bring side dishes and dessert. You could assign them (or ask their preference) a category of salad, side dish or dessert to ensure the meal will be well balanced. If any of your guests have special dietary needs, they will probably want to bring their own choice. Don't forget to have some kid friendly food available. If your party is not on the actual holiday, you could plan a theme for the meal, focusing on Italian food, Mexican food or other ethnic cuisine, and simply let everyone bring their favorite dish.

Your table decorations can be inexpensive if you use natural materials and fabrics in fall colors. Consider using a runner of russet, yellow, or brown burlap down the center of your table. Burlap can be cut and fringed, and doesn't need hemming. For a center piece, fill your prettiest bowl or a wicker cornucopia with fresh fruit to show the bounty of the harvest. Oranges, grapefruit and apples will provide fall colors. Entwine a few springs of ivy or other greens among the fruit for contrast. Some brightly colored leaves from the yard could also be added to you table décor. Pick up holiday paper napkins and possibly holiday paper plates from the grocery store, and your table is done.

Then all you have to do is make sure the house is clean and you are looking your best when you open the door to your guests. Since they are bringing most of the food, you can relax and enjoy being with your family or friends at this wonderful holiday time.