By the time mid-October rolls around, the kids (and if you live in my house, the grownups) are getting excited about Halloween. Having a semi-sane Halloween with young kids involves a little planning and lots of luck.

Here are eight tips for surviving Halloween with kids younger kids (under six) and making great memories.

1. Pick the costume out early and get it out of the way

I buy my kids’ Halloween costumes as soon as they go on sale right after Valentine’s Day. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating…but not much. I snag costumes as soon as I see them in the store. I get my pick of sizes…nothing is worse than telling a four year old who wants to be Batman that there are no Batman costumes in his size anywhere within three counties.

I give my kids minimal input on costume choices. Kids under six are either too young to care about their costume or are “into” so many cartoon characters that they’ll change their minds on what they want to be for Halloween 486 times before October 30th.

If you’re one of those crafty moms who makes costumes by hand, I’m a little jealous of your skills. If you are one of those crafty moms who makes another costume because little Annabelle decided she wanted to be Sophia the First instead of Elsa two days before Halloween…well then, I say you’re batshit crazy.

2. Potty planning

Your child will have to pee at some point during the Halloween festivities. Have an idea of where and how to make that happen. If potty training is still a new thing and there’s a narrow window between “mommy I hafta pee” and an accident, you might want to rethink a costume that’s complicated to get out of.

3. Don’t try to do all the things

Trick or treating in your neighborhood? Trunk or treat at your church? And again at your mom’s church and the church down the street that don’t even attend? Your local “Zoo boo?” If you play your cards right, your kid can party hard the week leading up to Halloween and snag enough candy to keep 10 children sugared up for days…but is that a good thing?

It’s great that there are so many options for enjoying Halloween…but stop and think before you drag your small human to each and every thing just because you can.

4. Step away from Pinterest

Yes, really. Too much Pinterest will rot your brain…okay maybe not that but it might convince you that you should become a whiz at concocting Halloween crafts out of recycled yogurt containers and toilet paper rolls.  Every time you log on, Pinterest will make you feel inferior by showing you “easy” projects and treat recipes you should be making with and for your kids. And, if you’re one of those moms who bought  costumes at Cotsco, Pinterest will shame you for not caring enough to make a dinosaur costume out of felt in 104 easy-to-follow steps.

Don’t get me wrong…Pinterest is great. It’s the first place I look when I want to find a great recipe or inspiration for a party hairstyle…but this time of year, Pinterest is full of oh-so-simple looking crafty things and recipes that lure you in. The next thing you know, your fingers are stuck together with hot glue and you’ve got glitter underneath your fingernails and in other places you don’t want to have glitter…ahem.

5. Talk to your kids about what to expect

This is really simple, but sometimes we get so caught up in the frenzy that we don’t realize the Halloween festivities are new, unfamiliar and maybe overwhelming for little goblins. My two boys are five (yes, I have two five-year-olds…just let that sink in) and this is their third year trick-or-treating. I plan to go over the play-by-play with them before we head out on Halloween night. They sort of remember how it went down last year but 12 months is a long time for very young children, so don’t assume they remember the drill.

And, things change…this year, one of my boys is really afraid of all of the super scary Halloween stuff that didn’t bug him last year. Unless you plan to take your kid to a Halloween event that doesn’t involve anything scary (and those events are certainly out there), it helps to set expectations. We’ve explained to Zack that some parts of Halloween are meant to be scary and to reassure him that it’s all pretend but we avoid those houses that are really tricked out with spooky decorations. The yard littered with dismembered skeletons, tombstones and fake entrails may not the best fit for the very young trick-or-treaters…you can tell your kids “it’s not real” all day long but that might be a little too much for them to process.

6. Set limits 

This goes along with talking about expectations. I’ve found that trick-or-treating for an hour and then coming home to pass out candy works best. Younger kids might not have the stamina to walk the streets begging for candy for two hours plus. An hour works best for us and everyone knows what’s up ahead of time.

7. Have a candy plan

My candy plan is to sort through all the candy, pick out the quality chocolate and let the kids have at it for one night. I mean…it’s one night. I can handle two hyped up, sugared up kids for one night. After that, everything goes into a bowl and I dole it out…I might give a piece for good behavior or throw some in the lunchboxes. Maybe it’s the OCD in me but I like knowing beforehand how the candy is going to be handled.

If the idea of a ton of candy in the house bugs you, try adding the Switch Witch basket to your Halloween lineup. It’s a cute, decorative basket that you enjoy as part of your Halloween décor up until the big night. You use it to display your candy and then after a set number of days “the Switch Witch” comes to take the candy, replacing it with a toy or other fun thing that doesn’t involve sugar. We haven’t tried that yet but I think it’s a good idea.

And let there be no doubt, that quality chocolate is all mine.  Mini Snickers pairs well with a nice Pinot Noir.

8. Cut them some slack

Your kids probably won’t be on their best behavior on Halloween night. It’s something special and the general vibe of the evening is not the same as every other day…and really, why would it be? Expect hyperactivity, the odd tantrum or two, uncharacteristic shyness, potty accidents…and anything in between.

Teach your kids basic manners…you know, to say “Trick or Treat” properly at the doorstep and to say “thank you” when someone gives them candy or compliments their costume. Teach them not to say stuff like “ewww, that looks gross” when some old lady drops Christmas candy from two years ago into their buckets.

And then cut them some slack if they forget their manners or say something embarrassing. Chances are, nothing that happens on Halloween is going to really matter in the long run…keep things in perspective.

Bottom line, trick-or-treating with children under six might require a little more preparation and structure, but it’s totally worth it. Seeing these little kids’ eyes light up at the magic of Halloween is priceless.

This post was originally featured on Jill’s blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

Wow…October flew by, I feel as if I was just getting out the pumpkins and spiderwebs! I wanted to thank all of the What the Flicka contributors for sharing their “make stuff” and Halloween themed posts.

Jan Moyer wrote about making it together, right on theme with the values of Foodstirs…spending quality time in the kitchen allows for learning, conversation, and the sense of accomplishment, whether the cookies come out misshaped or perfectly round.

I also really enjoyed the post from Jill Robbins, on surviving Halloween with young kids. Halloween is a lot of fun…but also a lot of work. Her step-by-step guide is one to bookmark for next year.

And we can’t forget a good crafting post (because we all know how much I love to make things). Ashlen “The Kidspert” Sheaffer shared her tutorial on DIY toilet paper ghost rolls . Perfect for kids of any age and not messy or expensive (the best kind).

All of the articles were great this month, thank you Felicity for letting me be the guest editor during October! Now that all the costumes are put away (well almost) it’s time to get out the cornucopias and make hand print turkeys. Also fresh out of the Foodstirs oven is our Thanksgiving Autumn Loaf kit, because why shouldn’t some leaves be edible!?

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

If there’s one food flavor that has the ability to make me feel cozy and comfy, it’s pumpkin. Pumpkin, combined with the warmth of pumpkin pie spice flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, helps me embrace sweater weather with open arms. Although we all have well-loved favorites like pumpkin-spiced lattes and pumpkin pie it’s easy to expand our pumpkin recipe repertoire and explore new ways to use this delicious fall vegetable. (Or is it a fruit? Doesn’t matter. It’s awesome.)

Real foodies like you and me know that pumpkin packs a lot more than just great flavor. Pumpkin is a true super food and is a great addition to a healthy diet. Pumpkin is filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenoids, tryptophan, potassium, and more. The only problem with pumpkin doesn’t lie with pumpkin exactly, but instead with the ingredients often mixed with pumpkin to create some of our favorite fall foods.

That’s why I wanted to gather a list of the best real food pumpkin recipes the internet has to offer. I asked my real food blogger friends to share their real food pumpkin recipes in this yummy roundup. You’ll find everything from breakfast to dessert here and it’s all real food. That means it’s either paleo-, primal- or traditional foods/Weston A. Price-friendly. The vegetarian and vegan recipes are noted, as well.

Enjoy this delicious roundup of the best real food pumpkin recipes! Don’t miss the great pumpkin tutorials at the end with instructions on making your own fresh, pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and more!

Real Food Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes

Chocolate Stuffed Pumpkin Pancakes (primal, traditional)

Grain-Free Pumpkin Muffins (primal, traditional, paleo)

Grain-Free Pumpkin Muffins with Coconut Flour (paleo, primal, traditional)

Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread

Pumpkin Pie Refrigerator Oatmeal (traditional, vegan option)

Low Carb Pumpkin Bagels (paleo, primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Pumpkin Pancakes with Ginger Honey Butter (traditional,vegetarian)

Pumpkin Biscuits (paleo option, primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Real Food Pumpkin Dinner Recipes

Pumpkin Seafood Chowder (primal, traditional)

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Chili (traditional)

Pumpkin Curry with Coconut Rice (traditional)

Pumpkin Risotto (traditional)

Real Food Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars (primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Raw Pumpkin Dessert Recipes (raw, paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (traditional, vegetarian)

Grain-Free Pumpkin Bread with Caramel Glaze (paleo option, primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Pumpkin Pudding (paleo, primal, traditional)

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (traditional)

Pumpkin Fudge (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Banana Pumpkin Ice Cream  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Paleo Pumpkin Pie  (paleo, primal, traditional)

Pumpkin Pie Chia Seed Pudding  (traditional, primal, vegetarian)

Pumpkin Pie Snowball Cookies (paleo, primal, traditional)

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake  (primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Baked Pumpkin Donuts (traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Brownies and Almond Milk Gingerbread Latte  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Pudding Shooters  (paleo, primal, traditional)

Real Food Pumpkin Drink Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Spiced Pumpkin Chai Tea  (primal, traditional, vegan option)

Pumpkin Chai Smoothie  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie  (primal, traditional)

Holiday Pumpkin Smoothie  (primal, traditional)

Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie  (primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie with Surprise Ingredient  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan option)

Pumpkin Pie Water Kefir (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Smoothie  (primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Real Food Pumpkin Snack Recipes

Cajun BBQ Pumpkin Seeds   (paleo, primal, traditional)

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Crackers  (paleo, primal (use gluten-free option), traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Leather  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Dessert Nachos  (paleo, primal, traditional)

Maple Spice Pumpkin Butter  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Cream Cookies (primal, traditional, vegetarian)

Coconut Love Pumpkin Pie Bars  (paleo, primal, traditional, vegan)

Pumpkin Bread  (traditional, vegan)

Real Food Pumpkin Tutorials

How to Roast, Puree and Freeze Pumpkin

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Immune Boosting Pumpkin Spice Mix with Star Anise

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

This post was originally featured on Allison Goines’ blog Our Small Hours.  Photo via.

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With Halloween coming up I wanted to do something unique with a Halloween type theme. I came across this on Pinterest and I easily made it into a Witch’s Potions activity suitable for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary age kids.

I made a trip to Dollar Tree and purchased our mixing potions. I chose any apple, vanilla, or pumpkin scents of lotions, oils, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners I could find. I also added a bowl of shaving cream (only .98 cents for the can from Walmart, which was leftover from our Apple Scented Shaving Cream activity) and a bowl of canned pumpkin for the kiddos to stir in. I also bought plastic clear cups for the kids to use so they could see their creations (I’ll be re-using these for paint cups for our activities coming up).

Felcity Huffman's What The Flicka-Halloween Activity: Witch's PotionI made sure to open all of the lids for the kids. I also used food coloring to make orange and black water to mix into their potions. I wound up adding a third little table to give them more room to mix.

I dyed the shaving cream red and added in the apple spice for some extra smells.

The kids took a moment to smell each bottle and then the mixing began. They particularly loved adding in the lotions, baby oil, and conditioners more than the soaps. Next year when they do this, I’ll be sure to buy several more bottles of these things because we ran out quite quickly and I had to break into my supply of “just in case” shampoos and conditioners.Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Halloween Activity: Witch's Potion

We even had to get out our Halloween sprinkles to add on the top of the potions.

Things got messy fairly quickly……

The tables and floor may have been quite the mess, but the kids stayed surprisingly clean (in other words, no clothes were harmed in the making of the potions). Nearly 24 hours later and my kitchen still smells like soaps and shampoos and my floor is still sticky in spots (or incredibly slick from all of the soap in other spots) despite multiple scrubbings last night (our Swiffer Wet Jet got quite the work out).

I wasn’t sure how it would go over since the kid’s ages range from 2 – 6, but most of the kids loved mixing, pouring, stirring, smelling, and overall, making a huge mess. Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Halloween Activity: Witch's Potion

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

Originally posted on Ashlen Sheaffer’s blog. Featured image via.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is our guest editor here at What The Flicka for the month of October, so we couldn’t think of anyone better for this week’s #MomCrushMonday. You may know her best as Buffy, but she’s been up to a lot more lately!

Not only is she an actress, wife, and mother, but she just started Foodstirs: a health and fun focused subscription box geared toward parents! We love anything that makes spending time with our kids easier and more fun, so she’s basically a saint.

We sat down with Sarah to ask her a few questions (and get her wine recommendations, obviously). Check out what she had to say!

1. You’re a wife, a mom, an actress, and a businesswoman… how do you juggle?

Usually three soft balls or fruit, sometimes scarves, never eggs.

I rely on my family and friends for support and help. It really does take a village.

2. Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I take inspiration from everywhere and everyone, but currently I would have to say my kids. I want to be able to show them the world and teach them that there is nothing they cant accomplish if they put their minds to it. They inspire me to be the best me I can be.

3. What has been your biggest obstacle?

Obstacles just make me work harder.

4. Do you have any good wine recommendations?

Yes – whine right back at your kids…. See how they like it.

Oh my bad you said wine… I never say no to Cloudy Bay when I am in the mood for white. Right now I have to say I am very into Rosé and I love Miraval (yes that is Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s wine).

5. How do you like to relax?

What is that?

6. What is your favorite four letter word?

Sale

Can I help?

That should have been music to my ears, but as I gathered the ingredients to make brownies, muffins, and a batch of cookies as dinner was cooking, I shuddered.

I barely turned my head as I somewhat abruptly replied to my preschooler, “Not this time.”

His little shoulders slumped and he quietly said, “But I can do it. I can put the things in. I want to help.”

This is a dilemma I face every now and then. Do I slow down and allow for the extra time that his “help” will require or do I plod on by myself promising he can help next time?

The answer is both.

Sometimes it just isn’t the right moment to bond together over a mixing bowl. Some days I know myself well enough that I do not have the patience left to guide little hands as they mix and stir. There are times I do not have it in me. And that’s okay.

It’s okay because I keep my promise to have him help next time. And next time comes around quite quickly. On those days, I budget my to-do list better or shelve some chores for another day.

When I make time to bake or cook together we can slow down and taste each ingredient (now you know why we need to add sugar), lick the bowl (salmonella? What salmonella?), and talk about the importance of reading through a recipe first. They are learning the roles of various ingredients, what can be substituted in a pinch or not (flour is pretty crucial to cookies, vanilla less so).

In addition to creating good food, there is a love of baking and cooking emerging with our boys. Our oldest recently decided he was going to do a whole batch of cookies on his own. And he did a great job until he mistakenly added 1/3 cup of baking powder instead of a teaspoon. They were the fluffiest cookies I have ever tasted. Salty, but very fluffy. He will never make that mistake again.

Children learn by doing.

Kids have a better understanding of the work it takes to make a meal if they are involved sometimes in the preparation. And they are often more likely to try something new or different if they have had a role in the cooking process.

Recently I was whipping up a bunch of snack loaves and my oldest and youngest boys eagerly volunteered to grease the pans. As they coated the bakeware and themselves with butter, the little one piped up, “remember when we made our own cakes? I think mine was the winner.” A while ago, we had had a family recipe contest. Within reason, each of our four boys could concoct their own cake. Ingredients included sugar, flour, eggs, root bear, and licorice. They were surprisingly good, in part because they have been baking with us for years they had a working knowledge of what a cake needed. The recipe contest was months ago, but it was important.

Remember that time we had those salty cookies?

Remember that time you forgot to put an egg in those lemon bars?

Remember when you tried to make cauliflower crust? Don’t do that again.

So I make “next time” happen more often.

Because those are the times they remember.

Check out the rest of our #MakeStuff posts curated by our guest editor Sarah Michelle Gellar throughout October. Also, be sure to check out Foodstirs, Sarah’s subscription box focused on healthy and creative baking kits!

Photo via