It’s Halloween and the house is full of bats, skeletons, pumpkins, spiders and more. In our house, ALL holidays are well celebrated. Yes, that is mainly about me, the crazy Californian, who likes to decorate, bake and create family traditions. Over the years,
my previously “holiday free”-husband has gotten more and more into the various festivities. And, without hesitation, Ella looks forward to all the craziness that comes to the house each different holiday. The truth is, I have been creating annual traditions for my community and friends, in preparation for someday having my own future family, for many years. So, now that I have both, its great fun to share all ideas and creativity together!
Since year one, as a growing family, we have been doing Halloween activities both with our bonus family and our own household and now with little Ella. From 6 months old, Ella started to help with pumpkin carving, spooky cookie making and prep for parties and liked all the decor around the house and trick or treating to round things out.
That may all seem like the easy norm in US, however, as expats, living in Czech Republic, where Halloween has only become more popular in recent years, it’s a wildly more complicated ball game.
At least, these days, pumpkins & carving tools are much easier to find than they used to be at various farmer’s markets and home and hardware stores. Even so, we like to get creative and expand our tools and interactivity with the kids of all ages in our circle (more on that, below).
The day we bought Ella’s wonder woman costume, she had to wear it around town all day! What did we care. Yes, it was cold, but it was kind of cool and she was happy! Funny was that she automatically started putting her hands on her hips and I have no idea where she learned that as we don’t watch any superhero tv and have never even seen Wonder woman around, so it was hilarious, and this was in a time nowhere near to Halloween:)! This is where you choose your battles. I remember smiling a couple decades back as I babysat a lovely boy in California who at the same age practically lived in his pink Power Ranger suit. (You know who you are and you are one of the most rocking cool men I have known!) I will never forget how cool Cheryl was about it. He was so happy and she was so cool. It stuck with me now these many, many years later as I let that inspiration flow over into my own parenting story.
Earlier this week, Ella helped to make a simple haunted house, inspired by Clifford’s 1st Halloween, book. We used IKEA net curtains, plastic clothes pins and an old baby gate/pen, Spiders, glowing skeletons and loads of pillows. Ella was in charge of connecting the clothes pins to the netting onto our stairway. She was SO proud.
She directed and helped with pumpkin carving, as well, at our little family carving party (first picture above). We always hold it the Wednesday before Halloween. We used to do too early and then the pumpkins rotted out:( before the party. This year we used some new tools to make carving a bit easier. We found our system and had a great time with it.
This year’s tool additions:
Coconut (milk) starter
metal saw tool
led changing mini light for kids pumpkins instead of scary candles (though we still use those for the pumpkins out of reach in the window.)
And, Ms. 2 years old helped with cutting out our experimental pumpkin scrap cookies (reuse recycle recipe will be here, tomorrow), learning to always dip cutters into flour before cutting, rolling out dough with own tools, flouring silicone mat, roller and top of dough and passing to mommy to put onto each pan to bake. And, later dipped in chocolate or covered with orange icing:) to taste less.. healthy, though it still was!!
At our annual Halloween party, though scaled down a bit to fit our new financial reality we still enjoyed some fun. It was a different group than Wednesday’s carving, so we can do different things. We have our wonderful Jack-o-labterns outside on our apartment ledge, staring at our neighbors who will now know we are expats, ha ha. Annual guacamole barfing pumpkin, hot spiced cider, red wine, sparkling herb water, cut veges, duck puffs (for the kids), cheeses, bread and of course, spooky cookies & American Halloween candy! Mellow fun for the whole family.
Preparation for the festivities were surprisingly easier than in past. Even some decor and costumes can be found in local neighborhoods, these days. I still grab some dollar store items when in California, and sometimes find great things at TJMaxx on way out of New York, when possible. Yet, less suitcase real estate taken up by these things, now. Fantastic!
Being an expat in various parts of the world means you have to get creative when looking for various things. Usually, I try to find which foreign stores are around and peek in to see what they have. Halloween candy at UK owned Marks and Spencer. And one year, I was pleasantly surprised to find a cool light up haunted house for our doorway and a big headless horseman black- rain- snow globe with eery music at TkMaxx, Germany. So, you just have to keep your eyes open when beyond the borders of North America:). There are good things all over!
Today, we meet up at the square, near us, and a bunch of us will take a tram and bus (gave back the car with adios to the job) to what I call “little America”, where there are a few suburban streets all decorated and Halloweeny, behind the American International School of Prague. It truly feels like an authentic American Halloween. Its’ like stepping through a worm hole to another part of the world. That is until you get on the bus back to town and you are the only ones dressed up! Ha ha. This will be the 1st time we trek all the way our to the sticks without a car:). It will be a fun adventure!
If you are an expat, or living down the street from Halloween reality, I hope some of our fun for toddlers, getting them involved, has been helpful to you. Send us photos and comments if you try anything. Can’t wait to see your own twist of it all. Happy Halloween from the Anderssons!