Happy Haunting


Fall is here! While all the other moms are going on about pumpkin spice everything and finally getting to wear boots, I’m over here pondering Halloween costume ideas. My six-year-old daughter Vivi expects something epic for every occasion. For a girl who has found a reason to wear her dance recital costume in public at least once a month since the performance in May, a Halloween costume has to be a little bit extra. 

Last year, my mother-in-law was visiting from New York and let Vivi talk her into buying a Rey (Star Wars) costume from the Disney Store. But in years past, we’d gone a little craftier. We are fortunate to have my mom close by, and she is a whiz at whipping up any costume her only grandchild desires. 

When Vivi was 4, she wanted to be Peppa Pig. My mom sewed a red dress for her, and we added ears, a tail, pink makeup and a snout made from a fabric-covered Gatorade cap. The year before that, we went as the Scooby Doo gang. My little redhead was the perfect Daphne, while my husband Patrick and I had to work a little harder to be Velma and Shaggy. I have blonde hair and he has no hair, so we relied on cheap wigs and thrift store clothes to pull off the transformation. Two-year-old Vivi wanted to be Elsa like every other girl. I like to think the combination of her red hair with a blonde braid made her unique. When she was just one and a half, I was in charge of all the costume decision-making and dressed her as her own superhero – Ginger Snap! 

Back in the day, Halloween was a one-day event. We donned costumes, went door-to-door collecting candy, returned home and ate it. The End. Now Halloween is a month-long extravaganza of festivals, trunk-or-treats, crafting and elaborate decorations. And we are all in. 

The Emerald Coast has tons of Halloween and fall-themed family events, many of which you can find listed in the calendar section of this issue. We live in Destin, so some of our favorites are BooLu’s at Lulu’s, Fall Fest at Destin Community Center, Halloween Haunt at Destin Commons and the Destin Elementary School Fall Festival. During this week, Vivi has more costume changes than a Beyonce concert. Best of all, these events are all free or super affordable for a family on a budget. For little kids, the action-packed week leading up to Halloween can feel like a trip to Disney World! 

Another place we love to go in October is the Halloween store. Spirit usually has a pop-up shop in Fort Walton Beach/Mary Esther and another in Miramar Beach. It’s like going to a haunted house without having to wait in line or pay admission. Their creepy animatronic characters can keep Vivi entertained for close to an hour. Fair warning though, if your kid is even the tiniest bit jumpy about characters DO NOT ENTER! There is no way to get to the cute kid costumes without encountering some seriously frightening stuff.

As I write this, we are in final deliberations over this year’s costume. Some options still on the table are a pilot, Wonder Woman, Jojo Siwa (she of the giant bows) or a granny. I am certain we will run through a few more ideas before we come to an agreement. It remains to be seen if Vivi will rope us into a family costume.  

Best of luck to all you parents as you run the Halloween marathon that the month of October has become. Happy haunting! 

laura pics.JPG

Wondering what to do with all the candy your little goblins collected at the 20 fall festivals you attended? Here are some ideas!

Send It to the Troops
Check out organizations like Solders’ Angels, Operation Shoebox and Operation Gratitude. Both organizations collect your unwanted candy and send it to our military around the world for a sweet treat.

Candy Buy Back
Be on the lookout for local dentists offering to collect your candy and stave off cavities. Many will offer kids toothbrushes, floss or other trinkets as incentive.

Give to Other Kids
There are some kids who were not able to go trick-or-treating. Check in with the Ronald McDonald House or other local charities that serve kids to see if they can use it.

Save Some
There’s nothing wrong with having a secret mommy stash of candy. You earned it, girl!