The Importance of Sweet Traditions

Nina Garcia shares her favorite Halloween activities

My husband and I believe in the importance of establishing traditions with our sons like our parents did for us. It gives our children something to look forward to year after year, something to depend on and something for them to remember long after they realize we aren’t as cool as we pretend to be. Every holiday is marked by its own special routines in the Garcia-Conrod household. For example, each Halloween we always throw a party for friends and family. Guests come dressed up in their costumes, and we have activities and treats for the kids—and some special treats for the adults. Leading up to that party, we also have several other traditions, which I have listed below. Please share some of your favorite Halloween ideas and recipes in the comments section!

Go Pumpkin Picking

Find a pumpkin patch near you and plan a day where you and your family can all spend the afternoon choosing your own pumpkins for decorating and carving. Make sure to bring your camera—there really is no better photo backdrop in October. Click here for state by state listing of pumpkin patches—some of these places include hayrides, corn mazes and other Halloween fun.

Carve Jack-O'-Lanterns or Paint Pumpkins

If you are new to pumpkin carving, here is a link to some beginner templates you can follow. Once you have those mastered, you can delve into the hundreds of more intricate patterns here. As you carve, have your children paint their own pumpkins and add glitter, jewels and stickers. This is a perfect party activity for kids of all ages. The Michaels Web site has a some great ideas and also provides links to buy the supplies you need.

Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds after you carve your jack-o-lanterns. Use them to make a healthy and yummy batch of roasted pumpkin seeds. Start by trying this simple recipe and then get adventurous with some spicy, sweet and salty versions.

Make Your Own Treats

If you are like me, you have already been lost in the black hole of the Internet with some of the crazy and craft Halloween food ideas. A few favorites that we are trying this year include Scary Eyeball Cookies, Popcorn Balls, and Candy Apples. And you can always resort to adding candy corn and M&M's to regular old cupcakes if you’re too busy creating homemade costumes (or running back to the story for more candy because somebody—not you, of course—keeps eating the stash for the trick-or-treaters).

Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

It really isn’t Halloween until you have snuggled up with your kids to watch this classic. Unbelievably, it first aired in 1966 and it just never gets old. ABC airs it every October 31 at 8 p.m. EST, but if you can’t wait that long, order a copy to have on hand year after year.

Linus: You've heard of the fury of a woman scorned, haven't you?

Charlie Brown: Yeah, I guess I have.

Linus: Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of trick-or-treats.

-excerpted from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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