Overseas Halloween Dilemma (or maybe it’s not)


Jack-o’-lantern by wwarby’s photostream via flickr

October is here and Halloween is only a few weeks away.  This holiday is typically a LOVE or HATE type of holiday. People either love it and go all out with hanging skeletons and witches all over the yard, while others not so much and don’t participate in any of the activities. Instead, they may decorate with fall leaves, happy cute jack-o’-lanterns, and Indian corn. Whichever side you are on (or what country you are in), with children you have to plan ahead.

Living overseas doesn’t mean that all holidays must be done away with, but it will take some planning to make them happen. Here are some ideas to plan for Halloween. (for those that don’t celebrate, scroll down for ideas on that)

1. Decorations, Candy Corn, and Costumes. It is possible that you can find some of these things in the city/country you live in, but maybe not. This is where planning ahead helps. Have those grandparents, aunts and uncles mail some of this stuff to you. Kids LOVE care packages, and I’m sure you don’t mind them either. =) As for costumes, you might just make your own or have a local tailor make something for you.

2. Trick or Treat. Assume that this holiday is not celebrated in the country you are living in, but don’t assume that no one celebrates. Check and see if any of the expat hangouts are holding a Halloween party for kids. If they are not, why not get with a few other parents and plan a simple one?   *Note that if there is a party, you might want to check the age appropriateness of the party just so you don’t scare your toddler to tears and don’t bore your teen to the point of no return.

If you live in the Paris area, I do know that Disneyland Paris is celebrating Halloween Mickey style. You can get more details about that at this blog post by Selenapan9, an expat mom. If you are heading to Hong Kong Disneyland or Tokyo Disney Resort, then you might want to check out what they are planning.

My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but we still plan ahead for it. We decorate for fall, which is sort of hard to do when you live in a more tropical setting. But, here is a list of our traditions that we do during the fall season.

1. Fall Tree. We create a fall scene on a wall. Sometimes this wall is inside the apartment, other times it is by our door. We use large brown butcher paper to make the tree. Then I let the kids cut out leaves from fall colored construction paper to hang up on the tree and on the ground. Later, I let the kids cut out paper pumpkins and they taped them up under the tree.

2. Scarecrow. We make a scarecrow together. Living in the city we don’t have straw, so we use newspaper to stuff the overalls and shirt. Last year we placed him outside our door for a few days, and then had to bring him inside. He scared our neighbor girl, so be aware of your neighbors. 😉

3. Pumpkin carving. Last year we were able to find pumpkins, so we made it a family project and carved them together. The kids LOVED this!

4. Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! together. I keep this DVD put away until October, and then we watch it together to celebrate the changing of the season. If we get a fall care package we’ll pull out the goodies, too.

5. Talk to our kids. If you choose to not celebrate a holiday, I believe you need to inform your children about the holiday and why you, as a family, don’t celebrate. We explained this to our kids when they were old enough to understand it all. I’m sure we’ll have some questions again this year, as our youngest is only 6.

Our kids start their fall break tomorrow. Guess I need to pull out some of our decorations and that DVD out tonight. They’ll be excited to get started.

Does your family celebrate Halloween? How do you celebrate? If you don’t what are some of your fall traditions? Please leave a comment below.