Has anyone else noticed that we’ve taken another holiday to the extreme? Houses decorated so much they look like haunted houses. Lawn ornaments that howl. Elaborate Halloween or Harvest parties. Expensive costumes that are only used a few times. Halloween cookies, cakes, pies, and graveyard pudding.

6 display aisles at Target, not including the candy. And every kind of candy is repackaged into orange foil.

The expectations for Halloween or harvest time have grown unbelievably. When I was growing up, I loved Halloween. Rummaging my parent’s clothes drawer to come up with a costume. None of my friend’s parents put together their costumes for them and only rarely were any bought. I did have a plastic I Dream of Jeannie costume at one point. Not exactly expensive.
Our decorations consisted of pumpkins we carved clumsily as a family without stencils and special pumpkin carving tools. They were ugly, but they were ours. Only a few people went all out on decorations – usually because they had fun decorating, not to win some perceived neighborhood competition.

And we had fun trick-or-treating with our pillowcases (much sturdier than the new special trick or treating bags).

I don’t recall ever thinking, “Is this all there is?” about Halloween.

Why does it need to be so much bigger now? We are busier than many of our parents were, yet many feel pressure to pull off yet another magazine perfect holiday.

Here are a few tips to simplify your Halloween or Harvest season:

  • Put away most of your decorations or give them away. We have pumpkins, gourds, and a couple harvest candleholders out. The less decorations, the less you need to clean around them and the more space you have. If your house is already cluttered, putting out more decorations is not going to help.
  • Buy costumes online or let them rummage through your closets to make up a costume. My son wore a suit with different paraphernalia three years in a row to become a stockbroker, a spy and an FBI Agent.
  • Don’t host a party, unless you love to host parties. This season is busy enough.
  • Don’t drive around for hours trick or treating. Most kids get plenty of candy in the first hour or two.
  • You don’t need to make all the different treats that are out this season.
  • Enjoy cider and ready made donuts (preferably from a local cider mill).
  • Cut pumpkins the old fashioned way. If it is warm enough – carving outside is less messy.
  • If you choose not to do Halloween for religious reasons, don’t go overboard on creating another excessive holiday.
  • Ask your kids what they like about Halloween. You might be surprised.
  • Stay away from the horror films – no one needs those images in their heads. I don’t even like the commercials.
  • Is it really necessary to send Halloween cards?
  • Stop yourself when you start feeling inferior and want to whip up a gingerbread haunted house. You are choosing to simplify your holiday. Other people may choose to stay overwhelmed.

Now, I want to be clear that I am not against the fun of Halloween. I’ve been known to take the kids trick or treating as a gypsy and go overboard putting together a costume. Some people revel in their creativity providing their spooky atmosphere. And I say keep doing what you love!

What I am against in the over commercialization of what used to be mainly a homemade holiday. Instead of buying an expensive family holiday, create and have fun together. Instead of having an excessive, huge holiday simplify and enjoy.

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