Halloween activities and food

Finn and Honolulu Mother have some thoughts about Halloween.

by Finn

Halloween is coming up soon, a fact of which you are well aware if your kids (or you) have been watching the Disney Channel, which has been trying to turn the entire month of October into Halloween.

This year it’s on a Saturday, which will change its dynamic relative to the more common weekday Halloween.

What are you and your family doing for Halloween this year? Throwing a party? Going to a party? Treating it like any other Halloween? Hiding in the bushes with a water hose?


by Honolulu Mother

Do you make any special recipes for Halloween? A spiderweb cake, mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry to look like mummies, a ghastly punch? Or perhaps food traditions that may not be Halloween-themed but that you associate with it?

We’ve taken to having pizza on Halloween night as it’s easy to eat for costumed people and also is something the kids are likely to at least eat a slice of before heading out to gather sweet Halloween bounty.  We’ve also made various Halloween-themed treats, both for friends’ parties and our own place.  The Taste of Home website has a bunch of Halloween recipes, broken down by category (spider theme, graveyard theme, etc.).  If you prefer a more upscale approach, Martha Stewart’s site is another option.  A couple of years ago I made a shrimp mousse brain, similar to this one.

So in addition to Finn’s questions, please also let us know what special foods or drinks you might be trying for Halloween!

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113 thoughts on “Halloween activities and food

  1. We are going to a school Halloween event and maybe catch part of our building’s Halloween event on Friday. Saturday we are going to a friend’s party, going trick or treating in the neighborhood (for the first time) and then going trick or treating in the building. Trick or treating in the building has brought in over 5 lbs of candy per kid in the past, so this year will be ridiculous!

    No special foods, we do buy the “good” Halloween candy for those who make it our door, with DH’s favorites in case there are leftovers (and of course there always are).

    Still deciding whether to get a costume myself. Sometimes I’ll wear a good hat or wig, but often can’t be bothered.

  2. I love Halloween. For years, I brought Halloween punch to the kids’ classrooms. Bright red punch, with a chunk of dry ice for smoke. It eyeballs, goblin hands, and one year my son and I made a brain. My youngest is too old for that :(. Although he has been telling me all month how much his friends liked it.

    The oldest DD has commandeered the living room for a party with her friends. The middle one is going with her group to one of the friend’s houses. A couple parents of the the youngest’s friends have organized a scavenger hunt/party/trick or treating for those kids. DH and I will go to that one.

    I have been requested to bring a special dessert to the pumpkin carving party we are going to the night before Halloween, but I may need to check out the website for a fun treat for the scavenger hunt.

  3. You know, I need to up my game. Halloween is the one holiday DH goes nuts for (I’ve posted before about the hand-built full-sized caskets he made, replete with skeletons and lighting inside, hands smashing through, etc.). And yet I, the cook, do absolutely nothing (besides buying about 30 lbs of candy, of course). I think I need to make a jello brain or something.

  4. We don’t cook because our neighborhood has a block party before trick or treating with a food truck there. This year’s food truck does gourmet tacos which my kids will love. We don’t get TOTers because we are on the other end of the hood from this block party. My kids favorite place to go TOTing is this house that has a big fire pit out front and hands out s’mores.

  5. There aren’t many kids in my neighborhood. We get a lot of trick or treaters, though. I think generally they range from 16-22 and arrive in cars.

    I truly enjoy the young kids we occasionally get, but I really don’t care much for the draft-age folks.

    I guess I missed the train on this, but when did Halloween become first, a national holiday and second, a day for adults?

  6. We don’t get any trick or treaters. We have 2 Halloween parties to attend and we’ll going trick or treating in a friend’s neighborhood. The baby is going as a chicken and I am going to fill Easter eggs with candy for her to give out. That is about as creative as we get in my house.

    I have an OT question – does anyone know any resources I could read to get educated about annuities? My parents want to get one and have consulted a financial planner. I am meeting with them/him and want to know what to ask/understand. They are risk averse and will listen to what I say. I don’t want to mess this up!

  7. This is the first year that we are not TOTing. We will probably have pizza a and watch a movie. Any suggestions? It has to be family friendly. I’m thinking maybe Beetlejuice.

  8. Cat – annuities:
    https://www.fidelity.com/annuities/overview (yeah, they sell them, but I think the info on their site is good.
    http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/Annuities/
    http://investor.gov/investing-basics/investment-products/annuities

    My $0.02, because I have looked at them…you, or a really trusted financial person if you’re not up to it, should be able to structure finances to accomplish the same thing with lower costs and also keeping 100% control of your money, rather than giving/investing it with an insurance company or investment firm.

  9. CoC – I have a post that’s probably in moderation due to links re Cat’s question.

  10. I just bought the candy for Halloween last night. Out youngest has aged out, but given it’ll be a Saturday, were expecting a ton of kids. (though the glance ahead weather forecast last night suggests rotten weather for us).

  11. We are big on Halloween. We have had decorations up for several weeks. We have centerpieces, a ghoulish tablecloth, lights festooned through the living room, lights all over outside, and two big inflatables. The town has a parade for kids in costume which we will do this year. And then the kids will all go out trick or treating, even the 15 year old. We get a LOT of trick or treaters here. My oldest will be going to a party after he goes out with us, and my understanding is that they will all trick or treat in that neighborhood too. We wil probably eat something from the crockpot and maybe watch some TV while DS2 and DD trade candy

  12. I’m thinking about watching the first Harry Potter with DS this weekend. Some parts are a little scary, but I think he would like it. He is into magic right now.

    We’ll go trick or treat and also go to the church trunk or treat. He already did the halloween walk at the zoo.

  13. @Cat — I assume you mean an immediate annuity for permanent cash-flow security, right? Do they need an annuity right now? I’m old enough to have started thinking about these sorts of things for the not-to-distant future :-), and my biggest concern is just the timing: with interest rates at total rock-bottom prices, it means annuities cost a lot more to get the same expected payout. So you’re basically locking in a permanently lower payout by buying now. My (personal, uneducated) preference would be to plan out my cash flow for the next 5-10 years, with the plan to either reconsider annuities down the road when interests rates/payouts are higher, or to perhaps consider one of those deferred old-age annuities if I am scared of running out of $$ (the ones where you buy them at 60 or 65 or whatever and they don’t start paying out until 80 or 85).

  14. Houston – Hocus Pocus. Hands down fav in our house.

    We are big on Halloween. The inside of the house has been decorated for some time. The outdoor decorations are going up slowly. It’s hard when the weekends haven’t been great and you get home as the sun goes down. But we’ll get there. I have 2 inflatables, creepy headstones, ghosts to hang from the tree, lights that look like blood dripping, and purple lights to make a path (people are dumb and consistently walk across my lawn and trip on the inflatable tie downs… those things don’t stay put by magic people!).

    The neighborhood has a parade, and then the trick or treating starts. I anticipate we’ll see a LOT of kids because it’s a Saturday.

    DS is going as Superman. He has a onesie with the cape, and a red long sleeved onesie to put under the Superman one, and navy blue pants. His godfather will be thrilled. I plan on watching movies all night – the scarier the better. And we’ll eat crap and love it.

  15. Laura – yes. They want some guaranteed income stream. My dad is very scared to take money out of anything. Irrational, I know, but they would take a low paying annuity :). It is either that or force my mom to live on social security and RMDs. The money is otherwise just sitting in cash.

  16. Wine – except it’s not a real costume! Ha! It’s 2 onesies and a pair of pants. Because I’m a loser mom! LOL! Honestly I’m saving my creative juices for when he’ll care.

  17. Gah. I have to look at DH’s email to see if we were invited to this awesome halloween party in a great neighborhood with some friendish people, or if they have stopped inviting us since we never see them otherwise. I like that party because it has great food, ALCOHOL, and we can get all the TOTing done in maybe 45 minutes.

    Growing up I was on the “big street” in my town so we would get 250-350 kids. I think the record was 410. That was THE BEST. Around here we maybe get 5 kids. We don’t answer the door for the college kids. :)

  18. “Honestly I’m saving my creative juices for when he’ll care.”

    And this is why the “smart/lazy” quadrant rules. :-)

  19. We will let the kids trick or treat while we wander around and visit with folks in the neighborhood, periodically trying to catch a glimpse of our kids. Everyone is required to be back at a particular family’s house at 7:30, where we all have chili and hot dogs and the kids spend an hour or two trading candy. There are 4 or 5 families that meet up for the post- TOT dinner, and it’s really nice.

    I don’t decorate for Halloween. We have mums and pumpkins on the front porch, and that’s it.

  20. Our neighborhood has a wristband you can buy for $10 and then certain houses along the trick or treating route have adult beverages for you. It’s pretty fun. I don’t remember my parents ever dressing up, but it’s a big thing for adults to dress up around here. There is actually a separate adult costume contest this year, in addition to the kid one.

    Rhode my two year old wants to be Elsa for Halloween and she already has the dress, but it’s so gross and stained because the kid wears it to bed some nights. I don’t think it’s washable so I feel like I should buy her a new one but DH says she’s only going to make it for a few houses anyway so why bother. Your costume sounds better and at least cleaner.

  21. I have never been big on Halloween since I grew up in a remote neighborhood that was not conducive to trick-or-treating. We always had costumes for school events and would go to the church’s alterna-Halloween party. But the neighborhood I live in now has a ton of kids and is laid out in a walkable loop that’s perfect for t-or-t-ing. It’s one of the places where people bring in vans full of kids and drop them off. With it being a Saturday night and nice weather expected, I will probably have 200 kids, and I’m perfectly happy to sit on the porch chatting with the parents and handing out goodies. DD will be with her dad, which is also perfectly fine with me because then I don’t have to go out! I’m sure the bar & house party scene will be insane with college students in costume, especially since they also get an extra hour for the end of daylight saving time. The last time I went out on Halloween in my town, I saw girls dressed as Victoria’s Secret Angels – really, they were wearing nothing but lingerie and wings.

    Has anyone heard about the teal pumpkin movement? If you have non-candy treats for kids with allergies, you’re supposed to paint a pumpkin teal to let families know your house is allergy-friendly. I’m not going to get an extra pumpkin and paint it, but I will probably get a few different treats to have on hand.

  22. SWVA, in the new tradition of being a shithead on this site, I will confirm that there is no way I will ever take special orders for the millennials that frequent our house, allergies or otherwise. Precious things!

  23. Which reminds me: Does Reeses make breaded peanut butter cups with a milk filling and a sprinkle of ground beef on top?

  24. “it’s not a real costume! Ha! It’s 2 onesies and a pair of pants”

    Just because you put it together yourself out of existing clothes does not mean it’s not a costume. IMO, in general, the best costumes (and definitely the most unique) are the individually created ones, often made from available materials.

  25. I am in FARE and when we trick or treat I do not expect anyone to have nut free stuff for my kids. Before we go, I tell the kids that I will trade all unsafe candy for safe candy when we get home on a 1-for-2 basis, and then I eat all the Reese’s myself after they go to bed.

    Everybody wins!

  26. DH is on his own this Halloween. At the last minute I decided to join my yoga studio’s week-long yoga retreat in Costa Rica, and Saturday is the travel day. I will be the old fat lady struggling to keep up, but I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica and I can’t convince DH to go. Naturally now he’s checking his schedule to see if maybe he can go and just go fishing (he is NOT a yogi.)

  27. Halloween is the one time I’m happy my kids doesn’t like peanut butter – I get all the Reese’s!

  28. Coc – those Cuban sliders look good. Did you use a whole stick of butter for the topping?

  29. I used about half a stick of butter and they turned out fine. Because, yeah, a whole stick seemed like a lot.

  30. Sky, I do the same thing. I don’t really care for Reese’s, but I all over those Almond Joys :)

    I just finished dropping off treats at a couple of neighborhood houses – does anyone else’s ‘hood do this ‘you’ve been boo’d’ thing?

  31. CoC- those sliders made me think of these Cuban sandwiches I used to make for DH (he loves them and I haven’t made them forever) pork, ham and swiss cheese with onions and pickles, I should make these soon

  32. For those who have not discovered it, Trader Joe’s has the BEST enchilada sauce. This would make a great dinner for Halloween because it only takes 15- 20 minutes in the oven when you all get back from TOT. And you could even do your delay start to have the oven preheated:

    1) Day before: make the crockpot chicken from earlier this week. Shred and put in fridge.
    2) Day of: pour enchilada sauce in bottom of lasagna pan. Just enough to coat the bottom of pan.
    3) Mix chicken with drained can of green chilis and 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
    4) Fill small (8 inch) corn tortillas with chicken mixture, roll up and put seam-side down in pan. I made 12 or 14.
    5) Cover with enchilada sauce and sprinkle with generous amount of cheese.
    6) Cover with foil, bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

    My whole family inhaled these. I served them with side of black beans and sliced avocado. It seems like this would be easy to make several of the enchiladas vegetarian – just substitute the chicken for sautéed peppers and onions, or black beans & cheese – for those of you with a vegetarian in the family. And still all in one dish.

  33. GreenEyes — Our neighborhood has been very into the “you’ve been boo’d” thing for several years. My kids love it, but I sort of dread it — more kid junk coming into the house, and more kid junk to have to shop for and distribute.

    Overall, though, we love Halloween. We live in a very trick-or-treat-friendly neighborhood, and Halloween night becomes like a big block party, with kids and adults alike out and about.

  34. “For those who have not discovered it, Trader Joe’s has the BEST enchilada sauce.”

    And as I just discovered in Phoenix, TJ’s has the BEST truffle marcona almonds. I bought a pack of those and a $3.99 sangiovese, and my mom and sis and I didn’t even make it out of the hotel room to dinner that night. . . .

  35. Our neighborhood has a Boo’d thing, but I never knew about this until i was an adult living in the burbs. I grew up trick or treating in apartment buildings , and that was fun and easy. Loads of candy and no worries about the weather. I hope the weather cooperates this year because we missed a couple of recent Halloween nights due to storms, or power outages.

    We receive a lot of kids because the houses are near each other in my neighborhood.

    A new, but welcome problem is there is a world series game scheduled for the 31st. Everyone has suddenly become a Mets fan this month so a few of the Halloween parties are being combined with plans to watch the game etc.

  36. We have the boo’d thing too – but I had never heard of it until I moved into my current neighborhood. Our neighbors just put candy in a bag with the little cute poem. I need to reciprocate, maybe this weekend.

  37. I have nothing on topic. I am still thinking about the cartoon HM posted with Death and the full sized Snickers. If I thought it would work…..

    Cat – I find Fidelity’s website the best source of ordinary language advice for intelligent but not finance people. I have not read the annuity blurb, but I refer people there all the time when they have questions. A muni bond ladder if your parents are in a state with income taxes is IMHO the best alternative to an annuity. You buy individual bonds, use the interest payments for extra funds or to pay the taxes on your other income, and get an infusion of spendable cash every couple of years when the bonds mature or are called – that lets you fix the roof or buy a new car. But if they will not invest after tax money in income creating investments and will not spend a dime of principal for anything but capital improvements, and possibly not even then, a fixed annuity may be the least of evils – just enough to sweeten the expected cash flow so that they get a vacation or a new sofa once in a while. Buy several below the state of residence guarantee threshold from different insurers for safety.

    I personally am looking into deferred annuity products (so called longevity insurance) or the sort of lump some charitable contributions that pay you an annuity amount for life, but starting at some future age – 80 plus That is how I plan to deal with longevity risk and also with a likely diminished ability to figure stuff out enough to remember when to sell and when to transfer funds. Make it simple for me in really old age.

  38. “A new, but welcome problem is there is a world series game scheduled for the 31st. ”

    It’s not a new problem in general, although it may be for Mets fans. There have been may Halloweens when I had the TV on to the WS game while passing out candy.

  39. my comment was about Mets.
    I am sure there are true baseball friends that are happy to watch any game. This is different because this is a NY fair weather fan thing. Hard core Yankees fans making plans for Mets parties.

  40. Lauren – DH is a hard core Mets fan. I have spent many years waiting for our food to arrive at a restaurant listening to an analysis of the line ups of the Mets A ball teams. The game starts at 8:07pm. Where I live no kid-kids are still out trick or treating by then – expecially on a weekend the parade starts about 5:30 or so. And when they fall on a Saturday night, Hallowe’en and St Patrick’s Day are times best to get home early.

  41. We first ran into the You’ve Been Boo’d thing about 15 years ago in Kansas City. It was fun when it was just a little bag of candy; then some overachieving mom with too much time on her hands upped the ante and gave handmade candy, juice boxes, and some kind of trinket, and then it escalated into something everyone dreaded because you couldn’t keep up. I always consider it my role in any group to lower the bar – if someone serves food at book club that reflects the theme of the book, or recreates a meal eaten by the characters, for instance, you can count on me to dial it back to wine and dessert when I’m the host. So once the boo bags hit the Hour household, it reverted back to small bags of candy.
    I thought about introducing it to our new neighborhood when we moved across the country, but thought they might thank me not to. I haven’t seen it here.

  42. “then some overachieving mom with too much time on her hands upped the ante and gave handmade candy, juice boxes, and some kind of trinket, and then it escalated into something everyone dreaded because you couldn’t keep up.”

    This calls for PTM’s special auction basket skills.

  43. Your husband must be so happy. I never thought about this when I got married, but my DH loves all of the same teams as me. He was a raised as a hard core Yankees fan, and I was hooked since my father took us to see games in the late 70s when they had an amazing team.

    We took DD to several Mets games when Citi field opened. We had free tickets!, and it was kid friendly for elementary aged kids when they build the new stadium. I think she grew to like the Mets because of those experiences, and she likes the mascot. My DH is still trying to covert her, but we’ve been watching all of the playoff games together. We’re happy for any NY team that gets to a championship because it is so exciting to be a part of the excitement in NY metro. She never forgets to ask as soon as she wakes up every morning whether the Mets won the game since she can’t stay up that late. It was fun to see it through a child’s eyes – especially because she was so happy that I answered yes every morning.

  44. That boo’d thing hasn’t hit yet. And it better not. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    HRN – I’m with you. Let’s lower the bar on everything. Did you make it through the day alive and without murdering anyone? Good. That’s a successful day.

  45. I used to dread the boo thing a little. IIRC there was also another holiday with a similar tradition — Valentine’s?

    Glad to have the teal pumpkin explanation. I was wondering about that.

    I thought these are one of the easiest spooky snack ideas I’ve seen. And the catsup is perfect for those many kids who prefer it to mustard.

  46. DH is in his seventies. He grew up in Crown Heights not very far from Ebbets Field. As he says you never needed a radio to know how the Bums were doing (games were often in the day back then) Brooklyn Dodger fans hate the Yankees even more viscerally than Red Sox fans, and they did not keep allegiance to the Dodgers who abandoned them for LA. So when the Metropolitans arrived (he was still living in NY at the time) he became a Mets fan. It has been a welcome relief from the Red Sox woes to cheer for his team. And unless our teams meet in the World Series, it is easy enough to co-exist. (1986 is ancient history by now, and that was long before we knew each other) After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  47. BTW, he is not, thank heavens, a Jets fan. If Sunday’s game were in the Meadowlands, I would pick the Jets outright, and I am not convinced that the Pats can win even in Foxborough if good Fitzpatrick shows up. Football is not DH’s passion, so he has no rooting interest. He was a Knicks fan, but that has been hopeless for so long he has lost interest.

  48. Oh good Lord, CoC — why didn’t I think of that??? My kid loves hot dogs, too! Very, very cool — added bonus of minimal effort to boot.

  49. My kid wants to be a white (costume ) ghost. This year we are.big on Halloween decorations and costume has been talked about for a while. I still haven’t found a cute enough costume. DH has been ordered to be a black ghost while I need to be a witch.

    Our neighborhood is kinda spread out and so we get only dozen or so kids. I am of good.mind to get full size bars this year. They will be peanut butter so that they won’t go in my tummy if.left over. I cannot stand peanut butter candy.

    One of us will go ToT with kid while the other will stay home to hand out candy to precious few kids that show up. We will also do couple of trunk and treats organized by other towns around. I am hoping that weather will stay nice this year unlike the last couple of years.

    We have pumpkins out and a ghost sign, along with lights of course.

  50. DH and I never agreed on sports teams. As a kid, I grew up a Mets fan (and remember the ’86 Amazings). Then I fell out of love with baseball. DH is a lifelong Yankees fan. I am a diehard NJ Devils fan. DH is a Rangers fan. We both don’t really follow football, but if we did, he’s a Jets fan, I’m a Giants fan.

    Devils/Rangers games have caused issues in our house. Even the baby isn’t safe. Poor kid, he’ll be flip flopping between teams depending on which parent he likes the best at the time. And then he’ll go to school. Baby Rhode is not allowed to be a Bruins fan. He’ll suffer a fate worse than death if that happens. If he comes home a Red Sox fan, DH will kick him out. I’ll at least let him live in the shed.

  51. “Brooklyn Dodger fans hate the Yankees even more viscerally than Red Sox fans, and they did not keep allegiance to the Dodgers who abandoned them for LA. So when the Metropolitans arrived (he was still living in NY at the time) he became a Mets fan.”

    You know, I think this explains the local passion for the Ravens, too (just substitute “Redskins” and “Colts”/”Indy,” with a side of “Mayflower”). It’s the sports version of “see, my new girlfriend is WAY prettier than you.”

  52. I’ve bypassed the earlier comments which I will read later – but I have a Halloween related plea for help. DH and I are invited to a Halloween costume party tomorrow night. Adults only. Any suggestions for very easy Halloween costumes for grown-ups? I am not at all crafty and don’t sew. My talent for spreadsheets sadly does not translate into a gift for costumes. The best I’ve come up with is putting “404 error” on a t-shirt (costume not found).

  53. Seattle, I went as an IRS enforcement agent one year as a kid and got lots of extra candy. An out of fashion blazer, a name tag and glasses if you have them, and you’re set.

  54. HFN–maybe you lived in my neighborhood? St Peter’s? Boo is a big thing with them. Now that I don’t have young kids at home , we don’t get boo’d anymore. Which is totally fine, but it’s fun to see the little ones get excited. One year someone started it at my office–mercifully that tradition only lasted one year.
    Anyway, go Royals!

  55. Halloween is really a great holiday! Candy everywhere, fun costumes, happy kids. These ‘low requirement’ holidays are great. But I have no kid costumes to manage, I just have to hand out candy, which is fantastic.

    SSM, there’s a whole ‘costume of of a hoodie’ trend online. I can’t get the link to work, but just Google ‘cat hoodie costume’ or other assorted animal. As long as you have a hoodie, some pipe cleaners, felt (or even cotton balls), you’re all set! If you use a black hoodie, white shirt, and white gloves, you have taken your cat costume to tuxedo cat costume. A bit of a scramble still, for tomorrow, but relatively easy.

  56. i’ve been on the phone with apple for the last hour. I upgraded my daughter’s phone today because her old one died. I have spent all day trying to get her info off the old phone and put on to the new phone. The rep wanted me to take out the old SIM card and put it into the new phone. Umm… no.

  57. Anon in KC – I’m wearing my “I Believe!” t shirt from years past! I guess it is vintage now. We fly our Royals flag proudly. I have fond memories of my years in the middle of the country!

  58. “you, or a really trusted financial person if you’re not up to it, should be able to structure finances to accomplish the same thing with lower costs and also keeping 100% control of your money, rather than giving/investing it with an insurance company or investment firm.”

    Fred, I’m wondering how you would do that.

    Cat, why are your parents looking at annuities?

  59. Ssm – a professional quality green makeup and a witches hat with nice black clothes looks high effort but it pretty straightforward.

  60. Finn – that want a guaranteed income stream. They have a very hard time spending money other than from current income (my dad is officially retired, but still works per diem prn to fund extras, like buying a new car or big vacations. Otherwise, they live on social security and his smallish pension). I think he is planning on really quitting all work soon. He is more comfortable with a guaranteed payment stream than investing it and just using the gains. He is angry he is even required to take RMDs. He would just squirrel it away forever if possible for some rainy day. I don’t know. They are very good with money on the frugality/saving side and terrible with it on the investment/spending side. I wish they would just turn it over to me. We would invest it and give them whatever amount per month (they won’t want/need much). I kind of dislike the annuity idea right now.

  61. Busy day here.

    Mine are aging out of ToTing but will still be going out — the younger two planning to do so, the oldest one likely will be hanging out with his friend and then they’ll decide to slap on some hats and capes and hit a few houses. My daughter is also excited about a haunted house her grade is putting on for a school festival. She wants to borrow the jumping spider, the fog machine, the zombie makeup, etc.

    We’ve had the basic graveyard set up for a couple of weeks but I haven’t been able to get to the lights and the animatronics. I’ll have to do that this weekend! I also have to get the kids’ pumpkins. I have a compass saw and ceramic carving tool set this year so even more than usual, they want the pumpkins to use the stuff on!

  62. Cat, I guess your dad is already over 69.5 if he has to take RMDs. So I’m guessing he waited until 70 to start collecting SS and maximized that guaranteed income stream; in any case, if he’s already collecting SS, it’s probably too late to wait until 70.

    If this is the case, then he’s already covered what I thought of when I read your post.

  63. She never forgets to ask as soon as she wakes up every morning whether the Mets won the game since she can’t stay up that late. It was fun to see it through a child’s eyes – especially because she was so happy that I answered yes every morning.

    That’s playoff baseball through a child’s eyes – asking in the morning who won because they have to go to bed by they third inning.

    This is one of the great things about living in the forgotten timezone. Night games end at a reasonable hour. I have successfully brainwashed DS into being a Jets and Mets fan despite growing up in Denver, and the games end before his bedtime so we can watch together.

  64. Fun topic. I couldn’t be lazy and post during the day. Unfortunately I had a very busy Friday. I love Halloween and now seeing it through the eyes of my kids is just pure joy. They have been excited for weeks. We upgraded our outdoor lights so we now have a spooky house. This weekend is the kick off, with city and neighborhood parties. I love that Halloween is on a Saturday this year. My DH will take them around the neighborhood with friends while I pass out candy. Then we’re headed to our friends house for the after party. This reminds me that i need to pick up pumpkins this weekend.

  65. He waited until his full retirement age to start taking SS. My mom, too, although I think she gets SS based on his income.

  66. We have some trick or treaters, but not that many because our block is sort of between to very bustling TOT-ing areas. We will take the dog for a walk just to look at all of the grown ups in costume (last year there were a bunch of Elvises (sp?)). Our neighborhood has a lot of giant spiders and witches on their houses – quite fun!

  67. Our ToT plans are in flux. There is a lot of ToTing in our neighborhood, but nobody walks. The thing to do is to decorate your utility trailer with lights, pumpkins. and a few hay bales for seating and pull kids around in that. If you don’t have a trailer, then fold the seats in your SUV or van, put blankets down, and drive around with the lift gate open. The ToTers hop off at each spot to collect candy, like old-time garbage collectors. I would love to show the whole thing to MMM, just to watch his reaction.

    For several years, we’ve been doing this with our socially superior neighbors, who do the large utility trailer all decked out. But last year the group had grown so large that the trailer was full, so kids were also riding in the back of the Explorer that was towing it. I can run certain risk scenarios in my head, and I’m ok with a kid falling off a slow-moving trailer, and I’m ok with a kid falling out the back of a slow-moving SUV. What I’m NOT ok with is any possibility of falling out the back of an SUV that is pulling a trailer. And apparently, I’m the only parent who appreciated this distinction. This is where I feel like WCE claims to have a brain that works differently, because all of the four or five Moms, who would never otherwise violate booster seat guidelines, simply don’t register this. Well, DW did, but by this point, #3 had gotten so tired they’d gone home.

    So I’m sitting in the open tailgate physically blocking several preschool-aged kids, in addition to one of my own, depending, from falling out the back while the neighbor dad is laughing it up driving the whole rig, and four Moms are obliviously drinking wine and chatting in the trailer, happy to have me loading and unloading their kids, and walking them to the houses.

    Perhaps fortunately, I think the neighbors have some dance audition running late on Halloween this year, so there may be no expedition to turn down. I may suggest configuring the van for slow ToTing, and invite one other family’s kids.

    If you want to be guaranteed to receive ToTers, the thing to do is set up a fire pit at the end of your driveway and wait there, preferably with Jack-O’-Lanterns and maybe in costume. You can then combine these with several neighboring houses.

    Some asides. The biking here is awesome, and no illnesses, knock on wood. Yesterday, we got delayed when all lanes on 81 were shut down for an accident just north of Sheep Farmer, but we were able to unpack quickly and got a ride in, telling the kids to hurry because we were racing the setting sun. Leaves, colors, all that, are incredible, right next to the Appalachian Trail.

    Cat – I thought annuities for people around 70 would be paying a guaranteed 6%, perhaps with a 75% survivors’ benefit. Maybe I’m warped because I didn’t start learning this stuff until interest rates were already low, but that seemed OK. Another idea that my Dad planted last night when we were discussing money, “in this environment, utilities are the new bonds.” Would they be comfortable spending those dividends? Or some combination of all these suggestions.

  68. We get the Boo’d thing every year. it is not over the top but still I have to gather the things for the treat bag to Boo some other house. We have a “big enough” neighborhood, where there is a good sized contingent of kids and just enough houses so by the time the kids go around they have more than enough candy. We have a neighborhood pizza party before, where everyone can show off their costumes and once pizza is over and it gets dark, one parent goes in to distribute candy, the other parent walks with the kids. In all it is low key and enjoyable, people’s decorations range from pumpkins on the porch, to a few lights and ghosts. No one has any desire to up the standard. Our one neighbor who had a Halloween house moved away and none of the other houses had desire to step in.

  69. “I have spent all day trying to get her info off the old phone and put on to the new phone. The rep wanted me to take out the old SIM card and put it into the new phone. Umm… no.”

    Murphy, the same thing happened to me, as you might know from some of my pathetic comments here during the last few weeks. Did you get it resolved? Mine was not resolved even after both Verizon and Apple reps worked hours on the problem, and I also declined to switch SIM cards. I’m getting another replacement phone. It’s been a very tiresome experience.

  70. Reading about various neighborhood Halloween activities makes me both jealous and relieved. We have minimal neighborliness compared to many of you, and fire pits in our driveways would probably cause a few dozen firefighters to come out and and try to save us from ourselves.

    Milo, your mountain trip sounds lovely.

  71. Milo – not sure. I can’t even tell if it is a fixed annuity. Or what the fees are. Or what the surrender period is. Which kind of makes me not trust the guy who is trying to sell this to them. But yeah, 6% with a 75% survivor’s benefit – sign them up! Re: utilities. I could probably get them to do a bit. But probably not enough to be meaningful. The psychological struggle is real!

    Have fun on your trip. And no way would I let my kids do ToT the way you are describing! I am having anxiety just thinking about it.

  72. I would have a hard time doing Milo’s Halloween job – safely keeping a bunch of kids in the trailer, then seeing that they got in and out. Here parents with little ones pull them in wagons while the older ones walk house to house. The wagoneer parents do a couple of houses and then hang out till their older kids are done. It is hard enough keeping track of early elementary kids who are running from house to house in the dark. By 8-8.15 pm the older kids have enough candy, they are tired from all the excitement and walking up and down people’s driveways, parents and kids are ready to call it a night.

  73. CoC I asked for a supervisor. Eventually, we figured out that the operating system on the brand new phone needed to be updated. Once that happened, I could restore all the settings, info, etc from the cloud. Very irksome that it took several hours and several layers of tech support.

    Milo, No way in he!! would I be any part of kids riding in the back of an open SUV while pulling a trailer. Is it really too far for the kids to walk?

  74. Milo, your TOT scenario would bother me. We start off walking around to our local retirees on 5 acre lots and then gather candy at more dense houses till the boys are tired. Mr. WCE walks home for the car while we do a couple more houses and then he gives us all a ride home. Our family is sufficiently recognizable that a family we don’t know offered us their basketball hoop for free when they were moving.

  75. Finn – perhaps I said it poorly, since to create laddered bonds (treasuries, munis, corporates) the money probably has to go to some investment house to facilitate the transactions (though you can buy treasuries direct). Anyway, my point was the same benefits of an annuity can be had by doing it yourself buy buying bonds that pay roughly similar interest starting a month from now thru year n, if you want without tying up the principle in an annuity and being subject to high fees and/or surrender costs.

    I know a lot of places sell more reasonably priced annuities, but even those are most costly than laddered bonds.

  76. I just put up all the outdoor decorations and took DS’ Halloween pics. And my mom cut her hand outside, so spent an hour in urgent care getting her glued back together. Just another afternoon… lol.

    Listening to Milo’s story makes me very happy I decided to light my front walk. Last year, so many people tripped over the tie downs to the inflatables. The tie downs weren’t close to the walkway, but people just cut through the yard without care. I just envision someone tripping, hurting themselves and suing me. So this year, I took small shepherd’s hooks and strung purple holiday lights on them. Once we daisy chain some more plugs so that every thing will run off the timer, we’ll be all set. The lights create a funnel from the street to the house, and will hopefully keep people from tripping over the tie downs. And if they don’t, I can at least say “look, I gave you a lit, guided walkway. You chose to be an idiot and jump over things”

  77. Laddered munis, utilities, and dividend growth stocks are the bulk of my after tax portfolio. I guess it is hard for any of us, Cat, to figure out the magic turn of phrase that will help your father to understand what might be of benefit. I recall that it took until my mother was 80 for us to convince her to take her mutual fund capital gain distributions in cash to pay the estimated income taxes. She was reinvesting everything, and paying the income taxes on her investment earnings out of her small pension and social security and her bank interest!!! And then she didn’t have enough money for extras or even some repairs.

  78. I am heartsick at the tragedy that occurred at my alma mater today during a homecoming parade. A 2-yr old girl, the fourth victim of the drunk or drugged driver just died. The total injured is somewhere in the 40s. My daughter and I have made it to homecoming for 2 of the last 3 years, and planned to be there this year, only changing our plans on Thursday. I didn’t know any of the victims, but just know what a fun, family-oriented day it is. Apparently the driver had just been fired from her job that morning. They are not sure if driving 50mph into a crowd of people was intentional or not, but either way, people suck.

  79. Anon, my heart breaks for you. Earlier this year, two of my daughter’s classmates and their mother were killed by a drugged driver. My prayers are with you and with some others who were at the parade, but in a different spot.

  80. Cat, if your mom waited until full retirement age to start collecting SS, and is collecting a spouse benefit based on your dad’s earnings, she should check whether her own benefit at age 70 will be more, and switch if that is the case.

    The primary annuity we’re counting on in our retirements is SS, and we plan to wait until 70 to collect to maximize the size of that annuity. We will also have smaller annuities from our retirement plans through our employers. I think those will be enough to cover basic needs, although that kind of goes out the window if medical problems or the need for long term care arises.

  81. “ the operating system on the brand new phone needed to be updated”

    Apparently many new iPhones are sent out with outdated OS because updates come out after the phones are packaged. My new phone had to be updated also, but unfortunately that didn’t fix the problem. Neither did the MANY other fixes they attempted, so I’m still waiting on getting a phone that works.

  82. Here’s what I’ve been wondering about with Apple products: if they are so intuitive and easy to use, and they “just work” like Apple fans always say, why is it so hard to get an appointment at a genius bar?

    Android phones often need OS updates out of the box as well, or if you do a factory reset, but they get installed automatically when you first set up the phone.

  83. CoC – I often don’t install the new OS on my phone, especially when I have used the phone for a while. Installing the new OS on my old iphone 4 was the final straw that made me upgrade to the 6 (because it made the old one really slow and buggy).

  84. Gotta love middle/upper middle class elderly and time on their hands… I’ve been on the phone for over a 1/2 hour with an enthusiastic lady regarding some environmental issues in RI… I wish more people were this enthusiastic. But I feel so bad that I have to tell her I don’t have the power to do what she wants. I can just encourage her.

  85. I found out that another person from my HS class has died, our 15 year reunion is coming up and we’ve already lost 3 out of a small class of just over 100…

  86. I can attest that a couple of months ago I ordered my galaxy s6 online from Verizon, it arrived at my house, I charged it, turned it on, it updated to the extent necessary, enabled device to device communication, tapped my Galaxy S3 to the S6, and all my apps, contacts and everything else ported over. DH’s replacement flip phone had to have its contacts uploaded to the cloud and downloaded, again there were clear directions. Never had a moment’s problems. I am a Mac computer (I spend more time on DH’s windows than any other tech issue) and Android phone person for sound reasons.

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