Just Say No to Advertising Your Business via Trick-or-Treaters

I’ve always loved Halloween.

As a child I looked forward to Trick-or-Treating with great anticipation.  I recall the year my Mom made ghost costumes for my sister and I, and there was the year I was Cinderella, complete with one of those horrid plastic masks kept on with the thin string of elastic.  Never mind that the plastic mask with the teeny, tiny eye and breath holes practically suffocated me .  Toss it, you say?  Oh, no.  It was part of my costume, and it was pulled down over my face and pushed up for breaths.  Every ten seconds.  All.  Night.  Long.

The last year I could get away with Trick-or-Treating was the year I turned thirteen.   By then too self-conscious and fearful of being uncool, the only possible costume was a hobo.  Every seventh grader in central Jersey was a hobo that year.  My friends and I made the rounds of my 1000+ apartment complex, finally heading home in triumph with a pillowcase full of candy.

By the next year I was simply too old to go Trick-or-Treating, at least without the censure of the adults opening their doors.  So I talked my neighbor into allowing me to chaperone her three and five year-olds, and I did that for the next three years.

As I got older Halloween became on of the joys of being a parent I most looked forward to.  I would accompany my nephews and my friends’ kids, and dream of someday.

Someday has been here for awhile now, and we’re about to celebrate Son’s sixth Halloween. They’ve all been memorable, terrific.  I’ve loved making his costumes, going to Halloween parties, last year’s parade at school, and Trick-or-Treating with friends.  We are working on costume ideas now, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to give up the be-the-cute-thing-Mommy-wants-you-to-be ghost (giving up the ghost – pun intended) in favor of his own choice of a “skeleton zombie”.  Sigh.

Not that Halloween hasn’t had it’s share of disappointments.  When I was very little we’d eat the candy apples and other homemade goodies we got as part of our cache.  Then sick people started putting things like razor blades in apples, so we had to give up those lovingly made treats and start inspecting our candy.

Then there was the bane of the northern childrens’ existence – being forced by our mothers to – gasp! – wear a coat over our costumes!!  Oh, the insanity of it all!

Now there is a relatively new trend that is irking me to no end.

People are advertising their businesses on the backs of Trick-or-Treaters.  There are blog posts all over the blogosphere promoting the practice, and giving suggestions on how to maximize the impact.   Entrepreneurs can attach business cards to candy, give free samples (that no child would give any type of hoot about at all – they just want CANDY!),  links to your blog and coupons.  Coupons for a “free” karate lesson (and afterward the big sell for $120/month lessons), or $5 off your $20 Avon order, or free estimates for pest control!

No one loves a coupon more than I.  And I understand that times are tough.  Finding creative ways to advertise is not only important, but vital to the survival of small business, and the recovery of our economy.

I get it.  I do.

But please don’t do it on the backs of children Trick-or-Treating.  I don’t want to be handed your business card, or invited to sell Herbalife.  I don’t want to think about you or your business while I’m watching my son bask in the glow of praise for his costume,  thank givers politely, and run to catch up to his friends.

I don’t want your business there.  It’s tainting one of the most fun, carefree rites of childhood.  Moving the focus from my child.  Where it’s supposed to be.

Don’t you understand that he’ll be thirty tomorrow?

So, if we are on the receiving end of your solicitation, know that it will end up in the trash, and I will be less likely to patronize your business.  Actually, pretty definitely not likely at all.

And, for the record, I also don’t want to see ads on textbooks, playground equipment, or school buses.  Capisce?



Deal of the Day November 21, 2008

Put some Disney magic under the tree this year with savings of 25% off sitewide at Disney Shopping. Apply coupon code HOLIDAY25 at checkout to save on everything from character apparel to toys. While there be sure to check out the ten exclusive to Disney gifts. They include the Disney Princess Magical Talking Throne, Cars Lightning McQueen Race Track Play Set, Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Train Set, Giant Mickey Mouse Plush Toy, Deluxe Disney Princess Cinderella Costume, and some apparel. Some exclusions may apply. Offer ends 11/21/2008.

To Answer the Question of the Urinal…

A few weeks ago I pondered whether or not to allow Son to dress as a urinal for Halloween. Many have asked what we decided.

Turns out I didn’t  have to decide.

Not a urinal.  Usually.

Not a urinal. Usually.

We’d read a Curious George book that saw George going to a costume party. One of the party guests was a garbage can and Son could not stop laughing. The urinal was out. The trash can was in…

It was lots of fun making this costume, and we were happy with how it came out. I spent $1.49 on spray paint, and the rest was, well, garbage.

When we walked into his classroom this morning we were blown away by the reaction of the kids and the teachers. There was a huge “Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa!” and the kids rushed over to him. He was a little overwhelmed!

I can’ t tell you how good it felt to see Son’s idea come together so well. I’m so happy I went to the trouble of making his costume. It’s so rewarding to me. These are the types of things I’d look forward to when I dreamed about what motherhood would be like, and the reality is even better than the anticipation.

And it only cost $1.49.

We’re off to dazzle the family and friends. Enjoy your Halloween!

Deal of the Day October 28, 2008

You can get a free meal at your local Chipotle this Friday from 6pm-close. You need to be dressed up like any item on the menu (salad, burrito, taco, etc.).

It’s not hard to look like Mexican food, is it?  You have fun finding out!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Easy and Frugal Halloween Costume and Makeup Ideas

Halloween doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. There are plenty of costumes that can be put together for very little money, and often no money at all!

Real Simple Magazine had some terrific ideas for inexpensive and easy costume ideas. I’ve plagiarized them here, and added some of my own.

  • A green clown wig + a schoolgirl outfit = Broccoli Spears
  • The letter “e” on a piece of paper taped to your chest (but only if a boy) = e-mail
  • A plastic laundry basket with holes cut out for legs + white balloons + a shower cap = Bathing Beauty
  • A white dress + a pipe-cleaner halo + leaves in her hair and “dirt” on her face = Fallen Angel
  • Black clothes + yellow electrical tape down his torso + toy cars + Velcro = Highway
  • A pig nose + a blanket = Pig in a Blanket
  • A white sheet with two holes cut out for eyes = Ghost
  • A blue T-shirt + cotton balls + tape + a water gun = Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Rain
  • A polo shirt + khakis (or madras shorts) + a name tag = Jay Crew
  • A clear umbrella (preferably dome- shaped) + party streamers or metallic ribbons = Jellyfish
  • Two large circles cut out of cardboard with brown dots drawn over them, then connected with string or ribbon near the top to make it like a sandwich board= Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • A hockey shirt , sweatpants and a doll + wearing bright lipstick on her face = Hockey Mom/Sarah Palin
  • ~B00~

    Want to add some pizazz? Here are directions for making face paint and blood:

    How to Make Your Own Face Paint

    Materials Needed:
    • 1 tsp. Cornstarch
    • 1/2 tsp. Cold cream
    • 1/2 tsp. Cold water
    • Food coloring


    Mix the ingredients together and paint away! This will wash off with cold cream.

    Non-Toxic Fake Blood:

    Materials Needed:

    • 1 c (250mL) peanut butter
    • 1 qt. (1 L) corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup (125mL) soap
    • 1 oz (30mL) red color
    • 15 drops blue food coloring
    1. Mix creamy peanut butter with a sufficient amount of white corn syrup to make a runny mixture.
    2. Add (non-sudsy) soap and food colors and mix well.
    3. Stir more corn syrup in until the desired consistency is reached.
    4. Refrigerate unused blood in an airtight container.
    Inexpensive white corn syrup is said to be thicker and more suitable for the fake blood than its costlier relatives.
    Note: Fake blood can stain, so be careful. Last year my nephew got store-bought fake blood on his parents’ white carpet. They now have wood floors. I think this recipe is less likely to stain, but drip at your own risk…
    Please remember to be safe!  Use reflective tape if you’re going out at night, make eyeholes large enough to see well, and always have a buddy.
    Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

    Deal of the Day October 11, 2008

    Another Halloween Deal!

    Joann Fabric & Craft Store is knocking 60% off all Halloween costumes, Halloween fabrics, and accessories. You can also save 50% off the price of any one regular priced item from the store with coupon code SFD287. Sale ending unknown, coupon expires 10/14/2008.

    Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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    Deal of the Day October 2, 2008

    If you decide not to be frugal and make your own costume this year, here’s a coupon for you.

    Spirit Halloween is offering a coupon for 20% off any one item.

    Let me know if you find any urinal costumes, k?

    Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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    Deal of the Day September 21, 2008

    Happy Anniversary to Husband!

    Halloween is just around the corner, and you already know that costumes are on my mind.  For those who don’t want to make a costume, check out this deal from Disney!

    This weekend only, buy any costume from Disney Shopping to score a savings of 50% off all costume accessories. Use coupon code COSTUME when checking out. They’re also throwing in free shipping with coupon code TREATS. Shop for costume sizes infant up to adult. Sale ends 09/21/2008.

    Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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    Just How Inappropriate Can a Halloween Costume Be?

    Son's 1st Halloween


    I adore autumn – it’s my favorite season by far. I love the crispness of the air (well, not here), the smell of leaves burning, the sounds of football on the television.

    Autumn also brings Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. I love to see the kids dressed up, to watch their faces as they bob for apples, to see them flit about crazily as they work out their sugar highs.

    Son's 2nd Halloween


    When I was a child I adored the whole process. When my Mom (and the rolling eyeballs of our neighbors) told me I was too old to trick-or-treat, I conspired to continue by offering to take the neighbor’s children instead. Remember, these were the days before razors in apples, when kids over 7 went trick-or-treating by themselves without their parents worrying about anything other then their child’s protests about wearing a sweater over their costume on cooler Halloween evenings.

    Son 3rd Halloween

    Son 3rd Halloween

    Even back then when I dreamed of being a mother one of the things I most looked forward to was making or selecting my child’s costume, hosting Halloween parties and going along as they trick-or-treated. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed, and Son has been young enough that he really didn’t have a costume preference, so I’ve gotten to have some fun with it.

    Until now.

    Son has a preference this year. What does he want to be?

    Come on. You regular readers know, don’t you? Yeah.

    A urinal. My kid wants to be a urinal for Halloween.


    I’m pushing my ice cream cone idea. After all ,he likes ice cream almost as much as he likes urinals.

    So, parents. What do you think? Would you let your child be a urinal for Halloween?

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