Dry your eyes and put on a costume! Just because the kids are gone doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Halloween-Empty Nest style. Here’s your inspiration…
As the chandelier moved by pulley from the stage to the ceiling, I could almost reach up and touch it. My husband gave me the thrill of a lifetime when he finagled 3rd row tickets to the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera.
Although he’s not a theater junkie like me, he had fun watching me laugh, cry, and gasp with awe throughout the performance. I surprised myself with child-like delight as I became completely enraptured by the story. Something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
We’ve Come a Long Way
Halloween has certainly come a long way since our days in the neighborhood. My costume was usually an old sheet with jagged eyeholes and a tattered pillowcase to weigh down with candy.
Our mom would wave goodbye from the front porch as my sister and I fearlessly plodded from door to door. We didn’t bat a pirate-patched eye at entering neighbors’ homes when invited.
Homemade candy apples and Rice Krispy treats were savored, not scorned. No one had heard of food allergies or teal pumpkins.
It is estimated that 64% of the population will celebrate Halloween with an average of $86 being spent per person.muchneeded.com
It may surprise you to know that adults now spend more on their own costumes than they do for their children, with men forking over more than women.
Whether you go all out for this crazy holiday or avoid it like the plague, it’s hard to escape the zombie-like feeding frenzy for candy corn, costumes, and candles made to order.
Empty Nest Halloween
This year you may be dreading Halloween because your kids are celebrating on their own for the first time. This holiday hits right between dropping the kids off at college and the promise of their return for winter break. If we’re not careful, memories of years past can leave us feeling sad and lost on Halloween
But here’s a fun way to rethink things.
When our kids were in middle school, we started hosting a Halloween party for their classmates and friends. The evening included silly costumes, awkward glances between adolescents, and a neighborhood scavenger hunt.
The top 4 holiday expenditures, in order from most to least: Costumes, Candy, Decorations, and Greeting Cards.
I stayed home to hand out candy and field texts and calls from kids who were about to give up and needed a clue for the hunt. My husband was the fearless chaperone as the kids combed our subdivision.
For many years, we got in the spirit with couples’ costumes. It was fun, if for no other reason than embarrassing our kids. But, aside from dressing to match, we spent very little time together on most of those evenings.
As our kids entered their high school years, they had dates and other parties to attend. But we still weren’t off the hook. There were the last-minute costume emergencies, friend dramas and the need for a dozen homemade cookies that usually eclipsed our plans to spend a quiet evening together.
How to Celebrate
Now that both kids are celebrating Halloween away from home, my husband and I can finally figure out how we’d like to spend our time. The answer, so far, has varied from year to year.
Top 5 types of stores where people purchase their Halloween goodies: Discount, Halloween, Grocery, Department, and Online
Once, we left a pail of candy on the doorstep and volunteered at our church for a giant, indoor Halloween bash. Another time, we simply stayed home, ordered Chinese food and watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.
Writing this post had me reliving our family Halloween memories. I realized, once again, how fortunate we are to have so many traditions.
- My husband carving the kids’ crazy pumpkin creations on the kitchen table spread with newspaper and gooey, slimy seeds.
- Sewing my daughter’s fairy costume she played dress up in for many months after.
- Watching our kids divide and trade favorite candies like two little casino sharks.
Such fun memories, but I can honestly say I don’t want to repeat them. These days, I’m much more interested in creating an Empty Nest Halloween. After all, it’s a great occasion for our kids to see their parents having fun together-without them.
Sadly, I don’t think they witness this nearly enough. Our lives are full with work, helping aging parents, and planning for retirement. Perhaps Halloween keeps rising in popularity because, more and more, our society needs a little break from these realities.
Why You Need To
Empty Nest parents not only need a celebration, we’ve earned it. Whether you plan a night out with friends, open a bottle of wine at home, or throw an all-out shindig, use Halloween to remember how to laugh a little!
More than 90 million pounds of chocolate will be purchased for the Halloween season.
Make sure you snap a photo of your merriment and text it to your kids. They’ll roll their eyes most likely-but you’re assuring them that you’re ok on your own. What’s more, they’ll know Halloween traditions continue to hold your family together.
Before our Empty Nest Halloween, we focused most of our energy on our own children. Now we have the luxury of investing in others. All Hallows Eve is a natural chance to nurture neighborhood friendships you may have neglected in the busyness of life.
Try One of These Ideas
Plop a lawn chair in the driveway and fraternize over some cold beverages or spiced cider. Make a big deal over the neighborhood kids’ costumes. Challenge your friends to a pumpkin-carving contest.
You can be fined up to $1,000 for selling or using silly string in Hollywood, California due to its use for vandalism on All Hallows Eve.
Perhaps your place of worship is throwing a safer Halloween alternative. Volunteer-you have no excuse not to! Dress your pet in a silly costume and visit a retirement community for no other reason than cheering up the residents.
Show off your culinary skills by hosting a couples’ cooking night or making treats for your co-workers. Be the edgiest house on your block by decorating with giant spiders, inflatable pumpkins, and moving vampires.
Invest in a Relationship
Even if you choose to spend a quiet night at home, make a point of investing in a special relationship. There’s a certain magic in the air on Halloween night that makes even the most ordinary evening something special.
Over half the population of both the United Stated and the United Kingdom participates in the Halloween holiday.
I still remember being transfixed by the Broadway performance of Phantom of the Opera. When the lights came up at the end of the show, I realized my mind and emotions had been completely diverted from wondering where we’d eat, how much the taxi would cost, and when I could take off my heels.
An Empty Nest Halloween can provide you with a fun escape from your everyday worries. Whether or not you wear a crazy costume, celebrate your Empty Nest Halloween!
Although my nest isn’t quite empty, with my youngest being 18 but not quite ready for college this year, this IS the first Halloween that I won’t walk around the neighborhood with a child (or young adult – my middle one trick or treated all the way up into “adulthood” and my youngest and I went out last year). The 18yo is not interested because his friends are all now at college. My husband is away on business, and I’m not sure how to handle it other than to try to talk my son into sitting out with me and handing out candy. This article made me realize I’m not alone in this feeling. At least we had a good run 🙂 Next year, I will figure out an alternative plan. I enjoyed your post!
Joni, I am so glad you shared your story! I’m also glad you are thinking ahead and choosing not to get stuck in the sadness. Sounds like you have some incredible memories and lots to share with those around you. Hugs to you!