Get some expert advice on Halloween crafts, costumes, décor and much more from TheFind’s Q&A series with Real Simple’s Home Director, Betsy Goldberg.
What are some of the ideas on your kids’ Halloween costume list?
I have two girls ages 9 and 5, and they usually go for the costumes with some kind of special little accessory. Last year my older one was a police officer because of the cute aviator sunglasses, and my younger one was a devil, with a little horned headband. This year my 9-year-old is going to be a Grecian goddess, with one of those gold braided bands you wear around your head. My little one wants to be “a scary witch, not a cute witch” so I have to figure out some clever face painting to make that happen.
What suggestions do you have for parents shopping for hard-to-find items?
Besides the biggies like orientaltrading.com and Halloweenexpress.com, we’ve found great items on trendyhalloween.com, hauntedprops.com, and frightcatalog.com. It can also help to ask for ideas on mom message boards like Baby Center—moms are pretty resourceful! Pinterest searches with varied phrasing (i.e. “Greek goddess costume for girls,” “Grecian goddess kid costume,”) can turn up a ton of options too, including DIY versions to try.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on Halloween costumes?
Swap with friends. Most of the time they’re keeping costumes their kids have worn just once so they’re in great condition. And check your closets—you might be able to put together a costume without buying anything. Real Simple staffers demonstrated this for adult costumes.
Any tips for parents who have very young trick or treaters?
Don’t pick a costume that relies on a big accessory like a witch’s broom or an uncomfortable mask—your kid will abandon it in the first 10 minutes of trick or treating, and then it’s disheartening for them to keep getting the question, “Oh and what are you?” Bring an extra bag, a Ziploc or shopping bag, so that you can siphon out some of the collected candy as you’re trick- or-treating—those pumpkin buckets can get really heavy for kids! Also, before Halloween, it’s a good idea to recap how it works: You’ll ring the door, say “Trick or Treat?” and someone will open the door and hand you candy or offer you a bowl of it. This way, you get a chance to remind them not to grab fistfuls of candy and to remember to say thank you! Another good tip: know your kids and how long they’ll last walking around the neighborhood. That way you can plan accordingly to avoid meltdowns. But no matter how late you get home, let your kids have a chance to spread out their candy, count it, categorize it, trade—it’s often more fun and memorable than eating it.
What are your must-have Halloween décor items?
You really don’t have to go all out and decorate the whole house. In the Halloween feature in the October issue of Real Simple, we show how to make a big impact by decorating just the foyer, since that’s where you’re handing out candy. Hang a colorful garland above your console, fill a big glass jar with a bunch of fake bones, put creepy eyeball chocolates in a bowl, or scatter plastic spiders across the table—just a little something to set a spooky vibe.
Are there any DIY crafts that you recommend parents create with their kids?
It’s really easy to “mummify” juice boxes or big candy bars by wrapping with white crepe paper and adding googly eyes. I also love a twist on the traditional carved pumpkin. In Real Simple’s Halloween feature, we show a rainbow pumpkin made by sticking in colorful map pins, in evenly spaced rows, and a “bloody” pumpkin made by melting unwrapped red crayons over the top of a white pumpkin. And your kids can even make their own trick-or-treating bags—we show 5 cute, super-easy ideas on realsimple.com.
Betsy Goldberg was named Home Director of Real Simple in December 2013. In this role, Goldberg oversees the award-winning lifestyle brand’s home content, which includes conceptualizing and shaping the magazine’s monthly decorating, cleaning, and organizing stories and overseeing features across the brand’s multimedia platforms.
Before joining Real Simple, Goldberg served as Deputy Editor of HGTV Magazine, where she oversaw decorating, organizing, and home improvement content and was the liaison to HGTV Network stars. Previously, Goldberg was a Senior Editor at Us Weekly and the Deputy Editor at Modern Bride, where she worked for six years. She has also worked as a Reporter at New York Magazine and as an associate editor at the luxury-lifestyle glossy CS. In addition, Goldberg has written for Glamour, Health, Coastal Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, Money, AOL, and Time Out.