Monday, October 7, 2019

Halloween Surprises


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:
So here's one of the things that absolutely floored me. Did you know this? That if you stack candy corn like this, it becomes a cob of corn? this was jawdropping  the first time I saw it--and continues to wow me. Amazing. I mean, someone thought of this, and designed the little candy corns to be ACTUAL candy corns. Remember, I am from Indiana, so this is not city-girl Hank being baffled by corn. (I am not fond of candy corn, but I love this every time.) Did you know it?

ANYWAY.

I was so impressed to hear of our Jungle Red blogger pal Jay handing out comic books to his trick-or-treaters on Halloween. What a wonderful and generous idea. And it beautifully crosses the cool line. If we handed out, say, pencils, it would not have the same cachet. Or, a little notebooks, that trick-or-treaters could fill in with their deepest thoughts and poetry.

I’m just imagining that for a minute.

I remember the dismissive sneering we did, as kids, when we got apples, or raisins. Items that are forbidden now, aren’t they? Because of what might be hidden inside. Homemade anything, I guess, is suspect.




Personally, I use Halloween as an excuse to get Twizzlers. Individually wrapped Twizzlers. Then I am always loathe to put them out by the door, because someone will take them all. I know, you are saying, Hank, that is the point. But I selfishly save some back for myself. Along with the Snickers. And the Almond Joys. And the Mounds Bars.

So now while there's still time to plan, I am trying to think if there is anything else as clever as comic books to hand out for Halloween trick-or-treaters. What do you all have at your door? And might you… have any alternative ideas?


RHYS BOWEN: Okay, I confess. I only buy Kit Kat and Snickers in large numbers because I know almost no children come to our house and there will be at least two bags left. And someone has to do their duty and eat them, right?

I used to go through my own children's bags and throw out anything that looked as if it was homemade or had been tampered with, unless I knew the neighbor who had made the popcorn balls. 

Other things I have given away? Fake spiders, Halloween puzzles, but now I figure it's just once a year and kids should be allowed to binge on chocolate once. They certainly look forward to the holiday enough! For most kids it's bigger than Christmas.

JENN McKINLAY: I want to trick or treat at Jay's house! Giving out Comics is brilliant!


 I am bummed out this year because I'll be at Bouchercon and the Hub refuses to pass out candy so I can't even decorate the house because I don't want to give kids false hope. And I usually deck out the whole house - full sized skeleton, strings of light up skulls and pumpkins, a scarecrow, headstones, a huge spider, ghosts, etc. And I give out tons of candy. ALL the candy! 

So, there's your answer, Hank. This candy freak gives out about ten bags of candy per year and I love every second of it. No ore conferences on Halloween - grump, grump, grump.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I think Jay's comics are so brilliant!! I've never given out anything nearly as fun on Halloween. My mom used to love to sit on our porch swing with me and give out treats, but these days we don't have many trick-or-treaters and last year I never even managed to buy candy. Boo. And now I'm craving KitKats, so maybe it's a good thing I won't have an excuse to buy them this year.

HALLIE EPHRON: I agree, Jay's comics are brilliant. I'd have been lined up at his front door.


Jerry's Pumpkin!
We NEVER keep candy in the house so Halloween is my one excuse (and Christmas) to have some. Chocolate! Almond Joy. Hershey's kisses. (They come in dark chocolate now.) I buy what I like so that I'll enjoy the leftovers. Because life's too short...

My husband carves a brilliant pumpkin.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Thank heavens almost no one comes to my door for Hallowe'en, because my house sitter would be stuck with the job this year, and I strongly suspect that as a young single woman, she'll have better things to do than stay at my place, waiting to hand out candy. (I, also, always get something I love - the Hershey's mini collection with the mini Reeses cups.

One of my nephews is extremely peanut-allergic, which made me aware of the importance of also having non-candy items so kids with any sort of allergy can take part in the fun. One of my go-to places is Party City, where they have fun little goodies. 


There are Hallowe'en specific things like spider rings and bloody eyeballs, but their birthday party favors section also has tiny toys, games, and disguises.  Another good place for cheap non-candy fun? The Dollar Store. Coloring books, crayons, fairy wands, pirate hats, etc., etc., etc.

LUCY BURDETTE:  We live off the beaten track so I don't buy candy. I would eat it, period. I bought candy corn a couple of weeks ago for a Halloween recipe for Mystery Lovers Kitchen. After I made the cookies (a kitchen disaster!), half the bag was left. It sat in the pantry, calling to me--and I don't like candy corn very much! After I'd eaten half the bag, I had to throw it out.

Back on topic, I love Jay's comic book idea. Coloring books and crayons brilliant too, but that would get expensive!

HANK: And oh, Jenn you are right--we'll all be at Bouchercon for Halloween. Hmm. Wonder how Jonathan will handle that. Wonder if there will be any Snickers left...
Oh, and look at these Twinkie minions a pal of mine made!
How about you, Reds and readers? What's your Halloween strategy?

RED HOT NEWS
Hank is still on tour for THE MURDER LIST! This week in Wisconsin with Jennifer Hillier, in Minnesota with three fab authors, and in Rhinebeck, New York with Carol Goodman. Check my website for all the details
AND I have one review copy of THE MURDER LIST--if you are interested and do reviews, be the first to email me at hryan at whdh dot com. 
 And for a big excerpt of  THE MURDER LIST  audio, click here.

JULIA: I's October, which means the third Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery, HID FROM OUR EYES, is on sale for just $2.99 all month! 

Prefer a paper copy? Enter at Goodreads for your chance to win one of 25 copies!

71 comments:

  1. No trick-or-treaters are likely to rap on our door [they never do since we are kind of in the woods, but I have Hershey miniatures and Reese’s peanut butter cups just in case].

    We’ve never done much in the way of handing out Halloween treats because when the little ghosts and goblins were out, we were busy taking our children around the neighborhood. I always made cookies and got some candy for treat bags so I could give them to all the children in my class along with a book . . . .

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  2. I don't get much traffic at my condo since it would require tons of stairs to get to four doors. In fact, the last time I was home, I don't think I had anyone. (I went for a run, so I missed any early trick or treaters, and my neighbor was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, so some people might not have bothered to climb stairs.)

    For a few years, some friends had a Halloween party every year, and since that was the only time I saw, them, I always went. They haven't had it the last few years, so I will probably check out the carnival my church puts on again this year. It was fun to hang out and chat with friends, and the kids were definitely enjoying the games.

    I'll probably buy some Milky Ways in case I am home. And then, if I'm not, I'll eat it all myself.

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    1. No, Mark, if you don't have to buy it for the trick-or-treaters, the time to buy your candy is the day AFTER Hallowe'en! 1/2 price off!

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    2. Ha ha! Day after Valentine’s Day and Xmas are good!

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    3. It’s always good to have milky ways, correct? And then you can freeze them, too! Yum

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  3. We never get trick-or-treaters where we live anymore, not since our adult children were little and their friends from down the road came by. We live on a road where it's not conducive to kids walking on it. Of course, that doesn't stop me from buying candy, because, well, what if. I usually have the Halloween size Kit Kats and Reece treats (they have white chocolate ghosts this year, yum). I rather miss the trick-or-treaters, as I love Halloween so much. I do still decorate inside for it.

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    1. Same here, Kathy - our rural neighborhood had five families with kids all around the same ages, and for a few years when they were small, we had a lively little Hallowe'en going here. Then the kids got bigger, and went to private parties or trick-or-treating in the city (so much loot!) and now it's a miracle if one or two kids comes to the door.

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    2. I do love seeing the trick-or-treaters! They are often so adorable, and so proud of themselves.

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  4. When you live in an apartment, no one comes by for candy-- so when I first got my house, I was looking forward to hordes of kids coming by. But then they went to Sunday afternoon trick-or-treating because DAYLIGHT (no one ever saw ET?). My house was on a block that straddled two villages, one of which had hours of two to four and the other of four to six, and apparently no one could figure out which we were, so NO ONE CAME BY and I wound up with all that candy. One year I even took it down the block and dropped it off at neighboring homes where I knew there were children (apparently, going to your grandparents' home to show off your costume is a thing nowadays, so these kids didn't come around the block). And now I'm back in an apartment, so I don't bother buying in advance.

    But if you get up early enough the morning after Halloween (or Christmas, or Easter, or Valentine's Day) you can get tons of candy for half price. One day-after-Valentine's-Day, I found cherry-flavored Peeps hearts with a dark chocolate bottom, but I've never seen them since.

    This is my chance to pad my hips with variations on a theme of nuts and chocolate. Twizzlers are my summer thing, but Peeps are my secret vice. At Halloween they come in white (ghosts) and orange (pumpkins). Thank heaven, none of it tastes like pumpkin spice.

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    1. Peeps anytime except Easter? Surely the end times have come.

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    2. I have never actually eaten a peep. I hear they are fun to blow up in the microwave, though :-)

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    3. But are they fun to clean up afterward?

      Inquiring minds, and all that.

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    4. I love Peeps as much as candy corn - only during their appropriate holidays, however. Junk food purist.

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    5. Yeah, hmm, why don't YOU try it, and tell me?? :-)

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    6. For the peeps, you need a paper plate. Place the peep on the plate, and hit go on the micro. They don't actually explode, just get all giant and weirdly swollen, then they deflate. To up the game, you need Jousting Peeps. So, two peeps on a plate. Stick a tooth pick in each one, pointing out, like a lance. Position the peeps facing each other. Two different colors, so you can gather a crowd to place bets on the winner. The first to get so swollen it is pierced by the other is, clearly, the deflated loser. Dumb, truly, but fun!

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  5. We do get trick or treaters, and like others, I stock up on the candies I like, mainly Reeses peanut butter cups, Baby Ruth, and peanut M&Ms, with a bag of non-nut candies for those who need it. Word question: leftovers are the ones that don't get handed out. Are the ones I eat before Halloween preovers? ;^)

    I'm excited to speak at Jay's mystery book club this Thursday!

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    1. And what do we call the candy we, as sensible parents, remove from our kids' bags so they don't overeat sugar? (Aka stealing from babies.)

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    2. Maybe they’re called… Test candies? You are doing it just to make sure they are OK. Someone has to do the hard stuff .

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  6. Wow, my little idea serves as a blog post inspiration. I'd say I can officially die now but that would mess up the Halloween plans so I won't do that.

    Hank, thanks for liking my little idea!

    Edith, I'm looking forward to Thursday as well.

    As for my full Halloween plans, I have a ton of candy (with one more bag to buy) already. I've got a wide assortment of candies to give out and I usually give away a lot of any leftovers to co-workers. Yes I still eat some myself but if I don't give it away I would be twice the size I am now.

    I also give away the comics, but because I have a wide range of titles (kids, older kids and for the teenagers who should not be out trick or treating) I can sometimes theme the comics I give to the kids. Come up in a Star Wars costume, get a Star Wars book. I've got Disney princess comics and a big Frozen book for the first Elsa at the door.

    But I've also got action figures and other special prizes for costumed candy seekers as well. First Star Wars costume gets a Star Wars figure. Any girl that comes dressed as a superhero will be able to take their pick of a Wonder Woman, Supergirl or a couple of other figures from the DC Superhero Girls line (of which I also have a comic featuring the same characters).

    If there's a particularly fantastic or original costume, they get extra candy. One year I had a kid dressed as The Doctor from Doctor Who. I said, Oh...the Tenth Doctor? And because he knew the difference and said, "No, I'm the Ninth Doctor"...the extra candy was his.

    I've had mini packs of crayons, Super Hero Clix figurines, wordless comics for the kids who don't read and even a bunch of Magic the Gathering card sets to give out in the past.

    I've got one little girl that as soon as she leaves her house to start the annual candy accumulation, turns to her mother and says, "When are we going to the comic book house?"

    In years past, we even had dog biscuits for the groups that walked around with the family dog.

    It requires me to set everything up the morning of Halloween since I get home from work just minutes before everyone (the REALLY young kids that are in bed by the time most trick or treaters hit the streets) starts showing up.

    And family friends usually get a big sandwich bag full of one piece of every single kind of candy I have to offer. I even sent two big bags of candy to a high school classmate's four year old daughter in New York one year because she was sick and couldn't go out. I included a special letter from Jack O. Lantern, the Chief Pumpkin Duster explaining how she was getting the special Halloween Candy Package.

    It's kind of funny that I do all this stuff because I am generally a grumpy old man but I like doing and since I'm not really all that into the more horror aspects of the "holiday", this keeps my interest level up for the event.

    And just a side note: Any Jungle Red posters that happen to be in the area on Thursday October 10th starting at 6pm should come by the Wareham Free Library for Edith Maxwell's appearance there. Come One, Come All!

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    1. You are astonishing Jay! We bow to the king of Halloween!

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    2. Eh, I just give out a lot of stuff on Halloween, I don't know that I've conquered and pillaged my way to a throne or anything. :D

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    3. You are so right! The king of Halloween! And that “Ninth Doctor story… Fabulous. (And the ninth doctor is not a bad title… )

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  7. Since I live way off the road in the back of beyond I have never had trick-or-treaters. Of course I always bought candy and then had to eat it myself!

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  8. Rural, kid-less neighborhood. So much for trick or treaters. However, doesn't stop me buying candy, just in case. Mounds, Snickers, Baby Ruths, M&M peanuts....you never know!

    And, Jay, the planning sounds just as much fun as the doing--all those ideas for 'best of'--wow!

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    1. I am sensing a theme, Flora! And you know how I love themes.

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  9. I will be spending Halloween with the Reds in Dallas, but thanks for the reminder. We usually get a lot of kids, and I'll see if my house sitter wants to participate. I may have to buy a few bags of candy to have in reserve, you know, just in case.

    However, in addition to the Reds, four of my six grandchildren live in the Dallas area, and my daughter, too, now. My granddaughter will also be there for a couple of days, the weekend before Bouchercon. I plan to buy a ton of pumpkins so the little boys and Sarah can carve them. I suspect 15 year old Max will be far too cool for that. Hormones are such a pesky thing when you're a teenager.

    A few years ago we were in Sarlat-la-Caneda On October 31. It's a medieval walled city, lit by gas lights, very appropriate. At dusk there appeared swarms of little ghost and goblins, and they went to all the cafes and restaurants and bistros and bars, threatening mayhem I'm sure. They were rewarded with handfuls of candy! I can't imagine children being turned loose in a city center here, but the French children were allowed to run free for a couple of hours. It was splendid. We got out all our small change, and the ones who passed by us got a coin or two. They were very polite, all bonsoir, merci beaucoup, au revoir mesdames. What a pleasure.

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    1. Oh, that sounds glorious! So perfect. What a fabulous memory!

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  10. We always order something in bulk from Oriental Trading, some small plush toy, keychains, etc. We also usually have some type of candy that we give out in conjunction, but like most of you, it's always something that we enjoy ourselves - so that it never goes to waste. If there are any of the "giveaways" left over, I take them into the day job office. They love to see what we gave out and are happy to take some home to their children OR in the case of the year we gave out plush emojis, we keep them all over the office to use when we want to express how we are feeling - just attach one to your cubicle doorway. LOL.

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    1. Plush emojis! A phrase I never thought I would utter… But they sound fabulous! Brilliant.

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  11. We live in a very rural area (and behind a locked gate), so we don’t ever have trick or treaters anymore. When we lived in Colorado we got to pick our pumpkins from a gigantic pumpkin patch (best days EVER for an October birthday girl!!). My son and I would plan our pumpkin carvings for weeks - from those carving kits. We always had to have a cat of some sort. We carved anywhere from three to six pumpkins! Plus we had even more than that on display on our porch (a girl can never have too many pumpkins!). We had people - adults and kids alike - that came from all the surrounding subdivisions just to see our pumpkins each year. I don’t even remember what kind of can’t I would buy - just big bags of it, and chocolate, because that’s what I love in case there were leftovers. I’m not in to Halloween so much as pumpkins and all things fall. In central Texas we don’t really have “fall.” This year, for the first time ever, I’ll be at Bouchercon too! I kind of lean to the introvert side, so this is a big deal for me. �� But I am SO excited about the chance to meet all of the Jungle Red Writers than I get giddy every time I think about it!!

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    1. Cannot wait to meet you! And we can celebrate our October birthdays together :-)

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  12. I'm just as happy to be at Bouchercon this year for Halloween - which I admit is one of my least favorite holidays.

    We are the first house after the streetlights end, so we get very few trick or treaters. I generally buy the mixed bag with Snickers, etc. because I know there will be a lot leftover. Wonder what The Hubby and The Boy are going to do this year while I'm gone.

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    1. Another great title… For a children’s book maybe? “After the Streetlights End.” Hmmm

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  13. When we lived in Durham, we would get over 400 trick or treaters every year. No matter how much stuff we bought, it was never enough. There were lots of young women who would drive up and run to the door with a pillowcase, asking for something for the babies sleeping in the car. I wished I could give them something healthier--i suspected that this was tomorrow's dinner--but I think everyone was too suspicious to accept oranges and the like.

    Here in our 55+ community, there are no trick or treaters. If some showed up, I'd have to do like Walter Matthau and give them my stapler.

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    1. You are hilarious! That would be such fun to see… And wow, 400 trick-or-treaters? Yikes !

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  14. Our trickortreat population varies from year to year. We live on a short street and sometimes the kids skip us to stay on the long streets. My husband always dresses up as something spooky, although one year he dressed as El Chapo which was a hit with the Hispanic parents. Last year we had rain off and on. Our neighbor on the corner and our next door neighbor all wound up on our porch drinking wine and handing out candy. Three households at one stop! I buy a mix of candy that I will deign to eat if any is left over. Although last year Frank took the leftovers to the Red Cross office so HE wouldn't eat all the candy. Of course this year we'll both be at Bouchercon so I'll buy candy and my granddaughter can hand it out. My nextdoor neighbor will be Wonder Woman as usual and Julianna can join her if she wishes. My little brother is mildly autistic. I invited him over to hand out candy last year as his neighborhood has aged out of trick-or-treaters. So I guess I'll extend the invitation this year. We'll see what he does. So as to the Halloween party at Bouchercon. What kind of costumes are you folks going to wear? Western, scary, or other?

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    1. We’re supposed to wear costumes at Bouchercon ?? Really?? My suitcase might not be able to handle that… But what are you wearing?

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    2. Not sure. My husband will no doubt paint his face and wear a cowl. As for me, I have the makings of a Lizzie Borden outfit. Just don't know if I want to haul all that stuff up to Dallas. Lazy.

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  15. I discovered lunchbox packets of Halloween pretzels so I give those out at Halloween instead of candy. The kids like them! I also give out dog treats.

    My older kids were both born Halloween week (what was I thinking?) which means our household was on a manic high starting October 1st and not letting up until early November. We did have cool Halloween-themed parties.

    Love the comic books!

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  16. For over 30 years we haven't had a single trick or treater. Now that we've moved, I doubt we will get any, either, but I may have to be prepared. I'll probably just get a dozen or so full-sized candy bars and set them out in a bowl for potential stragglers. You'd really have to be desperate to "keekle" on our dark road.

    When we were children that's what we would say as we approached doors on Halloween: "Keekle, keekle!" I think it must be from the German, does anyone know?

    Jay, I'm in awe, not just at your generosity, but at how thoughtfully you curate your offerings to the kids. That is just splendid.

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    1. Oh, I have never heard that word! Let’s look it up… !

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    2. I have, and just did again, but cannot find it under any potential spelling. And my mother is no help, although that's where we got it.

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  17. Karen, thanks. It's semi-required to do so because you don't want to accidentally give a young kid a book meant for slightly older readers. In this day and age, the parents would do more than just knock on the door to complain.

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  18. Double checking the schedule, Hank. October 31 has a murder mystery play followed by a costume party. Western or Halloween, your choice. Well, I'm already bringing my boots. Maybe I should switch to western to save on luggage? I don't know.

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    1. Oh, thank you! I guessI should check... :-) xoxooo Cannot wait to see you, no matter what you're wearing!

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  19. Many wonderful ideas for Halloween treats! I love candy corn. Yum! At my local organic independent grocery store, they have candy without peanuts, no dairy nor gluten. Every year we never know if kids are coming to the door for Halloween treats.

    And it is so fun to dress up in a costume for Halloween!

    Diana

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  20. Coffee Crisp is my weakness. The grandsons know to save them for me.

    About that candy corn....wow, who new. I admit I like them, but in very small doses. They are ALL SUGAR.

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  21. I too am house sitting. With lights off and 3 excited dogs. Fear me.

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  22. Halloween is the Best Day of The Year. It's also my birthday. But even it wasn't, I'd still think it was the best day of the year. I agree with Kristopher--Oriental Trading Co. is the way to go. I like buying things like pull-back cars or glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls or mini bottles of slime, even though I know it's wasteful and blah blah blah.

    (And, Hank, I had no idea about the candy corn stacking either.)

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    1. Isn't it AMAZING?? I am trying to decide whether it's worth it to go buy yucky candy corn so I can try it for myself.

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  23. Great ideas, all. When I was growing up, we lived way back in the woods so no one ever came and we couldn't walk door to door. So we went with my parents to a friend's house (her father was my father's partner) and my sisters and I and Lucy walked her neighborhood, (a really great one for going door to door) and our parents visited and had cocktails.
    We had a weekend house in the NC mountains in a small town. There are no neighborhoods and no street lights outside of Main Street. So years ago, the merchants in town go together and organized Halloween in town. All of the merchants decorate and put a table in front of their doors. You go up one side of Main Street and down the other and they hand out candy . It's charming. Everyone dresses up and some of the costumes are priceless! They have recently changed it so that it's always on a week night because some out of towners were coming up on the weekends in buses and taking all the children's candy.

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  24. Oh Julia, you meant your third book, OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY, not HID FROM MY EYES, didn't you?

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    1. (I bet our Julia is in pre-publication hustle-bustle....) :-)

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  25. We get about 100 kids (I live in a development). I make up bags with candy, pencils, and a toy. If it’s warm enough I like to sit outside (sometimes light the fire pit) with a mask on. I also fill a wagon with overflow kids books from my Little Free Library so they can’t take whatever they want.

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    1. You are perfect! That's SO wonderful. Pencils. And books. Awww. LOVE that.

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  26. Mom was the lady that have out raisins. I ate raisins like candy. Mom stayed home to pass out the treats, Dad was grumpier than Mom so he took us around the subdivision and no trick or treating after after sixth grade. I haven't had many little kids where I live. I think the schools have so many safe carnivals that the little guys just aren't going out anymore. I really don't like big kids truck or treating, some are bigger than me. I normally go for the Tootsie Roll mixed bag and, like so many others, I don't need to have a supply of candy this year, I'm going to be Texas during Halloween.

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    1. Yay, Deana! See you there. ANd bring Tootsie rolls! xoxxoo

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