As someone who grew up in Australia, celebrating Halloween was something completely foreign to me until I moved to Canada in 2000. Of course, being a teacher at the elementary school level, the subject of Halloween is not easily avoided -- my students start thinking about their costumes weeks before the big day! The topic does provide me, as a French teacher, with authentic context in which to teach vocabulary that’s important to my students (i.e. the characters they dress as and the candy they prefer!) so it’s win-win for me -- kids getting excited about learning new vocabulary? Every teacher’s dream!
Once the school day is over, I head home to hand out candy at my own house. In a neighbourhood with a large population of families with small children you’d be silly to not take part in the fun on Halloween evening -- it’s a great way to get to know your neighbours and also it’s a lot of fun to see what all the kids are dressed up as. My first few years in Canada, we handed out candy but stayed in the house, waiting for the doorbell to ring. But after a few years of doing that, we decided we might as well head out to our front porch and stay there, complete with dinner, drinks, candy and a handful of friends who live in condos where there isn’t any trick or treating. And so was born, the Halloween Porch Party!
Are you looking for a new Halloween tradition?
Don’t have kids of your own to go trick or treating with?
Want to enjoy the fun of Halloween night from the comfort of your own porch?
Well here are three tips to help get you started on your own Halloween Porch Party:
1. The treats. If you have enough will power to buy the treats earlier rather than later, you’ll get a better selection. I’ve been known to be schlepping around the neighbourhood shops at 5 pm on Halloween night but often by then, stores are sold out or won’t have the treats you want. It’s a good idea to buy treats with the “nut free” symbol on it -- the safe choice for all kids.
Depending on how you want to handle any leftover treats, plan accordingly. If you’re okay with a few leftovers (i.e. you haven’t already been eating treat-sized candy for weeks!) make sure it’s candy you enjoy. If you don’t want to end up eating treat-sized candy until Christmas, buy stuff you won’t eat then take them into your workplace and share them with your co-workers. Of course, the best way to avoid leftovers is to buy the right amount of treats -- if you’re unsure, ask neighbours how many they typically hand out on Halloween.
If you’re inviting friends over to join the Porch Party, have them buy some treats to hand out as well. Make sure they buy something different so you have a good selection.
2. The clothes. Some Halloween evenings are pretty chilly, especially after the sun goes down, so make sure you are dressed properly. It’s a nice touch to provide comfortable cushions and blankets for your porch party guests too!
3. The food! This, for me, is right up there with organising the candy properly on Halloween night. I rarely make it home before 5 pm and often, many of the younger kids have already started trick or treating so there’s no time to prep dinner.
It makes so much sense to take the time the night before to prepare a hearty dish that’s easy to pop in the oven when you get home and serve family style on the porch. Here are some great make-ahead ideas from the Philly Canada and the Real Women of Philadelphia Recipe Gallery:
Slow Cooker Pork Stew with Dumplings
Make Ahead Unstuffed Shells
Harvest Pasta Bake
Santa Fe Chicken Casserole
What are your Halloween evening traditions?