Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes with a Surprise Inside

These Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes with a Surprise Inside are so easy and lots of fun! You won’t be able to resist biting into these chocolate cupcakes topped with rich chocolate buttercream frosting and a surprise filling. A simple Halloween dessert! Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes with a Surprise Inside Easy Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes with a Surprise Inside will […]

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Halloween M&M Cookies in a Jar

Enjoy this easy M&M Cookies in a Jar recipe! It’s a delicious homemade gift for family, teachers or friends for Halloween. Halloween M&M Cookies in a Jar Cookies in a jar are great homemade gifts for teachers and friends! We made these tasty Halloween M&M Cookies in a Jar craft many years ago at one […]

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Witch Halloween Party Ideas

Fun Halloween Party Ideas for Witch’s Night Out! Inspiration for hosting an epic gothic black and gold themed Witch Halloween Party. Easy Witch Halloween Party Ideas Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and it’s the perfect time to invite friends over to celebrate. These Witch Halloween Party Ideas were inspired by all of the […]

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Target Is Selling Disney No-Carve Pumpkin Kits And We Want Them All

Target’s no-carve Disney pumpkin kits are a Halloween must-have

It might still be steamy summer, (hello, those of us in the south have many weeks of boob sweat left, save us) but Halloween approacheth and stores are already putting out the goods for this candy, costume, and gourd-focused holiday. It might be kind of annoying to have the end of summer seemingly rushed, but once you see these Disney no-carve pumpkin decorating kits, you’ll want a PSL in one hand and your credit card in the other, because OMG. They’re way too cute.

Naturally, this Halloween goodie can be found at Target, the place where we find basically all the things we need (and don’t need). And before you pumpkin carving purists look at me funny, let’s be real here — carving a jack o’ lantern kind of sucks.

The novelty of going elbow-deep into a pit of cold, slimy pumpkin gust wears off pretty quick, y’all. Luckily, Target and our buds at Disney heard our prayers and came up with an adorable way to avoid the carving process altogether. They’re only $10 and completely adorable. Check. These. Out.

First up is our cowboy buddy Woody and would you look at that — no pumpkin slop anywhere to be found. If you want to paint your pumpkin a coordinating color, by all means. But when it comes to dressing it up, all you need to do is push the pieces into the pumpkin. Done dinner.


Woody is far from the only choice you have. How about a Cinderella pumpkin? It totally fits with the whole coach thing. Color your big squash that gorgeous pale blue and you’ll be in perfect princess form.


Not really the princess type? Do you like your Halloween chachkies a little on the spooky side? Check out sweet Vampirina, complete with her cute fingerless gloves.


If traditional Disney is more your speed, you can have both Mickey and Minnie gracing your autumn porch-scape this season. No carving Mousekatools required.


Last but certainly not least is this completely enchanting Sally Skellington set that is obviously Halloween-friendly without going anywhere near a pumpkin.


There. See? Jack o’lanterns easy as pie.

If you want to buy them all and have an entire Disney pumpkin crew adorning your doorstep, absolutely no one will judge. Pop these little guys into the gourds, grab a pumpkin pie cocktail, and revel in your non-goopy hands. You are officially a Halloween decor genius.

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Why I Celebrate My Son’s Autism On Halloween

The holidays can be a nightmare for people and parents dealing with autism. For parents, we hope this will be the year our children will eat the same thing as everybody else at the Thanksgiving table. We pray our children will sit — and if we are really lucky — look at the camera for a family Christmas photo.

We beg our children to wear the adorable suit and tie or frilly pastel colored dress for church on Easter Sunday. We wish our children would enjoy the excitement of the holidays rather than get sensory overloaded and become so anxious that most of our holiday celebrations are cut short. As the parent of an 8-year-old with autism, I get it. Every year I feel the same way about holidays and every year I find myself dreading them more and more… except for one.


Think about it. Halloween is the one holiday where “fitting in” is actually discouraged. It’s the one holiday when standing out and being as different as humanly possible results in positive praise and feedback. And it’s the one holiday where I can make my child’s obsession with odd objects (such as fire alarms and microwaves) something people actually pay attention to in a tangible way.

I remember when my son was four years old and his obsession was microwaves. I remember him expressing how he wanted to be a microwave for Halloween and I remember thinking “Dear Lord, no. People are going to make fun of you. Don’t you want to be something more ‘normal’ like everybody else?”

But my mind was quickly changed when — after a cardboard box and some silver spray paint later — my son actually got to see his passion come to life. And better yet, he got to share that passion with everybody else. Dressed like a microwave, my son could beep like a microwave, talk about microwaves, and flap with excitement about microwaves — and every single person loved it.

Since that first Halloween four years ago, it has become the one holiday where I feel like my son can openly express his interests, and the odder they are, the more excitement they generate from others. From a microwave, to a deck, to a fire alarm, to a tornado, and this year a haunted house, my friends and family actually wait to hear and see with excitement what Grandy’s current obsession is and how I can bring it to life for others to see. It definitely hasn’t been easy and every year I wonder how I will pull it off, but somehow I do, and the results are nothing short of magical.

So for autism parents, I get that the holidays can be hard. And I understand that Halloween may just be another holiday you dread trying to celebrate with others, but I encourage you to try and look at it in a different light. Don’t celebrate Halloween because everybody else is; celebrate it because your child is what everybody else is not — and on Halloween day, that is perfectly “normal.”

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Here’s How To Deal With The Halloween Candy Problem

One of the most common questions I often hear from parents this time of year concerns what to do with candy and holiday sweets and treats.  After all, most children associate many holidays, like Halloween, with the special treats that come with the occasion.

In the words of my four-year old, My smile is so big because I’m just so excited about all this candy!” Kids will proudly tout their hard-earned loot, pillowcases upon bagfuls of everything that make parents cringe internally.

All the craze and misinformation about sugar and obesity can make parents wince at the thought of dealing with an overwhelming surge in treats around the holidays and kids who are expecting nothing less.

Many parents find themselves secretly plotting how to minimize the treasure trove of treats or strictly control every piece of candy that is eaten. If you’ve ever seen Jimmy Kimmel’s videos in which he calls parents to prank their children with, “I told my kids I ate all their Halloween candy,” you can’t deny….the struggle is real.

As parents, what are we supposed to do when it comes to allowing treats around the holidays, like Halloween? Do we cave and allow a binge fest? Do we carefully calculate and control like gatekeepers of the candy stash?

Interestingly, studies have shown that restrictive child-feeding practices lead to overeating in children.  More simply put, if a child feels deprived in any sense when it comes to eating, or is prevented from eating certain foods, like sweets, this can actually backfire when it comes to how they eat in the long-run.
So what does this have to do with Halloween candy?

Yes, we are facing enormous pressure as parents to raise healthy eaters and do our part in preventing child obesity, but not allowing children an opportunity to explore with candies, treats, and other “forbidden” foods is doing them a disservice.

Children who are actually exposed to and allowed treats will learn to eat these foods more moderately and maintain a healthier weight over their lifetime.

The bottom line is: when there is more attention, pressure, excitement, or anxiety around a certain food or food product, like candy, the more enticing it becomes, drawing a child in even further.

The more neutral these food items are approached, the more moderately a child will learn how to eat them.

While there is no perfect solution for creating a balance, there are many steps that can be taken to help your child learn to manage sweets while preserving the joy in the holidays. I, too, am learning and growing with my own children and have found the following to be helpful in our family when it comes to the many treats and sweets this time of year:

1. Help your child learn how to manage what they are given. 

Children need an opportunity to explore, process, and reflect. If your child has gone trick-or-treating, let them have the chance to go through their candies (with your guidance as age-appropriate), sort it, and pick their favorites for eating.

Letting them relish in the excitement of this aspect of the holidays is important in preventing candies and desserts from being labeled as something “bad.” If we quickly shoo away their candy loot without giving them a chance to participate, this begins to create a sense of deprivation.

2. Allow candy within structured meals and snacks. 

Giving your child the opportunity to enjoy some of their candy or treats alongside their meals or for a snack reinforces the idea that “all foods fit” and helps assure them that these foods can always be part of their future. This prevents the feeling of “deprivation,” which in turn helps them learn to eat these foods moderately.

Concerned parents fear that their child will only ever choose to eat candy if given the opportunity, but this has not been observed in children who are allowed to respond to their intuitive hunger and fullness feeding cues. Allowing your child to have candy with meals helps neutralize these treats and maintain a sense of structure with their feeding.

3. Leave out the negotiations.

Many parents fear that if left to their own accord, a child would strictly eat candy. However, children will typically eat varied foods according to what their bodies need when given the opportunity. This means there is really no need to try to coerce a child to eat vegetables before allowing a sweet, candy, or treat.

Telling a child, “You can have a candy if you eat your vegetables,” doesn’t allow them to listen to and honor their food choices.

If a child is allowed candy with a meal, they may choose to eat that first, but this does not mean they will not eat other parts of their meal according to what their body needs. Leaving out the negotiations helps make candy more neutral and less “forbidden.”

4. Keep things in perspective.

At the end of the day, remember: it is just candy. Holidays, family meals, and eating in general are meant to be pleasurable experiences, and this element is something that is often lost when we hyper focus on managing what our kids eat.

Children are much more able to manage what their little bodies need, more so than we give them credit for, and given the opportunity, they can eat intuitively. While some days might seem heavier on sweeter foods, you will likely see this balanced with other kinds of foods over the days.

Above all, rest assured in knowing that raising a child to have a healthy relationship with food itself will set the foundation for moderation and balance, whatever the holiday or season.

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As A Mom Of Teens, This Is What I Miss Most About Halloween With Young Kids

It’s almost Halloween and it feels like it was just last year when my oldest told me he wanted to be a clown, then all three of my kids wanted to be a clown just like him and I was having nightmares about running through the store trying to find matching clown wigs.

But that wasn’t last year. No, it was a decade ago. A decade.

But that’s motherhood: Looking back and feeling like things are moving at lightning speed yet being in the moment and feeling like you are walking through wet cement.

There were the days my kids’ excitement started bubbling in July about what they wanted to be, and I’d start making trips to the fabric store in September — when I’d pick out the fabric while daydreaming about the rest of their costumes.

Those days have been gone long enough to make me forget how much work it all was. For a few weeks, as the leaves began to trickle off the trees, I’d tuck my kids in and sit in front of my sewing machine and go full speed ahead until my shoulders ached so bad I needed aspirin, a heating pad, and my bed.

And I loved it.

Not “my body screaming at me” part, but their faces when they saw their finished costumes. And the way they’d clutch their little pumpkins and march up the big front porches under the street lights saying “trick or treat ” in tiny voices.

Now, the mere suggestion of dressing up together as a family or throwing a Halloween party makes them cringe.

I miss having little ones who used to be excited about helping me plant mums in planters on the back deck and bite off the ends off of candy corn.

I miss the the excitement they had when we’d show up at the school parade and march around the neighborhood before they became too old and felt too awkward to dress up.

I miss the squealing over packets of mini M&Ms and tiny chocolate bars.

I miss sneaking their candy after they went to bed.

I miss going to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins. I don’t care if it was a shit-show and never went as planned and my kids fought over the same pumpkin despite there being a million to choose from.

I don’t care, I want it back.

More than anything, I miss the moments those costumes created. I miss who they were, and I miss who I was.

Those were the days I worried that they had too much candy before bed. Now I worry about whether they are making the right choices on a Friday night while they are at a football game with their friends.

Those were the days they found magic in fake fur beards and yards of tulle. Now they find magic in designer jeans and expensive sneakers.

Those were the days when they wanted to help me make sugar cookies and dump a pound of sprinkles on each one. It would drive me bonkers and I had to scrape sprinkles out of the grooves on our wood floors for weeks.

Katie Bingham- Smith

But now they pass through the kitchen and grab a store-bought cookie because making them by myself would feel like self-torture. I would give anything to clean up a million sprinkles and scrape cookie dough off the kitchen island for a week.

I don’t make Halloween costumes for my kids anymore. And there is a part of me that feels empty around this time of year since my late night sewing dates with myself have stopped and I no longer have the anticipation of seeing them put on their costumes and then wanting to live in them for the next month.

My daughter told me last week, as we were pouring over old photos, that she remembers lying is bed, hearing my machine running, me saying bad words, and seeing lose threads scattered all over the dining room table the morning when she woke up.

She remembers, and that’s enough to get me through this year without feeling like a part of me is dead because that phase in our life is over.

That — and the big bag of mini M&Ms I ate by myself while my kids were at a football game didn’t hurt either.

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This Is The Real Reason I Go Overboard With Halloween Costumes

I’m the mom who had her kids’ Halloween costumes done in September. Before the expletives start flying, let me explain.

I grew up with a very shy mom. Most of her sentences were just single word replies to questions. Even when I’d say, “I love you mom,” she would just say, “Mmhmm, me too.” Actually, I added the “me too” part so you wouldn’t think I grew up in a Dickens novel.

Because here’s the thing: I knew she loved me. She was just one of those painfully introverted people who showed her love through actions, not words. And one of her big declarations of love was making my Halloween costume every year.

As soon as school started, we’d go to the fabric store and flip through the costume patterns until we found the perfect one. Then, night after night as I was falling asleep, I listened to the gguh-gguh-gguh of her sewing machine as she carefully sewed each seam.

We’re talking some fancy shit here. I was a bunny, a princess, even The Statue of Liberty with full crown and torch, all made of fabric. Not one shred of duct tape in sight. I loved Halloween so much that I trick-or-treated into my teens.

When I was 14, my mom got sick with breast cancer. She got better, but when I was 19, she got sick again. This time she didn’t get better. She died in the early morning on October 30th.

I wish I could tell you that the next night, some magic angel trick-or-treater came to tell me, “Your mom will always be with you.” But the only thing that visited me that Halloween and at least eight Halloweens after it was deep grief. Every year, the October Bummers would set in (“Bummers” is a cute word for snapping at everyone you love and then running to the bathroom and crying).

My dad would reassure me by saying, “That hole in your heart will heal when you have your own children.” And to a certain degree he was right. The moments of pure anguish have become fewer and further between. I now have two kids. Two amazing reasons to push through the October Bummers.

I’m grateful to my shy mom for finding an outlet to express her love. And I’m grateful to my kids for helping me reclaim Halloween and letting me pour my love on them. Even if I occasionally have to use duct tape.

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Why You Should Put A Rainbow Flag Out This Halloween

For a kid, it doesn’t get much better than Halloween. The night is highlighted by the candy, a rushed pizza dinner followed by candy, the decorations, more candy, and the best part of all: The costumes.

Costumes let kids become their favorite characters; for a whole day or at least the better part of a day, kids get to turn their imaginations and passions into a reality everyone can see. Costumes allow kids to become anything they want (within reason — no cultural appropriation, of course). And for some kids it may be the one time of year they can be anything but the self they are not comfortable being.

You can make it a lot easier on some kids with one simple but meaningful gesture: place a rainbow flag or LGBTQ inclusive sign somewhere visible to trick-or-treaters.

Halloween night may be the only time of year a LGBTQ kid can either express themselves exactly how they want or comfortably hide in plain sight under a mask. It may also be the only day a gender nonconforming kid is either allowed to wear or be accepted in a costume or clothes that don’t align with gender stereotypes. A little boy may choose a Shimmer and Shine or Disney Princess costume, complete with a flowing wig and fancy dress. A little girl may choose to emulate her favorite male super hero or sports star. These kiddos have every right to wear what they want year-round, but between parental hesitation or lack of support, peer pressure, and bullying, they may choose to keep their true colors hidden or dulled to a grayscale.

But the vibrant colors of the rainbow flag communicate something to these kids, their parents, and the rest of the community. They speak of pride and acceptance. They shout love and acceptance. And they tell the bigots that all of these things are spreading, and they can’t do a damn thing to stop it. The colors on the rainbow flag whisper affirmations of shelter and comfort.

When I was kid in the ’80s, the rainbow flag was not something I saw often. I was more familiar with the pink triangle as a symbol of homosexuality and allyship. The Nazis used an upside down pink triangle to label people who had been sent to concentration camps because an authority identified them as gay, bisexual, or transgender. It was literally a badge of shame. It was a notice that they were going to be persecuted for being queer.

The queer community reclaimed the pink triangle. It has been transformed into a symbol to remember and honor those who were punished and discarded because of their sexuality. Forget dying of a broken heart; for gay men and women, love alone was enough to get you killed. The pink triangle represented family, a family I knew I was a silent part of. Without knowing each other, we can know home in another person when we see the pink triangle or rainbow flag.

Both of these symbols represent standing in solidarity while being out, whether we were forced out or proudly choose to live an out life. Every time I saw a pink triangle or rainbow flag I relaxed a bit. I felt like if I had to tell someone my secret or if my secret got out, I knew who I could trust.

Recently a transgender teenager sent a thank you note to a neighbor for the presence of a transgender flag in their yard. The 15-year-old teen lives in an unsupportive house and said, “…every time I see your flag, I feel better. I appreciate your existence and pride.”

LGBTQ kids are looking for signs, literal signs, to feel better about themselves. They are looking for safe and welcoming spaces. They are on high alert for the people who will love and accept them as well as on guard against those who will hurt them.

Supportive parents of these kids or queer parents out with their children on Halloween night are looking for these people and spaces too. Much like the teal pumpkin shows support and inclusion to kids and their families with food allergies, a rainbow flag or an LGBTQ inclusive lawn sign takes away some of the worry. It allows gay parents and gay kids to let down their guard for a little bit. It lets us enjoy the evening without wondering if someone will place judgment or shame next to the candy in our treat bags.

Show all trick-or-treaters that you not only love their costumes but also the kid underneath. Show everyone you are an ally. Let a LGBTQ kid or parent know your home can also be their home by placing a rainbow flag where they can see it. Trust me, the kids who need to see it will. And they will remember and silently thank you.

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How To Give Our Kids An Old School ’80s Halloween

Well, here we are, folks. It’s Halloween season. My kids are at peak age—old enough to have very strong opinions about what they want to dress up as and feel they need to compete with their peers, but not old enough to have their own J.O.B.s so they can pay for their own shit. For example, my daughter came across a cute Hermione costume online that she loved. It was 80 bucks. EIGHTY DOLLARS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, CHILD.

What ever happened to ransacking the old dress-up bin and piecing together something that resembled a rockstar? Or hitting up Goodwill and getting decked out for like $5? Also, I don’t know about your kids, but in my happy suburban world, there are no less than five “trick-or-treat” events—between, schools, churches, hospitals, etc. So if you’re going to hit those up, your kids might need a back-up costume in case the first one gets ripped, muddy, or has candy stuck to it by the end of the night.

Seriously, parents. What the hell happened to Halloween? I KNOW this holiday was easier when we were kids. The biggest stress our parents had was checking the candy for needles after the nightly news ran a story one year about some deranged psychopath trying to hurt kids on Halloween. I mean, I’m not saying that’s not a big deal—it is. But I distinctly remember wanting to be a California Raisin one year, and my mom throwing a garbage bag over my head, pouring herself a beer, and calling it good. Can you imagine trying to make that fly today?

And there weren’t 82 candy-overloaded events that necessitated costuming back then. There was Halloween night and maybe a parade at school. Two events at most. I swear if my kids come home with one more “trick or treat!” flyer I won’t even need a costume. I’ll already look the part of the evil witch. Even our grocery store tried pulling that shit. Like I am going to willingly drag my ass back to the GROCERY STORE of all places to let my kids trick or treat? Because being there eleventy times a week isn’t enough? Thanks, but no.

So here’s what I propose. Let’s dial it back a notch (or twelve) and give our kids a simple, fun, old school Halloween. This is what we’ll need:

1. Pillowcases.

None of these fancy Darth Vader or Paw Patrol light up talking buckets for collecting candy. If I have to replace the batteries in my kids’ BUCKET, we’ve officially gone too far, people. Plus, a pillowcase held way more candy, didn’t it? Every year my kids fill their buckets when we are a 1/2 mile from home and I’m left cramming candy from the last few houses into my purse. Pillowcases don’t fill up until they are too heavy to hold, and that’s how it should be. (However, if you’re a loyal bucket family, but you are committed to going old school, the only alternative to a pillowcase is a straight from the ’80s orange jack-o-lantern bucket with a black plastic handle. Got it? Good.)

2. Plastic masks.

You know the ones—made of that super cheap, bendable plastic? Probably made with 800 chemicals we heavily breathed in all night long? Mmmmm. Suck in all that BPA, kids! Those were the days. We could be anything from Freddy Krueger to Richard Nixon back then. The store shelves were lined with them and they only cost like 50 cents, so you could even grab a couple and switch costumes half way between a trick and a treat.

3. ONE costume made at home.

And no, I’m not saying Mom needs to drag out her sewing machine (do people still have sewing machines?) or even a needle and a thread in order to be truly old school. I’m saying use some imagination! Dig through the dress-up bin, or an older sibling’s hand-me-downs. Tie a long t-shirt on the side with a scrunchie, throw your hair in a side pony and BOOM. You’re Debbie Gibson. (Just don’t forget the blue eye shadow.)

I know you don’t know who she is, kids, but the same concept works for Taylor Swift. Think outside the box already. Want to be Hermione? Guess what? You can make your own cloak by draping an old blanket or sheet around yourself and find a stick in the yard to call your wand. That’s what 7-year-old me would have done anyway. You think Grandma was about to drop a bunch of cash on a costume that would end up with bubble gum and Laffy-Taffy stuck to it? She’d have laughed in my face.

4. Remember the candy rule.

Let the kids eat the candy. Seriously. Not “oh, we trade ours in for a toy” or “we get to pick our three favorites and bring the rest to the dentist to show we care about our teeth.” That’s a beautiful notion, but if we are really rocking a vintage Halloween here, we need to get our kids to eat AirHeads and Snickers until they puke, or at least feel mildly ill. Let them come home, dump their loot on the living room floor, trade Skittles for Tootsie Pops, and have at it while we sit with our feet up and drink a cold one.

6. Bring back clowns.

Listen, clowns have always been creepy AF. That’s not new. But growing up, the scariest clown was the character from It (the original). Any real-life clowns were goofy characters hired for toddlers’ birthday parties who had rubber noses and giant shoes. So for one day, forget about the killer clown craze of 2016 (the only thing as terrifying as that year’s election) and let your kids dress up as clowns if they want. And, remind them that if they see a clown, more than likely it’s also a person in costume, not a serial killer (especially if said clown is four feet tall).

7. Old school party decor

If you’re hosting some Halloween festivities, now is your time to really shine and show your kids how awesome our fright nights were as kids. Put some cold noodles in a bowl for the classic “bowl of brains” trick. Hang those black plastic spider rings all over your house, serve some Ecto-Cooler punch, and blast Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in the background. And if you really want to impress your elementary school aged guests, dig out your old strobe light from your parents’ basement. Boom. You’re officially the coolest parent on the block. No need for Pinterest, because guess who didn’t have the internet to peruse for ideas? ’80s moms, that’s who.

Okay, there it is. A classic vintage Halloween—plastic chemicals, pillowcases, and all. I’m either gonna be Jem or Like a Virgin Madonna—I’m still on the fence. What about you?

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