Since Theresa Cracked the Empty Nesters.......

Updated on October 10, 2015
S.T. asks from Sharpsburg, MD
16 answers

i LOVE halloween. and every year, the halloween bomb explodes all over our house. 4 huge rubbermaid tubs plus several huge garbage bags full of halloween stuff, including about a mile of orange lights for inside the house.

every year up to this point at least one boy has been able to come home in early october and throw the halloween around, and put up all the lights for me. but this year no boy. so i'm slowly working my way through, strewing the stuff hither and yon, but all the pop and fizzle is just not happening, and i don't even know where to start with the lights.

how on earth do i reclaim and revive a quarter century old family tradition of halloween mayhem without my huge hulking babies here to help?

yes, this is far more of a whine than a question.
:) khairete

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So What Happened?

you guys are TOTALLY the best. thanks for all the love, and all the amazing, thoughtful, terrific suggestions. my heart was warmed over and over reading these responses.

we haven't had a trick-or-treater here in over a decade (and the last one was mine own younger with his buddy). we're just too far back, down a dark lane, with houses too far apart for parents to be comfortable sending their little goblins. i get it, but i do miss it, after our old neighborhood which was one of the most popular in the county.

so all of our lavish displays are just for us. and yeah, it's probably time to scale it back. let the boys pick a few favorites for their home, and donate a few, and pare it down to the ones i love too much to part with.

but i'm happy to report that THIS year i get to go full-bore again! i've already put up the bulk of it, even figuring out most of the lights, but just got a text from the younger yesterday that he's coming home today, to watch football with his daddy, and the Walking Dead premiere with his ma. and that means cookies, and help with the last few strands of lights and tub o' decorations.

i'm over the moon. :)

hearts and flowers to ALL of you, lovies!
:) khairete

Featured Answers


answers from Boston on

Here's the deal with holidays after the kids are gone; you get to choose what you keep and what you leave behind. Start off with the decorations that you want to use and put those up first. If you are happy with how it looks then stop and call it a holiday. If not then move on and put up the next thing.

I decorate for halloween complete with home made graveyard. Its my thing. I use to decorate a lot for Christmas but once the kids grew up I cut back to some lights by the front door, a tree inside, and stockings by the fireplace. Last year I went as far as giving the kids all their name ornaments and throwing out all the rest.

So don't get overwhelmed by thinking you have to do everything because you've always done everything. Time for new traditions.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Ohhh, I feel so bad for you. I have friends going through the same thing on other holidays too. I think you have to do what makes you feel the happiest. If those lights make you bubble with joy inside then pay someone to come do them. If they are just the sprinkles on the frosting and there are other things that make you happier then do those that you can do and enjoy them.

I wish you could do it all. I love Halloween too. I have tons of crafts and stuff and I can't find them. I think they were in a storage that was broken in to and we lost everything in there.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

@ Theresa.... We also put our fire pit out front and sip on our favorite cocktails! I set up my table well ahead of time with all the goodies. It is always a fun night. I no longer carve the pumpkins but I do buy extra pumpkins because I roast the seeds and we love them!

I have about 4 bins of Halloween. Hubby brought them down from the attic last Sunday and I'm still staring at them in the garage!!

My decor is nothing like it used to be.

I do, however, have a great stash ready for the kiddos. Since I've subbed at the school 15 years, I get no less then 200 kiddos! Of course I want great stuff! I have some candy but I already have 150 pencils/erasers ready. 200 glow bracelets. I found the coolest flashing rings that will be a hit! Oriental Trading is my friend this time of year!

I get excited about Halloween night. My daughter does come help me with treats then afterwards goes to her parties with college friends.

Hopefully I'll get the webbing done this weekend in the yard. I don't like to make it too scary with little ones coming around.

One year daughter wanted a basket and hubby made a real one. We used it and it was creepy. My neighbor used it now every year in her yard. Someone is always in it, ugh

Julie I never knew of the elf until recent years. I can see frustration with the elf. FB post with him are crazy!

Have a great day everybody!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

We'll put the fire pit in the drive way, sip cocktails, and wear funny hats or masks. We have a zillion kids and a neighborhood perfect for trick or treating.

My biggest concern is our in house pumpkin carver, is not in house anymore.

Past couple days, I've actually been out shopping, for more, um, low key, grown up kind of decorations., a new chapter then, exciting (rolls eyes)!

I miss them, too.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Start small ... that's what I do. Although my family enjoys (or says they do) my creativity, no one ever steps up to help out unless absolutely necessary. And I'm like you, I go nuts.

Do a small area, stand back and admire your work. Then I open a Halloween treat bag (preferably mini choc bars) and reward myself.

The lights are horrible. I inevitably get them all hooked up and some don't work or I can't find an extension cord. Good luck :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sending you a hug....

Time to start new traditions!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

When the kids were little, I used to put on quite the elaborate display. It was my fav holiday to decorate for. But now...nothing. Our street is dead on Halloween so it feels pathetic and sad to decorate for it. We go to a friend's house where all the action is.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

S., that is A LOT of Halloween for anyone to contend with and decorate with. Honestly, it sounds a bit overwhelming if I thought I had to maintain that much effort and pizzazz.

Can you start a bit of a sorting process and retain your absolute favorites? Pile them all up on your front steps or a line up where you can enjoy it all?

I downsized Halloween with our most recent move. I now seat a full-size, real looking skeleton in our front yard bistro set with a Halloween wine glass, a dollar store cobweb with spiders and we carve one pumpkin. Done. Plus a bowl of chocolate of course. I now splurge on fantastic chocolates to give away and less decorating.

But I do get the emotional shift with the kids gone. I still have 2 at home, but they are too busy to help much. My decorator daughter moved out for university years ago and I sure do miss those days when I just gave her a budget and she planned everything. That was divine and I still tell her so.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Make a new tradition and put up what you want. There is no one saying you have to go full out anymore. Set out a few pumpkins (in my neighborhood they get stolen and smashed on the street) and put a fall wreath on the door;. Around Halloween, put up a stringing spiderweb in the front and a few more things. No need to go overboard as you will be the one taking it down around Valentine's Day.

People of the new generations don't go overboard like the ones in our time. They are happy if they get a candle on a birthday cake now days not the full fire on top. The meanings and symbolism has changed.

Give some of it away if that will help. When the kids come home send them back with things so they can use it where they are.

That's my take on the holiday traditions of the past, present and future.

Have a great day and spooky season.

the other S.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Plug in an inflatable and call it a day. lol Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I start with fall decorations in late September (since fall is not the same here in Florida) and then in October I take out the Halloween decor. After Halloween I leave the fall stuff out until December and then put up Christmas stuff.

I don't decorate the outside of our home except for our garden flag, no one can see our house from the street anyway.

If you get kids trick or treating on Halloween then I would do what you can by yourself. It is still fun for other kids to see houses decorated.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Ahhh....I am sorry you are missing your boys! It sounds like you guys always had a great Halloween! Maybe tomorrow pick a path.....either throw up the orange lights with random glee or just toss em and celebrate a downsizing and start a new tradition. Good luck and have fun!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

i am lazy when it comes to decorating. i have the kids do window clings to match the upcomming holiday and thats about all. i used to have a door hanger with something related to the next holiday hanging on it but i stopped doing that when i realised that i still had an easter bunny on the 4th of july...
for halloween i get pumpkins for the front porch, add a few window clings and i am done. christmas we have a tree and a few other items but it all fits in one tote.

scale back the amount of holiday decorations you have and do what you feel like doing. no one is comming over to grade you on how festive your house is.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi S., Loving the subject line. So sorry that you're missing your boys.

We have a neighborhood association that people can email requests like this to for assistance in such situations. My second suggestion would be to maybe call up the local high school and see if they have a list of students that hire out for odd jobs. If you find the right one(s), they might be well priced and come back to replace Halloween with Christmas or Hanukkah as the case may be??

They may not be hulking babies and they may not be yours but I'm sure they can restore the traditional grandeur. :-) S.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

S., I don't know how to answer your question, but I am cracking up at Julie's elf story. "We live in dark times" LOL Thanks for the morning smile.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

So hard to adjust to changes, isn't it? You created these wonderful traditions for the very people who aren't there to enjoy them. I'm sure you have many mental images, not just of the decorating but of the kids' excitement and costumes and next-day belly aches.

If you have trick-or-treaters, try to find a few things you can manage to do yourself to bring pleasure to the next generation of kids, even if they aren't yours. I don't celebrate Christmas, so I do a lot of outside decorating for Halloween. I don't do much inside anymore now that my son is grown. I have found it's best for me to make a "map" of what lights go where and - I kid you not - which extension cords go where (I have to sort of weave them through the bushes because of the way the different light stands connects. That way, I don't have to lay all the stuff out every year and tear my hair out. I also plug in every light strand indoors first, in case there's a bad bulb somewhere. It's hell when that happens outside and the whole display doesn't work!

Next, pick out the best of the best - favorite items, things the kids made or picked out, and label them discreetly. At some point, the kids may want these things even if they don't think so now. I imagine your kids will come around at some point and will be touched by the "inheritance" as well as the fond memories of all your wild and crazy decorating.

Is there a neighborhood kid or 3 who just love doing this stuff but don't get a chance to do it at home because their parents either aren't into it or can't afford it? You might get some willing helpers, perhaps in exchange for giving them a few duplicates to take to their own houses. Let them be a little creative in how things can be arranged - you might start a new tradition or two. And take pictures!

Look at the things you have bags and bags of - are they all important, in good condition, and meaningful? Or are some of them just items you bought on sale because you could, and they aren't meaningful? Do some sorting if you can.

Do you just need to downsize to make this more manageable? One thing I did with some Christmas ornaments and other decor that were no longer needed in our Jewish household (long story why that happened - not relevant) is that I donated them to a shelter for battered women. I had seen a listing in the newspaper of what different charities needed, and that jumped out at me. I was able to ship them to a central address of the supervising agency (because of course the address of the shelter is confidential), and the decorations got to the women and children who had left their homes with absolutely nothing. They even sent me a photo of the things all hung up - a lovely touch. So maybe there's a way to make yourself feel good while helping other kids (and adults) who just don't have the resources. If you can't find a group on your own, call the non-emergency number of your police department and ask if the domestic violence officer can refer you. There are also other local service agencies who deal with underprivileged kids and put on Halloween parties for families who can't afford costumes or candy - they might enjoy these things as well.

Hugs to you.

1 mom found this helpful
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