How do you prepare a toddler for his first Halloween? Talk amongst yourselves.

Halloween pumpkins

Kim asks:

How do you get a 2 year-old prepared for Halloween? In other words, how do you get them to understand the concept of trick or treating and wearing a costume? Our son is going to be an oompa loompa (original version of course), but how do we get him excited about it?

Oh, I think the excitement will happen on its own. In fact, building Halloween up too much may backfire. It’s late in the evening, it’s cold and dark outside, he’s disoriented by the costume (and may not want to even wear it), there’s candy involved…so many opportunities for a tantrum. I say give him to basics that day and then just follow his lead.

What say you, Parenthackers? How do you prepare a toddler for his first Halloween?

More: Halloween hacks


  1. hedra says

    Let the child lead you – that’s half of what Halloween is about, reversing roles. The kids get to go be pushy and demanding to adults, tromp around like they own the place, bang on doors of total strangers, and it all allowed! COOL!

    At 2, most kids I know don’t yet have the capacity to appreciate anything more than the ‘parade’ aspect. Dressing up? They’d do that anyway, or not, and they want to do it their way, their timing, their choices. Going up to strangers and asking for candy? Um… scary! Walking around in the dark in strange places when you’re tired? Um…

    At 2, my kids enjoy wearing the costume at home, then refuse to wear it anywhere else, or decide they want to wear something else at the last moment. Hence my usual costume that age being mostly ‘a cape and a hat if they like hats, or a sword or something else to wave around if they don’t like hats’. We have options – different cape, different thing to wave, pick from their usual selection.

    They do enjoy watching their cousins/friends tromp around in costume. The silliness of it is what excites them at that point. Candy is cool, but my kids would rather not collect it at that age – they’d rather someone else do that terrifying task! Older kids are handy, there.

    I hope the Oompa-loompa enjoys the day, but don’t let the parental hopes get set up too high, and don’t expect them to enjoy it the way you remember – likely you were a lot older than two before it became exciting.

    It takes time to learn the rituals, and getting into it will come naturally with age. Let the child determine what’s fun, and what’s not. Forcing it just leaves a bad feeling for everyone, and makes it harder to enjoy the really precious moments, like when one of my kids tromped back up to the house, dumping the candy bag unceremoniously in the excitement of showing off a cool leaf they’d found. Stay in the moment, and follow along rather than leading (or pushing from the back). Then you’ll all enjoy it, and next year, or a year or two thereafter, their memories will set up the excitement without any intervention from you.

  2. Nancy says

    My son was 2 last year. He really didn’t get the concept at first but loved wearing his handmade Boots costume (which tooks years off my life – store bought from now on!). We went trick or treating with his best friend and his 5 yr old sister, and it took maybe 3 houses for him to catch on to what was happening – ring door bell, say “Trick or Treat”, get candy, say thank you, move on.

    He’s now 3 and is much more excited. I don’t know how much he remembers from trick or treating last year, but he knows he’s going to be an Incredible. He knows Halloween will be here soon. He knows Halloween means pumpkins and vampires and ghosts. And most important, to him, is Halloween means candy.

  3. Michael G says

    Try and go with other kids or family. The more the merrier. Plus give him a flashlight.

    The excitment around him should set his excitment meter to 10. If you are excited, so will he.

    I am worried my 3 yo will not want to go out. He is now afraid of EVERYTHING. the cat, the dog tail, the room with the light off.

  4. Latia H says

    Hmmm. Halloween parties are a great way to get younger kids involved in Halloween. The clubhouse in the apartment complex where I live is having a Halloween party the day before Halloween. The kids dress up , there is candy to be given (and eaten), you usually don’t stay up to o late past bedtime b/c these things are targeted towards families. After that, while its not too dark out, take the little ones to two or three houses (you’ll already have too much candy by then), and send the little one off to bed and Ebay the costume the next day. The kid is happy, you’re happy.

  5. Timothy B says

    Last year my little one was 1 1/2 and dressed as Tinkerbell. She totally got the concept of walk up, ask for candy, move to the next house.

    Of course, it was somewhat easier with a large crowd of kids to lead by example. We had a neighborhood halloween party and then walked the kids around the neighborhood.

    Only downside was the 5-10 year range of kids and the stampede from house to house. We ended up teaching her to stay back and be one of the last to ask for candy so she wasn’t caught up in the rush.

    This year she has a Tigger costume. We bought it a month ago and she’s worn it about 10 times already. She pretends she’s Tigger, again totally gets the concept and has started asking about the halloween party.

  6. Elizabeth says

    PLEASE, oh please! tell me how you are making the oompa loompa costume! I want all the details. It sounds HEEEElarious!

  7. Allison J says

    Sometimes those inexpensive costumes ARE the way to go. My daughter Zoe’s first costume was a very expensive Pooh costume that was warm, fuzzy, had a hoodie with cute ears, the works. And Halloween came and not only wouldn’t she wear it, she refused to even go trick-or-treating at all! The very next week, my wonderful 2-year-old spotted the costume in my closet and it was the only thing she wore for 3 or 4 days straight! (Try changing a diaper out of that!) Still, I did get some awesome pictures of that honey bear AFTER Halloween! This year she’s a Barbie Mermaidia princess – Hello Target!

  8. Kim says


    Here’s what we’re doing to make the Oompa Loompa Halloween Costume…

    The Overalls: Had mother-in-law make the jumper out of canvas (i cant sew to save my life, actually very simple shape for her to make pattern for) we did a freeze-frame on the movie and looked at it – just to be sure. (I’ll post pics for all to see after halloween – its sort of a surprise with our friends so don’t want to post his “fittings” photos before-hand).

    The “Underwear”:
    Off-white turtle-neck long sleeved onsie my mom dyed brown for me.
    And Brown girls tights (these were hard to find online – but I did eventually – had I known the dying would turn out looking soo good, I would have bought white and dyed them with the onsie – cuz as is stands now the tights are a tad too big and aren’t so tight on him – LOL).I have white fabric paint to make the stripes on the onsie turtleneck collar and cuffs & to stripe the tights.

    making pom-poms on the shoes with brown and white yarn – he’s wearing just plain brown buster-brown like shoes

    Instead of wig (he’d NEVER wear one)we are spray painting hair green and combing it back out of face (instead of the infamous oompa-flip).

    Orange face paint (popular since lots of pumpkins out there).

    White face paint for big white eye-brows.

    i’ll post photos on fickr and share – more than likely by 10/27 cuz his costume parade at the daycare is friday.

    Thanks to all for the tips – we’re definitely adjusting our plans now. We live in rural area so we’re now going to go crash a festival at a posh (better candy haha – we’re still kids at heart) “developed community” so he sees lots of goblins to follow suite.


  9. kim says

    As promised – here are pics of our DS dressed as an original Oompa Loompa for Halloween this year. These are from his costume parade at school (daycare)…

    hopefully that link works, if not – go here:

    we were very pleased with how it turned out – it was raining very hard that day so we opted to skip the orange face paint – and go with white eyebrows only.


  10. Ginna says

    My daughter is 1 1/2 this year and we decided to try the trick-or-treating. No stress – we’ll see how it goes. But my suggestion for a costume: we have a great kids consignment shop here in Boulder. We got a $50 Disney Pooh Bear costume that was worn once for $8.95. If you have a place like that in your town, check it out – most of the costumes have been worn once, if at all. If your little honey chooses against the costume on the big night, you’re only out a few bucks.