Tag Archives: Halloween

Halloween Safety Tips

Happy Halloween everyone! I believe Halloween is one of the best holidays out there. I mean, when else is it acceptable to pretend to be someone else for a whole day, whether real or imagined, and no matter what age you are? It’s a night when we get to let our creativity fly in costumes we’ve worked on for months (or threw together 10 minutes before going out). And there is nothing like going door-to-door to collect different treats at random houses. Think you or your kids are too old for this annual tradition? I urge you to read up on reporter Meg McConahey’s experience as an undercover trick-or-treater at last year’s Halloween. If all else fails, come by my house on Halloween night. Whatever your age, if you’re wearing a costume you’re guaranteed a fun size candy bar or two.

Of course, Halloween is also a night when safety counts. With so many little ones on the same street as drivers as well as plenty of interactions between children and strangers, there is huge opportunity for things to go awry. So I’m including a list of tips and talking points to bring up with your kids before going out tonight.

Younger Kids:

~ Never go into a house of someone you don’t know, unless your parents are there with you and say it’s ok.
~ Stay near your parents while going out.
~ Stay off the street, and cross as a group. Don’t run, but walk across to be better seen by drivers.
~ Never dart into the street until your parent says it’s ok, and be sure to stick with them.
~ Refrain from eating candy you receive until you’re home and your parent has checked through all of it.
~ Opened candy or homemade treats should not be eaten at all, and should just be thrown away.

Older Kids/Teens:

~ Going out as a group is not only more fun, but a lot safer – especially if you’re trick-or-treating without a parent around.
~ Do not go into anyone’s home or car you don’t know.
~ Be extra careful when crossing the street.
~ If you’re at a party, have a buddy system. Guard your drink. And if things get out of hand, call an adult to come get you. Better to risk getting in trouble than getting hurt….or dead.
~ Vandalism is against the law. Making someone else clean up mess or pay for damage you created is not only unfunny, it can get you and/or your parents in a lot of trouble.
~ Torturing or killing animals, like black cats, is definitely not funny. Not only is it hurting an innocent animal, it can also land you in a lot of trouble.


~ Know your neighborhood, or the neighborhood you’re trick-or-treating in. Check out the maps at meganslaw.ca.gov and avoid the houses of sexual predators.
~ Consider nixing trick-or-treating altogether and attending a carnival.
~ A costume is safer if it doesn’t include vision impairing masks or is so long it causes tripping. Also, ensure that any weapon or prop they are holding has no sharp points should they fall on it or accidentally hit someone with it. And being that most doorsteps will hold a lit candle, all costumes should be fire proof or treated with fire retardant.
~ Everyone in the group should wear something that will make them easily visible in the dark, like reflective tape and a glow stick. Also, carry a flashlight.
~ If your kids are not going with you, know the route they will be taking beforehand, and set a curfew for when they should be home. Ensure they stay in well-lit areas and to not go through alleys or short-cuts.
~ If your older kids are attending a party, have a talk with them about drinking and being safe. Make it ok for them to call you should anything go wrong. It’s better for them to be safe than to be caught in a bad situation because they were too afraid to call home. Meet the parents who will be supervising the party, and get phone numbers.
~ Have a very serious talk with your child about vandalism and animal cruelty. Stress the consequences of such actions, morally and legally.


~Go slower than the speed limit, especially when you see people walking on the side of the street.
~ If you see a car stopped, STOP and assess the situation. It’s possible they are just waiting to make a turn. But it’s also possible they are waiting for someone to cross the road or get into their car.

There are many things to be aware of on Halloween night. For more safety tips, I highly recommend the site halloween-safety.com. If you have more tips for families on Halloween night, please include them in the comments.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Costumed kid bullied by moms

Halloween is over, the costumes put away until another year, or to eventually be given away. The decorations are being taken down. And the rotting pumpkins on the stoop are (hopefully) making their way into the garbage can. For the most part, October’s holiday is behind us as we focus on the holiday season ahead.

But for one mom, Halloween is still haunting her. And it has everything to do with her son, and his choice of Halloween costume.

Before I tell her story, here is what “Cop’s Wife” (CW) of NerdyAppleBottom.com has to say:

My Son is Gay (Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son.)

1. My son is 5 and goes to a church preschool.
2. He has loved Scooby Doo since developing the ability and attention span to sit still long enough to watch it.
3. Halloween is a holiday and its main focus is wearing a costume.
4. My son’s school had the kids dress up, do a little parade, and then change out of costumes for the rest of the party.
5. Boo’s best friend is a little girl
6. Boo has an older sister
7. Boo spends most of his time with me.
8. I am a woman.
9. I am Boo’s mother, not you.

Boo had decided in the weeks leading up to Halloween that he really wanted to be Daphne for Halloween. After much consideration (to ensure he didn’t change his mind, but not because he wanted to be a girl), his mom ordered the costume. Boo was thrilled. But as Halloween approached, her 5 year old son suddenly felt the pangs of stage fright, afraid to wear a costume that others might laugh at. But CW talked him into going ahead, since she knew that was what he really wanted to be. After all, “who would make fun of a child in a costume on Halloween?”

Halloween came, and he walked in proudly. Those who knew his costume in advance made sure to high-five him on his courage and awesome costume. But it was the reaction of 3 moms that floored CW.

“Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?” And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock and dismay.
And then Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have ‘allowed’ this and thank God it wasn’t next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and ‘forbidden’ it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.
My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.”

Read more in CW’s blog, “My Son is Gay”.

Nowadays, you hear a lot about people raising their children without gender roles. Recently I even wrote about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt who prefers to dress and act like a boy rather than the girl that she is. Parents are giving their daughters trucks and action figures, and giving their boys dolls and the like. Dressing a girl like a boy is not a terribly shocking thing to do. But people bristle when it comes to dressing a boy like a girl, even if that is the very way they want to dress. Boo is a little boy who was playing make-believe on Halloween, just as many children do at Halloween time, becoming someone he was not. Some kids chose to be horrifying zombies. Some wore horrific gashes, or the masks of murderers. Some were even scary politicians. Boo, he just went as a girl.

And this was intolerable.

In facing judgment from others, should we be steering our kids away from things that might, so-called, embarass them?  Were these moms right, that Boo’s mother should have guided her child to a costume better suited for a boy to avoid any uncomfortable feelings on either side?  Or should boys be allowed to dress like girls (or whatever they choose to dress as) for Halloween, or any other time they choose?

Mummy Dogs

Halloween is a spooky time of year when all things are geared towards the ghoulish and macabre. But sometimes ghoulish and macabre can be adorable too. That was the intention behind the latest creation to unfold in my kitchen last night for dinner. The plan was to create “Mummy Dogs”, the pigs-in-a-blanket with a Halloween twist.

They’re actually quite easy to make, as long as you have the patience to wrap each hot dog with gooey strips of crescent roll dough. And while time consuming, this is a perfect chance to let your kids in the kitchen and have them help make dinner.

Ingredients needed: 10 hot dogs, 1-2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent roll dough, cheese, and mustard.

The first thing I did was prep the crescent roll dough. Each package of crescent rolls contains 8 triangles, connected by twos. I sealed each perforation so that the dough was instead 4 rectangles. And then I cut each rectangle into 10 long strips.

The cheese is best done with American cheese, but we had only had plain old Monterey Jack (which I prefer, anyway). I cut 20 small rectangles of cheese, creating two cheese pieces for each “Mummy”.

For some reason, however, the cheese kept disappearing….

Placing two pieces of cheese at the lower 2/3 of the hot dog, I wrapped 4 strips of dough around the cheese and the dog. I created an open space near the top, moving the dough aside to show the face.

As you can see, some of these mummies ended up a little naked….

I realized partway through the process that 4 strips of dough didn’t really seem like enough. This is why I recommend using more like 2 cans of dough, covering each dog with 6-8 strips. After all, there is no such thing as too much doughy goodness.

However, once baked, they filled out a little more, especially the one that I dressed with more strips than the average Mummy.

Dot some mustard for eyes, and voila! Mummy Dogs!

Halloween Events 2010

Zombies at Copperfield's Zombie Walk 2009

Ready to get spooked, or just looking for some family friendly fun? The week leading up to Halloween offers some of the coolest, creepiest things events to help you get into the Halloween spirit next weekend. Here are a few Halloween happenings you won’t want to miss out on….

Copperfield’s Zombie Walks
You’ll want to leave your brains at home for this event.  Copperfield’s is hosting two zombie walks this weekend in Petaluma and Sebastopol.  Wear the clothes of the living dead and join your fellow undead as you walk through downtown in foot dragging fashion.  In Petaluma, meet on Saturday at 11:30am on the sidewalk in Walnut Park.  In Sebastopol, meet on Sunday at 11:30am on the sidewalk at Ives Park.  Both walks end up at the town’s local Copperfield’s for a fully undead Zombie Party.  Party snacks may or may not involve brains…
Saturday October 23th, meet at 11:30am at Walnut Park in Petaluma
Sunday October 24th, meet at 11:30am at Ives Park in Sebastopol

Get mutilated by the Red Cross
Gashes, bruises, broken bones, poked-out eyeballs… No, the Red Cross isn’t trying to hurt you. But they will give you some realistic bumps and bruises of varying degrees with their Halloween moulage going on the holiday weekend. Professional make-up artists will be on hand to apply wounds of all types to ensure your costume is full of gory injuries. Naturally, this is not for small children, or for the weak-stomached. The organization is asking for a donation of $10-$25 per wound to help contribute towards their services of helping people in our community with life’s emergencies and disasters.
Santa Rosa Plaza, Center Court 2
Saturday October 30th, 2pm – 8pm
Sunday October 31st

Petaluma Mother’s Club Fall Carnival
These moms have concocted some fun for kids up to 5 years old, and their older siblings. There will be a petting zoo, a jumpy house, a “museum-on-the-go”, a bake sale, music, games and more! Don’t forget to wear your costume and enter the costume contest! Admission is free. Booth participation, food and drinks will be available with tickets purchased (cash only) at the event.
Kenilworth Jr. High
800 Riesling Road, Petaluma
Sunday October 24th, 11am – 2:30pm

Halloween Carnival at Chop’s
The teens, partnered with adults, are putting on a carnival geared towards kids toddler through 6th grade. There will be a cake walk, carnival booths, a jumpy house, and plenty of sweets to trick-or-treat for throughout the building. Admission is $4 per person, and 25 cents for each carnival ticket. Secret hint: all of the teens and adults that are leading the carnival will be dressed as different superheroes. Have some fun guessing which superhero they are!
509 Adams St, Santa Rosa
Saturday October 30th, 5pm – 8pm

Jose Ramon Ave in Santa Rosa
This is the place to visit for some spooky fun in the weeks leading up to Halloween. This year’s theme is Wicked West Ghost Town, and the house has been transformed into something out of the 1800’s. With the walk of terror, several insane characters, and of course, Rosa Witch, the bar on the creepy factor has been raised with this free nightly event. Of course, those with little one may want to bypass the house and visit some of their less scary neighbors.
472 Jose Ramon Ave. Santa Rosa
6:30p to 12:00a, now till Halloween night.

Doc Hunter’s Haunted Houses
Not for the faint of heart, Doc Hunter has done it again with two haunted houses sure to scare you to death. The Blind Scream haunted house will have your blood pumping as you walk through the dark, screaming to escape. And Doc’s Horrortorium haunted house will enter you into the skin-crawling world of the Hunters and their Sideshow of Terror. While you’re there, climb into an actual coffin on The Last Ride and find out what it’s like to be buried alive.
Order your tickets online at http://blindscream-efbevent.eventbrite.com/
Two more weekend left: Oct 20-24 and 26-31.
Located at the Manly Honda Superstore
2770 Corby Avenue, Santa Rosa

The event we’ll miss this year…

Slaughterhouse Haunts, the scare-you-out-of-your-pants haunted house, as well as the Petaluma home of some less scary events for the little ones, will not be operating this year. They just welcomed a new baby gremlin, and we wish them all the best! And we’re excited to see what’s in store next year when they commence the screamfest once again. Congratulations on the newest haunter of your family!

Best neighborhoods to trick or treat 2010

You''l have to get around these two to collect your candy at this year's show at the Wolcott's

 Halloween is about spending time as a family, enjoying some unique bonding time with the ones you love the most. It’s about getting all dressed up and visiting your neighbors, the perfect chance to see how much the other neighbor kids have grown, and to get caught up on everything that is going on each other’s lives. 

Just kidding. It’s totally about the candy. 

I’ve compiled a list of several neighborhoods with the best loot and most awesome decorations. Have I forgotten any? Be sure to include them in the comments! 

Jose Ramon Ave in Santa Rosa
I’m not exaggerating when I promise that this is the absolute best place to visit in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and of course, Halloween night. The Wolcotts’s and friends put on a great show every year, and 2010 is no exception. This year’s theme is a Wicked West Ghost Town design. It promises to be ultra scary in its 1800’s transformation that includes their Haunted House walk of terror, the amazing light and music show, and several insane and crazy characters sure to scare the bejeezus out of you. And be warned, there have been several Rosa Witch sightings… For those with little ones (or want to blame their own scaredy cat tendencies on their kids), across the street is a kid-friendly yard with lights and music, along with more kid-friendly yards in the neighborhood. 

D Street, Petaluma
Kids in Petaluma know that begging for candy is best done in downtown Petaluma, specifically on D Street. The beautiful Victorian homes are well known for being in the spirit through decorations and a bounty of candy. And the costumes worn by young and old are more than just your typical one-size-fits-all cape and mask. Every year proves the pride that this fun group of trick-or-treaters put into making this night a spectacular event! 

Fountaingrove, Santa Rosa
I admit, this is exactly where my friends and I begged our parents to take us when we were kids. It was rumored that families gave out WHOLE CANDY BARS to trick-or-treaters, making it the Mecca of all places to go beg for candy. Whether this is true or not, who knows?  But it is still considered one of the faves in T or T neighborhoods. Plus, walking up and down those hills will excuse the occasional sneak into junior’s bag for those fun size candy bars. 

McDonald Ave in Santa Rosa
Looking for a place with some serious loot? How about some awesome decorations? This neighborhood is packed every year with kids from all over town, looking to score from the families who are generous with their sweets. And you won’t want to miss seeing Santa Rosa’s favorite historic homes dressed up for the holiday, along with some spooky fun and live performances throughout the night. I’ve been warned by one mom that this isn’t a place for the little ones, however. Anyone agree or disagree? 

Trick-or-treating at businesses
Not so sure about trick-or-treating door to door?  Many businesses will be passing candy out to your costumed munchkins, goblins, princesses, and bearded Brian Wilsons.  In Petaluma, the downtown merchants will be passing out candy to kids 12 & under in their Downtown Trick-or Treat Trail – just look for the orange and black balloons and posters to see who is participating.  The Petaluma Outlets will also be passing out candy, as will the stores at the Santa Rosa Plaza and at Coddingtown.

Other neighborhoods I’ve been clued in to:
Christ Tabernacle in Santa Rosa (1363 Fulton Rd) for their annual Trunk or Treat
Sunshine Ave in Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa (off of Montecito Blvd)
Sonoma Mountain, Petaluma
Johnson St, Healdsburg (Mill St, left on Healdsburg Ave to Piper to Johnson)
Sunnyvale Dr, Healdsburg (Dry Creek Rd, left on Healdsburg Ave to Sunnyvale)

Any others? Tell me all about them in the comments.

Halloween Scrooge

For those of you wondering, this is available at CafePress.com for $27. Of course, for $27 you can get a real costume...

I am seriously a bad mom. A really, really bad mom. Why? I have not even started helping my kids with their Halloween costumes.

I’ll stand right here while you hurl rotting jack-o-lanterns at me.

I come from a line of seamstresses. Every year I wore a handmade costume that my mother had been working on for months. There was the one year that I was a princess in a gown my mother sewed herself. My crown was made of cardboard, wrapped in shiny silver foil. My wand was a cardboard star covered in glitter. On my feet were dainty pink ballet shoes. I was BEAUTIFUL! My sister was a clown that year, wearing a multi-colored jumpsuit with plush pom-poms on her chest. She had a brilliant wig that didn’t totally stay on her head the whole time, but was still available to complete the costume. And of course, she had the big red nose. There was the year that my mom sewed 5 bunny costumes for each of us to wear so we could go as a family of rabbits. Those rabbit costumes were integrated into our costumes for years to follow, so versatile they were. Basically, every year my mom would go all out in making sure that we viewed Halloween as an ultra-special night by making it a huge deal through the work she put into our costumes.

I tried to follow suit. There was one year that I tried my own hand at creating a costume for my daughter. I got out the puffy paints and needle and thread and created a fairy princess costume for my daughter that I was ultra proud of. And it almost stayed completely together all night long. But as the years went on, my zest for Halloween costume creations waned a bit as I came to the understanding that craftiness just doesn’t come naturally for me. I started going store-bought, spending too much money on a costume they would only wear once, and grow out of by the next year.

Note: here is a great place for me to remind you that you can donate your kids’ past costumes to kids in need. See HERE for details.

Eventually, I stopped even buying their costumes.

“What are you going to be for Halloween this year?” I asked my son this year.

“I want to go as an army guy. Wait, maybe I’ll go as a monster. Um, no. I’m going as the Scream guy with blood coming out of his mask,” were his answer(s).

“Whatever. But just know that I’m not buying anything. You’re going to have to create a costume out of whatever you can find in the house.”

Yup. I’m a bad mom.

At any rate, we have about 10 days left until the big holiday is finally here. And judging by my kids’ lack of proper Halloween attire, I will probably be hitting up the thrift stores over the weekend (on the heels of my Halloween Thrift Stores articles, I became aware that the Welfare League in Santa Rosa just got in a whole slew of costume pieces that they are selling for so much less than your average Halloween costume shop). I mean, who wants to be the parent of the kid going door-to-door begging for candy wearing a sweatshirt with the word “Costume” scrawled across it?

Any other bad moms out there totally lacking in the Halloween costume area?

Halloween Thrifting 3 –The Art of Thrifting

Part 3 of 3. This post also appears on ShopSoCo.com. The full article ran on October 17th in the Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat.

Avoid being overwhelmed by thrift store treasure hunting.

Thrift shops are a great place to get that one-of-a-kind costume for you or your kids. However, there is a fine art to being successful when thrift shopping. Without a plan of attack in place, there’s a good chance you will be left wandering from town to town, thrift store to thrift store, and the only thing gained is the frustration that is rapidly increasing in size. Here are some tips that will help you in your quest for the perfect costume with the least strain on your wallet.

Plan your shopping days around sale days. Many shops have designated days when a few items to everything in the store are reduced to as much as ½ off. Sure, a vintage cape at $8 is a steal. But $4? Now you can get a hat to go with it.

Shop earlier in the day. By the end of the day, the selection on the floor tends to thin out from being picked through all day long. But at the beginning of the day, the racks and shelves are freshly stocked and everything is neat and tidy, making treasure hunting that much easier.

When shopping for your kids, DON’T ask your kids what they want to be before shopping. It’s so much easier to shop for a costume without an idea in mind, letting the items before you speak to you and form your costume for you. Yes, a couple generic ideas don’t hurt. But if your child is bent on being a fairy princess with a light pink satiny dress and matching shoes, she will be sorely disappointed. However, if she SEES a dress that would make a perfect princess costume, you are guaranteed more success.

Keep an open mind. Costumes aren’t just found in the clothing area. They can be created around a discarded camera that no longer works, the flowery candle holder that will make a beautiful crown wreath, or some sheer window drapes. Even an old laundry basket can induce some surprisingly clever ideas. Also, don’t look down upon imperfections. Rips can be sewn, buttons replaced, and a scratch or two can actually add character. If a lovely pattern of fabric comes in the shape of an oversized nightgown, think about how you can amend it to resemble more of a party dress.

Have a list of back-up stores. It’s likely that everything you need to create the perfect outfit won’t be found in one store. So to save you time, have a list of a few close-by backup stores to continue your search. The more efficient the process is, the less frustration there will be.

Finally, stop while you’re ahead. Nobody has the patience to thrift shop when they lost their patience three stores ago. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the perfect Halloween costume doesn’t have to be either. Trying to cram too much searching in a short window of time may have you missing items that could have been perfect with a little bit of tweaking. Plan on your treasure hunt lasting a couple afternoons, and for only a short amount of time each day. After all, it’s easier to shop fresh when you’re excited about your creation instead of shopping long hours, wishing the holiday would pass already.

Looking for a thrift store in the area? You’re in luck, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Church Mouse Thrift Shop
Laid out like a boutique, yet still a thrift store. The layout of the shop makes it easy to find your next bargain. Hot Tip: lots of vintage items, including jewelry.
15 E Napa St, Sonoma
(707) 938-9797

Salvation Army
If you’re looking for a thrift store with huge inventory, this is the one. Not only is the warehouse huge, it’s split up into several different shops all in one – areas dedicated to vintage, sporting goods, games, etc.
200 Lytton Springs Rd, Healdsburg
(707) 433-3334

Sew your own costume using recycled thread, material, and various other craft items to create a one-of-a-kind look.
781 Gravenstein Ave, Sebastopol
(707) 823-7520

Halloween Thrifting 2 – Costume Ideas

Part 2 of 3. This post also appears on ShopSoCo.com. The full article can be read on October 17th in the Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat.

A pair of old shoes can be the finishing touch to a Frankenstein costume.

There are so many ideas that can be found among the racks of clothing, ready for your creative touch.

Be brought back to life – or at least partially alive as a zombie bride. There is many a scorned bride who can’t wait to rid themselves of that fancy white dress they wore for only a few hours. What cost them hundreds of dollars or more will only cost you a fraction of that. Add a matted wig, some horrific make-up, torn up tights and scuffed up shoes, as well as a dead bouquet of flowers, and you’re set. For the young’ns, you might be lucky enough to find a confirmation or communion dress, or an old flower girl dress. Other variations are an actual bride, a runaway bride (wear your running shoes!), or the Bride of Frankenstein.

Speaking of Frankenstein, an oversized suit is key. Cut the legs so that they are too short. Find some clunky boots. And using the cut off tops from a soda bottle, make neck bolts by spray painting them silver and attaching them to a headband that can connect to the back of the neck for an eerie look of disconnect.

Maybe you have something a little more worldly in mind…and tacky. Creating a tacky tourist costume is super easy with the fine selection of t-shirts boasting the name of random unknown cities from all over. Pair it with a wildly loud Hawaiian shirt, some Bermuda shorts, and an old camera, and you’ve got yourself a costume. Kudos if you pair it with hiking boots and long white socks. Bonus points if you can locate a folded up map to make reference to periodically.

Spruce up your costume by perusing the Vintage Section.

Feeling a little storybook nostalgic? Fall down the rabbit hole in a blue dress and white apron as Alice in Wonderland. Embrace your inner madness as the Mad Hatter, wearing a long plaid jacket with a mismatched vest, a top hat, a bow tie, and some strategically placed playing cards. Don’t be late with your retro timepiece on a chain, a suit and tie, and some leftover bunny ears from Easter as the infamous worried white rabbit.

Go a little more uniform, in uniform. Nurse, Military, Flight Attendant, cheerleader, football jock… Thrift stores often carry discarded uniforms – perfect for pulling together a realistic costume!

Perhaps you’re waiting for your fairytale to come true. Transform that old prom dress on the racks into the dress of a princess, pairing it with gaudy costume jewelry and some pretty shoes. Your prince can surely wear that casted off powder blue suit that is collecting dust in the corner.

If you’re not feeling a little green with all this recycled costuming going on, you certainly will transformed as a pregnant housewife. A giant muumuu with a lumpy pillow for your belly, curlers for your hair, and an old bathrobe with cheerios glued on for effect will have you with child in no time. Strap on a few babies, and you’re suddenly OctoMom, or maybe even Angelina Jolie on an off day.

Looking for a thrift store in the area? You’re in luck, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Sacks Hospice Thrift Store
Each week there’s a different sale. Super clean store and the staff is extremely helpful. It’s especially popular for their kids’ selections.
128 Liberty St, Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 765-2228

Alphabet Soup Thrift Store
Small shop with extremely small prices, located conveniently downtown.
213 Western Ave, Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 776-4620

Goodwill Petaluma
A little bit of everything in a large store. Clothes are all organized by color, though the mix up of sizes and men’s and women’s might have you searching a little longer. Still, there is so much to find here, it’s worth it.
1000 Lakeville St, Petaluma, CA
(707) 778-7485

Halloween Thrifting 1 – Why you should

Part 1 of 3. This post also appears on ShopSoCo.com. The full article can be read on October 17th in the Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat.

Toddler's ladybug costume for $3 at Heavenly Treasures in Santa Rosa

It’s the treats that have kids clamoring for the perfect costume to collect candy in this Halloween. But it’s the trick of their disappearing paycheck that has parents dreading another holiday – particularly the money they are going to be parting with for a costume the kids will only wear once. The average costume search can cost hundreds to a family of four, buying useless items that will end up stuffed in a costume box that will no doubt be donated in a few years time. But there’s hope for those of us who are financially strapped, or even just sick of the payout, and it lies behind the doors of our local thrift stores that are scattered throughout Sonoma County.

Of course, mention thrift shopping, and immediately pictured is a dingy smelling room with bad lighting and items you could find in your grandmother’s attic among the cobwebs. I’m not going to lie. Some of those places do exist. But for the most part, thrift stores are actually clean shops with countless treasures just waiting to be discovered within the racks and shelves. And regardless of any odor that may or may not exist, thrift shopping for your costume can actually bring some amazing results as well as saving you a ton. That was the underlying tone among those who volunteer at thrift stores.

“It’s less expensive,” Lorrie Hawkins of Heavenly Treasures in Santa Rosa said, implying that Halloween thrifting just makes sense. “Last year I bought a child’s Halloween costume from Costco for $30!” she told me, noting that the Halloween costumes in her thrift store were less than $5 apiece. Proof was in the baby ladybug costume and the unopened Jack Sparrow costumes for only $3 apiece.

“A lot of people come in looking for costumes.” said Cynthia Rhode of Angel’s Attic in Santa Rosa. “People in theater come in, and it’s amazing what kinds of creative costumes they create,” she told me, noting the eclectic jewelry and vintage clothing they carry.

Looking for a thrift store in the area? You’re in luck, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Heavenly Treasures
From what I can tell, this is quite possibly the least expensive thrift store in town. 90% of their proceeds benefits local organizations, such as “The Living Room”, a shelter for homeless and at-risk women. Hot Tip: They have a rack in front dedicated solely to Halloween costumes, and nothing is more than $5.
576 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa
(707) 569-7448

Angels Attic
Plenty of vintage clothing, as well as favored labels (Chicos, Talbots, Coldwater Creek). A frequent stop for actors and theater buffs for their costume needs, so obviously a great choice for a creative Halloween costume.
411 E Street, Santa Rosa
(707) 284-8659

Goodwill Rohnert Park
This shop just opened up in the old Q’Zar location in Rohnert Park. It’s extremely well organized and clean, with lots of room to house hundreds of new-to-you items.
6591 Commerce Blvd, Rohnert Park
(707) 206-0715

Halloween for the divorced family

Don't bum her out this Halloween.

While Halloween is probably the least stressful of shared custody holidays, there is still the dilemma regarding who gets to see the kids all dressed up for the night, and who will be missing their kids that night.  And the parent missing out can become even more bummed by the constant ringing of the doorbell from other kids trick-or-treating. But because it’s at the start of the holiday season, this is actually a great holiday to set a precedent on how holidays will be dealt with so that the kids are happy, and for you and your ex to come to an agreement you both can live with.

How to have a successful split Halloween:

–    It’s not about you.  First and foremost, and I can’t stress this enough, is that Halloween is about the kids – NOT YOU OR THEIR OTHER PARENT. The kids want both parents involved, and that isn’t always the easiest thing to make happen. Fighting about who has the kids that night is NOT making the holiday about the kids, it’s making it about YOU. So do whatever you can to come to a quick agreement. If this is not an easy decision, make sure the kids are not around as you make it. 
–    Split up the holidays.  The most common way to split up the holidays is to do an “every other” approach. One of you gets them for Halloween, the other for Thanksgiving, then switch back for Christmas/etc, and so on. The following year, switch it up so that each parent has the opposite holiday they had the previous year. It’s straight forward, even, and fair. And there is very little discussion needed to implement this plan.
–    Dole out the responsibilities.  Share the excitement by splitting the prep work for the holiday. One parent can prepare the kids costumes, the other gets to take them out Halloween night.  On the other hand, let the parent foot the bill for Halloween if they get the privelege of trick-or-treating with them.  Saving money does make a bummer of a situation feel better….
–    Plan a party!  If it’s your ex who gets them Halloween night, plan a fun pre-Halloween party for your kids and their friends so that you get a chance to share in the festivities with them.
–    Trick-or-treat together.  If you and your ex get along (and I mean REALLY get along, not just on the surface), both of you can take them trick-or-treating. There is no steadfast rule that once broken up, you can’t do things with the kids that involves both parents. Of course, watch your behavior around each other by keeping your main focus on the kids and not on each other – if there is no chance of reconciliation between the two of you, you don’t want to give your kids false hope.
–    Trick-or-treat at your house.  Have your ex stop by your house so that the kids can ring your doorbell for candy. Or vice-versa if it’s you who has the kids. This way the kids have a chance to show off their costume to both parents.
–    Record the occasion.  If it’s impossible for one of the parents to see the kids in person, take a photo or video of them and send it to that parent, letting the kids add their own personalized message.

Things NOT to do:

–    Do not make the kids choose who they will be staying with. Think about it…  By asking them whose house they’d rather go to, you are basically asking, “Who do you like spending time with the most?” or “Who do you like best?”  Totally uncool.  This puts a heavy burden on their shoulders, deciding who they will make happy, and whose feelings they will hurt. A decision like this is only meant to boost your ego, and is completely unfair to the kids. It’s less stressful for the kids if the adults handle the decision of who gets the kids for the night.
–    Don’t stay home.  If you are the one without the kids that night and know that you will be sad about it, don’t stay home to pass out candy. Occupy your time by going to a fun adult’s only Halloween party. Hang out with a few friends. Treat yourself to a movie – scary or not. Do anything to keep you from feeling sad about not having your kids that night, and avoiding trick-or-treaters at all costs!
–    Don’t let your children know how bummed you are that they won’t be with you. Instead, amp them up by reminding them how much fun they will have trick-or-treating, taking the focus off of their not being with you. If they think you’re going to be upset, it takes away from their fun that night as they worry about you being lonely or sad.  Their Halloween’s main focus should be on dressing up and collecting the most candy, not on your feelings.

This is the rough part about being divorced – missing out on important events, like holidays with your kids.  Unfortunately, this is a reality that comes along with divorce.  And it’s a reality you have to adapt to.  But trust me when I say that, while it will never be your vision of perfection, it does get easier to handle. 

Have a safe and happy Halloween!