I am so glad that our family has escaped attempting to be better than the neighbors in terms of how much we spend on our kids. We don't have TV so we have not been subjected to, "I gotta have XYZ cereal, toy, or brand of jeans." We don't send the kids to school so they don't have the influence of other children who are caught up in what is popular to wear, eat, or play with. It saves money for sure, but it also creates a more giving atmosphere in our home.
As for Halloween, we do let the kids go trick-or-treating, but they wear costumes depicting Saints. Will is St. Francis of Assisi, Mary is Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, Maggie is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Charlie is St. Stephen, and Timmy is going as a bee. The last one is a leftover of our pre-Catholic life and we can always pretend that he is part of St. Francis' entourage. Saturday we will go to the All Saint's Party with the local Catholic homeschool group, and then the costumes can go back in the dressup trunk, all ready for dressup play.
As many parents have learned the hard way, the scariest part of Halloween isn't living in the same home as an opened bag of fun-sized Milky Ways. It's the tyranny of the costume. With costumes selling for $30, $40, even $80 a pop, the pressure on kids to have the "right" costume - and on parents to buy them - is ratcheting up.
In fact, even as consumer spending drops - Halloween spending is rising. The National Retail Federation predicts Halloween sales, on costumes, candy, decorations, and the like, will hit $5.77 billion this year, up from $5.07 billion last year.
"Halloween is an important holiday for many children," said Detris Adelabu, chair of the department of human development at Wheelock College. But "finding the right costume can be challenging and stressful for children and parents."
Good luck trying to get off cheap. As Pamela Paul, author of "Parenting, Inc.," wrote in an e-mail interview with the Globe: "I think parents have come to see ALL celebrations - birthdays, Halloween, Xmas - as if they're some kind of referendum on how much they care about their kids, with the barometer being how much money you spend. (Boston Globe)