The best things about celebrating Halloween as a kid

I love celebrating Halloween as an adult. There are so many things I can do now that I couldn’t as a kid, like stay up extra late, eat as much candy as I want to without my parents telling me I’m going to spoil my dinner, hit up sales on Nov. 1 to stockpile even MORE candy, and – let’s cut to the chase, here – sip Halloween-themed cocktails all night long.

But alongside the pros of being an adult on Halloween are also some cons. There are lots of great things about this holiday that span both childhood and adulthood (like dressing up and wearing crazy cat jewelry, because I will never NOT wear crazy cat jewelry), but there are some things I’ve had to sacrifice as I’ve grown older. Here are those things I miss most from growing up in the 1990s and being a kid on Halloween.

Trick-or-treating (DUH)

This is the most obvious, but seriously, getting to fill up a pillowcase with free candy just because I was small and adorable = my #1 missed childhood Halloween memory. Why isn’t adult trick-or-treating a thing yet? I know bars have free shots sometimes or whatever, but it’s not the same. And as much as I appreciate a good drink, I appreciate a basket of mini-Snickers like a thousand times more. That will never change.

Bobbing for apples and not caring how it affected our makeup

I haven’t really been to a party where people have bobbed for apples in a long time. I mean, I get it: water ruins makeup and hair that may have taken hours. And that’s not to mention the random saliva and other germs swimming around in that water. Eesh.

But when we were kids, we didn’t care at ALL – and that moment when we came up victorious with our teeth in an apple was worth dealing with our parents’ cringing expressions that clearly stated, “God, I hope she doesn’t wake up sick tomorrow.”

Haunted houses in random people’s garages

I don’t know about you guys, but when I went trick-or-treating in a nicer neighborhood, some of its residents went all out. They decked out their garages with a bunch of spooky stuff and let trick-or-treaters walk through it and get the bejeezus scared out of them. It SOUNDS WEIRD in hindsight, but this was a real thing and it was not weird at the time! It was so fun and creative, and a really surefire way to make sure those people were the talk of the neighborhood until the next Halloween.

$20 costumes that were LEGIT

Costume stores are out of their minds these days. A decent adult costume at Party City will run you $60 if you’re lucky, with the “Deluxe” versions of the more popular costumes easily costing $100 or more. But back in the day? Twenty bucks got you a full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume, complete with a plastic mask and a set of nunchucks, and you were good to go. There didn’t seem to be as much competition about whose costume was more “accurate” or “quality” the way I see as an adult. Kids don’t care at all, as long as they’re having a good time. And that was awesome.

Straight-up party days at school

My office is throwing a Halloween party from 2 to 4 p.m. this Thursday. There will be a dessert contest and a costume contest, and it’s going to be awesome.

And while adult Jen appreciates this wholeheartedly, she can’t help but remember school basically shutting down on Halloween so she could party. My elementary school in New Orleans threw a penny party every year (I still don’t really know what a “penny party” is, but whatever). We got Poloroids of all of us in our costumes, free treats around every corner, etc. There was even a haunted house in the media center, a dance contest, a raffle (which my dad won a My Little Pony set for me in one year), and more. So as much as I appreciate a two-hour office party, I can’t help but miss that.

Getting all our candy checked by our parents

Sure, there was that sense of urgency after my brother and I dumped out our candy bags at the end of the night, as we just wanted to get a Reese’s cup in our mouths ASAP. But looking back, there was something really comforting about knowing our parents had our backs in case some weirdoes decided to plant razors in our Baby Ruths. It’s the same feeling I get now when I go to visit my mom and even though I’m perfectly capable of doing my own laundry, she throws it in and doesn’t really ask a lot of questions. No matter what age you are, it’s nice to feel taken care of.

Those trick-or-treat buckets from McDonald’s

Every adult I know who was a child in the ’90s had one or all of these bad boys.

I wish I still had mine. Maybe I’ll snag some off of eBay, where they’re being labeled as vintage. BRB while I cry into my bag of Werther’s Originals.

Various shenanigans

I wasn’t the kind of kid to TP people’s trees or egg houses, but I sort of appreciated the novelty of it, if that makes sense. It wasn’t Halloween without some kids causing a ruckus. And back then, we wouldn’t go to jail for doing it. Of course, there was a line for what was considered troublemaking vs. straight-up vandalism, but Halloween brought out all the behavior that we’d look back on one day and say, “Hey, remember when Jesse egged that bully’s house and he never found out who did it? Classic.”

(Featured image via NBC; McDonald’s image via )

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