Starting from scratch

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starting from scratchI take Halloween seriously.  I believe fun should always be taken seriously.

It’s no secret I spend a great deal of time in anticipation of the big night.  Though I work hard to provide my neighborhood with an interesting outdoor display, I am especially proud of my goody bags.  I like to think that no other “regular” homeowner does anything like them.

To recount, for you newbies, each year I spend an inordinate amount of time (and a substantial amount of money) building age specific goody bags for Halloween.

By age specific, I mean that I separate the groups of kids into young and old, with double-digits usually signifying my cutoff.

How to tell that through costumes and with the lights out is somewhat challenging.  I usually use a combination of the type of costume, height of the trick-or-treater and the pitch of the voice.  Fortunately, none of my bags are R-rated.

Even the older kid bags are charitably PG (and parents should be checking Halloween bags anyway, just in case).

Still, I start with 10 age appropriate comic books and then add an “older” toy for older boys, candles for older girls, arts & crafts for younger boys and girls and mix in a little miscellaneous, as my shopping heart has provided.

Each of the groups have their own distinctive bags.  This is so I can know who to give what to.  I used to use colored stars (you know, those little 1″ stickers), but I couldn’t tell them apart in the dark.  This works better.

On top of all that, I throw in a little bag of 5 candies.  No need to load them up, but it’s usually 3 “good stuff” and 2 “classic”.  Something like Kit Kats and Snickers along with bubble gum and Tootsie pops.

At the end of every Halloween, I have to empty all the candy bags from unused bags before I store them away (rats!) and then I inventory my stuff to see what I might need for the following year.  I almost always overbuild, because I never want to send a trick-or-treater away with nothing.

Last year, I ran out of everything but older boy bags (of which I had 6 left).  That meant some of the girls got boy’s bags.  Yuck.  It’s never happened before, at least not on that scale.  It was a big Halloween, 70 customers.

When I looked at my inventory to build for this year, I was dismayed how paltry it was.  I knew I had run out of bags, but I had nearly run out of goodies.  I had a few blinking spiders, some lighted bouncing balls, some windup glow in the dark monsters and some spooky Halloween rubber ducks (they’re awesome!).

Despite a year where I’ve spent out of my mind on my GNABRT and the market has shot my retirement plan all to heck, I knew I was going to have to plunk down more than a few nickels this year to build back up my stock.

Of course, once I get started…

I haven’t even gotten to any new outdoor decorations and I’ve already spent $500.  I’m planning on building 96 bags this year (30@ for older, 18@ for younger), but I think I’ll have extra to carry over into next year.

Oh, I should mention I don’t like to duplicate from one year to the next, so I try to order close to what I can give away, but, yeah, there’s some overlap.

Funny thing.  One might think all that hanging, planting and inflating outside would be the most taxing work for Halloween, but building those bags is really the killer.  I have to spread out all over the living room and my back and knees take some beating (I never feel older than when I get up after building a few dozen Halloween bags).

Ah, but those smiles and exclamations of delight…

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