How to enjoy Halloween in Canada, no matter the weather

Halloween is almost here! Costumes are planned, the candy is purchased and decorations are going up in all the neighbourhoods.

But in Canada, October is an unpredictable month. This year it’s been unseasonably warm, but will that hold through the 31st? Only time will tell.

We have had many years of October trick-or-treating. From balmy evenings to wet feet, and even the occasional snowfall, our Halloweens have been all over the map. The kids have a blast no matter the weather, but as a mom, I am always planning (worrying) about how warm and dry they are!

With both a tween and teenager, we have had a ton of experience preparing for cold and uncomfortable Halloween outings. Keep reading for some of the tips and tricks we use to help the kids (and my husband) stay warm while out trick-or-treating in any weather.

Try these ideas to help you and your family enjoy Halloween in Canada:

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Check the weather.

While the weather can change in an instant, having an idea of what you’re looking at, as early as a week ahead, can help you decide how much effort will be required to stay comfortable on Halloween.

When the forecast looks cold and miserable I start digging out the winter gear, which includes thicker (or layerable) socks, boots and even snowsuits. While we may not need them, I don’t want to be searching in the hour or two before the kids are heading out the door.

If you’re more organized than I am, you could spend the week leading up adding to your decor or looking for more candy on sale, but I’m pretty sure a lot of moms wait until days (hours) before the kids go out the door to remember just where they put the winter boots last spring. (And don’t forget their feet have grown since then!)

Choose costumes that have layers or coats.

Canadian moms know the weather can be unpredictable on Halloween. As a child I remember trick-or-treating in snowsuits, so flexibility is key here. Always remember there will likely be the option to wear the costume indoors as well, at school or daycare, or maybe at extracurricular activities.

This year Rose wants to be Frankenstein. We did the secondhand shops and found a jacket that is big enough to fit layers underneath but still stays on her shoulders. She’ll wear one shirt under it for school and Girl Guides, and then multiple or a big sweater underneath for trick or treating.

Base layers like classic long underwear or thermal pieces can go a long way to keeping the heat in, for kids and adults alike.

It’s not always easy to adapt ready-made costumes, but sometimes just buying one size larger is enough to help fit something underneath for outdoor activities!

Let them cheat.

This year Emma asked for a sloth onesie, and she’s going to wear that for trick-or-treating. It’s warm, she has room to put an outfit underneath, and she can put a coat over it if it’s too cold. (Also, she’s now a teenager, so it was easier to just say “ok” and buy her a onesie, than spend $50+ on elaborate costume pieces, which is what happens now…)

In my mind, if a kid makes some sort of effort, and is out enjoying Halloween, they deserve the candy and fun – even if they’re just in a onesie. Plus, Canadian costumes are never that warm, so props to them for choosing something easy to wear and layer!

Remember the safety aspect.

This can be a tough one. A kid dressed entirely in black is hard to see at night – especially if you add in rain or blowing leaves. Make sure your kids have something on their person that allows them to be seen.

We’ve used a headlamp (as part of a costume), glow sticks – either as a necklace or bracelet, or the ones that come with string for around the neck, and straight-up flashlights. There’s no wrong way to be visible. I know my mom used to use reflective tape and put it strategically on my costumes.

And we should still avoid the full face masks, especially if the kids are younger or will be out without a supervisor. (In my household, this is my husband. He goes with the girls, but is essentially the pillowcase holder, for the kids to dump their bags in when they get too full.) Making sure the kids can see is as (or more) important than making sure they can BE seen.

And don’t forget that you can forgo trick-or-treating altogether if you and your kids aren’t interested. There are lots of other things to do during the fall months. Check out a corn maze or go apple and pumpkin picking. For those looking for a scare, lots of Ontario attractions spook things up for October. Do a local search and see what’s happening in your neck of the province (or country)!

Do you love Halloween as much as I do? How do you manage the unpredictability of Canadian Octobers? Join the conversation by leaving a comment, and share how your family enjoys Halloween in Canada!

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  1. Can I admit walking the kids to school this morning I wanted to start crying when I thought ahead to the snow that is surely to come!

    Thanks for the encouragement to embrace the weather and squeeze the best out of things whatever our Canadian seasons throw at us (I’m in Nova Scotia, and we have a pretty good deal with relatively mild winters…but still…they are very long and very dark)!

    1. Winter is definitely not my favourite season either. But this is our Canadian reality, and sometimes a change of outlook is what we need to enjoy all the seasons. Sunny winter days can be truly amazing, as long as the sun doesn’t mean deep negative temperatures!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment Elisabeth – I hope you have a lovely Halloween (and winter!)

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