Half a century ago, when I was young, every house in town was swamped by hordes of children in costumes, holding out open bags, pillow cases and plastic pumpkins for candy.
Two and three decades ago, when I was a young parent, the hordes still hit all the houses. We'd go through hundreds of chocolate bars, licorice and chips every Halloween.
Somewhere along the line though, people started worrying that some treats might be tampered with, and lots of goodies were tossed by concerned parents when the little ones got home.
Fruit? Could have pins or other nasties hidden in them. Toss 'em. Brownies and popcorn balls wrapped in cellophane, baked by doting moms? Who knows what might be in them? Out they went.
Around the same time, parents were also getting worried about little kids wandering in the dark, or being accosted at doors of strangers. New plans were formulated.
Schools, neighborhoods and organizations for children began to throw parties with games and treats. This caught on and became the new direction for many families.
Now, we only get half a dozen kids at our door on Halloween, most of them from our neighborhood, usually accompanied by parents. The leftover candy would last us for a week or so, and would begin the winter hibernation weight that Thanksgiving and Christmas would later build upon.
I miss the old days of kids ringing my doorbell and knocking on my door, looking adorable or gruesome. But I can see why many parents are opting for parties instead.
Thinking about throwing a Halloween celebration for the neighborhood kids or helping out with a community party? Think food and games, and seasonal decorations and you're on the right track.
There are of course the old traditional games of bobbing for apples and playing pin the tail on the donkey. But there are lots of other activities you can plan if you let your imagination run free.
Remember what you thought was fun when you were a kid? Childhood hasn't changed that much. Kids enjoy costume contests, scavenger hunts, races with candy as prizes. For that matter, they'll like anything with candy prizes.