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Youth research Halloween

Mary McIlrath

This magical time of year is one of our favorites here at YouthBeat®.  It’s nonreligious (therefore non-exclusive to large groups of the youth population) and involves excuses for giving and receiving treats—a true celebration of youth of all ages.  Our colleague Derek Bertelsen here at C+R wrote a fantastic thought piece on the history, modernity, and fun facts of Halloween for adults, which you can check out here

Here’s what’s on our minds in the youth space: what kinds of ghosts, goblins, and assorted superheroes can you expect on your doorstep this Halloween?  We’re providing a list of likely costumes, as a public service for treat-givers who want to sound cool by recognizing the figures on the porch soliciting candy.

For the itty bittiest treat-seekers, you might see them dressed up in costumes reminiscent of the birthday party themes they want: princesses, superheroes, and Disney characters.* These may be the same outfits you see them in at the neighborhood grocer since 3 in 10 preschoolers engage in dress-up play regularly.* Other costumes you see could be easily recognizable as their favorite movie, TV, and literary characters, including Elsa, Lightning McQueen, Spiderman, Batman, Moana, Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig, Daniel Tiger, Cat in the Hat, Paw Patrol characters, or Pinkalicious.*

Older kids and tweens, and even teens, are likely to sport costumes emulating their favorite pop culture stars too (one of us at YouthBeat dressed up as Boy George from Culture Club one year and had a heck of a time explaining it to the elderly neighbors when seeking a Milky Way—don’t be that neighbor).  You’re likely looking at The Rock, Selena Gomez, SpongeBob, Teen Titans, Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo, Avengers characters, or the still-popular Harry Potter cast. Or you might see costumes mimicking favorite video games like Minecraft, Fortnite, or Roblox.  That hard-to-guess musical artist is likely Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, or Drake. Trick-or-treaters on the cutting edge might even be dressed as their favorite YouTube celebrities, which this spring were Dan TDM, PewDiePie, and Ryan ToysReview.**

You’re welcome for the heads-up on recognizing the costumes.  Now let’s get down to the serious business of Halloween: the treats.  This is a holiday where kids truly rule their decisions.  Fully 86% of youth feel that they have influence over the candy purchases for their homes.** Want to be sure you please the local spooky palates?  Check this guide of favorite confections by state and major city before you make any large purchases of chocolate or circus peanuts.

If you’re really committed to being at the forefront of treat distribution in your neighborhood, here’s what you need to know.  The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages you to place a bluish-green pumpkin on your porch, and be on the lookout for goblins carrying similarly-colored treat bags.  These teal pumpkins signify the need for, and presence of, non-allergenic or non-food items for children with sensitivities or autism.  It’s easy to stock up on a few skeleton pencils when you’re tossing Kit Kats in the cart, to be inclusive of all who celebrate in their own way.

We love Halloween so much at C+R that we’re hosting a trick-or treat open house for the third year running for our families’ progeny.  So far, we’ve seen everything from sweet little pumpkins to a father-son Batman + Robbin, a T-Rex that made a princess cry, and a bunch of bananas with their gorilla.  This year anything can happen.  Follow us on Twitter @YouthBeatSpeaks to see the spoils of this year’s party.

*Source: YouthBeat, Jr. Spring 2019
**Source: YouthBeat, Jan-June 2019

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