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Halloween is a time when creativity shines.

Children can become the stuff of their wildest dreams. Keeping costumes inexpensive and environmentally friendly doesn’t have to limit your child’s imagination — but it does require a little thoughtful planning.

Get dressed

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart — or buy out a craft store — to make costumes at home. Pinterest is loaded with easy-to-make outfits. Overalls and a plaid shirt are the beginnings of an adorable scarecrow and a brown bathrobe can turn anyone into a Jedi. Let your children help search for ideas, including their favorite book characters, activities and even their favorite foods. If you can dream it, the instructions are probably online. Start the search at pinterest.com.

Since Halloween costumes aren’t worn for very long, they are often in pristine condition when they hit the racks of consignment stores and resale shops. Even thrift stores have a generous selection. The savings can be significant and it’s a great way to reuse rather than buying a new item. Leanne Huminski, who is co-owner of Once Upon a Child with her daughter, Kristen Durham, said buying a previously worn costume is a great way to save money.

“Costumes generally sell for 25 – 40 percent of what they could buy them for at retail,” she said.

And the selection at resale and consignment stores may be larger than parents expect.

“Because we buy them every day, we are always putting new things out,” Huminski said. “We actually purchase the items from the customer, so we don’t buy anything that has stains or is fading and they aren’t missing too many pieces. We get all the superheroes and angels and princesses and characters — all kinds.”

Some items can have a dual purpose, lasting beyond Halloween. This season, Pillow Pets hoodies and hats can make a complete costume on their own, or the outfit can be customized with your child’s clothing and face paint. Once the holiday is over, they provide a fun way to keep warm this winter. Items are recommended for ages 3 and older and are available at mypillowpets.com.

Dealing with allergies

If your child has asthma or allergies, Halloween can feel like more trick than treat. Tonya Winders, president of the Allergy and Asthma Network, offered these tips.

People with life-threatening food or latex allergies must always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in case an accidental exposure sets off anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Plan a costume that has a pocket big enough to carry them.

Go with your children and their friends and let others in the group know about your child’s allergies. Set a “no eating on the way” rule.

If you have asthma, avoid homes or places that have smoke or fog machines on Halloween. Fog machines that use the chemical glycol can trigger asthma symptoms.

Carved pumpkins become moldy fast, and mold is a common asthma trigger. Stay away if you encounter one on a porch.

Prior to Halloween, create a safe route that includes neighbors and friends who are aware of your child’s food allergen. Ask them to pass out safe candy, stickers or small toys to your child.

Talk about how allergens are hidden in many candies and snacks, and work out a plan with your child. Choose safe treats they can take to parties or that you can swap out for trick-or-treat goodies. This gives your child incentive for not eating unsafe candy but provides the opportunity to participate in Halloween.

Check food labels carefully, as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs are all common allergens in candy. Some candy may not contain allergens but still might cause a reaction if it was processed at a facility where allergens are present, so monitor your child when candy is eaten. Be aware that “fun size” candies don’t usually have food labels and may contain ingredients that full-size versions don’t have.

For more tips, visit allergyasthmanetwork.org.

If you want to welcome children with food allergies at your front porch, offer a non-food treat such as glow sticks, bouncy balls or stickers. Join the Teal Pumpkin Project, an initiative of Food Allergy Research and Education. Paint a pumpkin teal and print and post signs and flyers from FARE’s website, tealpumpkinproject.org.

Stay safe

When it comes to safety, Halloween can be a parent’s nightmare. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, on average, twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. But there are ways to keep the danger limited to imaginary monsters.

Make sure young dragons and superheroes are visible to drivers. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Choose makeup and face paint instead of masks to prevent obstructing vision. Carry glow sticks or flashlights so you can see better — and be seen.

Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Put electronics down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run. No sidewalks? Walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Driving on Halloween? Slow down in residential areas. opular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Be alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. For more information on safety, visit safekids.org.

Fun, not-so-spooky events

Here's a comprehensive list of Halloween-related events, trunk or treats and festivals happening in the Upstate.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “Click, Clack, Boo!” will be presented at the S.C. Children’s Theatre Oct. 16 – 25. Join a barnyard crew as they plan a spook-tacular event. Children are encouraged to attend in costumes. Visit www.scchildrenstheatre.org.
  • Boo in the Zoo will offer trick-or-treating for kids ages 12 and younger Oct. 16 – 18 and Oct. 23 – 25 at Greenville Zoo. Hours are 5:30 – 8 p.m. Fridays and 4 – 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Visit greenvillezoo.com.
  • Enchanted Forest, presented by Safe Kids Upstate, is set for 6 – 9 p.m. Oct. 22 – 23 and 5 – 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Pavilion Recreation Complex, 400 Scottswood Road, Taylors. The event offers children 10 and younger a unique fairytale trick-or-treating experience.Visit greenvillerec.com/event/enchanted-tracks.
  • The Children’s Museum of the Upstate will host Halloween events 10 a.m. — 3 p.m. Oct. 31. Call 864-233-7755.
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