Halloween is a North American holiday that very few people in Australia see any reason to celebrate — right up until you have kids. Once you have kids, Halloween is an excuse to dress up and go for a walk. And so we need a way to lessen the two main issues with Halloween in Australia, which are these:
1. That very few people bother with celebrating, so the kids that do go wandering from house to house feel rather alone and embarrassed to be doing so; and
2. That very few people bother with it, so the people who answer the door to these occasional kids end up having nothing in the house to offer and feel awkward.
So enter Operation: Orange Balloons.
The plan goes like this: I would like to encourage children of the area to come “Trick or Treating” around the neighbourhood (minus the tricks, thank you), but only to houses that have orange balloons showing. For the past five years, (and two house moves), I have been letter-boxing the streets around my neighbourhood with a variation of this post as an explanation. I buy a bunch of orange balloons and include one with each letter.
The main points I include are:
- Along with this letter is an orange balloon.
- If you want to see the cute costumes, and maybe send your own kids out as part of the celebration, blow up the balloons and hang them up outside.
- If you would prefer not to have anything to do with it, just throw the balloons away and ignore the whole mess.
- Kids who want to go begging for sugar must do so only at houses with balloons; doing so at any other house is a definite no-no.
- If you run out of lollies, you can always take your balloons down.
- I name all the streets I am letter-boxing and include a quick Google map of those streets.
- I encourage people to give it a try!
From the time I have started this, I have noticed about one in five houses will hang a balloon out on the night (note: the balloons serve a similar purpose as the Jack-O-Lantern in North America). I start letter-boxing on the first weekend in October and take it in stages, trying to end it by the middle of October, so people have time to plan and purchase what they need. It’s a great activity to do with the kids, they get a lot of enjoyment out of posting things into people’s letterboxes.
Last year, a friend of mine said that his house (in the south of our city) was letterboxed, so I know other people have start doing it as well. So, if you don’t have Halloween where you are, this might be a way for you to start. You can start small, I did only three or four streets the first time round. I’m up to 250 houses this year, but I think that’s going to be my limit… maybe.