I can remember my first Halloween like it was yesterday. I was 13 and my mom was letting me dress up as the often feared and all intimidating ‘mime’ to attend a church harvest party. But even with the limitation of being a mute clown, I thoroughly enjoyed dressing up.

Even though my first 12 Halloweens were spent in regular clothes, I was determined to let my kids in on the fun of dressing up as their favorite characters. Ironically, my mother was also excited to dress her grandchildren up as well.

We started out slow, taking the kids to local church harvest-type parties. But last year we were introduced to the little known activity of Trick or Treating. We took our family to the neighborhood of our pastor’s family. Our children were super excited to walk the streets with their friends, filling their bags with candy. As a side note, I really love free candy.

As we walked, our pastor explained a little about why they Trick or Treat in their neighborhood.He mentioned that it gave him an opportunity that he wouldn’t otherwise have to walk door to door saying hello to his neighbors, that is, without being seen as weird.

This got me thinking. We do the Minnesota nice wave (including the nod and smile) to all the people in our neighborhood, but we only say hello and talk to our immediate neighbors. We have been really trying to push ourselves in this area. I’m a real introvert, and I struggle to get through the slightest amount of small talk. In my mind I get overly analytical about meeting new people, especially ones that live right down the street. Are they going to want to meet us too? Are they going to think we’re weird? What if I think THEY are too weird? And on and on my crazy little brain goes. So if I’m going to meet neighbors, I really need to have more than just yards and weather to talk about.

In trying to come up with ideas on how to get to know our neighbors a little better, I realize that being outside is probably the best and least intimidating place to hang out. I started thinking that having a block party of sorts would be really cool and a logistically easier choice. But living in Minnesota limits outdoor gatherings to just a few months, and with winter soon approaching, I think it would be fun to host a block party on the one night the neighborhood is already walking around: Halloween!

This is where my type A starts getting slightly out of control. I can get pretty wrapped up in making everything perfect: food, decorations, yard, costumes, all in the effort to make the best first impression. So I’ve been forcing myself to not get all controlling about this situation. I’m going to let it be as casual as possible, even if it kills me.

I’ve decided we will set aside an hour or so for people in the neighborhood to walk by our house, eat a hotdog to fuel their Trick or Treating, play a few carnival-inspired games, and enjoy a little face painting.

This will hopefully make the whole event super casual, help me lower my anxiety a little bit, and help us to get to know a few more of our neighbors by name. Who knows, maybe my kids will even find a new neighborhood friend! I’m really looking forward to making this a yearly event, and all that’s left now is to figure out what to wear!