For children, skip the party store
For children's costumes, be sure to get your kids involved in the brainstorming and creation of their own look.
"The first thing you have to do is ask your child, 'Who do you want to be today?' " says Katie Touart of Adventure Theatre. "Then go through what you have in your toy box or your kitchen, even your bathroom."
That's right -- think close to home for materials to make your little firefighter or zombie come to life. The bicycle helmets you already own can be the bones of a great headpiece (whether you're creating a Storm Trooper mask or teddy bear head), says Touart. Make horns from duct tape.
"That's the world kids are already living in," she says. "They're wondering why you don't see the colander as a hat the way they do."
Once they're dressed, hit the town at one of these events.
Boo at the Zoo The granddaddy of kids Halloween events starts Friday and features snack stations, decorations and plenty of entertainment. (Note: Saturday's event is sold out.) Friday and Sunday. 5:30-8:30 p.m. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-633-4800. www.nationalzoo.si.edu. $30; $20 members of Friends of the National Zoo; children younger than 2, free.
Air and Scare: The National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center hosts an out-of-this-world Halloween experience. There's trick-or-treating, spooky science activities, face painting and costumed "Star Wars" characters - all with the backdrop of the space shuttle Enterprise and other spacecraft. All ages. Saturday, 2-8 p.m. 14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly. 202-633-1000. www.nasm.si.edu/airandscare. Free, $15 for parking.
"Mousequerade" Ball: Gadsby's Tavern Museum hosts a reading of "Alexander, the Old Town Mouse," then invites kids to make masks and dance at their very own ball. The hour-long event is for ages 4-7. Saturday, 1 p.m. 134 N. Royal St., Alexandria. 703-746-4242. www.gadsbystavern.org. $10 for children 2 and older; adults are free.
Halloween Haunt: If your children aren't quite cut out for a late night of trick-or-treating, Thomas Farm Community Center in Rockville hosts an afternoon fete Oct. 31, with pumpkin painting and other crafts, a moon bounce, costume party, and of course, sweets. 2-4 p.m. at 700 Fallsgrove Dr., Rockville. 240-314-8840 or www.rockvillemd.gov/thomasfarm. $2 per person.