13 Spook-Free Safety Tips to Keep Your Kids & Pets Safe this Halloween

Halloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, pumpkin packed parties, and of course spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the frightening fun has dangers lurking behind them. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true spookiness that is hiding behind all the ghostly fun. So I called upon two experts that have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.

First up are the experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe. They may have “boo” in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Following, are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep you furry friends from howling at the moon.

Kid Halloween Safety Tips

1) Choking Hazards

As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard could be considered as anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. So, taking that into consideration, look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display. From bats and ghosts to pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!

2) Flashlights

Child safe flashlights should have a child safe battery door on them that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too, flames and kids don’t mix.

3) Halloween Lights

Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie.

4) Pumpkin Carving

Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot… little hands wander.

5) Costumes

As a kid it’s mandatory to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6) Glow at Night

Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good addition as well.

7) Halloween Treats

Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

1) Pet Costumes

Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”

2) NO chocolate

Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, always best to contact your veterinarian to see if treatment is indicated.

3) Sugar Free Danger

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may likely need treatment and supportive care.

4) Healthy Treat Dangers

If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5) Burning Jack O’ Lanterns

Flames and Fur don’t mix. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6) Trick-or-Treating

During trick-or-treating it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that might frighten your pooch or feline. You might even want to consider locking your sweet little pal in a room so they don’t get spooked and run out the door when your trick or treaters arrive.

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com

Image via http://unityanimalhospital.com

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Home Tip of the Day: Make your Jack-o-Lantern Last

The last thing you want is your spooky Jack-o-lantern going bad before Halloween. Here’s a clever way to make sure your carved pumpkins last through the holiday.  Only mild sorcery is involved.

For other clever home tips & tricks, subscribe to Coldwell Banker On Location to view the complete Home Tip of the Day video series.

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Why Are People Putting Teal Pumpkins Out for Halloween?

Halloween is one of the most anticipated events of the year for children. However, for those children with food allergies, trick or treating can be frustrating and even dangerous. In an effort to make Halloween more enjoyable and safer Food Alergy & Education (FARE) is encouraging communities to start a new tradition called Teal Pumpkin Project.

“This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal – the color of food allergy awareness – to place in front of their house along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available.” (FARE)

I am absolutely thrilled to learn about such a great campaign for children with allergies and can really relate in my neighborhood. When I moved into my new home last October I was so excited to meet all of our neighbors. While introducing ourselves to the neighbors to the right, I noticed their daughter was wearing an allergy bracelet. I was informed that Danielle has severe allergies to latex and dairy. Being so close to Halloween I knew I wanted to make trick or treating special for Danielle so I found out her favorite non-dairy candies and had them all ready for her on Halloween night. I started thinking about how difficult it must be for children with food allergies to go trick or treating and was thrilled this year to learn about The Teal Pumpkin Project that is sweeping the country.

Love this campaign as well and want to spread the word? FARE created these great social graphics:

You can even change your profile picture or add this graphic to your blog:

Need some ideas for trick or treaters looking to participate in this new tradition? FARE suggests the following creative ideas:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

Do you plan on participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year?

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5 Essential Pumpkin Items for Your Home

Pumpkin mania has arrived. Everywhere you turn there’s more pumpkin-related items to be seen. How do you know which ones are essential and which ones can be ignored? Easy. I’ll tell you which ones. Do you doubt a 35 year old, white male from Jersey doesn’t know what are the most important pumpkin items to reside in the place you call home? What gives me this right? Well, I was born on Halloween…that’s about it, so proceed with that in mind.

Besides that, being married to woman who’s admiration for all things fall and pumpkin for the past 12 years has given me some additional insight. Here you go:

Spiced Pumpkin Candle from Yankee Candle


Sure you can get a pumpkin spice candle from just about anywhere, but there’s only one place to get the best. Light this baby up and your home will smell like fall and dessert for the entire month. Don’t be cheap. Get the big one.

Pumpkin Wreath


Don’t buy your wreath at KMart. Look for a nice wreath that’s more than just a plastic pumpkin sign you could get at any party store. It adds a touch of class to your front door while still getting in the festive autumnal spirit. There are a tons of options at Etsy.com including the one above (although it’s a little pricey).

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream


It’s not decor, but it’s one of the most beautiful things you can have in your home this fall. The Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s is no trick, but certainly a treat. Better buy more than one.

Glow in the Dark Pumpkin Teeth


Anybody can make a Jack-O-Lantern. Set yours apart from the others on your street by adding a set of glow in the dark teeth. Perfect for frightening your children or in-laws. And they’re only $6 for a three pack.

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks


You can find a recipe for it online. You can buy it for your Keurig. Or you could just go straight to the source and get it from Starbucks. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is so big it even has its own Twitter handle @TheRealPSL.

BONUS: Pumpkin Costume


For those with children, it’s required that you dress them up as a pumpkin at least once in their life. Makes for great photo sharing before their prom or at their rehearsal dinner.


Header image courtesy of Flickr user liz west

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9 Easy Homemade Halloween Costumes for the Whole Family

The spookiest month of the year is upon us once again and the time to select a Halloween costume is here. Not to fear! We’ve compiled a list of 9 easy homemade costumes for all members of the family!

Spider and Web Costume
A few black knee socks and some black yarn are all you need to make this adorable mommy-child costume. Stuff the black socks with newspaper or cotton to create the spider’s legs. Attach them to your baby’s all-black outfit with a glue gun or thread. Mom adds some black yarn to an all white outfit to create the web. And voila! You be catching compliments all night!


Piñata Costume
A few yards of rainbow-colored felt, a scissor and a glue gun are all you need to make this creative costume. Cut slits in the fleece to create the frayed tissue paper effect. To make the hat, make conical shapes with sturdy poster board and cover with more felt. A touch of colorful ribbon at the end add the finishing touches.

Sushi Baby
Add a little felt to a white onsie for this scrumptious baby costume. The best part are the dabs of wasabi and pickled ginger on the side.  Keep a close eye on your little one, he’ll be cute enough to eat!

Starbucks Cup

Make yourself a Starbucks latte with a white dress and a Starbucks sash.  Top it all off with a plastic cap and straw and you have one creative cup of joe!


Dr. Frankenstein

This illusion costume is an excellent experiment!  Fill out a doctor’s coat with pillows (use a pool noodles for structure in the arms) and attach to the back of your little mad scientist.  He’ll be turning heads all night!

Mad Doctor

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

If your little one dreams of being Michelangelo, this homemade costume is just the trick.  An aluminum tray painted with greens and blacks makes a perfect shell and a colored T-shirt works perfectly as an eye mask.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Spice Girls
Not what you were expecting, huh?! Print or draw out extra large spice labels like cinnamon, cardamom and chili powder and attach around your torso with shoulder straps made from string.

Baby Chick
When you combine a feather boa, rubber gloves and some felt, what do you get?  The cutest costume on the block!

Baby Chick

Remember this classic board game where you play doctor? You’ll be sure to hit everyone’s funny bone with this homemade costume.

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6 Houses That Are Obsessed With Halloween

Halloween is a scary season, and today marks the first day of the spookiest month of the year. Finally, an excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, dress up like your favorite superhero and scare others for fun. Maybe you want to do these things all year long, perhaps you can’t let go of this wicked season? Here are six houses currently on the market on streets that scream Halloween all year long.

7 Pumpkin Hill Lane, New Milford, Connecticut: $379,000
The ultimate trick-or-treat destination, this 3 bedroom, 3 bath ranch-style property is full of country charm. The house also has 3 stone fireplaces, a game room and wood floors throughout the main level.

pumpkin hill

56 Witch Hazel Dr., Deep River, Connecticut: $315,000
Located in sought after Witch Hazel Estates, this colonial-style 4 bedroom house would be the perfect location for a Halloween party. Did we mention it has a walkup attic?

witch hazel

7518 Spider Lake Rd., Iron River, Wisconsin: $242,500
Seated on 2.6 wooded acres, this lake home could be decorated in no time for Halloween. The property has a large kitchen, a lake view living room and a master bedroom with a lakeside screen porch.

spider lake

1114 N. Broom St., Wilmington, Delaware:$479,000
This turn of the century home might be the quintessential Halloween house. It has 5 bedrooms, 10 ft. ceilings, arched doorways and a 2-tier deck overlooking the garden pond.


163 Gothic Cir., Manorville, New York: $309,000
This 2 bedroom, 2 bath house is perfect for a couple of Halloween fanatics. Located in South Manor School District, this ranch style end unit has loads of space and is the best value in the complex.


12 Ghost Court, Cherry Log, Georgia: $349,900
This cabin-style property has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and sits on a lake. It has a large dining area, an open kitchen and is the perfect fall getaway. Besides, “12 Ghost Court” would look amazing on a Halloween party invitation.


Enjoy Halloween all year long and search for these houses or others like it at coldwellbanker.com.

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How To Decorate for Halloween Without Going Overboard

The humid summer air is slowly turning into cool and crisp bursts of wind. Colorful flowers like impatiens and begonias are being replaced with yellow and orange mums. Yup, fall is here.

As the countdown to summer resets, our list of things to do around house includes transitioning our house from summer to fall. For many of us that also means breaking out the Halloween decorations. If you want to show off your festive side but would prefer your home not to resemble that of Morticia Addams, then these tips are for you.


(Not So) Spooky Steps

Your steps are probably the easiest thing to decorate. If you want to go basic, you can buy a few pumpkins and you are all set. Want to take it a step further? Add a few lanterns for an elegant effect.

Get instructions for this DIY project

Party Porch

Porches were made for Halloween decorations. OK maybe I am exaggerating, but they are the perfect spot  for seasonal decor. Focus on one corner of your porch and pick one large item as your focal point. Some ideas to get you started: a cauldron, broomstick, pumpkin topiary or a hay bale.

Candy Sign



Ghastly Garden

Mums are a fall classic that are an elegant addition for your curb appeal. In addition to planting mums you can find other garden decorations like flags and signs on sites like Etsy and Amazon.

Like this flag? Buy it here.

Dressed Up Door

A simple wreath will tie the look together. You can make your own or buy one from Michaels or Etsy.

Like this Wreath? Buy it here.



Eerie Entry Table

Creating a frightening foyer is as easy as picking a theme. You can go with colors, like orange, black and/or purple, creatures like bats, skeletons or witches or just an overall Autumnal theme. This is the first, and sometimes only, thing guests will see when they enter so you can show off your Halloween spirit without even touching any other room in the house.

Get the look here

Frighteningly Fun Fireplace Mantel

If you have a fireplace then you have prime real estate in your home for a Halloween display. Candles, mini pumpkins and simple garland are affordable touches that go a long way.

Need more mantel ideas? Click Here

Looking for more Halloween fun? Click here.

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5 Great Summer Hostess Gift Ideas

It seems like during both the summer and holiday seasons we’re bombarded with invites to this and that. If you’re like me, the first thing that pops into your mind upon receiving notice is 1) what am I going to wear and 2) what am I going to bring?

When in doubt bring a gift that is both personalized and one-of-a-kind. You won’t have to worry about your recipients having one of the same or not liking it. Below you’ll find five ideas that are guaranteed to be a hit and make you the most liked guest of the night.

1. Custom Coasters


Coasters probably get used the most during parties and the like. So there is no better hostess gift!

2. Coffee Table Books

Coffee table books are simply stunning and they are a great decor piece. Get your hostess a book on a topic she loves. 

3. Custom Cutting Boards

 Ever go to reach for your cutting board only to find it’s still dirty? I have, that’s why having a couple on hand is great. Another gift that is functional and can be personalized. 

4. Hand Towels

Who doesn’t love a pretty hand towel? Every time your hostess goes to use it, she’ll think of you. 

5. Your Favorite Old School Game

 If you fear running out of good conversation at the party, bring a classic board game to spark up nostalgia! 

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The 10 Commandments of Throwing a Great House Party

One of the greatest joys of owning a home is sharing it with others. Follow these commandments and become the ultimate party host.

1) Thou Shalt Not Drive Yourself Crazy Cleaning Beforehand

Now I am in no way saying your house should be a mess but it is easy to get carried away cleaning before guests come. Focus on the areas you know your guests will be spending time in and tidy up the rest of your home.

2) Thou Shalt Not Run Out of Food

This is one of the most important rules you must follow. Seriously, is there anything worse than showing up to a party and leaving with a growling stomach? Avoid your guests having to stop at a McDonalds after your party by ensuring you have the right amount of food. Check out this simple chart that tells you how much food and drink to have at your dinner party.

3) Thou Shalt Be a Responsible Party Host

If cocktails are on the menu then please be sure you keep an eye on your guests. Also, don’t forget to have a variety of non-alcoholic beverage on hand like water and various juices and soda.

4) Thou Shalt Have A Plan For Your Pets

If Fido isn’t the friendliest perhaps he should remain separated from the group. Also, if your indoor cat is an escape artist you may want to alert your party goers to ensure they always shut the door behind themselves.

5)  Thou Shalt Give Your Neighbors a Heads Up

If your neighbors aren’t invited to your party then it might be a good idea to give them the courtesy of letting them know you will be having a party, especially if it will be outdoors and/or if you plan on having it go late into the night.

6) Thou Shalt Plan A Few Activities

First things first, make sure you introduce everyone to each other if they aren’t already acquaintances. Next, having a 3 page itinerary filled with activities for your party goers isn’t necessary but you should have a few activities planned that you can pull out of your hat if you see people getting bored. For smaller crowds, board and card games are always great ways to pass time. If your party is outdoors you can consider volleyball, horseshoes or cornhole.

7) Thou Shalt Not Forget About the Kids

If you have guest coming with children it is important to give them something to do. Here are 116 awesome ideas.

8) Thou Shalt Use Paper Goods (When Possible)

Unless you are having a formal dinner party it is always best to go with paper goods. (recycled if possible!) By doing this you avoid a sink full of dishes, time away from your guests (cleaning them) and the possibility of having your good plates, cups and cutlery thrown away or broken.

9) Thou Shalt Play Music

Having music at your party is a must. Depending on the type of party you have it may even lead to a dance party! Here is a great playlist you can use.

10) Thou Shalt Remember To Have Fun!

Sometimes being a host can feel more like work than play. Make sure your guests are well taken care of but don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

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“America the Beautiful” by Coldwell Banker

In honor of Independence Day, we’d like to join you in celebrating America with a look at our country’s beauty, as seen through the windows of Coldwell Banker homes.

“America the Beautiful”
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward


for amber waves of grain


above the fruited plain



God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 

from sea

to shining sea!

Each of the images above are from Coldwell Banker listings.  Click on any image to see more about the property.

To view more Coldwell Banker listings, or to search for your dream home here in the USA or internationally, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Happy 4th of July!

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