Safe Treat for Halloween

This past Friday, the university hosted a Safe Treat event for children, featuring tables set up by various campus groups. The event was open to the whole community, but many of the parents are affiliated with the university somehow — students, staff, faculty members, etc.

So I signed the library up to have a table!

I just hit the two month mark at my new job, and for most of the first month and a half I was focused on learning the lay of the land here. So I didn’t put a whole lot of planning into the Safe Treat event. I wanted to jump in to planning some outreach stuff, and figured that handing out candy to children would be a low-impact first stab at this.

One colleague and I brought some candy and a box of library magnets. The magnets just list some featured services (research assistance, 24/7 chat reference, Starbucks), the library website, and our hours. At first, we laid the magnets out on the table and had the candy in a bowl to hand out to kids as they went by. Then a few kids just walked right by, since they didn’t see a game or activity. Oops!

So we spread more magnets out and laid one piece of candy on each magnet… Seeing the candy, kids started coming over. Of course, they kept asking what they had to do, what the game was. I lost count of how many times I said “no game, just pick your favorite!” (We did have a pretty good selection of candies, so it was a tough choice for some!)

In many cases, the kid grabbed the candy, then the parent reached over to grab “the card” — then it was a pretty even split of reactions, some excited to realize it was a magnet & others excited to have that useful information handy. A common refrain was, “ooh, that has the library hours on it? Your (mom or dad) will want this!”

By the end of the night, we ran out of magnets, which surprised me. There are 250 per box and I had grabbed an unopened box. I really didn’t expect to go through the whole box!

Overall, I felt like this was definitely a worth-while activity, but I’ll need to put more planning into it for next year… Which is the point of this blog post!

Next year, we need to have an activity for the kids. Most of the other tables had something, ranging from active games (bowling, bean bag toss, etc.) to face painting. Some had circles of orange construction paper for kids to draw jack-o-lantern faces on. Some had coloring books and watercolor paints for kids to pick a page and paint it. Some had spooky tic-tac-toe. And so on.

I’m trying to come up with an idea for an activity that would make sense for a library. Copying one of the ideas I saw others do this year would be better than nothing, but it would be great to do something library-focused. Most of the crafts & games I’ve found while searching around would be more time intensive than would work at this event.

The best idea I’ve come up with is to print off some spooky kids book covers on cardstock and make them organize them (older kids can alphabetize, younger kids could go by color or whatever). Is that totally lame?

Have you participated in events like this? If so, what have you done?