What could be more fun than a surprise basket of Halloween goodies appearing on the front porch?
Fearing Halloween would be a disappointment this year, Carrie Williams, who is publisher and editor of Macaroni Kid Pleasanton, decided to prepare "boo baskets" for 100 to 300 children who could then pass on the fun.
"Everything is being canceled for a year," Williams said. "It's been a year of canceled events for kids."
Her publication, found at pleasanton.macaronikid.com, is a hyper-local online newsletter that runs notices about free events for children and families, and includes fun stories as well as crafts, Williams explained. Recent Pleasanton issues have included happenings such as Boo at the Oakland Zoo and local pumpkin patches.
Different Macaroni Kid websites focus on communities across the country, and share fun stories as well as crafts. The publishers also brainstorm with each other about how to serve their audiences.
"Macaroni Kid publishers felt we had to do something for the kids for Halloween," Williams said. "We put our thinking caps on, and said let's do some boo baskets."
Boo baskets and bags have become popular in recent years. People assemble packages with little treats and leave them anonymously by a front door with a note: "You've been boo'd." Recipients pay it forward by doing the same for two neighbors until everyone on the street has been boo'd.
It's an easy, fun activity for the whole family, Williams noted, both receiving the treats and the excitement of surprising others. Boo baskets often include cutouts of ghosts or signs to be hung outside to let others know you have been boo'd.
Williams reached out to her advertisers to contribute to the baskets since she knew they were having difficulties these days getting their messages out. Seven joined the effort.
Each basket had some candy plus goodies like rings and bubbles, and the sponsors gave fun items like coupons for discounts, free martial arts lessons and hand sanitizer.
"I made sure it was a full bucket," Williams said.
She also included two cute empty boo bags, so recipients could in turn fill the bags with goodies and surprise two other households.
"I delivered some to my subscribers, and some to my moms' groups," Williams said. "It was something fun. I just wanted to reach out to kids."
Her children, JT, 11, and Jackson, 9, helped, too.
They were born in Tucson, which is where Williams, as a young mother, first heard about Macaroni Kid from her friends.
"I was the organizer for a moms' group, and I would pull from their calendar," she recalled.
When Williams and her family moved to Pleasanton in 2015, she became publisher of Macaroni Kid Pleasanton, which serves the Tri-Valley. She sends out the newsletter once a week and has close to 4,000 subscribers. She enjoys getting out to spread the word.
"I go to farmers markets in Livermore and Dublin," she said. "I can do as little or as much as I want, and I love doing Macaroni Kid and going to events."
Williams especially enjoys it when moms approach her who already know and love Macaroni Kid.
"They act like I'm a rock star," she said with a laugh. "It's pretty awesome."
After she distributed the 100 boo baskets recently, she was inundated with notes of thanks and photos of happy kids from the recipients and from those who helped.
"My kids and I had fun putting them on doorsteps," wrote Diana Barnes. "If you need help again let me know."
"Thank you for letting us help! My neighbors loved them!" Ashley Tedmus reported.
Williams also surprised her own neighbors with boo baskets.
"I have a neighbor across the street who said she didn't know I did Macaroni Kid," she said.
"I only did 100 this year, and it was a lot of work," she added. "But I may do more next year. It was so much fun."
Want to boo, too?
To "boo" friends and neighbors, first gather some Halloween goodies, such as candy, stickers, erasers, etc. Put the treats into a decorated bag or container, and include the message: "You've been boo'd! Happy Halloween!"
The fun part about boo'ing is that it is a surprise. Leave the boo bag on the doorstep, ring the bell and skedaddle.