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Trick or Treat in Style This Year feature (image)

Trick or Treat in Style This Year

By Mark Jeffries, Special to the Maverick Magazine

Every fall, the turning of leaves signifies a changing of the guard: back-to-school time, football kick-off, sweater season and pumpkin spice everything. However for children, seeing those first few leaves fall to the ground means one thing—Halloween is right around the corner.

The weeks before the 31st are often filled with costume searching, route planning and decorating. However, some parents spend that time fretting over the safety of their child during trick-or-treating. Luckily, modern technology has created numerous options to not only help parents and trick-or-treaters feel safe, but also to make your Halloween spook-tacular.

Gone are the days of wandering around various neighborhoods and using word-of-mouth to find the best candy. Nowadays apps help streamline your trick-or-treating experience before you even step outside. For example, a free social network for neighbors called “Nextdoor” is offering a special Halloween feature where neighbors can mark on a “treat map” if they are handing out candy or have a haunted house. The app also ranks the top ten neighbors in your area based on their “treat maps,” giving trick-or-treaters inside knowledge from the comfort of the couch.

Target has also launched a website to make your Halloween the best one yet. Accessible on both desktop and mobile, “Treatster” provides a user-generated map of the best trick-or-treating spots in your area via user vote. Top trick-or-treating houses are marked on the map by pumpkins, and the more votes a house receives, the larger the pumpkin grows.

Other than mapping out routes, there are also numerous apps to quell the anxiety of parents whose children are venturing out to trick-or-treat on their own. Free apps like “Track-and-Treat” let parents virtually follow their children along their routes in real time. The set-up is easy, only requiring parents to enter a phone number or e-mail into the app to create a link for tracking. The link can be shared with numerous people so mom, dad, grandma and grandpa can all keep their eye on your little one as they head out for the night.

If you have a phone that doesn’t support certain tracking apps or prefer not to download any, there are numerous built-in features on smartphones that can be taken advantage of as well. One of the simplest is the alarm option. Before your child leaves, set various alarms that remind them to check-in with you throughout the night. The notepad function can also be utilized to hold a pre-approved route for your child to follow. Finally, the flashlight function will give extra visibility in the dark and help trick-or-treaters find their way home.

Now for those who do not have trick-or-treaters to walk (or track) around the neighborhood but still want to get into the spirit of the holiday, smart home technology is the way to go. Here are some of the best ideas to spook and delight your visitors:

Both Ring and SkyBell offer various video doorbells with a speaker to startle trick-or-treaters as they ring your doorbell. Some smart doorbells even offer you the ability to change your chime to a spooky tone.

Immerse your house in spooky Halloween sounds, like ghosts and screams, or popular Halloween music with home assistants, like Amazon’s Echo.

Smart lights, such as Amazon’s Wink Relay, are perfect to set an eerie mood both in and out of your house. Lights can either be completely cut off to surround your guests in darkness, or you can change the lights from regular color to an ominous red or orange glow.

Motion sensors and basic motorized drapery controllers can be used to attach ghoulish Halloween decorations to a motorized pulley so that they rise upon motion-detection. Add-A-Motor drapery is a reliable and economical option that can be used outside of Halloween time as well.

Adding a creaky, creepy automatic door to your front porch is a perfect way to top off your haunted experience. Give your trick-or-treaters a ghostly experience by setting up an automatic door opener connected to a doormat sensor. Companies like Kisi, Amazon, and IDEAL Security offer easy to install options for all budgets.

So whether you are taking to the streets with your trick-or-treaters, watching from afar, or setting up a haunted house of your own, make sure you have the newest technology on your side to make this year’s Halloween the best one yet!