Next to Christmas, Halloween might be the favorite holiday of most children. And why not? They get to dress up like their favorite superhero, fairy tale character, or cartoon character. They get weighed down with candy and treats. And they get to do it all with their best friends.

While kids want to soak up every second of joy and sugary goodness, Halloween poses unique and persistent challenges for parents of young children.

It takes a watchful and diligent parent to shepherd multiple children on Halloween night. Here are some ways to make Halloween a lot safer.

1. Map Out a Route

A successful Halloween begins a few days before the celebration. You and your spouse need to map out a specific route for your family to take on Halloween so that you both know which direction you’re heading and, if you get separated, where you can meet up. You’ll need to consider traffic as well as the expected flow of other people.

2. Make Sure Everyone Stays With the Group

If your kids are anything like mine, they can’t wait to get from one house to another. That often means they sprint from one home to the next one, with their friends by their side. It can be difficult to keep up with them. Before Halloween, you need to impress upon them the importance of sticking together and traveling from one house to the next as a group. If they run off and you’re juggling multiple children, it can be a nightmare trying to corral them.

3. Don’t Go Into Strangers' Homes

Many children are curious, outgoing, and simply invite themselves into people’s homes. It’s understandable, but it’s also inappropriate on several levels. Again, prior to the Halloween festivities, sit down with your kids and explain to them that it’s not proper to go into someone’s home on this occasion, even if you’re invited inside. If it’s a close friend and you’re okay with it, tell your children that you’ll handle it.

4. Stay Off the Street

Things get chaotic on Halloween. Parents are mingling. Children are running from house to house, and everyone is trying to have a good time. It can be easy for kids to forget the normal safety rules, like staying out of the street. You would expect that most people will drive slowly on the neighborhood roads, but you should reinforce with your kids prior to Halloween the importance of staying on the sidewalk and always looking both ways before crossing the street.

5. Choose Safe Costumes

This is a concern every year. You want to make sure that the costume your child is wearing will allow them to walk freely and see where they’re going. That means no pants or robes they could trip on, and no masks that impair their vision. Plus, you’ll want a mask that isn’t too tight or claustrophobic. You also want to make sure that you can instantly recognize your child in their costume. There might be other kids wearing something similar and you don’t want your child to get lost in the crowd.

6. Remind Them of Stranger Danger

Some neighborhoods are very popular on Halloween night and people might come from other neighborhoods into your neighborhood to trick-or-treat. That means there might be lots of new kids and parents in your community. Certainly, the more the merrier, but it also means that your children need to be aware of stranger danger and the likelihood that they’ll be seeing some new faces that night.

7. Inspect the Candy

As always, you’ll want to inspect the candy that your children are given during the night to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for them to consume.