How do you celebrate Halloween without pumpkins? Or easy access to “fun size” candy? What about when there is only one store that stocks the “off the shelf” Halloween costumes? Can you still “trick or treat” when it’s not a holiday widely recognized by the local community?
I never thought about these things until I moved to Singapore and celebrated my first Halloween abroad. Every year, there is more recognition of the holiday. This year, all the major grocery chains have decorations but finding large bags of candy is still pretty difficult. Off-the-shelf costumes have gotten much easier to find and trick-or-treating has returned to expat-heavy neighborhoods.
Real pumpkins are expensive and small in Singapore and not at all close to jack-o-lantern size. People get pretty creative and carve things like watermelons, papayas, and pineapples. The tropical heat is not kind to carved fruits so you have to keep them in the refrigerator when they aren’t lit. Even then, you will only get a couple of nights out of them.
I’ve yet to locate the fake pumpkins that you can carve but I keep hoping those will get popular. We also will either paint the small pumpkins or just decorate paper ones and hang them up.
Thank goodness, my children are now capable of making their costumes because I am not a crafty mom. You can find costumes here and it’s not too difficult but you have to plan to go early so you get the best selection.
If you have your heart set on something that you can’t find in Singapore, you can try Amazon. Amazon Singapore is decent but the selection and pricing are not as good as in the U.S.
One thing that Singapore has over the States, is affordable tailors. If you are not a crafty mom, like me, you can get a tailor to custom-make one for you.
During my first year in Singapore, this was my biggest headache. I didn’t know where to buy small individually wrapped candy. I could only find full-sized candy or bags of things like gummy bears. If you live in a more expat-friendly neighborhood, you can find a few more options but it’s nothing like the big assorted bags we have in the States.
This year, I ordered one of those huge bags from Amazon. This is a reasonable option but some of the chocolate did melt while it was being transported. I think we’ve all gotten used to that now so hopefully, my children won’t hold it against me. You have to keep candy in the refrigerator or a climate-controlled environment here or it just turns to mush.
Trick or treating
There is trick-or-treating in many condo buildings with large expat communities. Near the Singapore American School, thousands of people descend on the neighborhood and people are encouraged to bring candy to donate. Be sure to wear a costume though, so many people come looking for free candy that these houses only treat those children who are dressed up.
In recent years, Singapore’s community-building organization, the People’s Association has begun hosting haunted houses in community centers around the island.
Even three years ago, decorations were much more difficult to find. Now, you’ll find basic decorations at all the supermarkets, Daiso (a Japanese dollar store), Spotlight, and Party City. They don’t compare to the quality and range that you would see in Target or Walmart but it is better than nothing.
I chose not to pack my fall decorations to bring them to Singapore and I’ve kicked myself ever since. I thought they would be easy to replace here but they aren’t. Thankfully, Hobby Lobby stocks its fall decor early and I stock up.