Parents and chaperons be advised. While the basics of trick-or-treating seem simple, even here, there is protocol to be observed. It’s never too early (or too late) to instill good holiday etiquette in your little monsters.
- Getting dressed up for Halloween and Trick-or-Treating is supposed to be a fun time with friends and family. Having to take home a hysterical kid who has been scared witless on their first time out is no fun for anyone. Warn children ahead of time that some houses may be spooky and that some people may be in scary costumes but that they are only having fun. It may help to walk around before dark and point out the decorations. A graveyard setting may be less creepy during daylight hours, and that may help them handle it better when encountering it (or similar decorations) at night.
Open for Business. Lights On!
- Only approach homes that are well-lit, brightly decorated and welcome trick-or-treaters. If you haven’t gotten around to decorating your home for Halloween yet—or some of your outdoor lights need replacing—do it now so you can welcome Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween.
Knock or Ring the Door Bell No More Than Twice.
- Wait 30-45 seconds between each ring. If the door isn’t answered within a minute to a minute and a half despite the porch light being on, assume you’ve arrived at a house that didn’t read Rule #11 and go to the next place.
Don’t Trick-or-Treat after 9pm.
- Families with children or older people may well be in bed after that. Most cities offer times that are approved for trick-or-treating in your area. Check the local news stations or fire departments.
- Unless the child is too young (or shy) to speak, saying “Trick-or-Treat” before and “Thank You” afterward are the price for collecting free candy on Halloween. A “Happy Halloween” afterwards (from both child and parent/chaperon) is an added nicety.
Stay on Sidewalks or Pathways.
- Don’t take short cuts through lawns or flowerbeds. Not only could you damage the landscaping, you could hurt yourself.
Take One Piece of Candy.
- Teach your child ahead of time to only take one piece of candy from the bowl, unless they are encouraged to take more.
Don’t be “That House”.
- Unfortunately, there are some “biased” candy-givers who give the lower quality candy to kids they’re not fond of or who are dressed in costumes of which they do not approve, and then give the good “stuff” to the kids they like. Just buy one kind of individually wrapped candy and give it to everyone. Save homemade goodies, gift bags with unwrapped treats or fresh fruit for parties rather than the kids who are coming to your door Trick-or-Treating.
Don’t scare the Little Ones Too Badly.
- If you’ve got a really creepy costume to answer the door, or you decorate your house from sidewalk to porch in graveyard chic – remember that what can be delightfully frightening to older kids and adults can terrify toddlers and young kids. Before jumping out of bushes, screaming when you open doors or leaping out of fake coffins at Trick-or-Treaters, take a quick glance to make sure they’re of an appropriate age group to enjoy such a scare. Save the best frights for those who can really appreciate them. You’ll have more fun and the parents of the little kids will be grateful.
- There are plenty of people whose religious beliefs prevent them from partaking in Halloween. Sometimes it’s a personal decision not to give out candy on Halloween. If you choose not to participate, that’s your choice and you owe no one an explanation.
- A dark home is one that’s not only dangerous to approach—but also one that most people know you should walk on by when trick-or-treating. Even if you decide to give out candy early in the evening but then want to retire early, it’s OK to shut off your lights and send that message, loud and clear, to trick-or-treaters that you are now closed or out of candy.
Not home to hand out Candy.
- If you’d rather not deal with the dos and don’ts of Halloween etiquette, are attending a party or trick-or-treating with your own children, you could always leave a bowl of candy out on your porch and be done with it. But then you would have to hope that the trick-or-treaters will practice good etiquette themselves and not grab all the candy at once.
Age Old Question.
- How old is too old to Trick-or-Treat? While the rules vary from family to family, if your kid is old enough for their driver’s permit, they’re probably too old for Trick-or-Treating. The exception to this is, if they are chaperoning their younger siblings, in which case, they certainly deserve a bit of free loot for themselves, so as long as they are willing to dress up and abide by the rest of the holiday protocol.
On Their Own.
- If your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without a chaperone, have a talk with them about appropriate behavior. Discuss safety and respect. Halloween is about making sure everyone has a great time and ends up with lots of candy!