Ding Dong! Are you ready for the mob of monsters expected to ring your bell on Hallows Eve? On October 31st, kids from coast to coast will get all dressed up to…well walk in the dark, talk to strangers, and get free candy. But it’s all in good fun.
As an Etiquette Consultant, I see this annual night of costumed celebration and candy, as a perfect time to reinforce manners, civility and neighborly conduct with our families. As
a home host, the focus is a safe environment (and sweet treats, of course), and as a wrangler of the little ghouls and goblins, the primary role is to make sure that trick-or-treaters are safe and respectful.
Here are my top tips to everyone has a Happy Halloween:
- 1. Know the Code.
- Lights On – Open for Business! An “on” porch light, well-lit home, and lit decorations are all signals that the home is accepting trick-or-treaters.
- Lights Out – sorry, we’re closed. If the porch light is off, the outside is not lit or all lights are off, simply move along to the next home.
- When a participating home runs out of candy, turn off the lights. You’re now closed.
- 2. Ring the doorbell or knock once. Homeowners are expecting you. If after 30 seconds to a minute no one comes to the door, move on. They may unable to come to the door at the moment.
- 3. Light it up and clear it out.Make sure that your drive and walkway is well-lit and free of trip hazards. Secure and mark items such as such as: electrical cords or sprinkler heads that could trip costumed visitors.
- 4. Use your magic words. When someone comes to the door, say “Trick or Treat.” Follow-up with a “Thank You” and “Happy Halloween”. And if someone makes a comment or ask about your costume, be sure to politely respond.
- 5. To Be or Not To Be….Alone. If your child/children will be joining friends in another neighborhood to trick-or-treat, make sure that there is an adult chaperon. If your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without a chaperone, have a talk with them about appropriate behavior – discussing safety and respect.
- 6. Be respectful of people’s property. Walk along lit paths. Don’t run. Do not discard of candy wrappers on anyone’s lawn.
- 7. Don’t be a greedy grabber. While one treat per visitor is customary, if someone invites you to take another – this is fine, but don’t grab five. If a bowl of candy has been left on the porch, help yourself to only one piece, or one treat bag.
- 8. Stay on the Path. Keep to streets, drives, walkways and paths. Don’t take short cuts through lawns or flowerbeds. Not only could you damage the landscaping, you could hurt yourself.
- 9. Be respectful of the time. Most cities schedule times for trick-or-treating (check the local news stations, fire department or town/neighborhood’s facebook page). Abide by the set times, and as a general rule, don’t trick-or-treat 9PM.
- 10. Don’t Double-Dip. Visit a house only once. No matter how delicious the goodies, if you have been there before, you should not go again.
A few other guidelines to commonly asked questions.
How old is too old to Trick-or-Treat? There really is not an official cut-off age for Halloween. By natural evolution trick-or-treaters make their last round between the ages of 12 and 14 years old. However, there may be times when a child a few year beyond this age is taking the littles candy seeking. If they are in costume, give them candy too. They just want to celebrate the spirit of the holiday for one last time. Be a good sport and give to all in costume.
I don’t want to hand out candy, but don’t’ want to be labeled the neighborhood grouch. First of all, it isn’t a crime to refrain from participating in trick-or-treat festivities. Secondly, you have a few options:
- In the instance that you will be home, but simply prefer not to answer the door. I recommend turning off most interior lights, but be sure to leave the front walk and porch well lit. Leave a bowl of candy on a pedestal at the front door along with a note. Retreat to the family room or den for a quiet evening with a movie, book or glass of wine.
- Plan to have dinner out during this time. In this case, all lights should be out when you leave our home.
- Put your car in the garage, pull the blinds, and kill the lights to make your “no candy here” intentions clear.
Have you ever found yourself in a sticky situation yourself on Halloween? Sounds below with your comments.
On a sugar-high,