Manners Matter: What’s Trick of Treating Etiquette?

By Mary Pat

Dear Mary Pat,

My sister-in-law got into a big discussion about Halloween and trick or treating. She’s kind of stingy when it comes to passing out candy and has all these rules about how old the kids should be (no one over 12) and does not go a minute over the posted trick-or-treat times. I’ve always been a little relaxed about the whole thing. We live in a busy neighborhood full of kids and I don’t have any rules. I just buy a whole bunch of candy and make sure I’m home to answer the door. My kids are all older now and haven’t gone trick or treating for a good few years. Is there such a thing as trick or treat etiquette?


Treats You Right

Sturgeon Bay, WI


Dear Treats You Right,

There is etiquette for nearly every situation in life and trick or treating is no different. I’ve come up with a list of things to remember and consider for all of those passing out and collecting candy:

1) Trick or treating times are there for kids’ safety. You don’t want a seven-year-old wandering around in the dark. And eventually, kids and families all have to get home to eat and possibly do homework.

2) Even if your child is dressed up like the scariest creature on earth, it would be scarier still if he or she didn’t say thank you when given candy and treats from neighbors.

3) Unless the person handing out candy says otherwise, one piece per trick or treater is polite.

4) If you are passing out candy, be sure to leave your porch light on and make sure there is a clear path to your door. If you decide not to participate in trick or treating, leave your house dark so kids know to automatically skip your house.

5) If you are too cool to dress up for Halloween, then you are too old to be trick or treating.

6) While most kids can enjoy candy, there are a good few who cannot eat certain types of candy due to allergies (nuts, dairy, etc.). Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE, started the Teal Pumpkin Project last year to help kids with allergies have a safe and happy Halloween experience. If kids and parents see a teal pumpkin that means that the house is giving out non-candy items like stickers and fun little Halloween items. This time of year you can find all kinds of inexpensive items, maybe even less expensive than candy. While this isn’t something everyone will do, it would be great if it really catches on.


Good luck,

Mary Pat

Article Comments