What Is Proper Trick-or-Treat Etiquette?

9 tips to ensure the spookiest night of the year is fun (and safe) for all

What Is Proper Trick-or-Treat Etiquette?
flickr/Calgary

“Trick-or-Treat! Trick-or-Treat! Give me something good to eat!” Even if it’s been a while since you uttered these words yourself, there’s no denying the universal excitement and nostalgia associated with this all too familiar phrase (err, battle cry?). Halloween is around the corner. It’s the only American tradition where kids across the country dress up as anyone or anything they want — perhaps as the Green Lantern, a Smurfette, or Harry Potter this year — and are encouraged to solicit free, sugar-laden treats from every house within walking distance, sometimes collecting entire garbage bags full of sweets. This means they will soon be showing up on your doorstep —we know you want to be prepared.

Halloween should bring out the fun and festive side of everyone, yet sometimes it turns ordinary people into rude or aggressive beasts. If you’ve ever had a child relentlessly pound on your door because it was just taking a bit longer than usual to get there in time (Hey! Nature called!), or have accidentally rang a doorbell at a home where the outdoor lights were on, only to get a stern berating because the grumpy person inside wasn’t participating (really?), you know what we mean.

To plan for this festive day, we’re establishing some general ground rules for both those on the “giving” or “receiving” end of the transaction to ensure that the evening is enjoyable and safe for all. Handing out treats this year? First and foremost, make sure that those on the street know you’re in business by leaving the light on. And just because you’re on a diet and can’t resist M&M’s when they’re in the house shouldn’t make you have to give out only bags of Smartfood or apples.

Off to trick the neighbors? When approaching someone’s property, be mindful about where you walk and don’t leave a mess of wrappers or costume accessories in your wake — you don’t want to discover how mean the lady across the street can be when you squash her mums. And don’t rifle through the bag of candy at the door, desperately in search of a Butterfinger because it’s your favorite. Halloween is about fun! What’s the point in dressing up like a clown if you are going to pout your way around town wishing you had gotten more M&M's rather than lollipops?

Click here to see the What is Proper Trick or Treat Etiquette Slideshow.


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