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Halloween Etiquette | Learn Your ‘Trick or Treat Etiquette’

Is there such thing as Halloween etiquette? Whilst some families like to participate in Halloween, some families do not. Some decorate their homes and welcome everybody to visit and others prefer just their local neighbours. Some whole streets get into the ‘spirit’ of the event whilst others are 100% not interested.

So, if you are thinking about getting your kids dressed up and taking them either into your neighbourhood or further afield to trick or treat, why not have a think about these rules of thumb, some simple examples of Halloween etiquette to make sure you, your kids and the homes you visit have a spooktacular and not a ghastly time this year!

1. What’s the best age to enjoy Halloween?

We suggest that you know your kids best and also know if they are old enough to participate. Do they like getting dressed up? Will some of the Halloween costumes scare them? How far can they walk and will they be with older siblings who will (possibly) want to walk much further than they will? Whilst we suggest there is no age restriction to enjoy Halloween, it’s best that a responsible adult stays with the kids at all times whilst out trick or treating. If going door to door isn’t your thing, perhaps a party at home would suit everyone better on the night? Create some Halloween snacks (that can be fun and healthier than the traditional Halloween offerings!) and play some spooky games. To get your kids into the spirit more, you could also teach them the real meaning of Halloween.

 2. Going to other people’s houses to trick or treat?

We were always taught that houses with their gates closed or their lights off were probably indicating that they were not interested in participating in Halloween. The best Halloween etiquette in this case is to walk on by. If we couldn’t determine if they were interested we applied the ‘one knock’ rule. Halloween etiquette dictated that if the home owners doesn’t answer the door after one knock, move on to the next haunted house. Houses that were decorated were clearly interested and usually we would only visit those that had a clear interest in us knocking!

3. Halloween costumes? Necessary, right?

Halloween etiquette - costumes are necessary!

If you are planning on taking your kids out to trick or treat, there is an unwritten rule that they should make an effort to get dressed up to be part of the event. Just showing up and holding your hand out for treats without the necessary costume effort is considered poor form. This is relaxed a little for smaller children who may not yet be able to understand or those that may have other reasons for not being able to dress for the ocassion, but Halloween etiquette usually requires some effort on the particpants part to embrace a costume or face painting or some sort. (Yes, I have turned away teenagers at my door who had NO costumes and demanded treats!)

4. Halloween etiquette – always be polite

If the homes that are participating in Halloween are enjoying decorating their house, putting out welcome signs and showing that they are interested in greeting the kids, then we must be polite and indeed grateful for their kindness. It doesnt matter if they are offering top shelf chocolate or a piece of fruit, it’s important that our kids show their gratitude and say ‘thank you’.

5. Don’t be greedy!

Some people hand their choice of treat to the kids and some let them ‘choose their own’ from a bowl… either way nobody like a greedy ghost or ungrateful goblin! Why not have a chat with your kids before they head out about what is appropriate (and how much) to take when offered the ‘sweets bowl’ to choose from? Explain to your kids that they won’t be the only kids visiting this house and they need to leave enough to share with the next ‘trick or treaters’.

6. Watch out for traffic

Halloween can be a buiser than usual time in some streets with some families deciding to visit popular streets beyond their local neighbours to enjoy the decorations of particular streets. Much like ‘Christmas Lights looking‘ in the lead up to Christmas, some streets can get congested. Again, before you go out with the kids, remind them about road saftey and enforce your rules about crossing streets and other saftey expectations that you have. It certainly won’t be fun if there is an accident!

7. Keep an eye on the time

It’s a great night out and lots of families really enjoy their neighbourhood’s decorations and kindness during this time. The kids ARE more than likely going to eat too many sugary ‘treats’ and it will probably be hard to get them to leave. If Halloween falls on a week night remember that the kids will have school the next day. I imagine most parents and carers are going to try to get the kids home and in bed at a resonable hour to get some sleep before school the next day. This is a great plan because a) hyped up kids need to get some sleep and b) once they are in bed, we can sift through the treats and take out the best stuff for ourselves… or maybe that is just me and my family’s ‘Halloween etiquette’. Bahahaha……

8. Restock and replenish

Another great neighbourhood-friendly idea is to take some packages of treats with you to restock the neighbours who are so kindly giving so many out. Supplies will run low and they’re sure to appreciate your generosity, even if it’s just a handful of mini Mars Bars.

Halloween Etiquette

Would you add anything to this list of Halloween etiquette? Leave a comment below.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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