Q. My husband and I have lived in a high-rise apartment for many years, but recently bought a house in a nice neighborhood. I was asking my neighbor about Halloween trick-or-treat on our street. It’s a big deal! I think I could use some etiquette pointers of what to expect from the little ones and some guidelines for me as well. Would you please provide a few?
A. Yes, Halloween trick-or-treating is a “big deal,” and it can be a fun-fun time for everyone if basic Halloween etiquette is followed. For example:
▪ Leave the lights on if you are going to participate. That means exterior lights such a porch lights, garage lights, landscape lights.
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▪ If you are not in the mood for Halloween or ill, make sure your lights are off during trick-or-treat hours.
▪ Have your candy as close as possible to the front door to make it easier to distribute.
▪ It is perfectly acceptable to sit inside your garage, or outside your front door on your porch to distribute candy, as long as the children can readily see where they need to go.
▪ Purchase only candy that is wrapped or boxed, like Milk Duds.
▪ Be cognizant of the fact that many children have peanut allergies. Therefore, if you purchase candy containing peanuts, be sure to keep that candy in a separate container. Although children who have that type of allergy should remember to tell you, be safe and ask: “Is anyone allergic to peanuts?”
▪ Avoid giving out homemade treats. Parents usually throw out homemade treats from their children’s “loot” when they get home because of unfortunate past problems with unsafe items placed in homemade treats. That is also why treats should be in the wrappers.
▪ More healthful treats, such as little boxes of raisins, or little bags of dried fruits, are certainly options.
▪ You are not expected to invite the trick-or-treaters into your home and it is probably wise not to do so.
▪ You are not expected to provide or allow access to your bathroom facilities.
▪ To avoid some greedy children from grabbing several handfuls of candy, you can distribute the candy yourself.
▪ To avoid having a lot of candy left over, but fear not having enough treats, keep a roll of quarters handy and give a quarter as a treat.
▪ If you have a dog, keep it away from the door to avoid having the pet jump out at the trick-or-treaters or be frightened by them.
▪ Be prepared to have children from other streets, or neighborhoods come into your area.
▪ Although the general age cutoff for going trick or treating is 12, you may have some who are as old as 13 or 14.
▪ Do not go to a house that is not lighted.
▪ Carry a flashlight to use when going from house to house. Use it to see where you are walking. Do not shine it at cars going by or in the face of homeowners or other children.
▪ Use the sidewalks, rather than cutting across lawns, when going from one house to the other.
▪ Do not attempt to cause, or do damage to any homeowner’s property.
▪ Ring the doorbell only once. If no one comes to the door, simply go to the next house.
▪ Be polite. Say “Trick or Treat” when the door is opened. Remember to say your little rhyme or joke. Do not be greedy. Say “Thank you” after you receive your treat. Do not reject a treat because you “don’t like that kind of candy.”
▪ Do not eat your treats until your parents allow you to do so. Waiting until you get home and your parents have looked through all your treats.
▪ Adhere to the published hours for trick or treating.
▪ Walk with your small children from house to house, staying in the background as they go to the front door.
▪ Leave the dog at home, or in your car. Dogs can become very frightened from all the noise and excitement and may become aggressive with homeowners or other children.
▪ Do not follow your children by driving slowly down the street. It is difficult to keep one eye on your trick-or-treater and the other on driving. It can also cause a certain amount of “prankster fear” to the homeowners.
▪ Do not dump off carloads in unknown areas. Not only is it possibly dangerous for the children, it is impolite.
▪ Emphasize all the guidelines for children above to your trick-or-treaters.
▪ Make sure your child’s costume is appropriate; i.e., no toy guns, nothing offensive to any ethnic background or culture or individual.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.