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How Teenagers May Ruin The Tradition Of Door-To-Door Halloween Trick or Treating

Halloween brought about lots of posts on social media, all similar to the one below, that, in my opinion, nagged us at best and admonished and chastised adults at worst.

“For those passing out candy this year….when a teenager comes to your door….please give them the candy…. without saying, “aren’t you too old to be doing this?”….because they could be out doing things much worse. Let them be kids as long as they can. Kids grow up way too fast. Let them spend one evening channeling their inner childhood ~ Thank you

Also, please don’t refuse a child candy because they aren’t dressed up. Some children have autism or have sensory issues that make dressing up highly uncomfortable, if not unbearable. And some can’t afford it.

Think about providing alternatives to candy for those who cannot have food dyes or have allergies – toys or stickers etc

One last thing, size doesn’t always determine mental age or special needs. You may see a teenager, but they may still relate as a younger child!
Be kind!”

I’ve thought about this a lot. I wondered if maybe I was slightly offended/annoyed because Halloween wasn’t a big deal in my family when I was growing up. Then I thought maybe it was because I’m getting older. Then I realized the reason I don’t like it is because I feel it is rude to give people rules or instructions in advance for showing up at your home and asking for (or in some cases, demanding) candy. I am a thoughtful and kind human being and I don’t need a lecture about how to treat people that I’m welcoming onto my property and giving treats to. The post feels entitled and just rubs me the wrong way.

I stopped giving out Halloween candy last year when only a small handful of children thanked me out of dozens. The parents were standing right there too and made no attempts to coax their child(ren) into manners. Giving out candy to ungrateful and entitled kids (and parents) is not my cup of tea, y’all.

Would love to hear thoughts and experiences. Before any of you make assumptions, I work with children and love them. My husband and I don’t have any yet but over my dead body would my child dare not say thank you to Every. Single. Person. they take candy from. 1031-18


You make an interesting point. Do hosts have an obligation to cater to specific needs of every possible child that comes trick or treating to their house?

An acquaintance of mine posted to Facebook that we should give candy to teenagers who are not in costume because “it’s hard to go through puberty”. Hmmm…puberty was challenging when I was a kid way back in the ancient times and yet nearly all of us stopped by age 13 because it seemed shameful to keep trick or treating at that age.  At age 13 and after we were hosting our own Halloween parties in the garage or creating fun ways to distribute candy at our own houses.

I believe because trick or treating after age 13 was viewed as childish when I was young, the culture of trick or treating from house to house remained the domain of the pre-teens and toddlers resulting in nearly 100% of the houses in the neighborhoods participating in distributing candy.  Not so today.

Give candy to teenagers as an alternative to them “doing things much worse”?   Like vandalism?  Theft?  If they are already doing “much worse things”, how naive is it to think that trick or treating for a few hours will change that behavior?   Giving them candy simply becomes protection “money” to keep them from egging your house, toilet papering the trees, keying your car and flattening your tires.

If Halloween trick or treating has been reduced to catering to the sugar demands of teenagers so conflicted with the agonies of puberty that they must be distracted for a few hours to keep from “doing much worse”,  it is reasonable that people reject that kind of extortion and decline to hand out candy to anyone.

And we didn’t just go house to house acquiring candy when I was a kid.   Trick or Treating For UNICEF was common and I did it at age 12.   Instead of a bag to collect candy,  there was a small box that was carried and when the door opened,  the kid said, “Trick or treat for UNICEF!”   Host deposited a quarter, a dime, whatever into the box and the proceeds later donated to UNICEF.   On Halloween at our house there was a bowl of candy and a small pile of coins ready for the UNICFers.    It’s a great organization serving children and the organization still offers their Trick or Treat For UNICEF boxes.   But how many of you have ever heard of it or had a child knock at your asking for a tiny donation?

{ 66 comments… add one }
  • Queen of Putrescence November 5, 2018, 6:28 am

    I have never even seen a UNICEF box growing up or in the last twenty some years of handing out candy. If anyone came to my door asking for a donation I would have to run somewhere else to find change. Maybe it’s just not done in the Midwest.

    We don’t live right on the beaten path so we don’t have many little kids come to our door. We had about twenty some kids, many friends of my teenagers. Everyone in costume, every person said trick or treat and they all said thank you without exception. I have absolutely no problem with teens trick or treating on Halloween. They just want to go out and participate in the tradition.

    • peachykeen November 6, 2018, 12:16 pm

      I grew up in Ohio and we did the UNICEF thing sponsored by our church. This was in the 1960’s so maybe it isn’t currently being done.

    • Rebecca M November 8, 2018, 5:46 pm

      We did it every year here in Ontario. Our school gave them out and handled the collection afterward.

  • Emily November 5, 2018, 6:31 am

    When I was a young Trick-or-treater the UNICEF boxes were handed out and collected by my school. Now as a teacher in the same district, the schools’ have stopped handing out the boxes as it was deemed inappropriate to have kids soliciting for money. I’m not trying to start a debate on that point (It’s just the reason we were given) but it may not be the kids’ or parents’ fault that the UNICEF bins have declined.

    • PJ November 5, 2018, 11:00 am

      I remember UNICEF boxes here when I was a kid (so that would have been 70s and 80s in the Midwestern US). Neighborhood churches facilitated the campaign, so we got them there rather than at school. Now that I’ve been on the giving end of Halloween for over 25 years, I haven’t seen the UNICEF boxes since.

  • Charliesmum November 5, 2018, 7:28 am

    I did UNICEF as a kid, but generally not on Halloween, we usually did it a bit earlier. I remember it being fun though. I think our school sponsored it.

    As to kids not being grateful; not sure where OP lives, but every kid who came to my door said ‘thank you’ and if they didn’t the parents gently reminded them to, so I don’t think ungratefulness is an epidemic.

    I also didn’t get any teenagers, but maybe there just aren’t any near where I live.

  • shoegal November 5, 2018, 7:53 am

    The neighborhood I grew up in was a great place to Trick or Treat in – it was a block and I went to every single house around that block no matter if it was on a hill or had a million steps. I always came back with tons of candy. When I grew older I would drive to my Mom’s house to help her hand out candy. It was an event there and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I have never seen or even heard of the Unicef box. It’s sounds like a nice idea though. We never discriminated against teenagers trick or treating. I don’t have a problem with it and I also I sort of feel like the OP is a little hard hearted. Children don’t meet your expectations so now you’re all out. Ok – your choice. Today, I would be ecstatic to have just one kid treat or treat at my house. I live in the country and no one comes down my dirt road. My sister though, loves handing out candy – she said this year alot of the parents dressed up and took some candy. She was delighted.

    • staceyizme November 5, 2018, 10:12 am

      I agree that the picture you paint of merriment with kids and candy is a good one. It’s also worth noting that it’s best to hand that candy OUT when the chance presents itself. That parent or teen trickster that you snubbed might have been your only hope of getting the candy OUT of the house and down the road, away from the Zone of Mindless Munching that sets in when junk food is in the house in larger than ordinary quantities… It’s still a golden treat to many of the young. For some of us oldster (or older-sters, as the case may be), it’s a possible Dietary Hazard.

  • Saucygirl November 5, 2018, 8:28 am

    We told our 9 year old daughter about UNICEF this year, as she had no idea about it. But I did not try to get her a box because I figured no one would be prepared to put change in it.

    I don’t have a problem with teenagers trick or treating but I do expect some basic attempt at a costume. Face paint, sports clothes, something.

    My main halloween problem is people driving to “better” neighborhoods that they have no affiliation with, and trick or treating there.

    • LadyXaviara November 5, 2018, 10:43 am

      Last year ours was the only house in our neighbourhood participating in Halloween. We had to drive to a different neighbourhood or tell our kid he couldn’t trick or treat.

      • saucygirl November 5, 2018, 11:07 am

        I get driving to a different area in order to be able to trick or treat – we have to as well cause we live on four acres on a dirt road with no real neighbors. But we go to a friends house, have dinner first, bring them some candy to give out, and go out with them. And we go to their house cause they are our friends, not cause we think we will score better there versus somewhere else.

        But we have a neighborhood here that is considered a “rich” neighborhood. All night vans pull up and kids jump out and start trick or treating. Literally hundreds of kids that don’t know a sole living in the neighborhood are running around it.

    • Queen of Putrescence November 5, 2018, 10:52 am

      Our physician used to live in a fairly rural neighborhood, got about 8 kids a year and gave out full size candy bars. Then he moved to a house on a golf course. Fortunately the neighbors warned him that the parents outside of town would drive in and take their kids to the golf course neighborhood. He had over 450 kids come to his house that year (and this was in a town of just under 2,000 people). Each kid received one fun size candy bar and nothing else.

      We have always found that the neighborhoods on the outer edges of our city give out a lot more candy (or full size candy bars as we do) because so few kids come to the door. If you go to the main streets in our town, you are lucky to receive one bite size piece of candy because there are so many kids going to those houses and most of them don’t live near that area anyway!

    • Bea November 5, 2018, 4:11 pm

      I don’t understand the problem.

      Lower income areas are going to have less participation and aren’t always safe to be outside after dark.

      We grew up in a poorly lit area with a lot of trouble after sunset. No way did our parents let us trick or treat there. We had to be in by dusk.

      So I’m not sure why seeking a safer area that chooses to participate in a community celebration is such an issue. It sounds rather privileged to say the least. It’s not like we’re crashing your neighborhood block party!

    • Miss-E November 5, 2018, 7:51 pm

      In my hometown kids would come up from the much more dangerous, rough neighborhoods (i grew up in Westchester in the 80s and people would come fro, the Bronx; 80s Bronx was not a fun place to wander around) Areas where you wouldn’t want your kids walking around. My town as very white and the kids that came up were decidedly less so. The cops used to harass families who came up, I always thought that was wildly unfair, they were only trying to do right by their children. Nothing was ever vandalized or stolen or anything and my mom always said all kids had the right to go trick or treating, even those not fortunate enough to be born into rich neighborhoods.

  • DGS November 5, 2018, 8:34 am

    Provided that the trick or treater is polite, gracious and grateful, I don’t care if they are a small child or a teenager. We live in a suburban development with a ton of trick or treaters and had a wonderful pre-Halloween party feeding the kids dinner at our house and getting them all in costume before going all the way down and around the neighborhood trick or treating. The kids in our massive group (about 15 kids and about 25 adults) were a noisy horde, for sure, but at each door, they said, “thank you”, were gracious and polite and made sure not to tread on lawn decorations. Later that night, tons of teenagers stopped by and were also, lovely and gracious. However, in previous years, we have had lawn decorations or seasonal porch decorations knocked over and people littering in the yards. The township police department cracked down on cruising the neighborhood, which had made a huge difference in overall behavior, and I think more parents are more mindful of their children and their behavior, creating less ruckus. It has become a fun night for all rather than an exercise in destruction. Also, our township police rigidly enforce the 8 pm curfew, so all trick or treating is done from 4 to 8.

    • Lara November 5, 2018, 8:55 am

      I agree; politeness, not age, is key in my opinion. Part of this may be my own experience (I grew up in a suburban area where EVERYONE trick-or-treated all through high school; I didn’t even know that some people thought it was younger kids only until college), but I just don’t have a problem with sharing Halloween fun. Everyone in my new neighborhood is pretty polite, too, so it was just fun for me.

  • Jelly_Rose November 5, 2018, 9:05 am

    I kept trick or treating as long as people let me, heck I have a good memory of some friends and I dressing up when we were in our early 20’s (but we all looked like teens, young faces) and went out trick or treating a little after all the younger kids went. The adults we came across thought it was pretty fun to see us, some even took pictures and we thanked everyone that gave us candy. Most said they didn’t mind giving us candy because we obviously put effort into our homemade costumes.

  • Vic November 5, 2018, 9:18 am

    I got over 230 trick or treaters this year. That included 3 adults, one of which was over 60, in full costume. I loved it. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. People come from other areas to see all of my decorations. As for UNICEF, I support charities. But, I feel that Halloween isn’t the right night to try to collect money. My doorbell rings so often that I can’t leave the entry way from 6:00 to 9:00 that night. If I was asked to go find money, I would have to politely refuse. I don’t keep cash in the house. I’m not even sure if I could scrounge up a handful of change.

  • phdeath November 5, 2018, 9:51 am

    My candy-handout experiences have been very different from the OP’s. I receive unsolicited thanks from all but the youngest/shyest T or Ters, and in those cases, their parents or other older accompanists supplied the thanks.

    I’ve also seen many teens who seemed to be taking younger family members out for the fun. Most didn’t ask for candy, but got some from me anyway, costume or not.

    I adore Halloween, and even if everyone doesn’t display the best of manners, I still love it. Otherwise, I’d simply turn off the lights and opt out.

  • staceyizme November 5, 2018, 10:05 am

    Halloween isn’t a holiday for most people in the traditional sense of the word. It carries no significance for the nation or patriotism, for those who have served in the military, and it has lost any coherence it might once have had as a transition from one saint’s day to another or even as the eve of Reformation Sunday with its attendant spook spoofing. It’s no wonder that there is disagreement as to the significance of the event and how it should be celebrated. It’s become a purely commercial holiday for most, with candy, costumes and an occasion for revelry among adults. But all facets of participation are optional. You don’t have to dress up, don’t have to pass out candy or host a party and you don’t even have to join the various camps attempting to dissect the multiple roots of this day. Eat the candy (or don’t), pass some out (or don’t) and join the festivities (or don’t). But if we’ve gotten so focused on whether or not children say “thank you” for the equivalent of a breath mint or miniature Twizzler pack, maybe staying home and eating the candy ourselves is the better choice. With your own offspring, sure- make the effort and set a good example. With other people’s children, give a little grace (if you have any to spare) and be aware that about the time you assert that your own house of parenting or parenting-to-be is in order and all is well, Murphy’s Law seems to wake up and interfere in that peaceful dynamic, if only briefly creating disorder where order usually reigns.

    • Harry's Mom November 5, 2018, 12:25 pm

      Thank you for this! Spot on. I’ve never had an issue with any of the kids that showed up at my door on Halloween. Relax people…. jeepers

  • dippy November 5, 2018, 10:22 am

    I love Halloween! I love all the kids and adults and dogs in costumes. So fun. Everyone gets candy. Quit clutching your pearls and have a little fun!

    • Mary Sgree November 5, 2018, 3:05 pm

      Hahaha!! Love this!

    • Miss-E November 5, 2018, 7:53 pm

      Yeah, really! It’s optional! If you have such a problem just turn off your lights and go to bed!

  • Margaret November 5, 2018, 10:24 am

    My daughter has autism. When she was a child, we always went trick or treating with the neighbor kids. At one house, the owner said she would give out treats but you had to tell her a joke first. The other kids complied and got their treats but my daughter didn’t know any jokes. The woman said, can you sing a song, and my daughter did that and got her treat. My daughter always said thank you. Some of the other kids did not.

    I later heard my daughter crying in her bedroom, saying, “I can’t tell a joke, I can’t tell a joke.” Thanks, a lot, clever neighbor. Going trick or treating was one of the few things my daughter could do just like the other kids and that year, it was ruined.

    • Devin November 5, 2018, 1:24 pm

      I recently found out from a friend that the tell a joke for your treat is very common in certain areas. The person at the door did not mean any malic towards your daughter, and still have her an option to receive candy for a song. As a parent maybe focus on what you can do to help your daughter fit in and less on a perceived slight by another. Your example is like a parent who complains when a house doesn’t have a peanut or gluten free option for their child, and says those people ‘ruined halloween’.

      • Kitty November 5, 2018, 8:09 pm

        I disagree that the focus should be on how to make the non-neurotypical child fit in with the others. She will certainly know how to act around others, absolutely, but the fact is that ‘fitting in’ is not a simple thing to do for those on the spectrum. What can be done is try to help the kid, calm them down, and say that they couldn’t tell a joke, but they managed to sing. (Focus on something positive, rather than a negative)

        • Devin November 6, 2018, 7:44 am

          Thank you for your comment, you stated what I was trying to say much better. ‘Fit it’ was an poor choice of words.

    • Bea November 5, 2018, 4:19 pm

      Ick. Putting kids on the spot is a huge peeve of mine.

      I adore being able to hand out candy now. I grew up where it wasn’t possible. I choose to participate and ask kids to come ring my bell for a treat. They are entertaining me by appearing in costume, so I reward them with a choice of candies. I don’t need to demand more of them in the form of jokes or songs.

      I hope your daughter had a much better time in other years and now you know to skip that lady.

    • staceyizme November 6, 2018, 1:01 pm

      Seriously? Why don’t you just teach her a couple of jokes and offer some reassurance? My niece is also on the spectrum and has a limited range of things she will comfortably do. There’s no way that I’d allow an interpretation of “I can’t…” to remain if it could be remedied. Your neighbor isn’t to be blamed in any wise. He didn’t know. (And apparently, he wasn’t told then or later. If he’s a reasonable enough fellow, he might even have been able to teach her a couple of jokes, praise her comedic genius and laugh with her, if you felt comfortable doing that.)

      • Calli Arcale November 7, 2018, 12:47 pm

        I’m glad you don’t want an interpretation of “I can’t” to remain, but I’m interested to know if you have any advice for that. My daughter is on the spectrum, and her “I can’ts” have so far been totally impervious to anything I have tried. She’s given up on so many things because she had a slight hiccup and interpreted that to mean she can never conceivably have any measure of success at each thing. It breaks my heart, and I try reframing things in a positive way, reminding her of how smart and good-hearted she is, but she really is very smart — smart enough to recognized that I may be biased and unable to see the truth. For her, the reassurance just rings hollow. Your suggestion would have worked when she was five. Now that she is fifteen, it doesn’t.

    • Livvy17 November 7, 2018, 2:46 pm

      I am torn on this one. I’m sorry that the neighbor’s conversation / request for input resulted in hurt feelings for your daughter, but in any social interaction we can’t always anticipate the reaction someone will have. I would have appreciated the lesson to my own child that interactions should be a two-way street, and if you’re going to beg for candy, you just might get called out to do a little something for it, beyond please and thank you. I am sure that you reassured your daughter, and told her that other kids probably couldn’t come up with a joke on-the-spot either, and that she did just fine. We all have our shortcomings and skills, any of which might come in to play when we interact. Practicing what to do when there’s a difficult moment, or how to overcome feelings of falling short are valuable life lessons for all of us.

  • lakey November 5, 2018, 12:24 pm

    First, I don’t mind teenagers trick or treating. However, I’m not having to buy candy for a huge number of kids. I usually have fifty or fewer. So, I guess I can afford to not mind. In some neighborhoods people have 150 or more, including swarms of people being brought in cars. So I can see where including teenagers would be annoying,
    Second, all of the kids who came to the door this year thanked me and were well-mannered, including the older kids.
    Third, I don’t care for people coming up with a list of “rules” for others to follow. I found the quoted post to be very annoying. I’m not even sure why.

  • lakey November 5, 2018, 12:24 pm

    First, I don’t mind teenagers trick or treating. However, I’m not having to buy candy for a huge number of kids. I usually have fifty or fewer. So, I guess I can afford to not mind. In some neighborhoods people have 150 or more, including swarms of people being brought in cars. So I can see where including teenagers would be annoying,
    Second, all of the kids who came to the door this year thanked me and were well-mannered, including the older kids.
    Third, I don’t care for people coming up with a list of “rules” for others to follow. I found the quoted post to be very annoying. I’m not even sure why.

  • AS November 5, 2018, 1:38 pm

    I was tall for my age. I easily looked 15 or 16 when I was 11. We didn’t do Halloween where I lived as a child, but I grew up constantly being admonished by adults for trying to get into the “younger” group in various competitions during festivals. One of the adults even told me that I should probably just go into the older group so that people don’t keep asking! (I remember my mother stood up for me!). Another time, my mother was in the hospital for a few years when I was 12, and I heard a few guests of the other patient in her room discuss how I probably joined school late “after moving from my town” (I was born and brought up in the town I lived in), or I must have flunked a few years in school and didn’t go to the next class (no, I didn’t! In fact, I was the youngest in my class). I didn’t speak up, because I was taught to not barge into other people’s conversations. They spoke in a language they thought I didn’t know, but I knew very well.

    I do not agree with what the above social media comment about teenagers engaging in activities “much worse”. But I think they totally missed the points – that those teenagers are probably not “teenagers”, but actually tall 11 or 12 year olds, (REAL AGE, not “feel like” as they said!). Why should a 12 y.o. be told not to do activities that their friends do, just because they are taller than the friends? I had spent my childhood hating being tall, and always wishing that I’d be shorter. I do not wish it for any other child.

    With the rest of it:

    Special needs children, or children whose parents can’t provide them costumes – I’d give them candies. They want to enjoy with their friends, and I am not going to penalize them for being different, or parents not being able to attend.

    Children with allergies – it is up to the parents to provide them with alternatives. The parent could always let them know that “you can go out and have fun with friends. But make sure that you don’t eat these candies, because remember how sick it makes you feel?”

    Teen ager who “feels younger” – not my problem. The parents need to discipline them. But I’d not deny them candies because they may not actually be a teen ager; see my first two paragraphs above. And I am fine giving candies to some younger teens, if they are polite.

    Saying “thank you” for candies – I do expect that, and think that it is polite. But I’m not going to deny the polite kids candy because their friends are not taught manners.

    • Ergala November 6, 2018, 6:50 am

      My 9 year old stepson is 5 feet tall and weighs around 140 pounds….my almost 13 year old is the same height but weighs 84 lbs. My 9 year old is 4’8 and weighs 80 lbs. My stepson looks like a teenager but sounds like a small child. You can imagine the looks he gets.

  • Snarkastic November 5, 2018, 2:36 pm

    I love handing out candy on Halloween. I do not care how old the person is and I often try to get parents to take candy. I always make sure to have non-chocolate or peanut options, but that’s as far as I’m going to go. Costume or no, child or no: if you come to my door, I will happily greet you and give you candy!

  • edy November 5, 2018, 2:38 pm

    Oh, and my thoughts about “they could be doing much worse”. I don’t think this is saying that handing out candy is a way to bribe them into not vandalizing for a night. I think it’s saying that there’s nothing wrong with letting a kid preserve his/her youth for as long as possible. Trick or treating is young, harmless fun.

    • LizaJane November 5, 2018, 8:08 pm

      This is exactly hown I took it. I actually shared the post the OP is talking about on Facebook.
      I remember thinking, “Yes! let them trick or treat as long as they want. We’re adults for a long time. “

      • admin November 6, 2018, 4:10 am

        Basically what you are advocating is a “give me” mentality as opposed to growing up and saying, “Time for me to give back”. After age 13, very few of my peers continued to trick or treat, primarily because it was viewed as childish. What we did do was get creative in how we dressed up to answer the door or what kind of experience we could provide for other trick or treaters. I tape recorded my dad snoring during a football game and amplified it through our front door windows. It sounded terrifying…hahahah. Another year I dressed up a Mexican scarecrow with large poncho, sombrero and a huge bowl of candy on my lap sitting very still making it look like I was stuffed. Scared the daylights out a few people when I moved as they reached into the bowl. Another friend devised an incredibly creepy front porch with real coffin. Good times!

        But you and others would encourage children to continue being greedy and, more importantly, having a self-focus on what they can get out of the holiday rather than the more mature perspective of asking themselves, “How can I serve others?”

        • LizaJane November 6, 2018, 5:29 pm

          I don’t consider trick or treating as being greedy as long as one doesn’t take too much candy. As for a servant’s heart, my kids were doing plenty of community service through church, scouts and other organizations. They didn’t trick or treat as teens, but if their 14-year-old self had put effort into dressing up, I wouldn’t have stopped them.

          I’m just saying that it wouldn’t bother me to give candy to a polite teenager in a clever costume. I hardly think I’m contributing to the ruination of our youth by doing so.

          Different isn’t always wrong. Sometimes it’s just different.

        • kingsrings November 6, 2018, 6:01 pm

          Teenagers are still children. Once they’re 18 they’re adults and can stop the trick or treating. Let them enjoy being kids while they still can and don’t be a killjoy on them.

        • Roo Roo November 16, 2018, 12:52 am

          “…having a self-focus on what they can get out of the holiday…”
          This lights a bulb for me: I think this is why I find the delivering children from different neighborhoods distressing.
          Of course, where I live, the local mall stores give out candy on Halloween, so there is a place to take your kids if you live in a dangerous neighborhood.

          When I was a kid (60 years ago!) my mother, in her subtle way, got us to see our neighbors’ generosity. Good job!

  • lakey November 5, 2018, 2:47 pm

    Sorry about the double post above. I’m not sure how I did that.

  • kingsrings November 5, 2018, 3:31 pm

    I don’t have any problem with teens trick or treating as long as they wear a costume. That is part of the tradition, and if you can’t be bothered to do that, then I can’t be bothered to give you any candy. Costumes aren’t that hard to figure out, you don’t need to do anything elaborate.
    As for allergies – that’s not the responsibility of anyone other than the parent of that child. You can’t expect that everyone cater to your child. If people want to cater to kids with allergies, that’s their choice. But don’t put them down for not.
    As for manners, I expect a thank you. I’m tired of hearing autism and other excuses being used to excuse bad manners. Yes, that’s the case sometimes, but not always.

    • Wild Irish Rose November 6, 2018, 12:07 pm

      I’m with you on the costumes. I’ve seen teenagers in large groups just meander from house to house asking for candy. No costumes, no younger kids in tow, nothing. Costumes ARE a part of the tradition, so if you want anything handed to you at my door, you’d better be wearing one and/or escorting a younger child.

      Of course, this is all moot on my end because we haven’t had trick-or-treaters come to our house in several years.

  • JD November 5, 2018, 3:59 pm

    This post made me think of my grandmother, who lived in one of the few subdivisions in our little town; it had little houses crammed close together, so that walking just one street for treats might net you a ton of candy. Kids from other neighborhoods were brought in by the station wagon load. The kids started knocking on her door at 5 p.m., and by 10 p.m., the big teens in regular clothing would be knocking on the door, asking for candy in voices that had already dropped. She would have been constantly answering the door for five hours by that time, handing out tons of candy that she bought on a small fixed income. My mother took to going to our grandmother’s house every Halloween just to convince her to turn out her light at 7 p.m. and quit answering the door. My mother always disliked seeing teens come by; my siblings and I stopped going to houses at about age 12. I did a Unicef drive one year at that age, through a friend’s church, but after that, we were done with trick or treating, except for handing out candy ourselves.
    I don’t like the quoted admonishment of the adults in OP’s post either, telling us what we should have on hand. It was like a game when I was a kid — find out who gave the good stuff . If you don’t get a rock, be happy – it’s free candy after all. And as a young teen, I felt it would have been super embarrassing to be out trick or treating with the small children, unless I was just escorting them. It would have been a real social faux-pas. Does this not bother teens today?

  • Jelly_Rose November 5, 2018, 6:37 pm

    On a side note, I work at a used book store/comic shop/ nerd store, I had a guy come through before Halloween, bought 60 dollars worth of comics to give out instead of candy. All stuff he deemed ‘safe’ for kids, Bugs Bunny, Superman, Wonder Woman (the superhero arcs that are aimed for a young audience) It was pretty cute.

  • Devin November 5, 2018, 6:46 pm

    I remember the UNICEF boxes when I was a younge teen in the Midwest in the late 90s. Usually one of the high school volunteer groups would go out ‘trick or treating’ with them. I always thought of it as a way for older kids to get in costume and celebrate. My friends and I would usually grab a few younger siblings and take them out in costume once we got to be a bit older. We almost always got candy with the kids, but we were also polite, in costume, and stood at the back of the pack so the little kids were the focus.
    Now days I like to pass out candy with my siblings, they live in a neighborhood that gets a lot of trick or treaters! Young, old, parents, teens, or babies everyone who asks gets candy. Most kids are polite, most parents are coaching those who are still learning, and the older kids are usually well behaved too. Here in the northeast, it’s also big to have the teal pumpkins out to let families know their are non candy options for kids with allergies. It’s often stickers or glow sticks.
    I don’t mind the posts like the ones above because I don’t see it at preaching or scolding or demanding, it’s a reminder that everyone wants to enjoy the holiday, so let them! Happy Halloween!!

  • Vicki November 5, 2018, 7:41 pm

    When I was a kid, back in the Paleolithic era, we trick-or-treated for both candy and UNICEF. Though there was one neighbor who for whatever reason didn’t want to give out candy, and put a quarter in the UNICEF box and another quarter in the plastic pumpkin I was collecting candy in.

    “Think about having non-candy treats for kids with allergies” feels like a different shape of request from “give them candy however old they are, whether or not they’re in costume,” because it lets more children participate, and because it might be a bit more work for the adults, but doesn’t add to the number of treats you’re giving out/children you’re handing something to. Or, save the trouble of candy-shopping and give every trick-or-treater a sticker or similar non-food treat–it won’t do the children who can eat chocolate any harm.

    Trading candy works fine when the problem is just I don’t like coconut, so I’ll give you my Mounds if you give me a Milky Way or Twizzlers. It’s more complicated if a child is allergic to nuts or chocolate: it’s not exactly fun for a child to be told “yes you can go out, and when you get home I’m going to take all the candy you collected and give it to some other child.”

  • Wonderer November 5, 2018, 10:17 pm

    I spent my childhood in upstate NY. We did the UNICEF box deal through our elementary school.
    After you were done collecting money and treats on halloween night you took your UNICEF box back to the school and were treated to cider and donuts. My elementary school happened to be on the next block right down the street from my house.

  • Tracy W November 5, 2018, 11:41 pm

    I don’t get this business about not wearing costumes.

    If your kid has sensory issues then pick a costume that fits with that. Superhero costumes can often go over normal clothes and Superman doesn’t even wear a mask. Or Batman/Batgirl: black clothes with a bat symbol on front, and perhaps a hoodie with bat ears stuck on top. Or you can decorate a green hoodie with spikes down the back and fake eyes on the hood and go as a dragon or a dinosaur. Or take a black tracksuit and stick white tape on it and go as a road.

    Ditto for poverty, if you can’t afford to buy a costume then get creative. Wear your oldest clothes, scruff up your hair and walk around with your arms extended and hands flopping at the wrist: zombie. Or make a dress out of newspaper, or toilet paper, or a toga from a sheet, or use leaves and twigs and mud to go as a nature spirit or camouflage “expert” (don’t want to be so expert no one sees you) or come up with some crazy idea of your own.

    These sort of events are about shared participation and making memories and having fun. Be creative, being creative is helped by working in tight limits.

  • Marie November 6, 2018, 4:22 am

    Seeing that there were people mentioning the celebration no longer has significance, I’d like to tell your a bit about the tradition in my country.
    In the Netherlands, we actually don’t celebrate Halloween. At least, we have Halloween parties, but there are no kids going trick or treating. We actually have another day for that, rooted in Catholic tradition.
    It’s called “St. Maarten”. The story goes that St. Maarten was a very generous man (later he was made a Saint by the church), who once ripped his own cape in half to give to someone in need of clothing. Traditionally, on 11 November, the poor children would knock on rich people’s houses to ask for food, and they were given it on that day of St. Maarten. Oranges were especially given out, since they were expensive and the poor often couldn’t afford it.

    Nowadays, all children will knock on doors at St. Maarten’s Day. They will carry around a lampoon with a light in them (traditionally a candle, but since the 80’s it’s electric because it’s safer), and when you answer the door they will sing a small song about St. Maarten. They will then receive candy from the person opening the door, and they continue to the next one. Oranges aren’t given out anymore, but instead modern tradition is handing out tangerines. I usually offer both candy and tangerines, and quite some children choose a tangerine over a lollypop or candy bar.

    If you don’t want to participate, it’s very easy: don’t leave your lights on. By turning on the light on your porch or putting a candle in the window at the front of your house you actively signal children they can come to your door to sing and receive candy. They don’t celebrate everywhere though. In my home town there has always been a St. Maarten celebration, but it depends on the city or even neighbourhood you live in.
    Teenagers don’t participate, except when they are escorting smaller children. In that case they also have a lampoon and will sing a song.

    Since I used to work in an environment with lots of expats, around this time of year I’d often gather them at lunch to tell them about the St. Maarten, so they can be prepared and either turn their lights off, or make sure they have some candy to offer. As a kid I did this already by the way – telling my neighbours to make sure they wouldn’t forget to buy candy… cheeky me!

    • Sarugani November 9, 2018, 7:31 am

      I grew up in northern Germany and in our area we had a similar tradition going on St. Martin‘s Day (costumes, but no lanterns). Halloween was not a thing there until maybe the mid-90s. My cousins who lived about 45 minutes from us had the tradition of going in the late afternoon/early evening of New Years Eve in their neighborhood (I don‘t remember if costumes were involved, but there was some sort of hide-and-seek played).
      I really don‘t know in either of these traditions is still kept up or if they surrendered to Halloween in the past 20 years. The one reason I‘ve never really minded Halloween becoming a thing is that at least parts of the stores are decorated in autumn colors and the Christmas stuff is kept somewhat at bay until early November…
      My partner and I moved to a small house in a new town earlier this year and I knew nothing of the local traditions, so erring on the side of friendly new neighbor, I got various kinds of fun sized candy bars for Halloween. There‘s mostly retired folk on our street, but a kindergarten and a school are 2 streets over, so there must be kids somewhere. I saw some kids dressed in costumes on my way home from work, but none of them came trick or treating at our house.

  • shoegal November 6, 2018, 7:43 am

    I guess my 2nd post didn’t make the cut???

    • Goldie November 6, 2018, 8:44 am

      None of my comments have made it out of moderation in months. This one won’t either. Thankfully, several commenters (specifically Bea and edy) have posted after my unsuccessful attempt, and made the same points that I was making. I’ll settle for that.

      No hard feelings, Admin. Your house, your rules!

      • admin November 6, 2018, 8:33 pm

        The software clearly shows none of your comments in the trash. There are four approved comments since October 1st and many more (115) going back even farther.

    • PJ November 6, 2018, 12:49 pm

      My posts have been spotty, too, in the last couple of days. Some make it, some don’t. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or not.

    • admin November 6, 2018, 8:28 pm

      I went through 60 pages of trash finding comments before calling it quits. I could have missed some.

      • EchoGirl November 8, 2018, 2:05 am

        FWIW, one of mine just got eaten by the system, didn’t even show up as “in moderation”. I don’t think it’s you, I think it’s a problem with the site itself.

  • Anonymous November 6, 2018, 3:57 pm

    I trick-or-treated as a kid, and always said either “thank you” or “Happy Halloween” to people who gave candy. I’ve given out candy as an adult, and most (if not all) of the trick-or-treaters have done the same. I also helped collect non-perishable food for the poor through Trick Or Eat on Halloween when I was in university, which was a lot of fun too–we wore costumes, and a lot of people gave us candy for ourselves in addition to food donations, and they were expecting us, because there was a flyer run before the event. Anyway, back to my childhood; I was a big, tall kid for my age, so by the time I was maybe ten or so, I looked more like twelve, so I could have easily been mistaken as being “too old” for trick-or-treating before I really was. Also, what a lot of people don’t realize about Halloween is, there’s trick-or-treating for kids up through elementary school age, and parties and clubbing for adults, but not much for the 14-17 crowd. So, as far as I’m concerned, costume + manners = candy.

  • Anonymous November 6, 2018, 4:01 pm

    P.S., About my “costume + manners = candy” rule, I’m not going to shame a shy/autistic/pre-verbal child for not saying “thank you” (or “Happy Halloween”), and as for the “costume” part, that could be as simple as a white hoodie and a pair of angel wings, or a black outfit and cat ears, or a football jersey from school–just, SOME attempt at a costume, or in the absence of an apparent costume, a good story; for example, “I’m a nudist on strike,” or “I’m dressed as a serial killer; they look like everyone else.”

  • Teacup November 6, 2018, 7:39 pm

    I grew up in the middle of nowhere, Midwest style.

    Trick or treating consisted of mom and dad bundling all four of us littles into the car and driving 10 minutes to see this grandma, then back into the car for 15 more minutes to see that aunt, then back into the car for another 15-20 minutes to go see an old “neighbor”, and so on for the entire evening. I’m not complaining, as they all gave us plenty of love and candy, but after cramming all of our bodies into the back of the car with awkward costumes over and over we were all cranky and on our last nerves. I never saw what the big deal about trick or treating was, so I quit around age 10 (read: as soon as my mom would let me).

    Fast forward to age 14. My best friend asked me to go trick or treating with her for one last Halloween. I was skeptical, but we planned our costumes, begged one of our parents for a ride into town, picked a few streets to go down and a scary movie for after. Oh my gosh we had a blast!! I had no idea people were having this much fun trick or treating!

    We were sure to say thank you at each house, and honestly almost every house we stopped at knew us (veeery small town), but if everyone had decided that we had passed the arbitrary trick or treat cut-off age, I wouldn’t have had one of the best Halloween nights that I still think about years later when the holiday rolls around, and for that I’m grateful.

    So if you don’t want to hand out to the teenagers, that’s totally fine, no one is making you. If you do though, thank you. You never know, you might just be becoming part of someone’s favorite memories 🙂

  • Princess Buttercup November 7, 2018, 9:54 pm

    I was never allowed to go trick or treating, so the one time I went was the Halloween almost two weeks after I turned 18. As such I tend to argue that people shouldn’t complain about teens trick or treating. I got some weird looks but no comments and I appreciate them letting me have fun just once.

  • MPW1971 November 9, 2018, 1:38 pm

    In my reckoning, anyone with a costume – regardless of age – gets a treat. This includes teenagers, parents taking their kids and dressed in theme, and pets. (Yes, I had some dog treats.) Partially-costumed toddlers or babies – same thing. My only objection was to kids in high-school who would just grab a pillowcase without any costume. Some of my own schoolmates did this when I was 13 – but today I would have no problem saying “no costume, no treat”.

  • JUDYANN FURTH November 19, 2018, 2:55 am

    No way am I opening my door for any strange teenagers, especially those in a disguise. The last time I was robbed at work was by a 15-year-old with a handgun, The one before that was a 13 year old with a pellet gun who tried to shoot me in the face, the last couple of drug mules busted for selling in the parking lot at my work were 13 and 14-year-olds. I’ve got a lot of 14-17 year olds that want to be allowed to buy tobacco because they are “grown men”, and don’t need an ID so if they are grown enough to demand tobacco, they are old enough not to knock on my door. And no, I don’t live in a particularly bad area, it’s actually a middle-class suburban neighborhood. I stopped giving out candy when most of the people banging on my door were taller than me, some were almost as tall as my 6ft husband.

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