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Adult Trick or Treaters

Your recent request for holiday submissions reminded me of an issue that comes up every year in my neighborhood at Halloween. I have heard friends talk about it in other areas as well, and know that it is a fairly common complaint. I was curious how others here at e-hell handle this situation.

Every year along with the adorable children dressed up as spooky vampires (or sparkly one), princesses, and a variety of animals, my neighborhood gets hit with an influx of teenagers and adults. Some of these “trick or treaters” are in their thirties! None are in costume. Some of the worst violators have included a man of about 19 or 20 that yelled at me from the sidewalk demanding to know what kind of candy I was giving out to determine if it was worth the 30 foot walk to my porch, a woman of about 30 that pushed though a group of 6 children on my porch to shove her bag in front, and (my all time favorite) a woman of about 30 that rang my bell and when I answered held out four plastic bags. She then told me that her “kids” were tired and she had left them in the car and was trick or treating for them.

My response to the 20 year old man was to ignore him the first two times he yelled at me as I smiled and passed out candy to the children. The third time he yelled, the children were walking down the steps and informed him that my candy was only for kids. When he became agitated by that, I told him that the officer two doors down had the same rule. Suddenly, he decided to go to a different street. I told the woman that pushed past the children that she needed to get off my porch immediately. The woman that claimed she had left her “kids” in the car was a strange one. I looked out on the street and saw no car. None. She saw me looking and then claimed that she had left her “kids” on the next street over and walked over. I told her that was dangerous and illegal and that my neighbor was an officer and would be getting a call from me. She also chose to leave quickly. I am certain there were no children with her at all.

My normal strategy is to keep some small junk toys (spider rings, temporary tattoos, etc.) and hand those out to the adults that come by. I only have to give out about three per night, all the other grown trick or treaters somehow spread the word that all I have are erasers or stickers and the fake trick or treaters stop coming by. The first year I decided to try this strategy, my very first grown up (also a young man in his late teens/early twenties) turned around and yelled out to the sidewalk, “She don’t have candy y’all. She’s giving out toys and junk”. Two women walking up my steps from the sidewalk turned around and left. It’s worked out much better than telling every adult that I won’t give them candy. What are the thoughts of the e-hell readers out there on how to handle adult trick or treaters? 1006-15


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  • PrincessButtercup October 27, 2015, 11:04 am

    I don’t get the big issue on age. Halloween used to be celebrated by adults going door to door and telling a verse or little story in exchange for food. Only more recently has it become little kids calling trick or treat. The point is about going around begging for treats, why does age matter? Sure adults could go buy their own candy but adults could buy their kids candy so there is no reason to beg unless you’re too poor. So if you’re going to be picky then there should be no trick or treating, only people going to homeless camps and giving them food.

    As for people being rude, ignore them. If they get pushy, then admonish them. To the one pushing in front of everyone else, “someone forgot their manners and will have to wait just like all the other kids with good manners”. Then give to them very last.
    The woman claiming her kids are in the car, ” well once they are tired the night has to end, better get them home to bed before you are stuck carrying them in”.

    • oregonbird October 30, 2015, 7:14 pm

      You might want to look up Halloween’s background. This might be a family or rural story, but it isn’t quite close enough to reality to call history.

  • Wild Irish Rose October 27, 2015, 11:14 am

    We live in one of those neighborhoods that aren’t good enough for the children who live there. Their parents load them up in cars and take them to the more affluent neighborhoods for the “good” candy. Whatever. My rule about older trick-or-treaters is that they MUST be in costume. Just smearing your face with fake blood isn’t good enough. Make an effort. If you’re going to go door to door begging for sweets because you’re too cheap to buy them yourself, then the least you can do is dress up and make it worth my while. Personally, I think adults who behave as the LW describes are setting a hideous example for the kids and are taking all the fun out of Halloween. Bah humbug! (Oh, wait, wrong holiday.)

    • Hollyhock October 27, 2015, 3:08 pm

      I never thought the candy was the object, it was always about the experience and excitement even when we were little kids. And that is the vibe I get from the few adults out in my area. No one cares what you drop into their bag, it’s the camaraderie and quaint fun.

      If I had the notion that people were only there because they were “cheap” I’d just turn off my porch light and watch TV instead of participating.

      • Wild Irish Rose October 28, 2015, 9:21 am

        That’s been me the last several years, to tell the truth.

  • ella October 27, 2015, 11:16 am

    I used to live on a street with well over 400 trick or treaters. Most came from other areas as mine was a well known safe and fun decorated area. One year I printed out my favorite Halloween jokes with a cute stamp. No one turned me down. Other years I have said the candy is for the mother as candy is not safe for a baby. I wanted to say “no costume no candy” but didn’t want negative consequences.

  • Ashley October 27, 2015, 11:30 am

    A former math teacher of mine had a rule, where he did not care how old you were, as long as you were in costume. Oh, and politeness helps.

    I like his rule. Honestly, trick or treating was some of the most fun I ever had as a kid, and it makes me sad that there’s some sort of unspoken cut off where you can magically become “too old” for trick or treating.

    I cosplay so sometimes Halloween rolls around and I don’t feel like putting on a costume because I spend other weekends of the year in costume and my costumes can be tedious to put on. But this post makes me want to put on my Thor costume and go confuse my parents! Or wear it to help hand out candy at my father in law’s house, since no kids come to my building. I guess if you live in an apartment in the city I live in, don’t expect anyone to even TRY coming to your door.

    • Anonymous October 27, 2015, 1:31 pm

      That’s my rule too–costume + manners = candy. Both “costume” and “manners” exist on a sliding scale. I’m not going to fault a shy or pre-verbal child for not saying trick or treat and thank you, and not everyone can afford the best costume, but if I ask what you are, I’d like to hear a better answer than “myself.” With those caveats, it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you visit my house on Halloween. Also, age can be hard to guess–some kids mature early, and look older than they are. So, much as it sucks to be taller than some adults, and developing breasts, at only ten years old, it’s even worse to have to go through life being told you’re “too old” for trick-or-treating, face painting, bouncy houses, and other childhood pleasures…..while simultaneously being “too young” for more grown-up things, like staying home alone, or watching PG-13 movies. I was that ten-year-old, and I hated it, so please, give my successors the benefit of the doubt when you can.

      • Amanda H. October 28, 2015, 9:54 pm

        I sympathize. I went through the first 20 years of my life looking older than I was (height, build, etc.). Luckily my baby sister also looked older than she was, so I managed to avoid the dirty stares in the supermarket for being a “teenage mother.”

    • NilushaD October 28, 2015, 8:47 pm

      I completely agree! I stopped going out trick-or-treating after 9th grade, as many people in the neighbourhood I grew up in seemed to think my friends and I were too old at that point. I didnt understand, and as I got older I realized how arbitrary it is. Personally, now that I’m an adult and have my own home, if you dress up and are polite, I have no problem giving you candy. 🙂

  • Becca October 27, 2015, 12:20 pm

    I’ve never had trick or treaters, this will be the first year in 32 years of life that I may get my first! Now I’m wondering if my usually quaint neighborhood will bring in any adult sized turkeys dressed as rude adult humans. I have a huge window in my front door, I feel like I won’t open it and engage with adults that arent with any lidlets.

    I’m okay with teens as long as theyre dressed up and well behaved. I hate that they are being stripped of childhood at a random age, if you’re still in high school, youre a kid to me and I’ll personally accept you as a trick or treater.

    • TootsNYC October 29, 2015, 9:59 am

      I also think, “what else are teenagers supposed to do on this holiday?”

      If they’re trick-or-treating, they have something to do and they’re less likely to get in trouble. In my small midwestern town, teenagers used to throw eggs, soap windows, etc. If they had been encouraged to go trick-or-treating, they’d have been traipsing from door to door and eating candy.

      Sure, someone could throw a party, but those aren’t actually all that terribly much fun, I suspect.

  • shhh its me October 27, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I’ve always lived in places (Apartments , condo with very few kids and very few people passing out candy) so I’ve never gotten many trick or treaters ..but as long as people were polite I gave them candy.
    When my son was old enough to TorT and not old enough to want to go with just his friends…I used to just put a bowl of candy on the porch 4 out of 6years there was some left when we got back 2 hours later, so not everyone is entitled and rude . I have no idea of people took 2 or 3peices or 20 but it seems no-one took all the candy, at least most of the time.

  • lnelson1218 October 27, 2015, 1:41 pm

    At some point, don’t remember exactly what age, the parents decided that we were too old for trick or treating, so the Halloween parties started. Adult supervised, we still dressed up, had lots of candy and other food, I don’t remember games, but that it not to say that there weren’t any. And of course, the horror movies. The Shining was always a favorite.

    I still on occasion like to dress up, but won’t go door to door for treats. So either for the Halloween party at work, or the party at someone’s house.

  • Merrilee October 27, 2015, 2:14 pm

    For me Halloween is for kids. The adults that are doing this the type of trick or treating the OP is speaking about are just greedy moochers. I won’t give adults candy if they come to my house (thank God behavior like that the OP mentioned doesn’t happen here – if it did, I would treat it as a joke).

  • Ashley Rush October 27, 2015, 2:37 pm

    As someone who was never allowed to trick or treat as a child, when my 17 year old self ventured out on Halloween night for my very first trick or treating experience, I deeply appreciated those who chose to “humor” me. My parents were extremely religious during my childhood years. As a result, I was never allowed to trick or treat, among other Halloween events. When I moved out at 17 years old, my group of friends learned that I had yet to partake in this childhood activity, and made it a very fun, special thing for me. It was the only time that I have ever trick or treated myself (I do now with my 3 children). Had I run into someone that refused to hand out candy, solely based upon the fact that I was a teenager? Well, my one TOT time probably wouldn’t hold quite the same regard in my memories. While I never expected anyone to indulge me that night, it was certainly something that meant a lot to me. Being able to participate in something that I had only watched other children do, gave me a little bit of that childhood sparkle back, for that night. I will always hand out candy to teenagers and adults, so long as they are simply polite. I won’t presume to know anyone’s backstory, and I surely was not the last Halloween-virgin teenager to ever grace someone’s door. I get the warm fuzzies when thinking about being a part of someone else and their story. It’s supposed to be fun– not something that requires rules and regulations. Be kind. Cheers!

    • Jays October 27, 2015, 4:55 pm

      I’m glad your group of friends gave you a chance to experience trick-or-treating! I hope you had a fabulous time.

      Like others, as far as I’m concerned, costume + manners = candy.

    • GeenaG October 27, 2015, 7:33 pm

      From your post I’m assuming you made some effort at a costume, and did not just show up on porches and wordlessly thrust your bag forward for free candy.

      • Ashley Rush October 27, 2015, 10:45 pm

        GeenaG, I did not arrive in costume, though I did have a cat ear headband on. There was only so much “blaspheme” I could take in one night: going against my parents to trick-or-treat was one thing, but upping the ante by dressing up was just entirely crossing the line. 😉

        However, I was very polite and thanked everyone profusely. After reading all of these comments, I will say I’m a bit surprised at not coming across someone who showed issue with my presence.

  • Jocelyn October 27, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I do give candy to adults who are dressed in a costume and herding children. But IMO, if adults want candy, they should buy it; if they want to celebrate Halloween, the appropriate venue is at a party. Not expecting strangers to fund their festivities.

  • deddeddie October 27, 2015, 3:06 pm

    I am 100% in favor of teenage trick-or-treaters. I love to see teens participate in wholesome activities, and really…isn’t getting candy just as much fun for a 16-yo than it is for a 10-yo? I also have a 13-year old nephew who looks more like 18–you can’t really assume you know how old a kid is.

    I have never witnessed an adult trick-or-treater and if I did, I would probably assume it was a joke and just laugh and close the door.

    • Charlie November 3, 2015, 12:40 am

      This. Teenage trick-or-treaters used to bother me, until a couple of years ago it hit me: If they’re trick-or-treating, they aren’t at a party. They aren’t getting drunk. They aren’t doing drugs. They aren’t breaking anyone’s windows or toilet papering their lawn. Really, a couple of funsize candy bars is a small price to pay to know that there are still good kids out there.

      Of course, I haven’t been unlucky enough to come across any rude ones!

  • lakey October 27, 2015, 3:12 pm

    This has not been a big problem for me. I get a few teen agers, but not enough that it’s an issue. The only adult I had was a woman with an infant, and the infant was definitely too young to eat candy. I don’t have the amount of adults OP has. If I did, I would tell them that I was afraid of running low on candy so I would save it for the children.

  • Cj October 27, 2015, 3:45 pm

    An adult in costume gets the choice between candy, jello shot, or beer. No costume sad day for you.

    • Corrina October 31, 2015, 3:20 pm

      Ha, that is SO awesome! I want to TorT at your house!! 🙂

  • shrinkingdaily October 27, 2015, 4:12 pm

    I have no problem giving out candy on Halloween to anyone. But pushing? Shoving? Yelling? Rudeness? Lying about having kids or worse, actually leaving them in a car blocks away? Not a chance. Those entitled morons would have been told in no uncertain terms to get off my front porch and never darken it again.

  • MPW1971 October 27, 2015, 4:15 pm

    Again, as long as a person is in costume, they get treats, and this shouldn’t specifically exclude adults who are carrying the costumed child (or their goody bag) – who are not always in costume. When they are, that’s great, but it’s not a necessity.
    I do remember teenagers making poor efforts at costumes and often arriving late – even after the porch lights are off and all the candy is gone – but at least make the effort to dress up. Back in the early 80’s the lazy costume of choice seemed to be the hobo – wearing your father’s work boots and stuffing a pillow under an oversize shirt, and putting some dirt on your face. The college residence version was taking your bedsheet and making a toga, putting on sandals and playing an ancient Greek or Roman. Still a costume, but kind of lazy.

    • NostalgicGal October 27, 2015, 8:04 pm

      In the college days, at this one frat house, they had a toga party the weekend before Halloween. Of course I went, dragging roomie (whom they nicely brought back still baked out of her skull about 8 am the next morning. (I’m surprised the head resident didn’t skin us both-guys in the dorm before noon). NEXT weekend was Halloween weekend so I went as the ghost of their toga party. I knew theater people and got a huge tin of clown white and some sort of hair glop (wore white tights, but from armpits up was whited out.) It was totally cool until I got back and four showers and a huge jar of cold cream meant I turned natural enough color to go to bed. I took two more the next day to finish getting rid of it. That has been my total of trick or treating after 6th grade other than handing out goodies after I had a place to live of my own.

  • Jaye Tyler October 27, 2015, 4:44 pm

    I used to fall into the “you’re too old” category. Then one of our girls was diagnosed with CP and uses a wheelchair for ToTing. While her legs don’t work, her mind absolutely does. Yet, when she goes ToTing, people assume we’re bringing her along for extra candy and not because she’s a kid who’s excited for Halloween fun. So many passive-aggressive comments and side eyes. She’s 9 this year and I’m dreading it as we’ll have both the wheelchair and the 15 month old so will probably receive double the amount of passive-aggressive. I dread even more the day the kid realizes it.
    Essentially, this is a long winded way to say, if you’re participating just treat people with kindness and not judgement.

    • Lila October 28, 2015, 9:01 am

      I’m a bit confused. Nine years old is a completely acceptable age to be trick or treating. Are you thinking that people don’t want to give candy to a child in a wheelchair or that you are using the wheelchair to invoke sympathy? Why would people think you are “bringing her along for extra candy” when it would be completely normal for a nine year old to be trick or treating? I can’t even fathom what someone could be passively aggressively saying about a child in a wheelchair. Who does that??I’m not trying to minimize your experience in any way as I’m sure something is going on but I’m feeling like I’m missing something here and I’d like to understand.

      • Jaye Tyler October 28, 2015, 12:47 pm

        People seem to think that because DD is in a wheelchair, she is cognitively delayed. The assumption is that we’ve brought along our cognitively challenged child who does not know what trick or treating is solely so we have an excuse to get 2 pieces of candy instead of 1. I’m not entirely sure what it is but it’s odd and uncomfortable at times.

        • Kate October 29, 2015, 1:52 am

          What an interesting assumption those people make! That would definitely be uncomfortable if you’re getting side eyes and glares over that.

        • nannerdoman October 29, 2015, 11:27 am

          That totally stinks.

    • NostalgicGal October 29, 2015, 2:00 am

      I have seen some of the coolest costumes built around a wheelchair. Maybe do an awesome costume to shut down all the (bleep) about her going out. Local kid here ended up in chair, her mind was there the rest didn’t always agree and poor parent planned her funeral 5 times between 9 and 18 (she’s 20, in assisted living and doing swell) but everyone knew her. She tried to costume up and never got any grief for coming to ToT (though if I seen her coming I would meet her at the curb to gift her, my driveway and her motiechair weren’t friends)

  • Lynne October 27, 2015, 5:15 pm

    If they’re in costume, making a good faith effort to celebrate the holiday, why not give candy out?

    • The Elf October 28, 2015, 10:38 am

      Totally with ya. Age 5 or 50, dressing up is a lot of fun.

  • WMK October 27, 2015, 5:16 pm

    When we first moved to our home 14 years ago, giving out candy to the kids was a novelty to me since I had grown up on an extremely busy street and never got to give it out, though I would go trick-or-treating when I was a kid.

    The first year, we did notice, right away, that the teenage trick-or-treaters started to come out in full force around 8:30, so the following year (and years after), I stopped giving out candy and turned the lights off around 8:00. This seemed to do the trick. Since the kids in the neighborhood have all pretty much grown up, I don’t give out candy anymore. I can honestly say that I never got adult trick-or-treaters. That’s just all sorts of strange.

  • White Lotus October 27, 2015, 5:36 pm

    Where we live, we get some children and many costumed adults on their way to parties. If you are in costume or with someone who is, you are offered a treat. I have never had a totally uncostumed group or single person. Adults, even costumed, often refuse treats. They just want to show off their sometimes spectacular costumes. It is the nature of the neighborhood. We think it is fun. If you don’t or are going out, or are going to bed, you turn the porch light off. No harm, no foul.

  • Ellex October 27, 2015, 5:52 pm

    I have some sympathy for the teens.

    You get together for a halloween get-together because you’re clearly to old and too cool for trick-or-treating at sixteen. You shoot the breeze for a bit and realize that you’re staring down the barrel of adulthood with all of you going to different schools. Remember how much fun you had trick or treating when everything was awesome and you were a carefree kid? Maybe . . . . maybe you could, just for funsies, make the rounds in the neighborhood. It might be – y’know – kinda cool in an ironic way (by which I mean I really, really want to do this but don’t want to seem lame in front of my friends).

    So throw together costumes from whatever is lying around the house. Grab some pillowcases because you don’t have any plastic buckets. And start trick or treating an hour and a half later than the official start time.

    • Anonymous October 29, 2015, 8:11 pm

      Yeah, that’s about right. School dances and house parties (if you get invited, and your parents allow it) are all well and good, but they come with a fair bit of friend drama, and pressure to go as part of a couple. With trick-or-treating, that doesn’t happen.

  • MetalRose October 27, 2015, 7:29 pm

    I decorate my house and the high school kids scream the loudest. I don’t think trick or treating has an age. In fact I have sodas, water or beer (for those adults I know) that I hand out to adults. Heck I even pass them candy. My 17 year old son will go out this year. He looks much older than his age and I told him I people think he’s too old to say ok thanks and move on. I like your idea of handing trinkets to adults to deter them (if you don’t want them). Just send them my way for some fun and scaring.

  • Agania October 27, 2015, 7:54 pm

    As an Australian, Tor T was never big in my area where I grew up. I never went trick or treating as a kid. However my daughters found out about it from Dora the Explorer!! So when they were finally old enough I decided to run a small one is our street. I put a note and balloon in everyone’s mail box (about 50 residents) asking if they wanted to participate to put the balloon on their letter box and if they didn’t, don’t put out the balloon and they wouldn’t be bothered. We’ve done this for a couple of years. Lots of kids come out but no teenagers or adults. It’s just our street anyway. People don’t come from other streets as its really not a big thing in Australia. Fellow Aussies YMMV!

  • Pam October 27, 2015, 8:34 pm

    You know what would be really fun? If you’re an adult and want to take your new baby or just want to go out- take candy with you to give to the homeowners. How awesome to give them a piece of your candy after they give you one of theirs! Could be a great tradition 🙂

    • magicdomino October 28, 2015, 9:36 am

      I like this. Part of the fun of trick or treating was getting a wide assortment of candy.

      • Amanda H. October 28, 2015, 10:25 pm

        I agree, and this is why I still miss trick-or-treating even though I can (and do) buy my own mixed bags of candy every year.

  • Cat October 27, 2015, 8:56 pm

    I see this topic come up every year and it bugs me to no end! I am in my early 30s, a “Halloween nut”, I decorate extensively (16 totes), dress up every year and heck, my oldest even waited to be born two weeks late so he could be a Halloween baby.

    The people the OP is describing are obviously rude. I would be upset by that too. But as for costumed adults/teen, surely nobody is trick or treating for “free candy”. To me that is absurd. It’s all about the experience. I have a little one this year too and many people have given out candy to me for my clearly too young to eat candy kids. They enjoy the costumes. I hand make my kids costumes and am proud to say my oldest has taken first place in our town the last two years. I think to deny someone celebrating a fun day a mini candy bar (or tootsie roll) because they’re “too old” is just petty.

    • Ella October 28, 2015, 2:38 am

      Some of the people who come to my house are definitely in it for free candy. You can tell its not even fun for them. If the person is having fun, that’s one thing, but we get some very sad visitors to our haunt.

  • NostalgicGal October 27, 2015, 9:24 pm

    Fifth grade. If got through most of town you could get a pillowcase full.

    Four kids were literally robbing other kids of their candy. Long story but if I know you I know your voice and I can pick you out blindfolded. Well I got home with four pieces of candy. And knew every one of the four despite their costumes. Teacher asked how things had gone to class the next day and I said there were some kids mugging other kids for their candy… At recess the teacher asked if I had been robbed, yes, and did I know who they were. I wrote the four names down and gave them to her. She asked what they were wearing, and I wrote that down.

    Four boys got called to the superintendent’s office, their parents called in, and they’d robbed over thirty kids, I had happened to be one of the oldest. And yes they had a description of what each one of them had on. Some kids got paid back in bags of candy, I asked they get taken off of all the sports teams for that year. I don’t think it was for just my asking but it was a way of teaching them how not to act and was more than enough (grade football ended early for them, no basketball or track) They figured I might have been the one that ID’d them and I said you say ONE cross word and I’m supposed to tell the superintendent; all of the ‘victims’ were supposed to do that.

    They invoked a town curfew after that and I went out only one more year. The mischief and minor vandalism ended (it would be done Halloween night) after the curfew.

  • InTheEther October 27, 2015, 9:35 pm

    I think the general rule is, ‘If you can’t be impressive, be clever’. This last year at DragonCon a costume that actually made me laugh out loud going by on the escalator was an older gentleman who had taped a piece of paper to his chest which read, in perfect font and design, “ERROR 404 costume not found”. It’s not required that anyone break the bank. As far as I’m concerned, a costume is required for candy. I don’t mind people even up to college age so long as they’re into the fun of it all. But demanding what can easily be gotten tomorrow bulk at a drastically discounted price?

    I also wonder about the places where teen vandalization is a real concern. Never got the draw and you would think they’d having a better way to spend the wee hours of the morning. I will admit in my highschool it wasn’t uncommon for students to get together and prank the house of a teacher they liked picking at. BUT there were 3 rules everybody followed, enforced by said highscshoolers. (1) never anything damaging. Teepee a tree, saran wrap the car, fine. Eggs or anything else that’ll take off paint or won’t come of easily enough, no. (2) Only prank those you know and who you know will take it as a joke. (3) Just so happen to be going by the house very early in the day and immediately go, “Oh, mr./ms. teacher, did someone prank your house? Here, I have garbage bags in my car, you just sit down and relax.” As you can imagine, it wasn’t much of a mystery who the perpetrators were, but the real goal was to do something as impressive as possible without being caught in the act, and the teachers were pretty happy to go along with the joke and pretend complete ignorance.

    • The Elf October 28, 2015, 10:29 am

      Yes, that is clever! I appreciate the thought that goes into a “uncostume” like that.

    • TootsNYC October 29, 2015, 10:06 am

      My favorite “uncostume” story was told by my cousin, whose friend walked into a Halloween party with a baseball cap from the Milwaukee team and a football jersey-style T-shirt from the team that plays near Boston.

      Someone said, “You’re not in costume!” he said, “Yes I am, I’m Samuel Adams.”

      He pointed to his hat: “Brewer.”
      To his shirt: “Patriot.”

  • Ella October 28, 2015, 2:34 am

    We get hundreds of trick or treaters, and in recent years many are uncostumed adults with plastic bags. Kids and teens yes. Adults with no kids and not even in costume? We never know what to do. A but of teasing if it’s a teen with no costume.

    • Ella October 28, 2015, 2:34 am

      I add, playful teasing “Where’s your costume, not very spoojy”

    • Lila October 28, 2015, 9:06 am

      “Are you dressed up as a big jerk? It’s very realistic!” 😉

  • Ponydoc October 28, 2015, 8:56 am

    My mother had the rule ‘no costume = no candy”. She also made teenagers or adults do something like sing a song or tell a joke. It was all in good fun. I did the trick or eat program in uni a few times. It was fun and was for a good cause. People often gave us candy in addition to food items.

    • TootsNYC October 29, 2015, 10:07 am

      The “trick” was a requirement in my home town in Southern Iowa, and my friend moved to Des Moines and was flabbergasted when each little kid who came to the door insisted on doing a “trick.”

      In my town, kids would plan all week what their trick would be. And they all had to do it before we gave them candy.

  • The Elf October 28, 2015, 10:28 am

    Alas, I no longer get trick-or-treaters. My new house is on a dead-end, filled with retirees who usually don’t participate. After two years of trying and never getting more than 1 or 2 trick-or-treaters, I now make alternative Halloween plans.

    But in our old house, a townhouse in a kid-filled neighborhood, we’d get so many sometimes we couldn’t shut the door! And we went all out – good candy, decorations, fog machine, costumes for us…..

    Basically, if you showed up at my door in a costume, you got a handful of candy. I also gave a peice or two candy to un-costumed parents who were walking their little ones around. That’s hard work to make sure the kids have a great time, I want to reward it. (And if I know the parent, sometimes a beer will make it to them too…..)

    But if you aren’t in costume, no matter what the age, I’m going to ask what you are dressed as. Sometimes, it is a “costume” that really isn’t, like dressing as your evil twin. Fine – you have a good story, you’re getting a handful of candy. But if there’s no costume and no story, I give out exactly one piece of candy, and it’s going to be something more like a Laffy Taffy than a Snickers. Too much vandalism occurs for me to refuse utterly, unfortunately.

  • The Elf October 28, 2015, 10:33 am

    One of our alternative Halloween fun nights was to dress up and go around the neighborhood. We weren’t trick-or-treating, hell we had a basket of candy we left out at the house after the first hour went by with no visitors. But we did go about in a scary outfit and have a blast walking the streets and scaring the teens. Weirdly, the little kids weren’t scared of us…..

    We ran into some people we knew out there and they, recognizing our costumes, invited us to get some candy. It was very welcome, and we each took just one bar of chocolate.

  • Semperviren October 28, 2015, 5:01 pm

    I’m all for keeping your inner child alive by celebrating Halloween. If you’re in costume, respectful, and polite, I’ll hand out candy regardless of age. I usually have several groups of teens come by and in general, they’re great (and in the larger picture, of all the things they COULD be doing, TOT’ing seems pretty wholesome and harmless).

    But I’m also done by 8:30 at the latest. Then the light goes off and I don’t answer the door. I’ve noticed the surly, no-costume crowd tends to do their mooching on the later side, so ending it early helps.

  • Daphne October 28, 2015, 11:17 pm

    I give everyone candy. ESPECIALLY the little kids with no costumes. We live in a big city not far from “the hood” and I imagine some of those kids would love to have a costume if only their parents would help them with it. I would feel terrible if I ever found out I didn’t give candy to a neglected kid, just because it was my policy not to give to lazy ones.
    It’s one night a year, it’s only a few cents, and I don’t care if you’re 5 or 50, costume or not, if you come to my house you’re getting some candy!

  • Angela October 28, 2015, 11:59 pm

    I went trick or treating when I was a college freshman, and I’ve been embarrassed for many years about it. I had made my 6’4″ boyfriend a Tinky Winky costume, we didn’t have plans, and I thought it would be a fun way to show it off and have him meet my favorite neighbors in my hometown. I had some elaborate costume on, too.

    It never occurred to me it would be seen as greedy since even as a kid I didn’t eat candy. I always gave it to my mom for use at her school. Later on I saw Curb Your Enthusiasm and other commentaries about how teens shouldn’t Trick or Treat and was mortified.

    My parents’ neighbors still love him, though. I mean, of course I married that guy.

  • NostalgicGal October 29, 2015, 2:39 am

    Place before this that we lived, block had 12 houses facing (so 24 houses), about 1/3 decorated. The one to one side of us would send their batch out to ToT to hit a few streets then turn the lights off when their kids got home and all hide downstairs in the family room. The ones across would just send theirs out with their lights off. They sent three crying little kids away because theirs came back and they turned the front porch light on for a few minutes, shut the door, turned the light off on the three that had followed, and finally opened the door and told them to get lost.

    I seen and heard and called the kids to come over and gave them double candy for the ones across. The kids they told to get lost were in the 6-8 range….

    I didn’t like the ones that gave out candy for an hour while theirs were out but the cake toppers were the ones that told those others to get lost.

  • Carolyn October 29, 2015, 12:03 pm

    One of my most distinctive childhood memories was going trick or treating in 5th grade. I was still in elementary school. Additionally, I was escorting a group of 5 or 6 younger neighbor children from house to house (so no parents were with us). I had another friend with me who was in 6th grade & a year older than me but significantly shorter than me to help. And we all were in costume. One lady told me that I was too old to be trick or treating & gave everyone in my group candy except for me (even the friend who was older than me!) I don’t think an elementary school kid is too old to go trick or treating – especially if they are escorting younger children. Sometimes it can be hard to judge age on height alone…..so if the kids are polite & in costume, does it really hurt to give them a fun size candy bar? Actual adults without a costume are a different story of course!

  • Library Diva October 29, 2015, 1:57 pm

    To me, what ruins the holiday isn’t rudeness or “too old” ToTers. It’s the bitching that starts on social media around Oct. 10 and reaches its fever pitch right around Halloween. One thing I like about the holiday is that it’s a chance to be generous to strangers. My old house was “the house” on the street and I gave away about five pounds of candy each Halloween I lived there. My husband and I would always hit the sales to get more decor for the next year. We had a ghost that glided across our porch. We had a screaming doormat. We had a spider that would drop down in front of people, glowing eyes in the hedge that would vibrate and moan whenever anyone got too near, all kinds of cool things. By the end of the night, I felt great, confident that I’d given people not only pieces of candy, but an experience they’d remember, perhaps for a long time.

    So to me, it’s disheartening to hear so much about everyone’s conditions for doing anything. Kids MUST be in costume and a REAL costume, not just a little makeup. They must not be younger than two, but no way can they be older than 10, 12, 14, etc. They must WALK — not run — up to the door, ring or knock ONCE, wait for you to arrive with nothing but the utmost patience, then look you directly in the eye and say (not mumble!) “Trick or Treat.” They must never complain about what you give out. They must never ask for more than one. They must say thank you. They must comply with any requests to sing a song, do a dance, or explain aspects of the costume (which, by the way, better not be too hoochie or too gory for their age). Then they must leave, being careful not to step one foot on your lawn. And above all else, they must not show up too early, or too late in the evening. No starting at 4:59, and be done by 8 PM, not 8:01. Inevitably, someone will screw up one of these many conditions, and then we all get treated to a rant about it.

    Really, when you get you have such exacting expectations of people you don’t know, I think you’re just killing the joy of the holiday for yourself. If you don’t like Halloween, do us haunters a favor: just quietly don’t participate in it. Much the way I quietly don’t participate in football season. I don’t feel the need to run around whining about how much I hate it and wish it would go away. I know I’m in a minority. I just don’t watch the games, don’t read the recaps, extract myself from football conversations with casual acquaintances as quickly as possible, and I don’t rain on other people’s joy.

    • Amanda H. October 31, 2015, 9:57 am

      Hear hear!

      I do want trick-or-treaters of teen-age or adult-age to be in costume, but I’m generally pretty easygoing about what constitutes a costume (I’ve been that slap-it-together person before in college). If they can explain why their jeans and a t-shirt are a costume, great. If they bothered with costume makeup at all, even if it’s just a bit of splashed blood, then I don’t even ask because that’s enough for me. They at least *tried.*

      OP’s adult trick-or-treaters? Not trying.

  • Maria October 29, 2015, 5:53 pm

    We don’t have kids. My partner’s kids are all adults. After going through many of the experiences outlined above, we opt to turn out all the lights and go out to dinner.

  • Kat October 29, 2015, 9:49 pm

    I’m in my 30s and I love the fun of dressing up, and I don’t have kids, so I volunteer to take my cousins’ kids. I don’t actually collect candy, I just walk around with them. 🙂

  • Dear! October 29, 2015, 10:21 pm

    I didn’t even know this was an issue. lol.

    So, random plain clothes adults prowl neighborhoods on Halloween to beg for candy….well, that’s not creepy at all.

  • Barbie W October 30, 2015, 11:44 pm

    I am an adult TOTer….however I trick or treat for the troops…I admit I take a few pieces for myself as a reward for my TOT efforts…I do dress up and I exactly say I am TOTing for the troops…I have never gotten no one giving treats to me, but who knows I may come across it some day

  • Jessica November 1, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Thank god Trick or treating isnt very popular in Australia, kids try it but I just dont answer the door, if adults did it I would have some choice words, that would be just plain rude. Unfortunately its getting more popular. At the moment they are lucky if one house in a street gives out lollies (candy) When I was a kid there was no such thing here. I am only 29. I mean if I moved to the US I would probably get into it a bit more but here its just not really a thing. I am in no way putting down American’s who trick or treat, its a big part of your culture so I am not putting you down or going against how things are done there, but being Aussie the thought of having adults knocking on my door asking for things is abhorrent.

  • Weaver November 2, 2015, 9:03 am

    A late reply on this one, but as my experience this Halloween was largely a positive one, I thought I’d comment all the same for posterity. For reference, I’m in the UK, where trick-or-treating has been a thing for as long as I can remember, but isn’t as big a deal as it is in the US. I do sometimes wish I could witness the efforts many people go to over there, in terms of decorating their porches and yards, and focussing on the celebratory and spooky aspects of the holiday.

    Anyway, this year we probably had about twenty separate groups of trick-or-treaters, maybe about seventy trick-or-treaters in total. Almost all of them were younger kids, from, say, three years old to maybe twelve (the youngest ones accompanied by either parents or older siblings). The overwhelming majority were in costume, were polite, said “Trick or Treat!” when I opened the door, and said “thank you,” “happy Halloween,” or both, when they were given their goodies.

    The only slightly rude kid was the eldest of a group of three, who was apparently too busy on a smartphone to say anything other than “I didn’t get any yet!” when he was last of that group to receive his sweets. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’d been sent out with his parent’s smartphone against his will to drag his little brothers trick-or-treating. He’d probably rather have been doing anything else!

    As far as teenagers go, the only ones I saw were escorting younger siblings or neighbours, and most of them stood so far back when the kids were at the door that it was clear they weren’t expecting any treats. (I offered anyway in those situations). All of them said Happy Halloween. The only adults we got were those with young children, and they also seemed surprised but pleased to accept their own goodies, lol.

    What really warmed my heart was the number of young kids who were so polite. There’s nothing like opening the door to a four-year-old in a cute costume who pipes “trick or treat,” in a hopeful voice, says “thank you,” as soon as sweets are put in their bucket, and replies unprompted to “Happy Halloween” as they’re leaving.

    I know all this may make it sound like I live in some kind of utopian town, but I assure you I don’t. It’s a nice town, but it has its problems, and we live in one of the less affluent areas. As this was the most positive trick-or-treating experience I’ve had to date, and with everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, I thought it might be nice for anyone who reads this comment to know that there are people, more of them than I’d thought, who are raising their kids well and who take pleasure in the harmless, fun aspects of the holidays.

    Happy belated Halloween, everyone 🙂

  • Meg November 2, 2015, 5:55 pm

    I don’t mind teens, but the no costumes bother me. We took the kids to my parents’ neighborhood like we usually do, (our neighborhood doesn’t do trick or treating), and at the end of the night they got a group of teens who easily had the best costumes we had seen all night. Since the night was winding down and they all put in so much effort, my parents gave them the rest of the candy. So putting in the extra effort is definitely worth it. 😉

  • Kerry November 2, 2015, 8:50 pm

    I tend to take a more forgiving view on ToT. I live in an urban neighborhood where there are some pretty broad fluctuations in income from block to block, so there are plenty of people in our area who may not have a good costume, or may trick or treat as an adult. I can understand-the allure of that kind of treat if you can’t normally afford it is really hard to understand. So my policy is to give out candy to all who ask, as long as they are polite and kind.

    I also try to remember that some of the people who may seem “too old” may not be neurotypical, and may not understand that some people frown upon someone their age participating in ToT. I just buy as much candy as I can comfortably afford, and turn off the porch lights when I’m out.

  • acr November 3, 2015, 9:31 am

    I’m blown away by the numbers of adults the OP reports who are scamming candy. The woman with the 4 shopping bags – what piece of work she is!

    I really like the costume + manners = candy.

    @ the poster who commented that kids from her neighborhood went ToTing elsewhere – perhaps it is less about getting “good” candy and more about fewer houses participating? I went with my nephew (age 5) and my sister this year, and on their little cul-de-sac less than 30% of the houses were giving out candy. At his age it’s enough fun, but next year my sister plans to seek out a more active neighborhood.

  • Kali November 4, 2015, 11:08 am

    I’m completely on board with adults dressing up and having fun, but I don’t think they should be asking other adults for treats.

    I just saw a post on facebook which described someone hearing a knock on the door and opening it to find another door staring at them with a “knock me” sign on it. When they did, the door was opened by college-aged people dressed as little old ladies, who cooed over the persons ‘costume’ and gave them candy before hauling their door away to go knock at the next house. That seems like a nice compromise, if adults *have* to be joining in with the door-knocking – to give people something instead of asking for something.

    Personally, I prefer to dress up and go to a costume party with other adults.