Halloween Etiquette: Cool Rules for Ghouls

by Jenna Maxwell

Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year and with good reason.  What’s not to love about costumes, candy and the celebration of all things scary?  Even so, dressing up as something frightful is one thing, behaving like a monster is quite another.  There’s never an excuse for ghoulish behavior.  Just because it’s Halloween, it doesn’t mean your manners don’t have a ghost of a chance.  Just in time for Halloween, here are a few Halloween etiquette tips to help you or your kids from committing any major Halloween boo boos.

Trick or Treating 101: Mind Your Mummy 

Trick or treating is the time-honored ritual that for many is the primary focus of Halloween.  Kids love trick or treating and for many parents, it’s the one time of the year when the rules regarding candy and sugar get a little looser.  But make no bones about it --even an old tradition like trick or treating has a few basic rules for the ghouls.

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Wear a costume  It may sound obvious, but every year it seems like there’s that one rogue kid that shows up at the door in street clothing, holding a pillowcase. If you need a costume the folks at Halloween Express can help.

Lights, Jack-o-Lantern, Action!  Explain to your kids that there is an unwritten code when it comes to who is welcoming trick or treaters, and who is not.  A well-lit house with a grinning carved pumpkin out front is a sure bet.  Skip over a darkened house with no lights.

Ding Dong Gone Wrong  In all the excitement of Halloween, it’s easy for kids to get a little overzealous with the doorbell. At each house, ring the doorbell or knock only once. 

Say “Trick or Treat”!  This phrase is the traditional Halloween icebreaker.  Tell your kids to use it.  There is nothing more socially awkward than opening the front door to a completely Trick or Treating Fairies_300.jpgsilent boo crew.

Don’t Bowl Me Over! If the bowl of treats is generously offered, kids should not greedily grab a large handful of candy like ravenous goblins.  Unless instructed otherwise by the host, take just one piece of candy. 

So, Who Are You? Be prepared to explain your costume.  Not all adults understand the latest pop culture phenomenon’s so be ready to explain what you are to those who may inquire. 

Say Thank You  No matter what treats are dispensed, teach the costumed up little spooks to be grateful.  Even if the neighbor is passing out the worst candy in the entire world, a polite thank you is always warranted.  Looking scary is fine; behaving scary is not.

Walk the Walk That means, stay out of the flowers, off the grass and out of the landscaping.  Do not do anything to someone’s property that may cause damage.

One to a Customer  Only go to each house one time.

Know When to Quit  If the lights are off, do not knock.  Most neighborhoods end trick or treating sometime between 8 and 9 pm.

The Ghostess with the Mostest

Are you staying home to pass out candy this year?  Here are a few tips to help you be the ghost of good cheer!

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Walk This Way  The Halloween code says that if your outside lights are on, you are welcoming trick or treaters.  If you are not participating in the Halloween festivities, you should leave your outside lights off.  If you are open for trick or treaters to stop by for a spell, make sure the path to your doorway is well lit.  Remove any potential trip hazards and ensure that your pets are in a safe place.

Who Wants Treats? Answer the door with your Halloween treats in hand.  You can avoid a lot of problems by giving each of your costumed visitors one or two pieces of candy yourself rather than allowing the kids to reach into your candy bowl.  Only pass out fully wrapped candy.  Don’t bother with homemade treats as more likely than not, they will get thrown away.

And a Big BOO to You!  Greet your Halloween visitors with a friendly “Happy Halloween!” while you compliment or make small talk about their costumes.  Set an example of bewitching hospitality.

Don’t Judge  Perhaps you think that a child is too old to be trick or treating or that his costume isn’t even a costume. Halloween is not the time to be mean-spirited--just give out a piece of candy and move on. 

Halloween is the much-anticipated spooky highlight of the autumn months.  By following a few basic rules of All-Hallows etiquette, you can make sure your spooktacular holiday is positively de-frightful. 


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