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Trick or Treat Etiquette
22 great tips for parents and kids to make this year’s Halloween safe and festive.


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When collecting Halloween bounty, there are a few simple rules your kids should follow.


If parents are going to dress up to take kids trick or treating, keep the costume G-rated. ”
You can listen to Diane's tips on the Hitched Podcast, Episode 187: Halloween Tips for Parents (and Kids)

Every year you can count on countless little angels and funny little cowboys ringing your doorbell on the eve of October 31st. There are certain courtesies that should be observed and are certainly worth a friendly reminder.

Trick or Treat Tips for Parents

Think twice before carting around a "party wagon" filled with liquor for your trick or treat travels. The emphasis should be on the kids when it's dark and your children are dressed up and running from house to house. Parents are often distracted by the red wagon filled with chilled margaritas and often let their children get too far ahead of them while they are socializing and pouring their next drink.

Before leaving the house, take a close look at your child's costume and make sure it fits properly. If your child is wearing a mask, ensure your child's vision will not be impaired when he or she is running around the neighborhood. A good pair of tennis shoes is the best choice for footwear.

Go over courtesy and safety rules before starting the trick or treat march. Your child should be reminded to watch for cars, stay close to an adult and say thank you at each house, regardless of whether or not he likes the candy treat.

While a tiny baby, dressed up in costume is so very cute, a parent or child carrying a large plastic pumpkin and expecting to collect candy for this toothless little infant is a bit forward. The rule is, if he can't walk or chew solid food, he doesn't need a bucket full of tootsie rolls and taffy.

When possible, acknowledge the person at the door handing your child a treat. While it's an expected gesture for your child to thank the person handing out candy, it's extra nice to hear it from a parent as well.

If your teen plans to trick or treat, make sure they do not wear a mask or any kind of costume that would appear threatening or dangerous. The rule of thumb is, generally after the age of 12 kids should start to consider staying at home and handing out candy instead.

If you do not want to participate in trick or treat, simply put your light off or go out for a nice dinner. It's rather nerve wrecking sitting in your house and trying to ignore the festivities going on outside your door.

Don't allow your child to open and eat any candy until it has been thoroughly inspected by you. Make it very clear to your kids that the golden rule is, "Thou shall not eat any treats until inspected by mom or dad."

Trick or Treat Tips for Kids

Be considerate of your neighbors flowerbeds and decorative planters. Stay off and away from anything that can bend, break or get ruined. Nothing changes the festive mood faster than damaging someone's property.

If the porch light is off, keep walking. Do not walk up to a door that is not lit and if the light is on but no one answers the door after two rings, continue on your trick or treat trek.

Once you have received your candy, step out of the way and allow other children room to receive their treat. If you are waiting for your friends, do so away from the front door or porch.

You may not ask for "seconds" nor may you ask to exchange a treat for something else in the basket. It is impolite to voice your disdain for the candy de jour.

Carry a flashlight, wear reflective clothing and do not run across the street. Cross over to another street at the corner or crosswalks.

If someone invites you in their home, do not enter unless accompanied by a trusted adult. If there is a haunted house in someone's home, it is a good idea to go in with someone you know.

Go to the restroom before you leave the house. Stay close enough to home that you can quickly visit your own restroom rather than asking someone if you can use theirs.

Always smile and thank the person giving you a treat. Neighbors appreciate children who have been taught to uses their best manners. Good work parents.

Commonly Asked Trick or Treat Questions

If my child needs to go to the restroom, may I ask a neighbor to borrow their bathroom? Preferably not. It is best to take care of business at home, especially if you do not know the family you are asking. If you do ask, go in with your child and make sure his shoes are clean before traipsing through their house. Always leave the restroom as clean or cleaner than you found it.

What kind of treats are the least favorite? Anything that includes an apple or other fruit (such as raisins) is not high on a kid's treat list. Pencils, loose coins, cheap artificial chocolate and bookmarks don't make the cut either.

What do kids like to get in their treat bag? Popcorn balls, good quality candy bars, sour candy and jolly ranchers seem to be quite popular, based on my unscientific neighborhood poll.

Are there certain costumes to stay away from? Avoid dressing up a child in anything that is controversial (nun, priest, devil, belly dancer) or that can be seen as suggestive or sexual. That goes for parents as well. If parents are going to dress up to take kids trick or treating, keep the costume G-rated.

How much candy should I give out? Two to three small candies is the norm, or one full size candy bar.

What time is appropriate to shut off the lights? When Halloween falls on a weekday (a school night), a good time to close up shop is between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. Take in your fresh pumpkins just in case someone wants to play an after hour trick on you!

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.

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