Halloween is many people’s favorite holiday, but trick-or-treating is for the kids. For the love of all things candy corn, let kids enjoy this treat-filled, fantastical evening of goodies and costumes. Here’s how not to fuck up their fun.
1. Don’t Scare The Shit Out Of Little Kids
Most kids will barely enter their room during the day without a light on, so they’re not looking to piss their pants out of fear while trick-or-treating. They’re just looking for candy. You have every right to decorate your house with as many bloody heads and skeleton bones as you want, but if you see a group of little kids hesitating to approach your door, can you tone it down by taking off your mask? Can you not pretend to be a dummy and then scare the shit out of them? No parent is in the mood to deal with a crying, reluctant, and scared child. And you shouldn’t get a kick out of scaring little kids.
2. Keep Dogs Away From The Scene
If you know your dog gets anxious, barky, and/or aggressive at the sound of the doorbell or of people in costume, then do everyone a favor and put Sparky somewhere quiet and away from the chaos. Your dog may love people but be confused by people in masks or hats. It scares them and it puts everyone at risk. No one needs the stress of an anxious and unpredictable pup. Not your pup and definitely not other people’s kids.
3. Don’t Be A Candy Cop
You have one job: give out the candy you purchased for the sake of giving out candy. Don’t police a kid who grabs one more than you think is acceptable. Maybe their fine motor skills are not great, and a handful is all they can manage. Don’t shame a kid for not being able to make a choice. Choices are crippling for some kids. Some kids may be looking for something they can eat because of dietary restrictions. Don’t make a kid say trick-or-treat, please, or thank you. Some kids are painfully shy. Some are nonverbal. Some may not speak English. Just offer up the goods and smile. Don’t use candy as a weapon.
4. Have Allergy-Free Options
You won’t be able to accommodate everyone, but do a little research and have some nut and dairy-free treats on hand. Or offer non-candy options like stickers, temporary tattoos, Play-doh, or plastic rings. Kids want to participate and will be thrilled to walk away from your house with something that allows them to feel included. And if a child or parent declines what you think are allergy-free selections, don’t take offense or argue. Parents will be grateful you tried, but ultimately they and their kids know what is best for them.
5. Save The Costume Commentary
Don’t mess up a kid’s vibe by using gender stereotypes to comment on their costume of choice. “Wow, who knew Iron Man could be a girl?!” “Boys are usually Super Man, not Wonder Woman, you know.” There will be plenty of gender nonconforming kiddos hitting the sidewalks on Halloween. Do not shame anyone for wearing a costume you think can only be equated with one gender. And avoid phrases like, “That sure is a skimpy outfit. Aren’t you cold?” Or “A female fire fighter? She has beauty and brawn.” “Lock up your daughters! Here comes a handsome devil!” There is no room for your assumptions about gender or your biased and harmful sexualized comments.
And don’t be mad about or draw attention to a kid not wearing a costume. Sensory issues, financial restraints, and autonomy are not reasons kids shouldn’t come home with a bag full of treats.
6. Let The Big Kids Participate
Being an adult sucks sometimes, but it’s not fair to place our crankiness and resentment on the older kids and teenagers who trick or treat. We’re always saying we don’t want our kids to grow up too fast, so why not let them squeeze out a few more years of innocent Halloween fun with their friends? And consider that some of those big kids might still be little kids on the inside because of their neurological make up. A teenager does not have to be autistic to go trick-or-treating, but there is a chance many children of all ages on the autism spectrum will show up on your door step, and it’s unfair and cruel to take away a kid’s experience just because you think they’re too old to participate.
7. Don’t Commit Halloween Blasphemy
No one wants a fucking pencil. Or raisins. And don’t give out toothbrushes either. Let the parents worry about tooth decay. You worry about Snickers bars and Reese’s Cups. And it’s just one night. It’s okay for kids to binge on sugar. Let them do it without guilt.
8. If You’re Not Participating, Be Clear About It
Turn off your light, lock the door, pull the curtains, and watch some Judge Judy.
In summary: Don’t be a dick. Just smile and give out the candy without sanctimony.