All October posts are part of the Countdown to Halloween!
“Blog post idea: how the eff do you prepare for trick-or-treaters?” I HAD to laugh when I got that text message from Chrystina Wednesday morning. She is the yin to my yang – her brain thinks in 100% analytical terms while I’m a bit more of the creative brain in our friendship.
It seemed like such an obvious and easy thing to me that I had never considered writing about it.
But Chrystina loaded me up with questions, and I thought, “she’s absolutely right – this would be a great blog post!” Then I started writing, and well…1500+ words later I was done. Apparently I have LOTS to share on trick-or-treating.
That’s the beauty of blogging: the posts that seem to be the most obvious to you end up being the most important ones for your readers – and friends!
So if you’ve been wondering the same thing…today’s post is for you.
Question 1: Do I need to wear a costume?
I vote yes, but it’s 100% up to you. I think wearing a costume helps you make it feel like more of an event rather than a chore. As a kiddo who LOVED trick-or-treating, I always enjoyed adults who answered the door in costume because it made the night feel a little more magical.
By the way, your costume doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Grab a witch hat or cat ear headbands to wear, or do some simple make-up with black eyeliner to make yourself look like a cat. You could even just wear a Halloween-y T-shirt. You don’t have to go crazy – get last-minute costume ideas right here.
Question 2: Do I need to decorate my house?
If you haven’t already decorated the exterior of your house or your yard for Halloween, don’t stress on this one. Yes, decorated houses are AWESOME, but it also takes a lot of effort. I’ve been watching Instagram friends working on their yards since the first weekend in September. Not even kidding.
However, a Halloween wreath or door hanging and maybe a jack-o-lantern would be easy and perfect to give your front porch a spooky vibe for one evening! (If you need pumpkin carving tips, I’ve got you covered.)
I also recommend turning on a porch light and/or lights inside your door so your house looks inviting and parents know it’s safe for kids to trick-or-treat there. If you have a screen or storm door, open your inner door so trick-or-treaters know someone is home. You could also sit outside your front door in a chair or on stairs to simplify things.
Dark doors/houses are a universal sign not to stop.
Question 3: How much candy do I need?
This is probably the toughest question asked because every single neighborhood will be different. If you aren’t sure and have a friendly neighbor who has been around a few years, ask them for an estimate.
My best guess would be to start with two large bags, assuming you’re giving kids 1-2 pieces of candy each. But I know candy is expensive (it’s my second largest expense for my Halloween party after alcohol!) – buy what you can afford. Don’t forget to check local store ads or store apps for coupons and sales this week!
Keep kids of all ages in mind! Kids in the 3-4 age range probably can’t have small, hard candies, but a simple Hershey bar would be perfect for them. Buying a variety of candy is perfect for covering this.
Food allergies are something to consider as well. You may grab some small non-candy goodies for kiddos with allergies – check out the Teal Pumpkin Project for item suggestions. You can also place a teal pumpkin outside your door or print out this sign and put it in your window or on your door so kids with these allergies know you have trick-or-treat goodies for them too.
Question 4: What happens if I run out of candy?
If you run out, you run out! Several stores, like Target, have had cute signs that say “trick-or-treat” on one side and “out of candy” on the other, which are a great (and cute!) way to let trick-or-treaters know you’re out. (I think those are going to become a BIG thing next year.)
The years I’ve handed out candy at my parents house we’ve never run out, but we definitely have a cut off time. By 8:30 p.m. most kiddos have come through so we’d lock the storm door, close the front door and turn off the front lights. Once you’re out (or just done for the night), you should turn off porch lights so you’re a dark door.
Question 5: What are some key phrases I can say to these children who show up at my door?
I make sure every single one says “trick-or-treat”. Look, this isn’t just a free trip around the neighborhood for candy! You need to know the drill, and if you don’t say trick-or-treat as I open the door…you bet I’m going to ask if there’s something you need to say first. #halloweenpurist
If the kids are in the 8-13 range, you might joke with them. When they say trick-or-treat, ask them what trick they’re going to do for their treat or joke that you’ll trade them one of your treats for one of theirs. Just be silly and have fun!
After that, I try to tell every kiddo what I like about their costume – esp. the ones who didn’t just buy theirs at a store. I still remember adults complimenting my costumes over the years and how awesome that made me feel. Make some kid’s night!
On that note, if they’re dressed as a villain…I 100% support reacting with fear. If Darth Vadar shows up at the door, you bet I’m going to tell him I don’t know where the Rebel scum is and here, please have some candy. Have fun with the costumes and engage with the kids like they’re actually the character they’re dressed up as for the night.
Question 6: Do I sort the candy and giveaway what I don’t like first?
YES, ABSOLUTELY. 😂 Is that terrible? I always give away the things I don’t like as much so if I have leftovers…it’s stuff I like. Hey, I’m over 30 and can’t go trick-or-treating anymore! I’ve gotta get my Halloween candy fix somehow.
The other solution? Don’t buy candy you don’t like…unless you’re purposely trying to keep yourself from eating it.
Question 7: How do I make this as stress-free as possible?
Just enjoy it! Trick-or-treating is fun for kids. It should be fun for you too. Even if all you do is hand out candy, you are going to make some kiddos night because the kind you’re giving out is their favorite.
Other tips to consider:
- Put your candy in a bowl. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but dumping it all into a single container with easy access will keep things running smoothly – esp. when you get large groups at your door.
- It’s going to go WAY faster than you think. Where I live, kids are always rushing from one house to the next – it’s trick-or-treat, grab the candy and then they’re gone. Go with the flow!
- If you live in an urban area, check with local neighborhood groups to see if there’s an official candy map. This is my third Halloween at the Spooky Little Apartment, but this is the first year I won’t be hosting a party elsewhere on Halloween night. I live in the city, and I just learned my area does this to help keep kids safe – if you want trick-or-treaters, you have to get on the map!
- Don’t let the kids pick their own candy. They will be there all night deciding or will take five pieces when you only meant for them to have two. It’s easier just to pick a random item and toss it in their bag or bucket.
- Don’t just leave a bowl of candy outside the door and call it a night. That’s so lame, and if that’s your plan…just don’t bother. No to Halloween Grinches!
- Have some Halloween fun yourself! Sneak a piece of candy now and again, put on a Halloween classic like “Hocus Pocus” or flip on a cable channel airing Halloween movies. Sip a pumpkin beer. Enjoy your evening.
- Trick-or-treating is nothing like the movies. Unless you’re at a truck-or-treat event, I’m betting your neighborhood isn’t crawling with children. You’re going to have some lulls in the evening, which makes the movies in the above tip a great solution!
- If you have a way to set it up, play a bit of haunted house music or a spooky playlist near your front door for some extra ambiance. Get ideas from my playlists! (But beware – not all my song picks are kid-friendly.)
- Have an open flame in your jack-o-lantern? Make sure it’s a safe distance from the walkway. The last thing you need is some kiddo’s super hero cape going up in flames at your house.
- Keep your own safety in mind. It’s a sad reality of our world, but you never know who might knock on your door on Halloween night. Don’t leave your door unlocked and unattended at any time. If you have to step away, lock the door! If you live alone, consider inviting a friend or two over to help you hand out candy. Safety in numbers, my spooky friends!
What tips would you add to my list?
Share them in the comments, because I know Chrystina will appreciate ALL of them! No suggestion is too small.
Or if you have a burning question about trick-or-treating, leave it below and check yes for notifications so you get emailed when I reply!
Have a burning question about some other Halloween topic? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I just might turn it into a blog post!
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