Those events are fun and family friendly, but the old school tradition of trick-or-treating door to door is an experience I enjoyed as a child and want to share with my own kids.
Many neighborhoods support this kind of community activity on Halloween night. I’ve been taking my kids trick-or-treating in our same neighborhood for a decade.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few helpful tips and ideas about what to expect when trick-or-treating with kids of different ages.
18 Months- 3 Years
Young children have many different reactions to going door to door for candy. Some refuse to do it at all while others wish Halloween were every night! Children this age will have little stamina, so visiting only a few houses is recommended. You may want to limit your visits to houses where you know the residents.
TIPS: Role play the trick-or-treating process before the big night. Practice ringing the doorbell, saying the magic words, receiving candy, and saying “thank you.”
If your child refuses to wear a costume, just put them in a cute Halloween themed shirt.
Kids are really starting to grasp the process of trick-or-treating. They might enjoy the independence of stepping onto the porch all by themselves while the parent hangs back a few feet. Manners are important at any age, but this seems to be a golden time for teaching kids to say “thank you” after they receive candy. Sometimes we even make a game of it where I snag a piece of candy away from their bag if they forget to say “thank you.”
TIPS: It’s okay to skip houses that have scary or over-the-top decorations. Sticking to homes that meet your child’s comfort level is important.
At this age, handing out candy is almost as much fun as receiving it. Your child might enjoy assisting in answering the door and passing out candy.
Kids this age have one goal in mind: Get as much candy as possible. I try to remind my kids that this isn’t going to be a race. Inviting friends to trick-or-treat in a group is an appealing way to slow things down and return the focus to fun and friendship. It’s important that parents still chaperone children this age, though it’s not necessary to walk up to the door with them. I usually watch from the sidewalk.
TIPS: One reason I hang back a bit in the yard is so I can stay alert to the surroundings of the houses we visit. There always seems to be that one knucklehead who thinks scaring kids is fun. If I see anyone crawling around, sneaking up, or acting in a way that might scare my kids I step in immediately and use a loud voice to declare that behavior is not okay with me. I’m not worried about offending people because it’s my job to protect my children. This has only happened a couple of times in our trick-or-treating history, and both times I was able to see it coming and stop it.
Older kids are more likely to eat candy while still out trick-or-treating. Remind all children that they are not to eat any candy until you have examined it.
With kids of every age, don’t forget flashlights, sturdy bags to hold candy, and comfortable shoes. Carefully check all the collected candy and discard any that is wrapped poorly. I also use the checking process as a chance to discard any types of candy I don’t allow my kids to eat. The rest goes into a family bowl that lasts us a long time…almost until Halloween rolls around again!