15 Trick or Treat Etiquette

Trick or Treat Etiquette
Proper Halloween etiquette includes being respectful, dressing up, and being courteous to others. Remember not to be picky or take too long to choose your candy. If you are handing out candy, offer a variety of candy (but not homemade treats) and ensure your decorations aren’t too scary for little trick-or-treaters.

1. Don’t Be a Monster

Remember that everyone does not celebrate Halloween, and it is certainly not required for people to participate, so show them some respect and treat them kindly. Your neighbors are doing this because it is fun, and they want everyone to have a good time.

If the person giving out candy allows you to grab your own Halloween candy, be sure only to take one unless they specify otherwise. You never know; being polite and respectful could possibly get you an extra piece of candy!

Parents, make sure to lead by example and also remind your children to be respectful of everyone. Halloween is an exciting time, and kids sometimes forget their manners.

Also, if you are the one giving out the candy, be sure to be courteous and kind to the trick-or-treaters that come by your house.

2. Wear It Proudly

kids wearing Halloween costume
Kids walking in Halloween costume

Whether scary or sweet, gory or ghostly, your Halloween costume is half the fun! Make sure to wear a costume if you participate in trick-or-treating or attend a Halloween party.

Homeowners and party throwers go to a lot of effort to make their homes look nice (or scary), so you should take the time to keep up with traditions as well.

If you are a parent accompanying a young child, you should probably forego a costume. After all, you don’t want to steal your child’s thunder. Younger children tend to think their costumes are a big deal, so try not to take away from that by dressing yourself up.

If you are passing out the candy, it is up to you whether or not you dress up. It is not expected but can add a little fun to the holiday.

3. Assume Your Identity

When going door-to-door, you may get asked more than once who you are dressed up as. Be prepared to tell them! Let everyone know exactly who you are and be proud of it.

For parents of younger kids, you may want to practice with them so that they can say exactly who they are dressed up as when asked.

4. Play By the Rules

Kids patiently waiting for their treats
Children patiently waiting for their treats

If you walk up to a house and there are already other trick-or-treaters on the front porch, wait for your turn. Don’t run up and bombard the homeowner.

Also, if you see other kids heading to the same house as you, it’s not a race. Everyone will get their candy, so be patient and courteous to others. Your turn will come!

When you are accompanying a child from door to door, be sure to remind your child to be courteous and kind to others. Lead by example, and allow others to pass when walking up to a front door or have them wait to go up to the door if another group is in front of them.

If you are passing out the treats, be sure to stick to packaged sweets and steer clear of things like homemade cookies. While it may come from a good place, many people prefer to stick to goodies that come in wrappers so that they can check for signs of tampering.

5. Less Is More

Because children of all ages will be running around, make sure that your costume (or your child’s costume) and Halloween decorations are not too scary for the little ones.

Remember, not everyone likes to be spooked, especially if it’s a little one’s first-time trick-or-treating. You can get a little spooky, but try not to overdo it, as some people prefer princesses to ghosts and goblins.

6. The More Options, The Better

Rather than sticking to one type of candy, give your trick-or-treaters options. You may get some picky kids, so giving them a choice of different goodies is always a good idea.

It is also important to make sure you have enough candy for everyone! You don’t want to run out and end up with sad children. What a mean Halloween trick that would be!

Because some children have certain food allergies, keeping things containing common allergens (i.e., nuts) in their own candy bowl is a good idea. It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one bowl of candy for kids to choose from.

7. Don’t Forget Your Manners

Be sure to say “thank you” after you get a piece of candy. Good manners never go out of style. You should always say it after every house, even if you don’t like the candy you got.

Make sure to say it loud enough so that your neighbor can hear it. Otherwise, they might think you are being rude.

If you are accompanying a younger kid who is trick-or-treating, you may need to remind them after each house to mind their manners and say thank you. If you have an older kid who is going without you, make sure to remind them to mind their manners before they leave the house.

You may also like: 19 Classroom Etiquette Rules To Follow

8. Don’t Dillydally

Your neighbors have a lot of trick-or-treaters to give candy to, so you don’t want to stay too long. When you get up to the door and ring the doorbell, say “trick or treat” when they open the door, take your candy, say your thank you, and be on your way. You can also throw in a “Happy Halloween” if you want!

If you are giving out candy, try not to keep the kids there for too long by chatting too much. They are excited and want to get to as many houses as possible (and get as much candy as possible!).

9. Don’t Be A Picky Princess (or Prince)

Even if you don’t like the candy on top of the bowl, it is not polite to go digging around for other candy at the bottom of the bowl. Take what is presented in front of you and be grateful for it.

Even if you don’t like it, chances are someone you know does and they can eat it! You will have plenty of opportunities to get the delicious candy you like, so don’t worry about it.

10. Lights Off Means ‘Do Not Disturb’

As a general rule of thumb, keep your porch light off if you are not going to participate and don’t want to hand out candy. Or, if you are participating but run out of candy, you can turn your porch light off to let the trick-or-treaters know that you are done for the night.

Trick-or-treaters, if you see a house with the porch light off, it is because they are not home or are not participating, so you shouldn’t disturb them. Do not go ring the doorbell.

11. Be Patient

After you ring the doorbell, it is important to wait patiently. People are still going about their normal activities inside the home, so it may take them a minute to reach the door. It is rude to bang on the door or continuously ring the doorbell. Once is sufficient.

Generally speaking, if your neighbor does not answer the door after the first knock or ring, wait about 30 seconds to a minute before knocking or ringing again. If they still don’t answer, it is best to move on to the next house.

12. Halloween Decor Is For Looking, Not Touching

A lot of thought (and money) goes into Halloween decor, so make sure not to touch it or mess with it. Your neighbors went through a lot of trouble to make their house look nice and spooky for you, so make sure not to ruin it.

It is also important not to walk through the grass (unless there is a designated path) or touch any plants or other home decor they may have out on their lawn or porch.

3 Trick or Treat Etiquette for Parents Accompanying Their Kids

1. Roleplay

Before taking your kids out, doing a quick run-through of the correct manners and sayings for trick-or-treating may serve you well. Do a quick roleplay and have them come up to the front of your house and pretend they are at a neighbor’s house.

By roleplaying before you go out, they will be more confident, and you can rest assured knowing that they know the drill and are prepared for the evening.

2. Don’t Stop To Chat

While we know it is tempting to catch up with the other parents in the neighborhood, you don’t want to slow your kids down by stopping for a conversation. Keep going and catch up at a later time or on social media!

3. Stay In Your Own Neighborhood

Though your child may want to go to another neighborhood for even more treats, it is best to discourage this. The neighbors who give out candy will usually calculate how much candy to buy based on the number of children in their neighborhood.

If you take your kids to another neighborhood, they were not accounted for when those people were purchasing their candy, so they could potentially run out of candy faster.

Margaret Dunn

Margaret is a passionate writer based in Costa Rica, though she was raised in the southeastern US. Being from the South, good manners and proper etiquette were ingrained in her from a young age and she has always been fascinated with etiquette in different settings and places. When she is not writing, you can find her exercising, reading, or spending time with her family at the beach.

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