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Halloween Etiquette: Did your kids have any last night?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Halfway through my night of trick or treating, I got the following text from a friend: “I think you should blog about Halloween etiquette. I have had exactly one kid who actually said trick or treat when I opened the door and one that said thank you. The rest just drive their hand into the bowl for a fistful and hightail it out while stepping on my mums. Humph!” Anyone else have this experience?


Another mom I was with mentioned how many older kids she saw without costumes. And then there was the empty bowl I found on my stoop when I got home, knowing full well we had three trick or treaters at best, which means someone made off with a lot of sugary loot. I can’t comment on the manners of the little devils and pirates and Captain Americas in my neighborhood because I wasn’t home to greet them. But I know the kids we were with had the Halloween etiquette down. Possibly because many of the parents, like me, were calling from the street: “Say trick or treat, say please, say thank you, take one, say happy Halloween, don’t walk in the flowers!”


We trick or treated in two different neighborhoods with two different groups of kids and I think every door that opened was happy to see us. The kids had great costumes (well, Nora’s pumpkin was kind of weak—and too small—but she didn’t mind and the padding helped when she fell about 87 times), they all said trick or treat and they definitely said thank you. Manners are very important to me and I feel like it’s one thing I can kind of control with my often out-of-control kids (I imagine people saying, “Wow, those Ruddy kids are wild, but boy are they polite.”). At many houses I’d have to go to the door to pry Nora away from the bowl—she was miss independent last night and wanted to go to every house by herself but then didn’t want to leave. “I need a other one,” she kept saying, grabbing as many Twix bars and Kit Kats as she could squeeze into her little hand.


Alex would go up to doors and say the following: “Trick or treat, I have a peanut allergy.” And then he would scream from the stoop, “Mom, can I have this?” about every piece of candy he got. Nick and I have drilled the no-peanut thing into his head and it’s paid off (we didn’t tell him to announce his peanut allergy, but he wears it with pride which kind of breaks my heart). I have to say, people were really cool about the allergy thing, always finding something else for him in the sea of Snickers and Reeses and, my all-time favorite, Peanut Chews. He also had some help from his cousin, Andrew, who's very protective and from his little buddies (I overheard one of them beating Alex to the punch saying, “Hi, um, he has a peanut allergy,” and pointing to Alex. It was so sweet).


But despite my lovely Halloween experience, I can see how etiquette and simple manners might get lost in all the excitement of the night. And how answering the door nonstop and not even getting a thank you would get very irritating (my friend who sent the text lives on a high-traffic trick or treat street so she had a decent- sized pool for her little study). But I’m curious about your experience last night. Were the trick or treaters polite? Greedy? Dressed up? Any tricks? And how did you make sure your kids were saying and doing the right things? Oh, and before we put this holiday to bed and start talking turkey, I want to share a few more photos of our Halloween festivities. Enjoy!

Alex originally asked for a Star Wars-themed Jack-O-Lantern. Fortunately he forgot about that. 

Nora didn't like this one because it was "fairy"—she's also at "fool" today. 


Watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for the 12th time. Good grief!  


Nick and I went to a costume party over the weekend, which was a blast. Nick was originally going to be Bob Ross but when he put on that beard it was clear he had to be Honest Abe.  


Alex's school parade. He was dressed as a combat soldier, which he said meant that he fights bats.... 


These kids were excited but they remembered to say please and thank you. And to not knock over the little pumpkin nipping at their heels.  


Last stop of the night, at my parents' house. Everyone is tired and wired but what a great night we had.  


Nora officially loves Halloween. And I think I do too. I had fallen out of love with the holiday for many years, but rediscovering it through the eyes of candy-crazed kids has been awesome. Until next year!