Halloween Tips: Trick or Treating Etiquette


Halloween Tips: Trick or Treating Etiquette by JDaniel4's Mom
Trick or Treating Tips on for Children

As Halloween draws closer and closer I thought it would be a good time to think about they kind of etiquette we would like our children to display while they are trick or treating. Trick or treating  around our neighborhoods gives us a wonderful opportunity to interact with neighbors and share our attempts to help our children learn to display good manners.

We still have long way to go in displaying all the great manners that I would like Jdaniel to display. There are areas that I have gotten lazy about enforcing. Developing this list of etiquette rules is as much for he and I as it is for you and your family.

We are going to rehearse some of them at my house before we trick or treat and others will be just talk about.

Here is my Ultimate Guide to Halloween Etiquette:


Please and Thank You

At some houses you visit they may offer your child a type of treat that they absolutely do not like. Some children will be tempted to say to you or the person offering the treat that they don’t like that candy or they do not want it ever.

There are two ways to handle this dilemma. Your child can tell the neighbor “ No thank you! Can I have a different candy in the bowl instead.” The alternative is to accept all the candy offered and pull it out of their candy haul when you get home. Just because it has been accepted doesn’t mean that you have to eat it.  The unliked candy can be given to someone else. (More on that later.)

It may be hard to say thank you for a coconut and almond candy bar that you really don’t like, but it is really important to say thank for candy offered. I think it is good practice for all the thanks you may have to give for presents you don’t love. (Example: A rhinestone Thanksgiving sweater for your birthday. Yes, I got one last year and I thanked the gift giver for it.) Giving thanks for the thoughtfulness of being given a gift is an important lesson to learn.

Crossing Neighbors Yards


In my neighborhood there are no sidewalks.  There is a real temptation to run across neighbors yards to get from house to house rather than back down each home’s driveway and then along the curb to the next house. 

There are a number reasons for not running across neighbor’s yards. The first is that they may not want you walking across lawns. Some shoes can tear up lawns. If there has been rain, you could even leave dents in their lawn.

There are also safety concerns for you and your family. There may be sprinkler heads that don’t recede into the grass the way they should and neighbors with children may not pick up all the toys that have played with that day. It is very possible that your child could trip and fall.

Introduce Yourself

We haven’t had a lot of neighbors move in or out of the neighborhood this year. In some neighborhoods, there have been a lot of neighbor changes. Trick or treating is an opportunity to introduce yourself to neighbors you have never met.

We have met a number of neighbors while treat or treating in the past few years. We don’t see many of them in the course of a day, week or even during the rest of the year. If we do, it is nice to be able to call them by their names.

If you don’t know the neighbors or the people you are visiting while trick or treating and you don’t feel comfortable sharing your name, I think that is fine too. We live in interesting times and you might not want to share your child’s name with some on you don’t know.

Butting in the Candy Line

We go trick or treating with our next door neighbors. That means there are three boys rushing to get from door to door. I really don’t want JDaniel pushing to the front of the line to be first. The truth is the neighbors are probably going to give the same candy and in the same amount to each of the children. Being first isn’t really going to benefit JDaniel and will just make him seem pushy.

Going to the Door, But Not in the House

As I mentioned we have met many of our neighbors, but I can’t say I really know each of them well. We will be going to their doors and if we get asked to come in we might. If someone asked JDaniel to come into see how their house was decorated or to see their cute pet on his own, I will be having him say “No”. There are just too many things that are happening to children these days.Each family will need to decide how to handle this. I tend to be a helicopter mom and watch my son closely.

Candy at Home 

I think it is really important to discuss that will be happening to the candy after it gets home. Once you have checked over each piece and made sure that the packaging isn’t torn or preopened, there are four w’s to be discussed at my house before we even head out to trick or treat. 

The First W is Who

Who will have access to the candy is the first W? Do mom and dad get a cut of the candy or is it all the child’s?  The candy bag at my house is a universal bag. We can all take candy from it. If you have more than one child, you may want a universal bag or bowl or each child could have their own bowl.

The Second W is What

What will happen to  the load of candy the child has brought home?  Will some of it be donated to a charity that will send it to the troop overseas or another charity?  Will some be left out to eat and some be put away later.

The Third W is Where

Where will the candy be stored?  Is it going to be left out in a bowl on the kitchen table to take from at a approved time? ( It would be dipped into often that way at my house by all of us.) Will the candy be placed in a container in the pantry or on top of the fridge to be doled out when they parents think it is the right time.

The Final W is When

When will the candy be given out? Will it be a piece or two after dinner? Can they take a couple piece in their lunch? Deciding when to give the candy out is up to each family. Some families may decide it is two pieces a day when the child chooses to have it. 

Unwanted Candy

If you end up with candy you don’t want, you can give it to  a charity or take it to work to place near the community coffee pot. In homes with more than one child you can  have them trade candy I decided when JDaniel was little to put together treat bags to give to neighbors as we trick or treat. 

Halloween can be a time of getting and I really want JDaniel to know how to give to others. I simply place a few pieces for candy into a plastic bag with  note saying “ Have a Blessed Halloween! From the Smith’s”.

What rules of etiquette do you want your children to follow while trick or treating?

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  1. says

    Thank you!!! I think that there are so many parents that need to read this! I hate that they let their kids virtually run wild while trick or treating! Basically doing everything that you listed… cutting through yards, taking cuts in line, not saying thank you… it bugs me!

  2. says

    Those are such great things to remember. We always try to teach our kids to say thank you after each house, and to simply accept what is given them and we’ll sort it all out once we get home. I have to frequently remind them before we even approach someone’s home to not push, be nice, stand in line and don’t forget their little sister.

    They also know that all the candy is “community” candy. meaning once it is home and we go through it all, it is put into a family bowl where everyone can enjoy it. So they don’t need to worry too much about if there is candy they don’t like, they know they won’t have to eat it.

    Also, I take the time to divide the candy when I inspect it at home. Some years my kids bring home WAY too much. (our main objective isn’t the candy, it’s how cute the kids look trick or treating and how much fun they are having, so some years we go longer than others and lose track of how much candy the kids are getting). So if the amount of candy they got is overboard, I divide a portion out to be donated to their teacher’s classroom reward treat stash.

  3. says

    I probably won’t be doing my neighboorhood either – there’s just too many older kids that run around in groups. Probably go to the church or not at all. Brody is only 2.

  4. says

    This is great! Trick or Treating is a great time to really hammer down ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ The kids are excited, on a sugar high, running around, etc. When you constantly remind them to use their manners, they learn that they are always expected to remember themselves and what is expected on them. :)

  5. says

    For us, it depends on the night of the week that Halloween falls on. If it is a school night, then after the candy is checked over, everyone gets to choose one piece, and we wait til the weekend to do what we do if Halloween falls on a weekend night. After I check the candy, all the kids are allowed to eat as much candy as they want to that night. It’s funny to see them eat for about 30 minutes then not want anymore. After that, they may choose one piece a week for about a month, and then I throw all the candy away. I don’t believe in a lot of sugar, so I can’t in good conscience donate it to anywhere when I feel like it isn’t healthy enough for my kids to eat. However, I don’t feel great in my kids consuming lbs of sugar either!

  6. says

    My nephew and nieces have “thank you cards” to give out when they trick-or-treat. These are pieces of paper (you can print 8 to a page) that simply say thanks with the kids’s names and a picture or something. I think it is such a great way to help them remember to say thank you, and it also helps them to learn about thank you cards and the need for them at other holidays.

  7. says

    I loved reading through this post even though we don’t really celebrate Halloween in Australia! So much fun and i just love your rules…so sensible…i often wonder about the safety aspect of trick or treating.

  8. says

    Nice list!

    I always insisted that my kids take the candy and be gracious about it. Then they would all have a big trading party at home. If no one liked it, they could give it away.

    We didn’t have a universal bowl, but let everyone keep his or her own bag. It was also up to them how and when they ate it.


  9. says

    Confession: Our son doesn’t go door to door. Only because my Mother In Law wants us to head to her place for dinner before we go out. She lives 45 minutes away in the middle of nowhere. Then she wants us to visti x y and z…it’s like friggen Christmas.
    I’m putting an end to it this year though since I have school at night. We’re going the door to door thing. These are great tips!!

  10. says

    {Melinda} My kids are older now and don’t go door-to-door. I think as they become teens, the big thing is who they are going to be with, who is driving and when will they be home (which are my questions any time they leave the house, actually). And, “You better answer your phone or text anytime I try to contact you!!” My son goes to a school-sponsored event and my daughter usually goes to a big “block-party” type even in the historic district of our county.

  11. says

    What a great idea, going over rules before trick or treating. My son is older now and definitely understands do’s and don’ts. I don’t know if he’ll remember them all, but we’ll work on a couple of rules at a time, I suppose.

  12. says

    We don’t normally get trick or treaters in our rural neighborhood. I do like to have a little candy ready, just in case, though. Those are all great tips! A few manners go a long way, even when trick or treating.

  13. says

    Trick or Treat must be said
    Thank you is mandatory
    Waiting your turn, a must
    The homeowner (aka the candy giver) hands out the candy (no grabbing!)

  14. says

    you make some really good points…. especially with the pleases and thank yous. we try to have our son prepped so he remembers those, but sometimes the excitement takes over :)

  15. says

    Fabulous points here. My little guy is too young for trick-or-treating, but I’m bookmarking this one for next year! As a candy-giver, I can totally relate to some of the rude kids that come to our door. Most are just fine, but there are few that shock me every year. Let’s start with the 14-yr-olds walking down the street at 10pm blasting music from their phones. Seriously? Who walks up to someone’s door asking for candy while blaring music with vulgar lyrics? Appalling.

    Oh, and if you’re looking for a place to donate that coconut and almond candy bar, I’m accepting donations. :) Happy Halloween!

  16. says

    In UK Halloween is more serious than in the states. As a Christian I am not keen to take part beaut neighbours do so unless I am away I have sweets ready. I get really upset when kids forget their manners

  17. says

    what a great list…
    sadly, our neighbors dont do anything… like, the WHOLE APARTMENT COMPLEX does NOTHING…
    so, we go to a neighborhood near marcs work… lol, we really want to live there and talk to the people that live there about their neighborhood…

  18. says

    How I wish that a few trick or treaters would come to our door. Unfortunately, the road is too dark and the houses too sparse, but we’ll often go to the community hall to see the costumes and watch the children play games and roast hotdogs on the fire.

  19. says

    Manners are so important. Please and thank you, not pushing to the front, sharing, respect for others’ property… Hopefully people teach their children these basics all the time, and not just at Halloween!

  20. says

    You are unbelievably clever and creative!

    What wonderful tips and ideas!

    Before we moved we probably got 500 trick or treaters every year.

    I was surprised to see that 99 percent of them were polite, respectful AND said please and thank you!

    I hope this year in the new neighborhood works as well!

    Thank you for linking.


  21. says

    In the excitement of the night, it’s easy to let manners fall by the wayside. But it’s important to remind about the “thank you” bit, even if you have to say it at every house. Nothing used to annoy my parents more than to have bunches of kids come to the house – and maybe 3 would take the time to say “thank you”!

  22. says

    We don’t trick or treat, but these are really great tips for those who do! I would just add that if the light isn’t on don’t go to that house. You would think it is common sense, but every year we end up with trick or treaters coming to our house, and since we don’t participate we would prefer them not!


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