Firstly, the question that comes around every year: How old is too old for trick or treating? I say 12 or 13 should be the stopping point. If your child is reluctant to give up this tradition of accepting free candy from strangers, set a limit. Tell them, 13 is the cut-off or 8th grade is the cut-off. If they have younger siblings, neighbors, cousins, etc. they could take the younger kids trick-or-treating and dress up themselves but not ask for any candy. When offered, they may graciously accept but they should not demand candy. Of course that's just my opinion.
When my oldest, Buffy, was in High School she and her friends would still trick-or-treat for canned food items to donate to the local Food Pantry. I thought that was a great idea to continue the fun of dressing up and going out on Halloween night but not to be that annoying teenager who is still trick-or-treating in a lame costume (or no costume) and a pillowcase for a treat bag. Put in some effort, Dude!
Since we're on the subject, I believe that every kid, no matter what age, should be in costume if they are going to trick or treat. Jeans and a T-shirt do not cut it unless the jeans are ripped up and covered in fake blood or in some way part of their costume.
And how late is too late? Easy - 9pm is the absolute latest time anyone should be out trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Try to knock off around 8:30pm if possible. Do not ring the bell after 9pm. Also, do not go up to a house that isn't lit. This should be common sense but we had an incident a few Halloweens ago. It was 10pm. Our porch light was off. Buffy and Cissy were little then and safely in bed after their exhausting night of trick or treating. The Honey Bunch and I were eye-balling the remains of the candy bowl. The doorbell rang. I crept up to the peephole and there, in the dark stood a very tall murderer from the movie Scream with the black hood and the white ghost face. I wasn't sure whether to open the door and offer candy or perhaps, call the police. We took a chance and opened the door and in a deep, teenage boy voice from beneath the mask we heard, "Trick or Treat." He got his candy and went on his way but Yikes!
The following Halloween I implemented the two bowl system. One bowl contains the good candy, fun-size chocolate bars, mini packs of M&Ms etc. This bowl is for the kids in cute or clever costumes (or any costume really) and are of an appropriate trick-or-treating age, ie - the little kids. The other bowl has the crappy candy that comes in a huge sack for $2. It's the off-brand smarties and wanna-be Jolly Ranchers. No chocolate in this bowl. The candy in this bowl is for the kids taller than me with no discernible costume. Sorry, not sorry.
Another disturbing trend I've seen is groups of people trolling the neighborhood, driving slow with van-loads full of kiddos. They don't even live in my neighborhood! This baffles me because, we're not in a posh area, just normal middle-class. If you watch the show The Middle, that's exactly like my house and all the other houses in this area. Nobody should be bringing in car-loads of kids from the projects to get the good candy from me - go to the ritzier suburbs folks. And - sometimes they have an extra bag for, "my friend who couldn't come." Oh Hell No - let them get their own damn candy. That kid is probably trick or treating one street over with an extra bag himself.
Okay - one more complaint and then I'll stop airing my Halloween grievances. People who give out religious pamphlets instead of candy. If your religion is one that does not participate in Halloween, then that is your right. If so, just cut off the lights and lock the doors. Go to the back room and watch TV and forget that the neighborhood is full of little heathens wandering the streets. DO NOT - hand my precious baby girl, who is dressed as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books, a religious tract telling her that Halloween is evil and stories like Harry Potter are evil. Can you tell that this actually happened to us a few years back? I know who did it too and I have not forgotten.
Okay, enough griping. Here are some Halloween Candy strategies from my friends, family and co-workers:
- Eat candy corn with peanuts and it tastes just like a PayDay candy bar.
- Eat a green apple with caramels and you get the flavor of a caramel apple without the hassle of making them.
- Take a bite of a marshmallow peep ghost and a bite of a mini Hershey bar. Delicious.
- Dip your Cheetos into chocolate pudding. (actually this sounds kind of gross, also it's not technically candy)
- My Mom and a few of my colleagues agree: If it ain't chocolate, it ain't real candy, don't waste your time and your calories.
Lastly, here is some advice from Cissy on how to savor your Halloween haul:
" After you get home, trade with your friends for the candies you like best. Then, mix it up, don't eat all the good stuff right off the bat, have a few chocolate bars and then try some smarties or starburst. In fact, save a few of your favorite candy bars until the end, that way you won't get stuck with nothing but Mike & Ike's.
Happy Halloween! Be safe, be smart, have fun!