Halloween Etiquette


During Halloween, if you are lucky enough to live in an apartment complex or subdivision, your children are likely filling up their tiny buckets and pillow cases with tons of candy. And, it’s easy and relatively safe because you probably know most of the people whose houses you visit.

But what about those people like me, who live out in the middle of freaking nowhere, with no neighbors?

Every year, our version of Trick or Treating is to get in the car and either go to a friend’s subdivision and trick or treat with them, or visit some unsuspecting neighborhood that looks like there are a lot of Halloween participants. 

For some reason this bothers me. I grew up in a subdivision. I can remember my mother complaining when people would drive their kids around to random subdivisions to gather up as much loot (candy) as possible. The kids would come to the door and she would get all huffy because she didn’t know who they were. It was almost as if they were trespassing.

Today, I know that a lot of other people who live in subdivisions feel the same way. After all, Halloween candy is expensive, and running out 30 minutes into the spooky music and dry ice smoke is frustrating. So, when they see the pickup truck pull down their road full to the gills with children that are dressed up as ghosts, ghouls, and goblins they get upset and immediately want to turn off their lights. “These kids aren’t from HERE, they don’t belong here!” 

So, I get it. Trick or Treat territory (so to speak) should be relatively close to home. As parents, you should choose areas where your kids ‘belong’ – where they have friends. Randomly driving around, covering miles of roadways to hit up rich subdivisions in the hopes that you won’t have to buy school snacks for a year is ruthless and rude. 

But what about kids like my kids? 

It’s not their fault they don’t have neighbors. Should they not be able to Trick or Treat because they don’t have a place to belong, in a neighborhood or complex? Is it totally rude for me to drive my kids to the entrance of a subdivision and allow them to enjoy the traditional experience of Trick or Treating, even though the ground is foreign? Am I instantly a maternal candy hoarding hag because we do this? 

Chime in and tell us what you think! Is it okay to trick or treat in places where you do not live or do you feel this is taboo?   

What do you think?

Halloween Etiquette

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Heide Heide says:

    When my sister and I were in college, we wanted to go trick or treating, not so much for candy, but to dress up. So we hit on the idea of Halloween Caroling. We sang silly spooky songs, and everyone loved it! The next year, we did it with other students to collect food for the food shelf. We heard that after we graduated other students kept doing it. It’s still going on, 8 years later. Anyway, if older kids came singing songs, I’d totally give them candy. Grown people too. And little kids will always get stuff from me until I run out. I don’t care if they live nearby or not.

  2. i think this is horrible…its so cold during halloween yes i’ll drive my kids to certain areas(live in WI) and let them trick or treat for an hour or so and come home…they deserve to get as much candy as they can…and saying my child or someone elses doesn’t belong is rude and judgemental…your going to see kids you do not like on halloween your going to see kids you do not know…get over it…you dont know everyone doesnt mean those children are not as deserving as the next…judgemental and rude people disgust me…and i do not care if you do not like what I am saying because its an opinion we all have them thanks

  3. Profile photo of Krystal Krystal says:

    Growing up we used to treck all over town to get candy, and no one gave it a second thought. THere are even familys who go from town to town to trick-or-treat. Mind you we have less then 100,000 people in the whole of the UP (or so I’ve been told) and that’s a lot of room, so the towns sometimes stagger the trick-or- treating, so x towns t-or-t on the 30th, y on the 31st and z on Nov 1st. There’s also large areas where it’s a good half mile to the neighbors in the country. I’ve never run into anyone who minded yet,

  4. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    I am sorry but I think children should be able to trick or treat wherever they want. The neighborhoods should anticipate they will have more children and the people can always buy in bulk or at the dollar store where the candy is cheap. They can also not give out hand full of candy to every child and the candy would last longer. Usually the children are happy for any kind of candy. They can also give out other items that are inexpensive for older children that they could use for school.

  5. Profile photo of Rachel Rachel says:

    When I was a kid we lived way outside a very small town. Most of the kids were rural and had to be driven in, but it was a small enough community that you still knew everyone anyway. It was great! The main street always went all out, every house, and no one was turned away. We moved away, and trick-or-treating was never that awesome anywhere else, and I ended up giving it up around age 11 or 12. Now with my kids, I have been taking them to a nice neighborhood I lived in as a teen, so it’s familiar territory, but I never know anyone in the neighborhood. (It’s a very big neighborhood, but nice.) No one has ever turned my kids away! We just moved to the same neighborhood, and I can’t wait to take the kids out without having to drive. Really looking forward to handing out candy too, I’ll have a newborn by then 🙂 and may just let Daddy take the kids out while baby and I relax on the front porch.

  6. Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

    i dont care personally if the kids are from my neighbor hood or not. what i do care is that they are dressed up. i hate the older kids who have no costume on, comming to my door. they dont get anything untill they have a costume on. (mind you babys/little ones who have ditched most of their costumes because well, its what little ones do, would still get their stuff tho), and i dont appreciate the teens who take their teeny babys in a stroller trick or treating when they dont know me so its not lets show off my baby time like i did with my little ones, and they dont have older kids theyre also taking. i tell them i dont have anything thats safe for their baby and they dont get anything either……

    • Profile photo of Veronica Veronica says:

      My son was ten months old when we took him out for his first Halloween. He ate his candy over a long period of time and the stuff he couldn’t eat we gave to my nine year old sister…we would have all been very sad if someone had said something so mean at their door to us 🙁

    • Profile photo of Chantel Chantel says:

      thats not fair my daughter had a full bag of candy her first halloween at 9 months. SHE ate everything that wasn’t hard(mainly gumballs and things of that nature). No costume no candy but age of the child shouldn’t matter.

    • Profile photo of Joy Joy says:

      I know a lot of moms who had kids thought they were done then were surprised by a bundle of joy years later. How do you know that’s not the situation? Maybe they don’t have any other younger siblings.

  7. Profile photo of Autumn Autumn says:

    I’ve never heard of having to stick to your own neighborhood. In the neighborhood we just moved from Halloween was the biggest holiday of the year. The kids were literally bussed in. Each house was decorated, and people would set up games and haunted houses in the front yards. There were so many kids that there was no "ring the doorbell" business – you’d never get the door closed. We’d set aside a few dollars a month to pay for candy. In 2011 we’d saved up $180 and spent it all on the giant bags of the cheap stuff. At 1 piece per kid, it was gone in under 2 hours, and trick or treating was still going strong. Our neighborhood firmly believed in the more the merrier!

    Aw, I miss home. I’m not even sure how trick or treating works here.

  8. Profile photo of Mikki Mikki says:

    how old should your child be before u take them trick or treating??

    • Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

      i took my baby trick or treating, she was 6 months old…. but, the houses we stopped at, were friends and neighbors who had been watching her sence i was preggy with her, and it was more or less a lets show off my baby in her cute costume while her older sister trick or treats…… i wouldnt have taken her out tho if she didnt have an older sister who was trick or treating. i would have waited until after she was two.

  9. honestly this is a commercial holiday meant or the kids to just go out and have fun. so let them. its not about the people who decide to buy the most expensive candy trying to make rules about who can go where. i bought 4 bags of candy from the $1 store. and when i run out i will turn off my porch light… that simple. i didn’t intend to eat any of the candy so it really isn’t a big deal to me…

    – Melanie

  10. Profile photo of Wendy1981 Wendy1981 says:

    Well halloween candy is not that expensive if you stick to the dollar store. I go there grab 20 bags of candy for $20 and get 10 to 20 times more than going with the expensive name brand candy. Children don’t mind getting the inexpensive candy, it tastes just the same. I take my kids trick or treating evey year, and we hoof it. It does make me upset to see the van full of kids, driving down the street to drop off their little ghouls and then they follow them down the street. I feel like grabbing the parents by their collar and saying, get off your lazy butt and walk with your kids. I feel it doesn’t set a good example to the kids. Me, personally, dress up right along with my kids and make it a fun event. I walk right along side them. We play our own holiday music playlist downloaded onto my phone, and have a good time. But what does it say to your kids if your not willing to get out of the van and freeze right along side your little ones. I don’t want to instill in my kids laziness and therefore I always walk with them. Besides all that, I feel it is just plain safer for your kids. I mean after all, unless you make your kids costumes, chances are your little ones will get lost in the sea of costumes that are the exact same and you might end up grabbing the wrong child to take home, lol.

  11. Profile photo of Becky Becky says:

    my church has a "trunk-or-treat" where we park our cars in the parkinglot and go from car to car. then we go inside for kid friendly carnivale. it’s safe, I know everyone and the carnival after is warm and dry. I’ve enjoyed taking my children to this every year.

    • Profile photo of Joy Joy says:

      My church also does a kid’s carnival with candy as the prizes for the games. And all the kids “win” the games. It’s fun and safe and my kids get to see their friends. But there are a lot of other kids there too because it is an outreach to the community.

      If driving to a neighborhood bothers you look for a church event. Our church goes all out with rides, bouncy houses and a petting zoo.

  12. Profile photo of Kaitlyn Kaitlyn says:

    When I was growing up, my elementary school held a sort of trick-or-treat fair for the students. As I grew up, since I lived in a somewhat remote area, we started going to the larger town nearby to attend the shopping mall’s "safe Halloween". I moved to a subdivision when I was 16 and it was a brand new experience. Kids everywhere and parents too. We didn’t mind if kids came from other subdivisions to trick-or-treat. We lived in a "cluster" if subdivisions so it wasn’t unusual for them to hop from one to the other. I think if people have a problem with lots of kids and trick-or-treaters they shouldn’t hand out candy at all. It’s not fair to kids who just want a "normal" Halloween if they’re neglected just because they don’t live in your neighborhood. Just give em some candy.

  13. Profile photo of Jillian Jillian says:

    I’ve never even heard of "staying in your trick-or-treat area". We decorate and prepare for Halloween, buy lots of candy, and entertain people who come looking for a treat. The idea of wanting people to only come from our "area" is offensive. It’s delightful to get lots of people, and we advertise it as so.
    If someone doesn’t want trick-or-treaters from another area, it’d be a good idea to put a sign up. Or, better yet, just don’t pass out candy.

  14. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    I agree, why make it territorial! Kids should be allowed to go show off their costumes to everyone that they can before they get tired! No one has the right to ruin the fun night for any child. If your going to tell a child they can’t have candy when they come to your house, your picture, a picture of your house and address should be posted in the newspaper the week before Halloween the next year so everyone knows which house to TP 😛 then maybe you would think twice before ruining another childs Halloween!

  15. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    I make the parents that come to the door wanting treats and the teens who can’t even take the time to find a costume do a really good trick or they don’t get anything from our house 😀

  16. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    I say lets the kids have fun… its only 1 night a year! Who gives you the right to ruin a kids Halloween just because you don’t know them! That would be like saying your not invited to the wedding because you can’t buy a formal dress… really would anyone ever tell you that! Why ruin a fun night!

  17. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    Yes, I agree! Why would you ruin it for a child when they took the time to come up with a cool costume and really want to show as many people as they can their choice by coming to your door. I would never say no to a child just because they are from a different neighborhood. I would however make the adults who are begging for candy and the teens who don’t come dressed in a costume do a really good trick before they get a treat! It makes your evening alot more fun too 😀 hehe

  18. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    I agree 100%. The neighborhood we lived in last year nobody came around, mainly because you had to walk up hill or down hill then back to your car to go to another street, I had no idea if we would get and trick or treaters or not but I made sure that we had lots of candy and my light was on until we went to bed because I was hoping we would get a few kids… we got 1 the whole night only because everyone goes to the areas that aren’t on a hill, us included but I am always prepared! We live in a small community so no matter where you go you know people so its pretty safe but you still just never know!

  19. Profile photo of Teresa Teresa says:

    When I was a kid we lived in the boonies and only had about 5 or 6 houses to trick or treat so we would go show all our neighbors our costumes because they were all like our grandparents then my mom would pack us up and take us into the town where we went to school and we would pick the neighborhoods where our friends houses were and hit a few of them mainly to show off our costumes and pick up our friends to go trick or treating. Now with my own 2 kids we just moved into an apartment building and I have asked the few people that we have passed by to and from our apartment and nobody in the apartment buys candy for the trick or treating kids because its a secure building and there are maybe 10 kids in our building and they all go to other neighborhoods to go with friends so we will be going to the neighborhood we went to last year. I would never tell a child they can’t have candy because I didn’t know them! I am hoping that we do get some kids because I enjoy seeing what the kids picked for their costumes. I love seeing all the cool costumes when we are out with our kids… That’s all the fun of Halloween! Oh and for those parents who bag for candy and those teenagers who are too lazy to make a costume… you better have a damn good trick if you want me to give you some candy!

  20. Well, I can certainly understand both points. I live in a small town ( population 16k), and the house we used to live in was smack in the middle of town, whereas most the population lives in more rural areas. The street we lived on was a big horse shoe, and off the main drag. We were the first ones to get hit every year with hayrides loaded down with kids. We knew they didn’t live nearby, but I didn’t mind…until I was out of $100 worth of candy in less than an hour. I then resorted to my change jar. I handed out pennies nickles and dimes. One of the children hollered out to the parents on the hayride that I was handing out money. SOME OF THE PARENTS CAME TO THE DOOR WANTING TREATS!!! I turned out my lights after that. Over the coarse of the next year we bought a house out in the country…I wonder how bad the new home owners got hit up the next year.

  21. I grew up in the sticks so we had to go to other neighborhoods to trick or treat. I live in a subdivision and we have tons of kids that do not live here but we still "treat" them. Pet peeves are the parents with the walmart bags for themselves and the teenagers with no costumes and their empty backpack. The holiday is about having fun and being creative and if you can’t make an effort and wear a costume then you shouldn’t go trick or treating. Parents the candy will be half priced the next day so stop being a bum!

  22. i think it’s a holiday and it’s ok to go anywhere to celebrate(trick-or-treat) i take my daughter to a near by town where all the small bussiness and schools participate in the celebration,,,they close down the roads etc,,,so i go out of town think its perfectly fine

  23. i think it’s a holiday and it’s ok to go anywhere to celebrate(trick-or-treat) i take my daughter to a near by town where all the small bussiness and schools participate in the celebration,,,they close down the roads etc,,,so i go out of town think its perfectly fine

  24. At my house I buy when the bags are cheap (like right now they are $2 each at a couple of the chain stores plus there is coupons out). I want all children to come over because I want my house to be spooky and scare the daylights out of them then they can grab a candy as they go. =D I don’t know my neighbors but only because my own children are so young still (5mos and 2yrs) and things have been busy medically. I think parents should pick one neighborhood then go home. If they are lucky enough to live in a good one great, if not then go somewhere else.

    As long as the children are respectful it should not matter whether they live in that neighborhood.

  25. Profile photo of bonnie bonnie says:

    It’s hard to live out int he middle of nowhere. We did. 15 miles out in fact. My parents drove us into town and we trick or treated at the houses of my parent’s co-workers. The first year my own young family was old enough to trick or treat, I loaded them up to trick or treat in my sister in-law’s neighborhood, where we were shunned and she had to go up to the houses with the kids so they wouldn’t be turned away (some actually did that if they didn’t know the kids). Now I have seven happy kids, I welcome all children, even teens, to take a treat out of the bowl that resides on my front porch with a note to "take one please" so that I can go out with my kids! So far, so good. Come to my house! I’ll not turn you down if I don’t know you!


Send this to a friend